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 by creating your own tour. Or take one of the official ones by bike, boat, bus or on foot. When you’re finished getting acquainted with the city, enjoy a musical show at one of the world famous theatres, indulge in a spot of retail therapy, check out the renowned museums and family-friendly attractions or visit the stadium of your favourite team.
Plan your itinerary before you go to avoid disappointment. There’s lots to see in London, and it’s easy to run out of time. If you’re planning on doing lots of sightseeing, pick up The London Pass
. This provides free entry to over 60 visitor centres and museums, as well as fast-track entry to some of the most popular ones so you won’t have to queue. Combine this with an Oyster Travel Card
and enjoy unlimited travel on public transport.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE CITY
Take yourself on a self-guided tour and you’ll 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 attention. Explore details you could miss on a mass tour, like the ornate decoration of the buildings and the grand scale of your surroundings. Wander past all the major sights, from Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace, then towards the River Thames, Big Ben and Westminster, continuing onwards to Covent Garden.
If you don’t have a full day to engross yourself in the city sights, speed things up and rent a bike. Or, take a bus tour. 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. Calm things down with a cruise along the River Thames, and enjoy lunch, tea or dinner while floating across the water. If it’s speed you’re after, head on an adrenaline-fuelled RIB boat tour, or take a trip you’ll never forget on 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. Theatregoers 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 a show, make sure you book tickets well in advance of your visit. Alternatively 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 the UK’s capital that you’ll be spoilt for choice. No matter what your interests are you can be sure to find an event, gallery, exhibition or museum about it. London’s top cultural venues include The British Museum
, 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
and the Churchill War Rooms
Whether you love high street labels, haute couture, or vintage finds 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 several independent boutiques and fashion labels.
For high street fashion, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Oxford Circus is where all the action is. If you’re looking for international designer labels, venture to Bond Street and Mayfair or if you want everything under one roof, Selfridges and Liberty will service your shopping needs.
FAMILY FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT
Travelling to London with kids doesn’t mean that adults can’t have fun too. There’s plenty of family fun to be found at places like The Making of Harry Potter
at Warner Bros Studio Tour, London Dungeon
and The London Bridge Experience
. You can even get your photo taken with your favourite celebrities and characters (well, wax versions of them at least) at the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Watch your kids’ faces light up as they set eyes on Hamleys Toy Store
. The younger ones will jump with excitement at the Science Museum
, Coram’s Fields
and London Transport Museum
. For animal lovers, London Zoo
and the Sea Life Aquarium
are ideal. Some musicals might be too much for little ones, 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. There you’ll 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
. London also houses the ‘home of cricket’, Lord’s Cricket Ground
and the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, best known as host of the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Championships
. For those wanting to explore more, there are tours and museums available at each of these 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’re a fan of the English Premier League or football in general, make sure you secure yourself a ticket to watch top teams such as Arsenal
or West Ham
play at home. All these stadiums offer tours so you can gain an insight into the careers and everyday life of your favourite players.
CONVENIENT TRAVEL INTO CENTRAL LONDON
To reach central London from the hotel, 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.
Whether you have weeks or just hours to explore central London, with forward planning and our top tips, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time.