Get above the Big Smoke in the Shard or the Eye, or visit the fabled Tower
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Planning your London visit
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
London is a complicated web of tubes, trains and buses. It's all quite well connected, but getting from one side of town to the other can take a long time (and likely involve a few transfers of transport lines). The key to success is to group your activities together geographically, so that you don’t have to double back into an area you’ve already visited. It’s also worth investing in an Oyster Card or daypass. Buying tickets every time you get on a bus or tube will drain the pounds out of your pockets at a depressing rate.
A Royal Affair
As we all know, it doesn’t get more British than the Royal family! Her majesty Queen Elizabeth and Co have called Buckingham Palace their home for centuries, and the UK’s capital is filled with monuments dedicated to their majestic monarchy. Now you can follow in the footsteps of Tudor kings and queens at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace, and even see this special family’s working stables, before oohing and aahing at the glittery finery of the crown jewels themselves in the iconic Tower of London.
London is famed for its pea soup fog - even inspiring the name of the London Fog coat company. But in March to October the weather can actually be pretty warm. That’s when Londoners pile onto terraces and into parks. Winter time can get cold and - especially - wet. In addition to warm jacket, scarf, gloves and hat, bring waterproof shoes. Or better yet, boots. Of course, at just about any time of the year the weather can change quickly, so even if it’s a warm spring day, it’s a good idea to bring a sweater or light coat along.
What to do in London for 3 days
On Dec 1, 2001 the British Government scrapped entry charges to many of Britain’s best museums and galleries. Any visitor to London should take advantage of the opportunity to see as many as possible. The British Museum is full of fantastic art and artifacts - including the original Rosetta Stone that allowed researchers to crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Natural History Museum contains some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens. As well, the Tate Gallery and Tate Modern always delight.
For the sports-savvy traveller, London is brimming with unmissable athletic attractions, no matter who they support. Naturally, soccer devotees are well-served, with Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s Emirates, and the historic Wembley Stadium all offering special guided tours and behind the scenes treats, but the Kia Oval is also a wonderful introduction to the most British of sports: cricket. The 2012 Olympic stadium is now open to the public and houses a variety of eye-catching attractions – like the stomach-churning ArcelorMittal Slide.
New York has Broadway, London has the West End, and… well, there is no third place; London is one of the two best places in the world to see theater (or as Londoners say: “thee-ah-tre”). Highlights include the evergreen Lion King (20+ years and counting), tear-jerking Les Miserables, and everyone’s guiltiest pleasure, Mamma Mia. Most of the restaurants in the Theatre District have a 'pre-show menu', designed to get you well-fed and out the door in time for the curtain to part.
Tower of London
The Tower of London has served at the center of royal power struggles for almost a thousand years. The power it holds is so great that there are six ravens that guard the tower at all times. Legend has it that if they fail to keep dutiful watch, the kingdom (as in United Kingdom) will fall. And that's just one of the fascinating doom-mongering legends attached to this place. What else would you expect from a place that's haunted by (among others) Henry VI, Anne Boleyn and a polar bear?