Flights to London
The foggy clouds of London rest just above so many recognizable monuments: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the list goes on and on. It's the backdrop to modern day fairytales (we all saw the Royal Wedding); the place that withstood the plague, the Great Fire and the WWII blitz; the setting that inspired Shakespeare and Dickens. And it's a city that at the end of the day is fine settling into a local pub, having a good brew and raising a glass in cheers every now and then.
In addition to being a city of history, it’s one of great cultural diversity. Greater London sprawls 607 square miles and has more than seven million inhabitants who speak over 300 languages. In Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Bengali, Somali and Hindu communities - just to name a few - you will find tastes, shopping, and culture from all over the world. It's the perfect place to try something new while learning about different customs.
London’s primary airport, London-Heathrow International, ranks as one of the busiest in the world by passenger traffic. Travelers through Heathrow ¾ some 73.4 million in a recent year ¾ are bound for 185 destinations in 84 countries. The airport even has its own resident press corps serving the world’s major newspapers and television stations. The airport’s four passenger terminals have plenty of restaurants, cafes, pubs, shops and restaurants. The airport also has free Wi-Fi, family-friendly play areas and even chaplains serving travelers of seven different religions.
London-Heathrow International Airport (LHR)
- Heathrow is situated 14 miles west of Central London in the borough of Hillingdon.
- Several trains service the airport, including the Heathrow Express, which departs every 15 minutes with direct service to London’s Paddington station.
- The London Underground’s Piccadilly line also services the airport with stations at Terminal 2 and 3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5.
- Many buses also operate at the airport, ferrying passengers into London, to hotels and nearby towns and suburbs.
- Additionally, taxis service all of Heathrow’s passenger terminals and car hires operate in the arrivals area.
Architecture, art, fashion, theater, literature and food are all jewels that London wears in its crown. But perhaps the most underappreciated aspect of this rather expensive city is how much you can see and do without spending a dime. Many of the city’s world-class museums, including the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery and the Victoria & Albert are all free of charge. And that’s just a sampling.
Two notable churches, St. Paul’s Church (not Cathedral) and Temple Church are also free to explore. The former was host to the first Punch and Judy show in 1662 and the latter plays a role in the Da Vinci Code.
London also has more green space than any other capital in the world. In fact, nearly a third of the city is devoted to it. Visit the Kensington Gardens, home of the royal Kensington Palace residence. Stroll through Hyde Park, 350 acres of city park, where locals partake in everything from swimming and boating to tennis and horseback riding. And on Sundays, be sure to head to Speaker’s Corner to hear Londoners get up on their literal soapboxes.
And of course, you can’t leave London without witnessing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony, which takes place daily at 11:30 between April and July, lasts about 45 minutes.
We wouldn't stay true to London without mentioning the city’s 150 ancient monuments. Among its most famous must-see monuments is the Tower of London, the castle along the Thames River that houses the Crown Jewels of England. There’s also Westminster Abbey, the Gothic church that has played host to at least 16 royal weddings since 1100. And no visit would be complete without spotting Big Ben, the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, Britain’s Parliament. And if you’re looking to see it all in one fell swoop, check out the London Eye, a modern glass-enclosed Ferris wheel that affords views of it all.
London is also a city of performances. The West End features a collection of theatres that’s the London equivalent of Broadway. Catch a variety of shows, musicals, Shakespearean classics and dance revues. If you’re an opera fan, the Royal Opera House is regarded as one of the world’s greatest opera houses. It’s also home to the Royal Ballet and hosts a resident symphony orchestra.
Though British food has historically been the butt of culinary jokes, London is no gustatory slouch. The city is home to 45 Michelin-starred restaurants and thanks in part to the diversity of its residents, London does a number of ethnic cuisines proud, from Indian and Italian to Cantonese and French.
London is a city of hotels with a great number of boutique establishments and B&B accommodations cropping up alongside its grand dames.
For an experience with the latter, book a room at Claridge’s, a 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of the tony Mayfair district. Designed in the 1920s, the art deco hotel mixes Art Nouveau with modern Cubist and Futurist influences. Its hallways and staircases are purposefully wide enough to have accommodated the wide-skirted ball gowns of women walking two abreast.
In South Kensington, the boutique Blakes Hotel is a favorite with the celeb set. Its relaxed-chic design takes elements from far-flung locales and places them inside its intimate and luxurious guest rooms.
And for an especially eclectic experience, try the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. Its 91 guest rooms and suites and common spaces are playfully designed by Kit Kemp in her modern British style. The hotel features a a spa and gym, rooftop terrace, theatre and even a 1950s-style bowling alley.
Despite its reputation for being rainy, London actually receives less annual precipitation than a number of other popular destinations including Rome, Sydney and New York. Its summers are generally warm, verging occasionally on hot, with average July temperatures of around 75 °F. Its winters are cool and damp with only very occasional snowfall. In January, the average high is around 46 °F.