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Handy guide to London

Guide to London for when your ship docks at Southampton port. Read this guide with tips for your time in the city

This is your handy guide to London cruise excursions  to help you enjoy your stay in the UK. So if you are off to London on a cruise or for a weekend break read this guide complete with London travel ideas and tips on travelling to London for the first time. If you are disembarking from Southampton and you wish to extend your cruise getting in to London from Southampton is very easy. Take a look at this practical information on London day trips for when your cruise ship docks in Southampton.

Handy guide to London

Most cruises dock in Southampton which is the gateway to London read this guide on getting to London from Southampton first

There are so many places to visit in London, you will want to see some of the most iconic historic places of London Town along with the hidden places that are off the beaten track.

It is easy to enjoy London in one or two days or even a few weeks, depending on how long you want to stay. The children will love it too even your teens will love it in London.

Staying in London

With plenty of hotels in and around London Whatever your budget it is easy to find and book accommodation in London for a few nights. Try a Travel lodge or a hotel just outside of town which might be a little bit cheaper.

Understanding and using Londons underground transport

The best way to get around London is to use the London underground or walk. Stations are often very close together on. the London underground so getting about in London is really easy. Its a good idea to prepare yourself to walk a lot even if you are going to use the tube or the London transport system. It is easy to walk between train stations on the underground as some are so close together. The London tube map is one large coloured map with interlocking stations every station is manned so you can always ask for help on directions.

Purchase a visitor Oyster.

For tourists travelling in to London from abroad you can purchase a visitors Oyster card before your stay. This prepaid card lets you use the buses and trains all day as much as you please. The buses have a daily cap rate of 4.50 so you do not need to worry about over spending. This means you can hop on and hop off of the bus all day in any direction. You could see the whole of London Town from the east to the south by bus and not miss a thing.  

Dont panic if you forget to purchase your visitor oyster you can buy a normal oyster at any station and most London newspaper shops for a refundable £5. You  can top your card up in the same place too. Why not walk?

London underground sign Trafalgar square

Historic places to visit in London

There are an abundance of Historic places to visit when in London. Palaces, churches and historic monuments are scattered all over the city. Here are a few ideas of historic houses and places to visit in this guide to London.

The Tower of London.

Discover the incredible history of the Tower of London. The Tower of London was built as a secure fortress and a royal palace. If you visit the castle you will see the history of the tower and many hidden secrets.  There were storehouses for weapons and it was the home of the Royal Mint which produced the nation’s coins.

Westminster and the Houses of Parliament

Visit Westminster and the Houses of Parliament on a totally unique tour. See where all of the action of the Uk’s government takes place. You could also visit the historic Westminster Abbey.

Buckingham Palace

No visit to London is complete with out going to see the queen! Visit the national home of the Queen at Buckingham palace. This amazing building is open to the public throughout the summer and is a must visit when in London. Booking can be done online prior to your visit.

Tower Bridge

Visit Tower Bridge one of London’s most iconic sites! There are bridge opening times online so you can watch the traffic stop and the bridge open for boats to pass. You can even purchase tickets to take a bridge tour.

Big Ben in London in the big blue sky

Top free London Highlights

Free museums

London has some amazing free spaces and places to go. There are many galleries and museums that are free. Beware these will be busier in the height of season and at week ends.

Free galleries

If art is more your thing visit one of London?s art galleries such as my personal favourite the Tate Britain or the National Portrait gallery. One of my favourites is The Wallace collection a private collection tucked away around the back of Oxford Street.

Free outdoor parks in London

London also has many open spaces with an abundance of royal parks. Pop into a local supermarket grab some drinks and go rent a deckchair out in one of Londons Local parks.

One of my favourite London Parks is Kensington park. Did you know you can see London’s ring-necked parakeets in Kensington park? Take a walk down to the park to feed the parrots its sure to be spectacular.

Kensington park parrot small London
Feed the parrots at Kensington park

Alternative things to do when visiting london

There are many alternative things to do in London the list is endless as you walk the streets and take it in the city will never disappoint. Here are a few more ideas of great things to do in this guide to London.

A Hop on Hop off Bus

Take a hop on hop off on bus tour. Yes this is a touristy thing to do but you can get to see so much in a day. Let the bus be your guide to London with a guided speaker tour alongside. You can be whisked around London on a never ending mystery tour see all the main sites and more.

Visit a house where someone famous lived using the blue plaque scheme.

London has what is called a blue plaque scheme these houses document and commemorate where a person of achievement once lived you can download the app or pick up a book in a London bookshop to do for your own walking tour.

Visit the house of someone famous who lived in London

There are also lots of smaller privately owned museums in and around London  where famous people once resided or frequented. Try The house of Handal or Hendrix or the Charles Dickens museum or if you fancy something a bit more spooky try the Jack the Ripper museum and walking tour.

Visit the London Theatre guide

No trip to London is complete without Catching a London theatre show. You can pick up many tickets last minute and on the day very cheap so check out Leicester Square ticket booth. Alternatively you could try your luck at a lottery ticket by visiting one of the theatre websites direct or downloading an app called Todays Tix, see more info here.

London Theatre Ticket Lottery

London eating out

You have so much choice to eat in London including street foods markets, restaurants, and fine dining. The list is endless! here are a few ideas for something a bit different.

China Town

China town has a bucket load of restaurants including bubble tea shops and crepe and bubble wrap shops. Have some authentic Chinese food in this bustling community.

Borough Market

Borough Market is well known for its amazing food stalls. Head over to the south east and visit Londons oldest street food market Borough market. Serving fruit and veg, cheeses and everything in-between. Pop down to this market in the city for a tasty street food snack or pick up some food to take home.

China town treats and bubblewrap
Bubble wrap in China Town

Discover London’s neighbourhoods

London is a big place but many of the underground stations are close together some only a 5 minute walk. You discover more of London’s quirky neighbourhoods this way too. Londons neighbourhoods go far and wide and are very diverse. The West End covers, Covent Garden, Soho and China Town.
You can practically walk everywhere in the West-End which is full of theaters, shops, pubs, bars, famous landmarks and shops.

Take a walk around Londons neighbourhood for some of the most instagramable places in London.

Soho

Visit one of the neighbours-hoods of London the Soho district. There is so much to do in soho and it can be done in just a few hours or a few days. From China town to Carnaby Street this trendy area has plenty on including shopping and theatres.

Belgravia

Hop over to Belgravia and pop in to the London’s famous bakery Peggy Porschon. This beautiful areas has stunning townhouses houses and the floral displays outside of shops will not disappoint.

Camden

Visit the urban end of the East End of London such as Shoreditch and admire some of the best markets and trendy thrift shops. There is plenty to do for kids in Camden too including an abundance of street art to look for.

The West End

The West end is the heart of the action with huge designer hightstreet stores, restaurants, bars and some iconic London places. Explore the West-end by foot and take in the sights.

The south Bank

Head over to the hip South Bank area and watch the street performers or take a view over London on the iconic London eye. Take a walk along the thames and pop in to the Tate Modern gallery or the take a back stage tour of the Shake spheres Globe theatre.

Top things for kids to do in London

What are the best things to do with children in London? Kids get bored easily so keeping them entertained with lots of interactive places is essential.

If wandering around London there is a lot to do for children. Try some of these ideas!

Harry Potter in London!

Take a visit to platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station or visit the fabulous shop Minalima shop in Greek street for a fabulous Harry Potter fix.

Take a canal ride to Little Venice

Little Venice is a beautiful canal area of London. Hop on a canal boat from Camden and explore this serene part of the city. Hop off at the other end at Little Venice. What even better its right near London Zoo!

London Zoo

The world’s oldest scientific zoo is London Zoo. The zoo houses many different species of animals and birds and it even has giant Pandas.

Little venice London canal trip view
Little Venice Regents Park

Some favourites free museums for kids include:

The Museum of Childhood

The Science Museum

Bank of England museum.

The Natural History Museum

Museums and activities with a charge for kids in London.

The museum of Transport in Covent Garden

The Royal Mail museum and Mail rail

Shopping in London

When it comes to shopping in the London the you can?t beat Oxford street with its huge department stores and many flagships stops lining its length you will find everything you want. If luxury is more your way of shopping then head on over to Bond Street for designer shops.

For markets and beauty shops, Covent Garden is perfect. Neil Street in Covent Garden is teaming with shoes shops. You could also take a walk round Neils Yard for the most brightly coloured shops and restaurants. There are plenty of shops for kids in Covent Garden including the Tin Tin shop and the Moomins shop.

Camden is the perfect place for vintage thrift shops and markets plus amazing street food markets.

London guide for when your ship docks in Southampton Regent street taxi
Regent Street

What to wear in London

Londons weather can be pretty temperamental so you need to pack for all weathers. If travelling in the summer you will need sunscreen as well as a light weight raincoat. Take plenty of layers of clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Grab an umbrella and be prepared for all rain or shine.

How to stay safe in London

London is relatively safe however there are people that take advantage. Take a cross body bag or a wallet that you can keep close to can keep on your body to stay safe from pick pockets. If you are carrying a rucksack make sure the zips are closed and money is discreetly stored away.

Visiting London at Christmas

Christmas is a great time to visit London and it can be magical. With plenty of santa grottos and lots to do for children in london you will not worry about the weather. Wrap up warm and take advantage of all of the events that are put in place for this festive time of year.

Why try some ice skating at one of London iconic settings? or visit one Londons many Christmas markets?

One of the best free things to do at Christmas in London is to go and look at all of the beautiful department store windows! Every year the stores decorate their windows with unique designs. Check out Harrods, Selfridges store windows, House of Fraser and Hamleys.

Thank you for reading the Handy Guide to London enjoy your visit in this great city!

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A guide to London pin image. Neils yard and a parrot in Kensington gardens

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