EXPLORE

The Travel Guide to London

Good to Know
Safety:
A
Budget:
$$$$
When to go:
Apr–Oct
Average Costs
Basic
Baller
Dinners
$10
$80+
Drinks
$8
$20+
Hotel
$150
$300+

Welcome to London

Whether it’s your first foray or your 500th, a trip to London is always a good idea. It’s as cosmopolitan as New York, as temperate as San Francisco, and as culturally, artistically, and politically self-aware as anyplace on Earth. It’s also incredibly diverse. Over one-third of all Londoners are originally from another country, meaning that nearly 3.5 million people alive today visited from abroad, fell in love with the city’s history, style, cuisine, and futurism, and were so affected that they up and moved. Perhaps you’re next, or perhaps you’ll simply visit 500 times, brought back again and again by the incredible history, art, nightlife, and a love for all those traditions that make London one of the most iconic cities in the world. 

Who’ll Love London

Groups, solo travelers, couples, fashion lovers from streetwear fanatics to designer devotees, connoisseurs of great food, families seeking culture and history

How to Budget for a Trip to London

London is limitlessly charming, but unfortunately, there also doesn’t seem to be a limit on how high the cost of living can climb here. Meals, accommodations, museums, transportation, and just about everything else are all expensive, and—especially once you factor in the exchange rate—anyone unaccustomed to big-city prices will no doubt find themselves crying, “It costs how much?!” at least a few times. Budget $100-$250 per night for accommodations (hotels and vacation rentals alike), and at least $100 a day for meals, if you plan to eat with abandon.

Safety Considerations

Travelers in London needn’t fret about safety any more than they would back at home, or in any international city in Europe. Pickpocketing and petty theft do occur, but it’s highly unlikely that you’d fall victim to this type of crime if you maintain an awareness of your location and your belongings when you’re out exploring. And London’s beautiful diversity is an attraction unto itself. There are so many different cultures, races, and types of people here that virtually nobody is singled out. As such, it’s queer-friendly, BIPOC-friendly, female-friendly, and family-friendly. 

Weather in London

London has a temperate maritime climate so it rarely gets too hot or too cold. In summer, average highs top out at 72° F (though rare heat waves can push this higher) and in winter, most days are in the high 30s or low 40s. It rarely snows in winter (and it never sticks) though the days can be very damp and chilly. 

When to Visit London

The most popular time to visit is, of course, the summer months. If you want to avoid some of the crowds and save on flights and accommodations, spring and fall are lovely, as well, with pleasant weather. 

Money Saving Tips

Take it to go. Takeaway food is taxed at a lower rate in London versus dining in, so you’ll save by grabbing your food to go and eating in a nearby park. 

Hit the market. There are several fantastic markets throughout London where you can grab all sorts of delicious food for far less than you’d pay at a sit-down restaurant. 

Get an Oyster card. This card not only allows you to seamlessly ride the tube and busses, your fare will be charged at a lower rate than if you paid cash. 

Visit free museums. Museums including the British Museum, the V&A, and the Natural History Museum are all free, and many others have certain days of the month or nights of the week when they offer free or reduced price admission. 

What to See, Do, and Eat in London

The Top 10 Things to Do in London

London riverfront with London Eye
  1. Take a trip down Portobello Road Market, featuring over 1,000 merchants
  2. Have a relaxing afternoon in the sprawling grounds of Kew Gardens
  3. Visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, which houses over 2 million objects
  4. Spend a day at the Tate Modern to see its collection of British art and international modern and contemporary art
  5. Go to the Churchill War Rooms for a unique immersive history lesson
  6. Take a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral
  7. Visit Chinatown for a colorful, action-packed afternoon of shopping and eating
  8. Enjoy a sunny stroll through Little Venice’s quirky canals
  9. See the extraordinary Hampton Court Palace, where some of the most iconic moments in Western history took place
  10. Take a ride on the London Eye for a stunning view of the city 

The Local Picks for Top Attractions and Activities in London

London skyline at night from Hampstead Heath
  1. Have a picnic date at Hampstead Heath, the beautiful locale of Parliament Hill, from which you can get a wonderful view of the whole city
  2. Catch the Shepherds Bush Market, an off-the-radar outdoor market that’s a feast for the senses
  3. Catch a bit of world-class live entertainment at Queens Theatre
  4. Visit the Design Museum, a beautifully curated collection of art you won’t likely see elsewhere
  5. Have a proper Italian feast among the many stalls of Mercator Metropolitano
  6. Check out a performance at The Jazz Cafe, which features great live music throughout the week (not just jazz, either)
  7. Get inspired at White Cube, a free, minimalist art gallery in an area that’s full of local cafes and restaurants
  8. “Have a laugh” at 99 Comedy Club at Leicester Square
  9. Visit Books for Cooks for a unique combination: an independent cookbook store that puts the books’ recipes to the test at the onsite cafe (they also offer cooking classes)
  10. Break a sweat by hiking eight miles round-trip to the top of Box Hill

What to Eat & Drink in London

interior of busy Leadenhall Market

Careful not to overthink it: If you try too hard to find the perfect thing to eat in London, you could drive yourself mad. That’s because options abound and might literally be limitless; modern science has been unable to prove anything to the contrary. From proper pub grub to the latest hotspots and, famously, the best Indian food to be had outside of India, you’ll eat like kings (or Queen Elizabeth) on any given day here. The beer, wine, and cocktail scene packs a marvelous punch as well.

  • Woody Grill is the best spot in Camden for the munchies after midnight, serving up kebabs, falafel, and other Turkish treats
  • Tab x Tab is a great stop in Notting Hill for lunch or a quick cup of coffee or tea
  • El Pastor is a fantastic Mexican spot for cocktails, food, and atmosphere
  • Minnow is a welcome French addition at Clapham Common, one of London’s best culinary corners 
  • Cheese is a must at Leadenhall Market; the menu is delicious, from the requisite cheese plates to the wine list and port
  • Balans—specifically the Soho No. 60 location—is a lively spot for a laid-back yet entertaining dinner (with a calmer vibe at breakfast and lunch)
  • Bob Bob Ricard is an iconic Soho restaurant that serves up French-Russian fare in a lush atmosphere
  • Cahoots this a cocktail bar in a decommissioned train car where the vibe is cozy and the drinks are tiki-style
  • Blues Kitchen is one of Camden's most popular live music bars where drinks are decently priced and the food is messy and lovely (book a table in advance)
  • Renegade is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it urban gem that’s perfect for popping in for a glass or selecting a bottle (or three) of natural wine to take with you

Where to Stay in London

Top London Neighborhoods for Visitors

aerial view of a London neighborhood with a circular tree-filled park at the center

A city as big as London has dozens of great areas of town to stay in, so consider this an introduction, not a definitive list. For young travelers and/or groups of friends, areas like Soho, Camden, Brixton, and Kings Crossing are good options for the fact that they’re all hip, energetic, and offer some budget-friendly accommodations to suit smaller budgets. Notting Hill and Kensington are both tonier locales, good for couples, families, and older travelers looking for a bit of calm amid the chaos. Lastly, the award for Best Up-and-Comer goes to Stoke Newington.

Recommended Hotels in London

Getting Around in London

Public Transportation Options in London

Take the tube. The London metro is a great way to get around town; a close runner-up is the bus system, which is less efficient than the tube but is something of a scenic route, comparatively speaking. Then there are the taxis. London’s black cabs are as iconic as New York’s yellows, and each driver is required to pass an extremely difficult geography test on the city before they’re allowed a license. Uber’s always an option, as is a pedestrian jaunt. As for accessibility, almost nowhere rivals London, which is so dedicated to the practice of making the city navigable from a wheelchair that every single black cab is equipped with its own ramp (the same cannot be said for the tube and busses) and the streets, sidewalks, and sights are largely accessible, as well. 

London Airports

There are six international airports serving the London metro area, more than any other metropolitan area.

  • London City Airport (LCY) is the closest to central London at seven miles away. It’s a focus city for British Airways.
  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is about 20 miles from London. It’s not only London’s busiest airport, it’s among the busiest in the world for international passengers. It’s the main hub for British Airways and a focus city for Virgin Atlantic.
  • Gatwick Airport (LGW) is about 28 miles from central London and the second-busiest behind Heathrow. It’s a focus city for British Airways, easyJet UK, TUI Airways, and Wizz Air UK.
  • London Luton Airport (LTN) is roughly 35 miles miles from London and is a focus city for budget carriers easyJet UK, Ryanair, TUI Airways, and Wizz Air UK.
  • Stansted Airport (STN) is 40 miles from London and serves as Ryanair’s largest base. It’s also a focus city for Jet2.com and TUI Airways.
  • Southend Airport (SEN) is about 36 miles from London, and while it was once a busy airport it has lost nearly all of its passenger services due to COVID.

How to Get to London from Heathrow Airport (LHR)

The Heathrow Express train is the quickest way to get from Heathrow Airport into London. Travel time to Paddington Station is roughly 15 minutes and tickets start at £22. The city’s Tube system also connects Heathrow to London, making the journey to Piccadilly Circus in around 50 minutes for a cost of £6. Coach services run by National Express (tickets start at about £10) and easyBus (tickets start at about £4) take from 45-90 minutes. Fares for London’s famous black taxis start at £49 from Heathrow to central London and the travel time is 30-60 minutes.

How to Get to London from Gatwick Airport (LGW)

The Gatwick Express train connects the airport to central London, running between Gatwick and London’s Victoria Station in about 30 minutes. Tickets are about £20. National Express coaches serve Victoria Coach Station (a roughly 80-minute trip, £6.50 one way), and fares with authorized taxis start at about £60.

How to Get to London from London City Airport (LCY)

London City Airport is connected to London via the Docklands Light Railway, which connects to the London Tube at Canning Town, Stratford, or Bank stations. Travel time varies a great deal depending on your destination, but you can expect at least a 20-40 minute trip into the city center and a cost of £4-8. Taxis make the trip in about 50 minutes and fares start around £55.

How to Get to London from London Luton Airport (LTN)

London Luton Airport’s shuttle buses make the trip to the Luton Airport Parkway train station in about ten minutes. From there, East Midlands Trains connect with London in just over 20 minutes (about £3) and Thameslink makes the trip in about 40 minutes (about £14). Several coach services connect Luton with the city, including National Express (75 minutes, around £5), easyBus (70 minutes, from £2), and Terravision (from 75 minutes, £11.50). Taxi fares start around £90 and the trip takes about 45 minutes.

How to Get to London from Stansted Airport (STN)

The Stansted Express train is the easiest way to get into London. The trip takes between 35-50 minutes, depending on your destination, and tickets start at under £10 if you buy them in advance. National Express coaches connect Stansted with central London in about 50 minutes (tickets start at £10 one way) and easyBus coaches make the trip in about 1 hour 45 minutes (tickets start at £2).

Where Else to Go from London   

Day Trips from London

Brighton Beach and its pier

Go 1.5 hours west to Bath, a beloved destination in the dreary months due to its many spas. It’s ideal to visit in autumn, when crisp weather makes the thought of a leisurely stroll to various cafes and shops along the cobblestoned streets that much more enticing.

Take an hour-long train ride south to Brighton, London locals’ preferred choice for an easy beach getaway.

Head 2.5 hours east to Leeds Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover, a classic English landscape of dramatic architecture and gloomy-yet-seductive vistas.

Venture ~1.5 hours eastward to Canterbury, enduringly beautiful despite the mass destruction it endured during WWII. It’s a lovely place to seek out art, culture, and intelligentsia in a more relaxed setting than what you get in London.

Take a 2.5-hour train southwest to see Stonehenge with your own eyes.

Where Else to Visit from London

Take an hour-long flight west to Dublin to experience Irish hospitality at its finest.

Fly an hour (or take an overnight train) north to Edinburgh, a beautiful, castle-filled city with a signature blend of tradition and modernity.

Pop down to Paris on a 1.25-hour flight (or take the Eurostar train for an even easier trip), but don’t stop there. After you’ve thoroughly fallen in love with the city, head onward to see more of France (including, but not limited to, the French Riviera).

Fly eastward an hour to The Hague, an enviably posh part of the Netherlands, while leaving plenty of time to explore Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and points north like Leeuwarden

Books, Movies, and TV Shows Set in London

London has made countless appearances on the large and small screens. For some of the best shots of the city’s scenery, start with the shows The Crown, Sherlock, or Eastenders, and the movies Sliding Doors, Notting Hill, Paddington, and Love, Actually. 

You’ve got even more options when it comes to books, with stories set in London throughout the ages. There’s classics like Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Atonement by Ian McEwan or more modern masterpieces like Nick Hornby’s About a Boy and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Previous cheap flights we've found to London: 

Ready to go? Fly to London—or anywhere in the world—for less with Scott's Cheap Flights! Members save an average of $550 on roundtrip international flights.

Actual deals booked by our Premium members

Premium
Economy
Hawaii
$
800
+
$
386
Premium
Economy
New York City
$
300
+
$
157
Premium
Economy
Spain
$
800
+
$
410
Premium
Economy
Dubai
$
1000
+
$
594
Get free flight alerts