Today I want to bring you A Lady in London’s ultimate London travel guide. I’ve spent more than a decade writing about London. From big attractions to secret spots, I’ve endeavored to share as much of the city as possible with you. And because I’ve written hundreds of blog posts about London, I thought it would be helpful to put them all in one place.

London Travel Guide

London Travel Guide

This London travel guide covers all aspects of the city, from sightseeing to restaurants, neighborhoods to afternoon teas. It offers advice for where to stay, what to do, how long to stay, and how to make the most of your time in London.

It also contains useful tips on the best day trips from London if you’re in the city long enough to want to explore further afield. I hope it helps you plan your trip to London!

Tower Bridge, London

London Travel Guide: When to Visit London

I’ll start my London travel guide with when to visit London, including the best time to be here, what to pack, and annual events and festivals.

Best Time to Visit London

There’s no right or wrong time to visit London, but there are a few things to consider when choosing your dates. This being Britain, weather and daylight hours are usually the biggest factors.

The best time to visit London is generally in the warmer months and over the summer, but Christmas is also a great season for visiting.

If you’re only here on a long layover, here’s what to do, and if you’re here on a rainy day, here’s how to spend it.

What to Pack for London

Once you’ve decided when to come, you have to pack for London. Depending when you visit, that will mean different things.

I’ve written packing lists for summer, autumn, winter, and spring that can help you decide what to wear in London, and a general list of things to bring all year.

London Events and Festivals

If you want to plan your trip around a specific event or festival, you have a lot of choices. There are 51 great events to experience in London during the year, and I’ve included some of the highlights below.

The big New Year’s Eve fireworks kick off the calendar, followed by Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year.

In spring there’s the London Coffee Festival, the renowned Chelsea Flower Show, the Chelsea in Bloom floral art festival, and Open Garden Squares weekend, when many of the city’s most secluded gardens open to the public.

The summer season gets underway around this time, with highlights like the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

Then there are the Proms at Royal Albert Hall and the Notting Hill Carnival, which brings us into September.

Autumn sees great events like Open House London, when many of the city’s architectural gems are accessible to the public.

Then come Bonfire Night, Poppy Day, and the Lord Mayor’s Show in November, and the annual Christmas festivities to round out the year.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, London

London Travel Guide: London Sightseeing

This section of my London travel guide covers London sightseeing. It has everything from the best London itineraries to attractions, parks, gardens, views, walks, and more.

London Itineraries

If you’re looking for a set sightseeing itinerary for London, I’ve written 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, 7-day, 1-week, 8-day, 10-day, 36-hour, 48-hour, and weekend in London itineraries that can help. I’ve also written a lot of themed London itineraries for those with special interests.

London Attractions

The main attractions in London are well known. Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and the London Eye are iconic landmarks.

Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral dominate the city’s historic church scene, and Tower Bridge is the prime feat of Victorian engineering.

Tate Modern, the British Museum, and the V&A are some of the best museums in London, which is to say nothing of the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery.

Further afield, Hampton Court Palace and The Royal Observatory, Greenwich are worth a visit. And while there’s not a single location for it, no trip to London would be complete without taking in the city’s famous theater scene.

If you’re on a budget, I’ve written about 51 free things to do in London. If you’re here on your own, you can use my blog posts about planning a solo trip to London and the best things to do in London alone for ideas.

Under-the-Radar London Attractions

If you’ve already walked through Leicester Square and undergone sensory overload in Piccadilly Circus, there are a lot of lesser known places to explore in London.

Apsley House and Wellington Arch hide in plain sight on Hyde Park Corner and the Royal Mews is tucked away behind Buckingham Palace. There are plenty of hidden museums and secret galleries for every niche interest, too.

Away from the bustle of the city center, Eltham Palace is the prettiest place you’ve never heard of, and Strawberry Hill House is straight out of a fairytale.

But what I like best are the city’s accidental attractions, places that aren’t intended to be destinations in their own right but become so by virtue of their excellence or quirkiness. Like the 9 loos you have to visit, or the mysterious Eel Pie Island.

London Parks and Gardens

In addition to the sights, I’d be remiss if I left the parks and gardens out of my London travel guide. My favorite is the secret Pergola Garden in Hampstead, but there are lots more to discover.

Hyde Park is the obvious place to start, but there are 11 parks in London that are worth a place on any traveler’s bucket list. I also love Regent’s Park, Dulwich Park, and Hampstead Heath.

And that’s to say nothing of the spring gardens, summer gardens and secret gardens dotted throughout the city.

London walks

If you bring your walking shoes (and you should), there are a lot of places to explore on foot in London.

From the 5 best walks to a leisurely stroll along the Thames, there’s no shortage of ways to see London through its streets.

You can have a perfect Saturday walking around South Kensington and Notting Hill, a perfect Sunday in east London, and a great day off the beaten path in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Or you can stick to the parks and gardens, which contain no shortage of things to enjoy.

If you want self-guided walks, I’ve written posts about Notting Hill, Hampstead, Kensington, South Kensington, Chelsea, literary London, and more.

London Views

If you want to get up high, London has a lot of good vista points.

The 9 best views of London offer a range of perspectives on the city, and river cruises on the Thames are a great way to see London’s attractions from a different angle.

Best Places to Photograph London

If photography is your thing, London will delight. I should know, and my London travel guide will help you find the places I’ve photographed.

You can start with the 9 most Instagrammed places in London, then work your way down to the smaller sights locals love. These include the beloved mews streets, pretty houses, and abandoned tube stations.

If you want to take the best photos of London, you can also take a look at my 7 photography tips for the city.

Kynance Mews, London

London Travel Guide: Best Places to Eat and Drink in London

This part of my London travel guide covers the best places to eat and drink in the city. From restaurants and afternoon teas to bars and pubs, it has you covered.

London Restaurants

Gone are the days of bad British food. Today London is one of the world’s leading culinary centers, with creative new restaurants opening all the time.

If you’re looking for a good breakfast, these 7 restaurants are worth a trip. If you’re on the sightseeing trail, there are lots of great places to eat near London’s top attractions, and some lovely museum cafes as well.

I’ve reviewed a lot of London restaurants over the years, so you can read about many of the top places in the city in my previous posts. If you’re looking for my favorites, they’re here. And this self-guided London food tour will take you to the highlights.

London Afternoon Teas

Afternoon tea in London is a must, and there’s no shortage of places to have it.

Sketch tops my list of the best afternoon teas in London, but there are a lot of others worth trying, too. I’ve written about 3 places you must try, as well as lots of reviews of the city’s favorite afternoon teas.

Afternoon Tea, London

London Coffee Shops and Tearooms

If all you’re after is a quick coffee or tea, my London travel guide still has something for you.

There are coffee shops I can’t live without, and I love having a cup of tea at Candella Tea Room on Kensington Church Street.

I’ve also written about pretty cafes that will get your inner photographer excited, and London itineraries for tea lovers and coffee lovers.

Oh, and if you’re not British, you’ll want to brush up on tea etiquette with my quick expat’s guide to British tea culture. You’ll thank me!

London Pubs

No London travel guide would be complete without the mention of pubs. They’re not only part of the fabric of British society, but also great places to cozy up by a fire in the cooler months (and some years they’re all cooler months).

My favorite traditional pub in London is the Holly Bush in Hampstead. It’s everything a pub should be, from the warren of wooden rooms to the warm winter fireplaces.

But if it’s an amazing meal I’m after, there’s no better place than the Harwood Arms in Fulham.

When the weather heats up, there are 12 riverside pubs and 8 pubs with beer gardens I enjoy, and when I’m feeling adventurous there are 8 international pubs that allow me to travel the world without leaving the city.

As far as aesthetics go, there are 17 pretty pubs I adore. I’ve even written a pub-themed London itinerary.

Charing Cross pub

London Bars

And speaking of watering holes, London’s bar scene is always lively. Given I’m a travel blogger, I love the city’s travel-themed bars. But when I’m in a more local mood, I never turn down a trip to the city’s best rooftop bars.

Out in east London there are lots of trendy options. I love the rooftop bar at the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, and the cocktails go down a treat at Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square.

If you want more, take a look at my cocktail lover’s itinerary for London.

London Travel Guide: Best Places to Shop in London

This part of my London travel guide is all about shopping. From farmers’ markets to fun souvenirs, shopping streets to bookstores, it covers everything you need to know to find what you want to buy in London.

London Markets

London’s markets are some of the best places to visit in the city, and they come first on the shopping list in my London travel guide. From fresh food to quirky antiques, there’s a market for pretty much every interest here.

My favorite London market is the Columbia Road Flower Market, but there are 14 markets worth visiting in the city, from the iconic Borough Market to the hip Maltby Street Market and Chatsworth Road Market.

There are also 7 under-the-radar markets and lots of Sunday markets that are fun to discover. Of the latter, Herne Hill Market is one of my favorites.

London Shopping Streets

I’m not a big shopper, but when I need something I usually head to one of two places: the King’s Road in Chelsea or Marylebone High Street.

Both have a good mix of shops and boutiques, and fewer crowds than Oxford Street and Regent Street.

I also like the fun pedestrianized area on Carnaby Street and Brick Lane in Spitalfields. If you want to dig deeper, take a look at my London itinerary for shopping addicts and my guide to the best shopping streets in London.

Places for London Souvenirs

When it comes to souvenirs, London has a range of places to browse.

General souvenirs can be found on every corner in the city center, but for more unique offerings I always send people to three places: Fortnum & Mason, the Buckingham Palace Shop, and Camden Market.

Fortnums’ edible goodies make great (if disappearing) mementos, not to mention perfect gifts for friends and family back home.

The Buckingham Palace Shop has a range of royal souvenirs, from commemorative dishes to tea towels and toys.

Camden Market has a huge variety of things to buy. From vintage goods to cool souvenirs, there’s something for everyone here.

If you want more inspiration, take a look at my lists of lovely London must-haves and things to buy in London.

Camden Market, London

London Bookstores

If you’re looking for books (or just love them), London’s bookstores are worth a browse.

From the top places for books in London to the 7 specialty bookstores and 9 independent bookshops you should visit, the city’s literary corners are worth exploring.

If there’s one place you can’t miss, it’s Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street. I’ve written a literary itinerary for London if you want more.

Shop in London

London Travel Guide: Where to Stay in London

This part of my London travel guide will help you figure out where to say in London for your personal style. It covers London neighborhoods and accommodation options.

London Neighborhoods

There’s no right or wrong place to stay in London. The city center is huge and the attractions spread out across it.

But if you’re looking to match your location to your personality, you can dig a bit deeper to find the perfect neighborhood. Here’s a helpful guide to choosing the best area to stay in London for your style.

Whether you want to stay in upscale South Kensington or literary Bloomsbury, newly revived King’s Cross or popular Earls Court, there’s somewhere for every taste.

To get a better feel for London’s neighborhoods, take a look at my interactive London map.

Kynance Mews, London

London Hotels

Once you’ve chosen a location, you’ll have to choose accommodation. London has no shortage of great hotels for every budget, so the hardest part is picking which one is right for you.

I’ve written about a lot of London hotels in my post about how to choose a London hotel for your style, and my best advice is to book early if you’re coming during the peak summer months.

You can use my guides to the best quirky hotels in London, the top themed hotels in London, and the most atmospheric pubs with rooms in London if you want to find somewhere unique to stay.

London Travel Guide: Trips from London

This section of my London travel guide is about day and overnight trips from London. It has information about the best day trips from London and great weekend trips in the UK.

Day Trips from London

If you’re visiting for more than a few days, you might want to take a day trip from London.

There are 15 day trips I highly recommend and 17 more I love, but if I had to choose a few favorites, they would have to be Brighton, Cambridge, and Oxford.

I’ve also written about the best day trips to take in the summer, autumn, winter, and spring if you want seasonal tips.

And if you only want to travel by rail or car, take a look at my blog posts about day trips from London by train and by car.

Weekend Trips from London

If you have even more time, it’s worth getting away for a bit longer or traveling a bit farther. There are 16 weekend trips I adore, but if you can only take one I recommend the Cotswolds or Kent.

You can take a look at my blog post about weekend trips from London by train for more ideas. If you have even more time, there are some great 3-day trips from London you can take. My guide to train trips from London has additional inspiration, too.

Sheep in the Cotswolds

London Travel Guide

So there you have A Lady in London’s ultimate London travel guide. If you want more inspiration, these films will get you excited. Happy travels!

What would you include in a London guide? Any top tips for visitors?

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London Travel Guide

24 Comments on Lady’s Ultimate London Travel Guide

  1. This is such a great guide! I’m going to recommend it to friends who live around the world, for the next time they visit. <3

  2. Great post as always, Julie! Ironic timing for me to read it also, because just a few minutes ago I finished reading an article in Bloomberg Businessweek about the booming night food scene in London. A couple companies, London Union and Smorgasburg, were mentioned. What shocked me was that the article stated that food trucks are no where to be found late on Friday and Saturday nights. Why on earth is that??
    Anyway, I thought of you the second I started reading it! I hope you have a fantastic week, my friend! 🙂

  3. Wow, this is amazing. Also so jealous that you live in London, it’s one of my faves! I always recommend Borough Market and SoHo Garden and Notting Hill for people who are visiting, they’re some of my favorite spots in London 🙂

  4. THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I am going to share on my Facebook, maybe make a mention on my blog, and have this for a reference for when I go!!!!! I have been planning for literally about 2 years now (Since I moved to Western Australia) I don’t like where I am currently living, and the city girl in me wants to BURST!!!!!!!! London is my dream destination, and when I move to Perth next month, I am going to make LISTS, GOALS and PLANS!!!!!!

  5. The information given here is sufficient for a person to check out the places with ease. Brilliant stuff !

  6. Wow, this is Great.We got a lot of information about London.Actually next week we are planning to visit London.So it’s very helpful for us.Thanks for sharing this article.

  7. My friends are coming to London and I was struggling for ideas, when I found your lovely blog! Your pictures are so inviting. Such a great idea about stopping for an afternoon tea somewhere – walking in London all day can be so tiring! Thank you so much!

  8. Your blog gave me a lot of amazing ideas that I can use on my trip to London. Actually on the coming month I am planning for a tour to London with my family and kids. Thanks for sharing such amazing tips.

  9. There is literally so much to do in London. I feel like I could never get a chance to do it all even if I lived there!! :]

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