London City Airport is consulting on plans to modernise its flight paths to allow the introduction of Area Navigation (RNAV), as part of the wider London Airspace Management Programme, led by NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic services. For more information, including details of how to respond to the consultation click here.

 
 

London. Leisure Guides.

 

A buzzing melting pot of iconic landmarks and cosmopolitan culture, London feels like the centre of the world. Ancient streets exude cutting-edge fashion, restaurant kitchens sizzle with international flavours and the city’s historic markets are as vibrant as ever

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Getting around


The extensive London Underground (‘the Tube’) makes it easy to speed across this vast city. It’s the oldest underground system in the world, with 11 lines and nine zones. For those wanting to take in the sights overground, London’s far-reaching bus network is cheaper than the Tube, though be prepared to enjoy the ride without hurry. All bus journeys cost the same. 
 
An electronic pre-pay Oyster card is the value-for-money way of travelling around London, and can be purchased and topped up at underground stations and other ticket stops. One-day travelcards for the underground are also good value. If not using an Oyster card, some bus fares need to be paid before boarding at ticket machines by the bus stop. 
 
Oyster cards can be used on all forms of public transport, it is peferable to purchase cards in advance.
To purchase a visitor Oyster card click here.
 
The iconic black London taxi is as ubiquitous as the bright red bus. Hail them from the street or find taxi ranks at main train stations. 
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Hotels


London’s five-star hotels are synonymous with old-world heritage and classic service standards. Among the pantheon of established luxury properties is The Goring (Beeston Place) near Buckingham Palace, which has been in the same family since opening in 1910. Even more legendary is The Savoy (Strand), still spic’n’span from its long refurbishment and home to a glittering guestbook comprising everyone from Churchill to Sinatra. 
 
New openings remain commonplace in London, with one of the greatest successes of recent years being the painstakingly restored St Pancras Renaissance (Euston Road), occupying the glorious Gothic building that long ago housed the Midland Grand Hotel. Pop into its atmospheric Booking Office Bar for cocktails or ale served in pewter tankards.
 
To book a hotel click here
 
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Nightlife

Whatever genre of nightlife tickles your fancy, London has it in abundance. East London is currently basking in a cultural heyday, with an ever-expanding hub of fashionable bars and clubs. Shoreditch in particular is brimming with stylish drinking spots; Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, Bethnal Green Road and Brick Lane are all buzzing after dark.

Edgy Camden remains a must for live music fans, with its venues and shabby-chic pubs offering a steady array of up-and-coming and established acts. Sleek cocktail bars can be found in large numbers on the Kings Road and Clapham, while super clubs such as Fabric and Ministry of Sound keep ravers going until past sunrise.

London’s West End offers a glittering array of world-class theatre – from spangly musicals featuring famous names to acclaimed plays – and there are many ‘dinner and a show’ deals to be had. On the South Bank, the National Theatre and the South Bank Centre are thriving cultural centres. 

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Restaurants

London’s dining scene is a glorious convergence of nations, groundbreaking chefs, and longstanding traditional British flavours. A bounty of Michelin stars illuminate the higher-end options, with prestigious three-starred honour found at Alain Ducasse and the Dorchester hotel in Mayfair and Restaurant Gordon Ramsey on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea.

New restaurants seem to open daily, and one of the latest success stories is meat and game specialist 34 Grosvenor Square in Mayfair. For those keen to splash out on a meat feast, its prime cuts have received rave reviews. For an established and perpetually exciting London eatery championing traditional meaty flavours, few come close to St John in EC1.

While fine dining and molecular gastronomy flourish, London’s more wallet-friendly eateries can be just as tempting. Eat fine fresh food at the bustling Vietnamese cantinas on Kingsland Road in East London, Turkish restaurants in Haringey and an array of oriental eateries in and around Soho.

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Shopping


From multi-floor glossy boutiques decked in designer brands to lively markets piled high with vintage clothes and antiques, shopping in London has become legend among serious retail addicts. For high-end clothing, head to Bond Street or Knightsbridge, home of luxury department store Harrods (87-135 Brompton Road). London’s other luxury department stores include Selfridges (400 Oxford Street), Liberty (Regent Street) and Fenwick (63 New Bond Street). High-street names galore line the likes of Oxford Street and High Street Kensington, while vintage chic is the style du jour in East London – find Brick Lane and the surrounding streets peppered with retro and vintage boutiques. 
 
Clattering markets are London’s forte, and whether north, south, east or west, you’re never far from the hustle and bustle of al fresco trading. Long-standing London markets include Portobello Road’s Saturday antiques market, Columbia Road’s Sunday flower market, Old Spitalfields Market and Petticoat Lane Market – both near Liverpool Street – and the still-rewarding alternative heartland of Camden Market. 
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Top 10 sights

Top 5 sights for first-timers

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

The UK’s magnificent centre of government remains one of London’s most photographed landmarks. The neo-Gothic Palace of Westminster, soaring upwards beside the Thames, has seen the birth of countless laws and heard the rallying address of many great leaders. Hear the hour marked by the deep chimes of Big Ben – the 13-ton bell inside the clock tower.

Parliament Square
www.parliament.uk

Tate Modern

London’s not short on inspirational gallery spaces, but none are quite as striking as the Tate Modern. Occupying a converted power station and using its vast Turbine Hall as a cavernous centrepiece, the gallery houses a truly world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. There are special exhibitions on a rolling basis.   

Bankside
www.tate.org.uk

Westminster Abbey

London’s historic Westminster Abbey is one of the world’s most distinguished sacred spaces. As well as being a truly beautiful and ornate spectacle, the abbey also has strong royal ties, having seen the coronation of kings and queens for centuries, and more recently providing the setting for the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

20 Deans Yard
www.westminster-abbey.org

Buckingham Palace

Stately Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London residence, and from late July to late September visitors can explore the gloriously opulent state rooms at the heart of the building. Outside, the Changing of the Guard draws crowds throughout the year - daily between April and July (except Sundays), and every other day between August and March.

Buckingham Palace Road
www.royalcollection.org.uk

Tower of London

A dark history is revealed at this ancient castle beside London’s River Thames. Once a notorious prison and place of execution and torture, today it houses the exquisite Crown Jewels collection. Tours by the Yeoman Warders (aka ‘Beefeaters’) bring the Tower’s history to life with gruesome and fascinating tales.

Tower of London
www.hrp.org.uk

Top 5 sights for old hands

Science Museum

Founded way back in 1857 and still very much keeping pace with the times, this excellent seven-floor museum traces scientific breakthroughs from the sepia days of the Industrial Revolution through to the whistles and bells of the digital age. It’s interactive, informative and enormous. Serious educational fun for all ages. 

Exhibition Road
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

St Paul’s Cathedral

The silver dome of St Paul’s Cathedral still maintains a grand presence on London’s eclectic skyline. Climb up into the dome itself to experience the Whispering Gallery, then head down to the ancient crypt, the final resting place for historical figures such as Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.

Paternoster Square
www.stpauls.co.uk

Borough Market

The quality of London’s food scene has never been in better nick, and Borough Market showcases the fact more enjoyably than almost anywhere else in town. Historically (and still) a pre-dawn wholesale market, it really comes alive on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with corridors of artisan stalls serving up everything from gourmet sausages to Punjabi pickles. 

Southwark Street
www.boroughmarket.org.uk

Brick Lane

This animated East London street is a thriving hub of activity, with a youthful crowd enjoying trendy bars, live music, vintage clothing stores and an array of curry houses. Weekends are particularly lively, when market stalls fill the area and bars spill out onto the streets. Pick up one of Brick Lane’s bagels and explore.

Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets

Kew Gardens

Tropical flowers and classic English greenery populate this leafy UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest London, home to the globe’s largest collection of living plants. Visitors can walk ancient treetops on an 18-metre-high walkway, looking out across Kew’s sweeping landscaped grounds – all 121 hectares of them – and enjoying the seasonal blooms of the gardens and glasshouses.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond
www.kew.org

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Top 5 activities


Cable car across the Thames 

The most scenic means of crossing from one Docklands riverbank to the other is a 10-minute cable car link unveiled for the first time in 2012. It reaches a height of 90 metres – far higher than the nearby O2 Arena – and while technically part of the public transport network, it’s become a tourist draw in its own right. 
 
Mini Cooper tour
 
Guided tours in this classic British car take in the big sights of the UK capital, with the driving tour guide offering stories and information along the way. A special Royal Tour focuses on the landmarks associated with the British Royal Family.
 
Cycling

For those with the leg power, cycling is one of the best ways of travelling around London – largely thanks to the ‘Boris bike’ cycle scheme that was launched in 2010. More and more bike-docking stations continue to pop up throughout the city, and designated cycle paths help navigate around the inner city traffic. 
 
London Eye

Enjoy far-reaching views of this vast city from the Thames-side London Eye. This 135-metre wheel takes passengers far up above the skyline, giving a sweeping cityscape. From the top, pick out landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, the Olympic Stadium, Battersea Power station, London’s many big parks and the towering Shard. 
 
Harry Potter
 
The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – located some 30 kilometres north of the city – gives fans of Hagrid, Hermione, Hedwig et al the chance to immerse themselves in the endlessly creative wizarding world of the Harry Potter films. You’ll find sets, costumes, props and special effects. Tickets need to be booked in advance.
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Top 5 events


London Fashion Week

Cutting-edge trends from the world’s finest designers take the spotlight at this twice-yearly event. Catwalk shows teem with the who’s-who of fashion and celebrity, while exclusive after-show parties keep cool crowds entertained until the small hours. 
 
Date: February and September
Venue: Somerset House and other venues
 
Chelsea Flower Show

England’s premier horticultural celebration is always awash with innovative designs, prize blooms and new plant unveilings. 
 
Date: May
Venue: London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea
 
Wimbledon

Tennis greats battle it out at Wimbledon’s All England Club during the world’s oldest tennis tournament. Spectators cheer on the likes of Murray and Djokovic while tucking into Wimbledon’s famous strawberries and cream. 
 
Date: June
Venue: All England Club
 
Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill in West London is taken over by a huge and flamboyant street party that dominates pavements, pubs and parks. A colourful procession leads through the streets, complemented by a rainbow collage of Caribbean food stalls, calypso and samba bands, DJ sets and general revelry. 
 
Date: August Bank Holiday weekend
Venue: Notting Hill
 
The BFI London Film Festival

Showcasing the cream of British and international film, the BFI Film Festival is London’s most extensive celebration of the big screen. Cinemas across the city put on a rich selection of documentaries, feature films and shorts. 
 
Date: October
Venue: Cinemas across London

Written by World Travel Guide

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