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 London is the cultural, political and economic heart of Britain, famous for its world-class museums, galleries, royal palaces, shopping destinations, West End theatre shows and award-winning restaurants. Whether you want to stay in a 5-star luxury hotel and sip Champagne on the London Eye, or find a cheap hostel and stroll around one of London's beautiful Royal Parks, you're sure to find something that suits your budget and interests.

currency

British pounds, £1 = 100 pence

phone

999

newspaper

The Times
The Telegraph
The Guardian
Daily Mail
The Independent
London Evening Standard

hours

Typical shopping hours are Monday-Saturday 9.00-17.30. Many department stores stay open until 18.00, some until 19.00 or 20.00 on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Larger shops are often open 10.00-18.00 on Sundays.

population

8.1 million

info

City Information Centre
St. Paul's Churchyard,
London,
EC4M 8BX
+44 20 7332 1456

Cityscape ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

The City

London is a world-class city and the heart of British politics, culture and commerce. Its history stretches back thousands of years, and remnants of this fascinating past can still be found across the capital – from the Tower of London, a gruesome site of Medieval torture, to the majestic Buckingham Palace.

A captivating mix of old and new, London is also renowned for its creativity, innovation and originality in art, theatre, music, design and cuisine. It is home to countless art galleries and museums, including the Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, which possesses some of the world's finest treasures. And best of all, entry to most of these museums and galleries is free!

To catch all the 'big-hitters' in one go, you can't beat a walk along the River Thames. Strolling from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament you'll pass the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, the London Eye, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and London Dungeon. In addition to these world-famous attractions, there are many more to discover during your stay.

The West End is the place to go to see London's top theatre shows and musicals. Alongside classics including Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera and The Woman in Black, you will find hit contemporary shows, such as Billy Elliot, The Lion King and Thriller – Live. Don't forget to explore the many off-West End venues too, such as the National Theatre, The Old Vic and (during the summer months) Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.

In the West End you will also find some of London's top shopping destinations, from Oxford Street to Seven Dials. Different neighbourhoods are known for other unique opportunities for shopping: Notting Hill is renowned for its antiques and Portobello Market, Greenwich has an excellent arts and crafts markets, while Westfield London City and Westfield Stratford are the city's most famous malls.

If you would rather save money than spend it, the eight Royal Parks are well worth a visit – and a great spot for a picnic. Visit Greenwich Park to drop in on the Royal Observatory, walk through Kensington Gardens to see Kensington Palace, take a paddle on the Hyde Park boating lake, see Buckingham Palace from scenic St James's Park, spot deer at Richmond Park and Bushy Park, and meet the animals at London Zoo, which lies within Regent's Park.

Along the way indulge your taste buds with delicious food at one of London's many restaurants, gastropubs and pop-up eateries. You can eat food prepared by a celebrity chef, discover modern British cuisine, or eat food from anywhere in the world – be it Indian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Italian or Lebanese. Top off your perfect day with a fancy cocktail, excellent wine or locally brewed beer at a top London pub or bar – and maybe a boogie at one of the capital's buzzing nightspots and clubs.

Young friends dancing in night club festival event party with dj in background - Happy people having fun inside disco - Nightlife concept - Unfiltered photo with soft focus on left girl face DisobeyArt/Shutterstock.com

Events Not To Be Missed

London offers a jam-packed calendar of events that cater to a wide range of audiences all year round. This guide highlights the most popular and interesting ones that should definitely be on your bucket list.

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Christmas Markets in London

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The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

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British Summer Time Music Festival

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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Trooping the Colour

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Notting Hill Carnival

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Totally Thames Festival

Couple of tourists in London holding a map ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

Do & See

London is full of things to do and see. From famous attractions such as the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Tower of London to much lesser known
ones that are almost secrets. There are also exciting shopping destinations, vast areas of green parkland in the middle of the city and much, much more.

Read on for inspiration and handy tips on places you just can't miss while you're in the capital. Many attractions on this list are free to enter, giving you another great reason to fall in love with London.

David Holt/Flickr

London Mithraeum

Disney

Disney's The Lion King

WICKED

WICKED

The Woman In Black

The Woman in Black

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

9 to 5 The Musical

9 to 5 The Musical

MAMMA MIA!

MAMMA MIA!

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The British Museum

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The National Gallery

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Madame Tussauds London

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Tower of London

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Natural History Museum

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St Paul's Cathedral

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Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

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SEA LIFE London Aquarium

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Legoland Windsor

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Hampton Court Palace

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National Portrait Gallery

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

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Museum of London

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WWT London Wetland Centre

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The Sherlock Holmes Museum

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City Cruises

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The Victoria and Albert Museum

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The London Dungeon

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Tate Modern

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Buckingham Palace

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Houses of Parliament

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The London Eye

Audience watching a play in theatre. lapandr / Shutterstock.com

Top Musicals

London is a city of culture and any visit to the British capital would not be complete without a night at the theatre. West End musicals are the most popular form of stage performance in town, mixing enchanting stories and spectacular special effects with good old song and dance.

Disney

Disney's The Lion King

WICKED

WICKED

The Woman In Black

The Woman in Black

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

9 to 5 The Musical

9 to 5 The Musical

MAMMA MIA!

MAMMA MIA!

cafe in London in sunny day Ditty_about_summer/Shutterstock.com

Restaurants

Thanks to London's rich mix of cultures, the capital's restaurants serve up delicious food from all corners of the globe. Whatever cuisine you fancy, you're sure to find it in London – be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Caribbean, Polish, French, Italian, Afghan, Ethiopian, American, Spanish, South African, Persian… the list goes on.

There's also an exciting buzz on the British culinary scene in London, with innovative chefs rethinking traditional British classics and creating new favourites – all with an emphasis on fresh, local produce.

Plus with Michelin-starred restaurants, family-friendly eateries, cosy gastropubs, fast food joints and quirky cafes dotted all over the city, there's something for every budget too.

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Rainforest Cafe

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OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie

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Masala Zone - Bayswater

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Mestizo Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar

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Inamo

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The Wolseley

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Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

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Wild Heart

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Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

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Gaucho - Piccadilly

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Sketch

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Sarastro

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J Sheekey

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The Blues Kitchen - Shoreditch

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Locanda Locatelli

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Duke of Cambridge

English afternoon tea desserts with beautiful breakfast snacks Ingus Kruklitis/Shutterstock.com

Top 10 Afternoon Teas

Delicate finger sandwiches, tempting cakes, pots of steaming tea, scones with lashings of jam and cream. With so many delicious ingredients it's no wonder traditional afternoon tea remains as popular as ever in London. There are many top hotels, restaurants and cafés serving afternoon tea in London to this day, and there are many varieties available – from classic afternoon tea to low-calorie alternatives and even gentleman's afternoon teas.

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Afternoon tea at The Ritz

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Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason

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Afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel

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Afternoon Tea at Hotel Café Royal

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Afternoon Tea at The Emmeline's Lounge

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Afternoon tea at The Dorchester

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City Cruises Afternoon Tea

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Royal Albert Hall Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Tea at Roseate House

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Afternoon Tea at The Goring

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Bars & Nightlife

London's nightlife is one of the most vibrant and varied in the world, with everything from mega clubs to live music. And from trendy bars to traditional British pubs.

Spots in central London like Soho and Leicester Square attract visitors most nights of the week, but if it's the more trendy venues you're interested in why not try neighbourhoods like Hoxton and Shoreditch in East London, or Brixton and Clapham in South London.

Here's just a taster of what London has to offer on a night out, including quality pubs and bars, world-renowned clubs, live music venues and much more.

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Ministry of Sound

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The Argyll Arms

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Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club

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The Top Secret Comedy Club

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Icebar London

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Gordon’s Wine Bar

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The King's Head Theatre Pub

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The Atlas Pub

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The Prince Alfred

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The Hippodrome Casino

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Shopping

Shopping in London is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors and locals alike. And it's no wonder given the huge range of shopping destinations across the capital, from high-end luxury boutiques and huge department stores to lively markets and vintage pop-ups.

The key is to find the right shopping area for you, be it the bright lights and big brands of the West End, the quirky and outrageous fashion of Camden or the smart suits in Savile Row. Here are just a few of London's top shopping destinations well worth a visit.

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Oxford Street

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Selfridges

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Harvey Nichols

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Regent Street

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Covent Garden and Seven Dials

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Knightsbridge

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Harrods

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Savile Row

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Mayfair

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Westfield London

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Westfield Stratford City

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Camden Lock Market

Westminster Bridge at sunset, London, UK ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

Tourist Information

Passport / Visa

Citizens of the European Union member-states, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) only require a valid passport to enter the UK. Residents of a further 10 countries do not require entry visas for stays under 6 months: the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Nationals of some further countries do not require a visa, but need to hold an entry certificate. Use the UK Government website to check for specific requirements: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

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Best Time to Visit

London is graced by a mild climate and, as such, can be visited at any time of the year. However, a few things need to be considered first. Most of the royal palaces and residences, like the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, are only open to the public during the summer months. Many of the city's most important festivals, like the British Summer Time Music Festival, also take place during this time. Late June to mid July is also when some of the best sales are on in shops around the capital.

Spring is also a good season for a visit, since the weather is generally good and finding accomodation is both easier and cheaper (high season in London means a lot of tourists). And if you're not too bothered about the grey weather, then low season (January and February) can be a good option too, when there are fewer tourists and prices are lower.

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Airport - London Heathrow

London Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with five terminals. There are various ways to travel from Heathrow Airport to your destination. Hotel Hoppa and Hotel By Bus are shared ride services, transporting travellers to (and from) local and Central London hotels by coach. The quickest journey is by train on the Heathrow ExpressB, which runs every 15 minutes (from approximately 5am to 11.45pm) and gets you into Central London in 15 minutes for £20. You can also travel into Central London via Heathrow Connect (£9.50), the Piccadilly line on London Underground, a coach to Victoria Coach Station (£6), bus (£1.40 Oyster/£2.40 cash) or taxi (£50 to £80 in a metred black cab).

Address: Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, Middlesex

Email:

Phone: +44 844 335 1801

Website: www.heathrow.com

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Airport - London Gatwick

London Gatwick Airport is the second largest airport in the UK (Heathrow Airport is the largest), with two terminals: North and South. The fastest route from the airport into Central London is via the Gatwick Express, with trains departing every 15 minutes. The non-stop journey to Victoria Station takes 30 minutes and costs £19.90. Alternative travel options include going by First Capital Connect train to London Bridge, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, Farringdon or St Pancras International (£10 to St Pancras); Southern train services (£19.90 to Victoria Station), coach (£8), easyBus (£2 – online price) or taxi.

Address: Gatwick Airport, West Sussex

Email:

Phone: +44 844 892 0322

Website: www.gatwickairport.com

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Airport - London Stansted

London Stansted Airport is the third busiest airport in the UK, and where many low-cost airlines serving Europe and the Mediterranean operate from. On the Stansted Express you can reach Liverpool Street station in 47 minutes. Trains run every 15 minutes and the journey costs £23.40. You can also travel between Stansted Airport and Central London by coach with easyBus (£2 – online price), National Express (from £5) or Terravision (from £6). Alternatively book a minicab in advance with 24x7 Stansted. Black cabs do no operate from Stansted (though you can take one to the airport).

Address: Stansted Airport, Essex CM24 1RW

Email:

Phone: +44 844 335 1803

Website: www.stanstedairport.com

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Airport - London Luton

London Luton Airport is located just 56km north-west of Central London, and is a popular base for low-cost airlines. A regular shuttle bus transports passengers from the airport to the nearest station, Luton Airport Parkway, which takes about 10 minutes. From the station you can catch an East Midlands Trains or First Capital Connect service into Central London taking somewhere between 21 and 25 minutes (for £13.50). Other options include the easyBus express service (from £2 – online price), the Green Line 757 coach service to Victoria Coach Station (for £17) or Terravision coaches to Victoria Coach Station (for £15). Each transport service stops at different destinations en route. A metered taxi ride to or from Central London costs around £80.

Address: London Luton Airport, Luton, Bedfordshire

Email:

Phone: +44 1582 405100

Website: www.london-luton.co.uk

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Airport - London City

London City Airport is a single runway airport located 9.5km east of Central London, and serving mainly short-haul and business flights. The airport is on the Docklands Light Railway, which connects to London's Tube network at Canning Town, Stratford and Bank and uses the same price structure. Buses serve the airport too, with numbers 473 and 474 providing a connection to other East London destinations. You can also take a cab from the taxi rank outside the airport.

Address: London City Airport, Hartmann Road, London

Email:

Phone: +44 20 7646 0088

Website: www.londoncityairport.com

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Public Transport - Bus

London's bus network stretches right across the capital, and provides a frequent and accessible service. If you're using an Oyster card, a single trip costs £1.40. All you have to do is 'touch in' when you get on the bus. And remember there is a daily cap of £4.40 if you're using only bus and tram services. If you're paying by cash a single bus ticket is £2.40. Seven-day, one-month and annual bus passes are also available.

To navigate your way around the network, pick up a Central London Bus Guide from travel information centres at larger Tube stations or use Transport for London's online Journey Planner. A reduced service of night buses operates throughout the night and the early hours of the morning. Most late-night routes will stop at Trafalgar Square. Various concessions are available for children, students, the elderly and disabled travellers.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

More Information: tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel

Public Transport - Tube

There are 12 Underground or 'Tube' lines serving Greater London, which connect at various points to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and local rail network. The Tube usually operates from 5am to midnight from Monday to Saturday, with a reduced service on Sunday. Plan your route by picking up a free Tube map from any Underground station, or using Transport for London's online Journey Planner. Fares vary depending on which of London's six travel 'zones' you travel through, though they are considerably cheaper with an Oyster card than buying paper tickets. Various concessions are available for children, students, the elderly and disabled travellers.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

More Information: tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel

Public Transport - Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) serves East London and connects with the Tube network at Bank, Tower Gateway (Tower Hill), Shadwell, Stratford, Bow, Heron Quays, Canning Town and Canary Wharf. It also connects to the Emirates Air Line cable car at Royal Victoria. Fares are the same as on the Tube, and the DLR runs from 5.30am to 12.30am Monday to Saturday and from 7am to 11.30pm on Sunday. Fares are the same as those on the Tube, and both Oyster card and Travelcard holders can use the DLR.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

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Public Transport - Thames River Bus

Travel with ease along the Thames on board a river bus. There are six different routes that all stop at destinations along the riverbank between Putney and Woolwich Arsenal. Popular services include the Thames Clippers route between Hilton London Docklands Riverside and Canary Wharf, the Tate-to-Tate boatride between Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and the journey between London Eye and Greenwich village. Depending on the service you'll be able to buy your ticket either before boarding or on board. Discounts are available when using Travelcards and Oyster cards.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

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Public Transport - Local Trains

As well as the Underground, London has its own local train network, which connects to the Tube at many points. The main train operators serving London are Silverlink, First Capital Connect, SouthEastern Railway, Southern Railway, London Overground and Greater Anglia. These local lines are, in turn, connected to the national rail network and the Eurostar. You can use your Oyster card on all trains operating within Zones 1-9, with the exception of Heathrow Express and a few other select services. Several different railcards are available too, providing discount fares to their holders.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

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Public Transport - Trams

London's tram network, Tramlink, was introduced in the year 2000 and it runs in specific parts of South London – between Wimbledon, Croydon, Beckenham and New Addington. Trams run approximately every seven minutes to New Addington and every 10 minutes to Wimbledon, Elmers End and Beckenham Junction during the day from Monday to Saturday. Fares are the same as on buses. This means there is a flat rate of £1.40 when using an Oyster card and £2.40 when paying by cash. Travelcards and bus passes are also valid on trams.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: tfl.gov.uk

More Information: www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information/getting-around-london/tram

Public Transport - Cycle Hire Scheme

Hop on a 'Boris bike' and zip around London using the city's public bike-sharing scheme. Named after London's former mayor Boris Johnson, the popular red bikes can be picked up at over 550 bicycle docking stations across London – which means you're never far away from one. After you've paid your registration fee (from £2), you can hire a bike for a day, a week or even a year. The bikes are free to use for the first 30 minutes, after which the price increases by £2 every extra 30 minutes. When you've finished your journey, simply return the bike to your nearest docking station – you can find out where that is using the Santander Cycles app.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 6666

Website: tfl.gov.uk

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Public Transport - Emirates Air Line

Cross the Thames in style on board the Emirates Air Line, London's cable car connecting Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. As well as taking you across the river in less than 10 minutes, it provides an amazing bird's eye view of London and the Thames. The fare is £3.20 using an Oyster card, or you can buy a return journey (known as a '360° tour') for £6.40 from the terminals at either end of the line. Multi-journey boarding passes (£10 for 10 single trips) and private cabin packages are also available.

Address: Emirates Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 1234

Website: www.emiratesairline.co.uk

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Taxi

Taking a ride in one of London's iconic black cabs makes for a very comfortable and spacious ride. Hail a cab in the street or pick one up at a taxi rank. Your journey is calculated using a meter, with a minimum charge of £2.40. Watch out though, because the price can go up pretty quickly and the roads in central London are often packed with cars. London also has many private vehicles for hire, as well as minicabs – these are unmetered so check the fare when booking. To find a local, reputable firm download Transport for London's free CabWise app or check the Hailo app to find a nearby black cab.

Address: London

Email:

Phone: +44 343 222 4000

Website: tfl.gov.uk

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Post

Postage stamps are available across London at post offices, newsagents and supermarkets. To post a package or small souvenirs, drop into a post office – you can find your nearest branch on their official website. Post offices are generally open Monday-Friday from 9.00am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 9.00am to 12.30pm.

Address: London

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Website: www.postoffice.co.uk

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Pharmacy

Whether you need to buy over-the-counter medication or collect a prescription, there are plenty of pharmacies all over the capital. Boots and Superdrug are two big chemist chains. You will also find pharmaceutical products at some of the larger supermarket branches.

Boots London Piccadilly Circus:

Address: 44-46 Regent St, London

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Phone: +44 207 7346 126

Website: www.boots-uk.com

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Telephone

The international dialling code for the UK is +44 or 0044, which replaces the first 'zero' of the phone number. So, for example, to call the number 020 7946 0000 from abroad you would dial +44 20 7946 0000.

The area codes for London are (020) 7, (020) 8 and (020) 3. If you're dialling a London number from another fixed phone line within Greater London you don't need to dial the '020' before the number, just the rest of the number starting with 7, 8 or 3.

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Electricity

Electrical appliances are connected to the UK mains supply using a three-pin plug, This plug fits into a wall socket. The sockets come with on-and-off switches, unlike in many other countries.

The average voltage of a UK power socket is 230v or slightly higher, so check the voltage of your device before plugging it in. Voltage adaptors and convertors are available from London airports and high-street electrical chains such as Argos or Curry's.

Power sockets are available at many coffee shops with WiFi and on some overground trains. Need to charge your mobile? Download the 'find-a-chargebox' iPhone app to find your nearest ChargeBox.

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