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10 Things You Need To Know About London

How to save money, the best bars and more in the British capital.

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Fact Sheet

What's in our video about Londonprint

1. London is one of Europe's largest cities
London has a population of 7.5 million people and covers 600 square miles which makes it one of Europe's largest cities. Over 270 nationalities live there and between them they speak over 250 languages, more than any other city in the world.
2. For travelling the 'Tube' buy a 'travel card' or an 'Oyster Card'
London's underground, better known as the 'Tube' transports over 1 billion people around the English capital every year. There are 12 lines in operation and because many of the city's top attractions have their own stops, you'll definitely use it at some stage.

For buying tickets you should buy one of these two:

  1. Off-peak travelcard for zones 1 and 2: Costing just over £5, this will permit you unlimited travel on the tube within zones 1 and 2, which should be enough for any visitor to the city
  2. Oyster Card: These can be picked up at tube stations. They cost £3 and work on a pay as you go basis. Each journey then costs £1.50, but there is a 'capping' scheme where once you use a certain amount, it will stop taking money off your card. They make travelling on the tube cheaper, easier and quicker.
3. Many of the world's most instantly recognisable landmarks are here
Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Buckinham Palace, Tower Bridge and more landmarks can be found in London. A great way to see lots of them in a short space of time is by going on a walk up the Thames from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. First you'll see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, then the London Eye, while further down the river you'll see St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin Building, Tate Modern, Tower of London and, of course, Tower Bridge .
4. The city's top museums and galleries are free
Many of London's top museums and galleries are free. This includes the Natural History Museum and Science Museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, and the Victoria and Albert Museum around the corner from here on Cromwell Road. Closer to the West End are the National Portrait Gallery on St Martin's Place behind Trafalgar Square, along with the National Gallery which is actually on Trafalgar Square. The famous Tate Modern is also free, while the most popular of all is the British Museum on Great Russell Street which has over 7 million artefacts.
5. There are lots of parks to chill out in
As London is such a busy city, it's good to know there are lots of parks to chill out in. The biggest and best known is Hyde Park which is full of lakes and fountains, and is where you will find the famous ‘Speakers Corner' where people come to speak their mind on all subjects every Sunday morning. Other parks worth checking out are St James's Park and Green Park in front of Buckingham Palace, and Regents Park and Primrose Hill up in North London.
6. This is one of the best cities in the world for shopping
Some of the best known streets for shopping in London are Carnaby Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street. The famous department store Harrods can be found in Knightsbridge, while bargains can be found at the markets in Camden Town.
7. It's got some really cool neighbourhoods
Suburbs mentioned in the video are:
  1. Covent Garden: Home to lots of trendy clothes shops and restaurants. (Tube: Covent Garden)
  2. Soho: Full of bars and restaurants, and the city's gay quarter. (Tubes: Piccadilly Circus / Tottenham Court Road)
  3. Camden Town: More like a big town than a big city due to its lock, markets, eclectic clothes shops and tattoo parlours. (Tube: Camden Town)
  4. Notting Hill: Extremely popular since the 1999 movie of the same name. Its main thoroughfare is Portobello Road which is lined with cafes and antique shops. You can even visit the shop where Hugh Grant's character worked in the film. (Tubes: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove)
8. You have to try some local specialties when eating out
Two famous local specialties are:
  1. Fish and chips: This speaks for itself! There all sorts of fish to try, but for authentic ‘fish and chips' try cod. A great place to try it is The Golden Hind (73 Marylebone Lane; Tube: Bond St) off the top of Oxford Street
  2. Sausage and mash: This is sausage and mashed potatoes. Sausages are generally made from pork although there are lots of variations. To try this visit the S & M Cafe (48 Brushfield Street; Tube: Liverpool Street) in the east end of the city centre
9. Shop around when looking for discounted theatre tickets
Along with New York's Broadway, London's West End is the most famous theatre district in the world. The best known place to get discounted tickets is the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square but shop around other booths, also around Leicester Square, along with ones around Piccadilly Circus.
10. Go east rather than west for nightlife
Even though there are loads of bars around Piccadilly Circus and Soho in the West End, you should check out some of areas east of the city for bars like Shoreditch and Hoxton. Bars mentioned in the video are:
  1. Big Chill Bar (Dray Walk, off Brick Lane; Tube Liverpool Street, Aldgate East): One of London's coolest bars and has different DJs every night of the week.
  2. Jam and Kick Near the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Old Street and always busy on weekends.
  3. Bluu (1 Hoxton Square; Tube: Old St): On the site of the old Blue Note jazz club and the best bar around Hoxton Square.
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