Exploring central London
If you have time to spare on your stopover at Heathrow Airport, make sure you travel into central London and explore one of the most famous cities in the world. Make it a day to remember. Create your own tour or take one of the official ones by bike, boat, bus or on foot. When you are finished getting acquainted with the city, enjoy a musical at one of the world famous theatres, indulge in a spot of retail therapy, check out some museums and family-friendly attractions or visit the stadium of your favourite team.
Plan your itinerary before you go. Work out what interests you the most, what is on your bucket list and how to get there. This will save you time when you actually arrive in the city and you will not be disappointed by missing out on the things you have always dreamed of seeing. It also means you won’t be overwhelmed by the unlimited amount of activities on offer. If you are planning on doing lots of sightseeing, pick up The London Pass
. This entitles you free entry to over 60 visitor centres and museums, as well as fast-track entry to some of the most popular ones so you do not have to queue. Combine this with an Oyster Travel Card and enjoy unlimited travel on public transport. Now that you are ready to see the sights, its time to decide what to see and do.
Take a tour of the city
Take yourself of a self-guided tour and you will see the city from your own perspective, skip the things that don’t interest you and use your time to discover those that capture your interest. Explore details you could miss on a mass tour like the ornate decoration of the buildings and the grand scale of your surroundings. You can for example stroll from Hyde Park, to Buckingham Palace, towards the River Thames, Big Ben and Westminster, then continue onwards to Covent Garden. If you do not have a full day to engross yourself in the city speed things up and rent a bike. For a more comprehensive visit, choose one of the many bus tours on offer. Most offer a hop on, hop off service covering the major attractions. There are several options for combination tickets, which also include entry to some of the attractions.
London moves at a fast pace. To slow this down take a cruise along the River Thames. Spice up the trip and enjoy a lunch, tea or dinner while floating across the water. If looking for speed, head on an adrenaline-fuelled RIB boat tour or for a trip you will never forget, join London Duck Tours. This amphibious adventure allows you to travel on land and in the water so you can combine the best of both worlds.
West End musicals
London’s West End is the ultimate destination for any musical lover. People travel from across the globe to see their favourite musical in this theatrical utopia. The top performances of all time include The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Mamma Mia, and Thriller, many of which are so popular they are still running today. If you plan to see one, make sure you book tickets well in advance of your visit. If you did not manage to plan, you can pick up largely discounted, last minute tickets from the TKTS Ticket Booth
on Leicester Square.
Delve into culture
There is so much happening in England’s capital that you will be spoiled for choice. No matter what your interests are, you will find an event, gallery, exhibition or museum about it. The top venues include The British Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, and the Imperial War Museum. There are also plenty of more unusual museums, such as the Old Operating Theatre, Museum of Brands, Cartoon Museum, Churchill War Rooms, and the Crime Museum (or Black Museum).
Whether you love high street labels, haute couture, or vintage and markets, London is the best shopping destination in the UK. Covent Garden
is a must-see. This former fruit and vegetable market is now home to independent boutiques and fashion labels. Here you will find fashion, shoes and accessories, beauty, gifts, food, outdoor clothing and other specialist stores. For high street fashion Oxford Street, Regent Street and Oxford Circus is where all the action is. If looking for international designer labels venture to Bond Street and Mayfair, and if you want everything under one roof, Selfridges and Liberty will service your shopping needs.
Family fun and entertainment
When travelling with kids, regardless of age, it does not mean the adults cannot have fun too. Family fun can be found at places like The Making of Harry Potter
at Warner Bros Studio Tour, or for a bit of mystery and horror, London Dungeon and The London Bridge Experience. Madame Tassauds Wax Museum is always good for a laugh and you can have your photos taken with your favourite characters and celebrities. For animal lovers, London Zoo is ideal.
Watch your kids’ faces light up as they set eyes on Hamleys Toy Store. The younger ones will jump with excitement at the Sea Life Aquarium, Science Museum, Coram’s Fields and London Transport Museum. Some musicals might be too much for young minds but theatres across the city have family-friendly and children’s shows that will challenge and inspire. If you want to enjoy one of the city’s many green spaces, pack a picnic and take the family to a park. You will find ponds, playgrounds, walking trails, boating and wildlife.
For sporting fans
England’s capital is a haven for sporting fans and home to the national football and rugby stadiums, Wembley and Twickenham respectively, Lord’s Cricket Ground, and Wimbledon Tennis Club. For those wanting to take a deeper look tours and museums are available at all the venues. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
was opened to the public after the Olympic Games in 2012. The venue has a packed schedule of cultural and sporting events and attractions.
If you are a fan of the English Premier League or football in general, make sure you secure yourself a ticket to a home game to watch top teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham or West Ham. All these stadiums also offer tours so you can gain an insight into the careers and everyday life of your favourite players.
Convenient travel into central London
The Park Inn by Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre London Heathrow
is located minutes from the airport. To reach central London conveniently and efficiently, take the hotel’s Hoppa Bus to Heathrow Airport where you can then choose one of the following options
Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, a travel time of just 15 minutes
The London Underground on the Piccadilly Line, the cheapest option and a travel time of 50-60 minutes
The National Express Coach, a travel time of 40-80 minutes.
No matter how much time you have to explore central London, with forward planning and our top tips, you are guaranteed an unforgettable day out.