I lived in London for two years while I was a student, and despite being a very expensive city, it was one of the best places I have ever lived in. To me, so far, nothing equals London, certainly because I fell in love with that city: always buzzing, each district is unique, so many parks to visit, rich culturally and historically, great bars and clubs, the British accent!
Population: 8.5 million people (2014)
Currency: pound Sterling
Language: English, although more languages are spoken in London than in any other city in the world. (300)
London is home to the tallest building in Europe, The Shard. It is a 87 storey skyscraper.
London was the first city in the world to have an underground railway known as the tube.
It is considered an act of treason to put a postage stamp with the queen’s head upside down on an envelope! (you've been warned!)
Big Ben is not actually the name of the clock, it is the name of the bell which is inside the clock.
Where to stay?
Safe to say that London is an expensive city when it comes to transportation and accommodation. If you are a budget traveler, many great hostels usually located in the heart of the city offers affordable rates with prices starting from 15 GBP per night per person and include services such as: free internet, breakfast, pub crawl and free walking tour of the city. The last one I went to was Wombats city hostel London and I loved it. Located 10 minutes walk from Tower Bridge, great staff, original decor, bar with cheap beers, hipster decor.
Otherwise, Airbnb is also a great way to experience the London life like a local.
What I recommend is to stay within the zones 1 and 2 to limit your expenses. It might cost you more for the accommodation but you would then be able to explore most of the surroundings by walk and take the transport if you get tired.
Things to do?
Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Westfield shopping centre, markets on Brick Lane or Camden town to cite a few. In term of shopping, London is a great place to find unique fashion style.
Go see a musical
New York got Broadway, London got "Theatreland" also known as West End. It is London main theatre district with about forty venues located in central London. It is famous for being the main commercial and entertainment centre of the city.
Visit the parks
Hyde Park, Greenwich park, Richmond park or Kensington's garden. London offers many green areas within the city including hidden secret gardens that only locals know about. If you want to enjoy a great view on London skyline, Richmond and Greenwich parks are the best spot in my opinion.
Visit the museums
They are all FREE as far as I know and there are so many to visit, have a look here.
Walk along the south bank thames river from the London eye to tower bridge
It is a long walk but that part of the city is always alive with many artists, young people, cafes, pubs and bars. Great walk to do in the late afternoon, early evening.
Also a great thing to do before you go is to check out these two websites for great deals and to know what's happening on the day(s) you travel there: Timeout London and Lastminute. If you are on a budget and do not have much money to spend, you can still look up for free things to do in London
Things to see?
If that's your first time in London, don't miss out on he most famous landmarks in London, like:
The Shard and city hall
The Sky Garden
It recently opened. Unfortunately, I was not able to get up there as you need to book online at least two weeks in advance to be able to visit it. You can find more information on their website. It looks amazing inside and you can enjoy a great view over London from the heart of the city.
Saint Paul overlooking the Millennium bridge
London is also a great platform for artists and designers, keep an eye on the streets and you might encounter future celebrities!
What to eat?
Middle eastern food in Marble Arch, Indian in mile end, Asian in China town close to Picaddilly circus, European in Covent Garden, or food market on Brick Lane, the choice is yours. This metropolitan city has a lot to offer for every food lover.
How to get around?
Cycling, taking a cab, taking the bus or the boat over the Thames, or most commonly by tube, London is a very well connected city and it is very easy to get around. Couple of tips:
#1 Good thing to know is that if you have a contactless debit card, you can use that to get through the gates.
#2 keep your right in the escalator if you are not walking, otherwise you might face the wrath of a London commuter!
#3 Uber is less expensive than black cabs that can be overpriced and who are also known to extend tourists journey to gain couple pounds. With Uber you at least get a price estimation.
It is rare to meet someone who travelled to London and did not like the city. It has everything you wish for: activities, rich culturally and in History, night life, fashion trends, etc... Either it is for a weekend getaway or a week in that city, there is so much to do that you wished you could stay longer.
Having lived there for two years, I still discover new things every time I go. So plan your trip carefully or you might get lost in this HUGE city!