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Visiting London


Why not extend your stay with a visit to London?

impressions · transport · sightseeing · london's history · airports

London is without doubt one of the world's greatest cities. It is, of course, capital city of England and capital of the United Kingdom. As a major world hub airport and with great links to the rest of the country, it's a great place to start or end your tour with LancasterAuthentic. We can arrange quality, centrally located accommodation in London at very reasonable prices. Why not extend a relaxing trip to Britain's beautiful countryside with the vitality that our capital city has to offer?

From this page you can find tips for arriving here, a list of the must- see sights, how to get around and a brief history to get you in the mood. LancasterAuthentic has many years experience organising guests to London, and can advice you or do the work for you on every aspect of your visit there. Whether it's shopping at Harrods, theatre in Covent Garden, horse riding in Hyde Park or the changing of the Guard, you can rely on LancasterAuthentic to make sure you get the most out of what London has to offer you.


As British folks, what do we make of our own capital city? From ancient to modern, from vibrancy to tranquillity, London has something for every one. It's a city which fires you with pride. Everything is reflected in London, from ancient history to the present day.

It doesn't matter how many times you come to London, crossing the Thames is something that makes you gasp with wonder. Going over Westminster Bridge makes you marvel at the amazing intricacy of the Houses of Parliament watched over by Big Ben. The centuries-old towers of Westminster Abbey look on from behind. Nestling on the other bank, a sweep of the eye takes you from the castle of Lambeth Palace, through the grandeur of the old City Hall to London's most famous modern landmark, the London Eye Ferris wheel stretching up gracefully above the skyline.

But it's really no different further downstream. Cross London Bridge and you'll see what we mean. You've got Sir Christopher Wren's regal dome of St. Paul's cathedral rising majestically behind you. In front is the awe-inspiring building of the new Tate Modern. A glance east and the distinguished H.M.S. Belfast, in action in the Second World War and Korea, floats proudly with its now silent guns.

Its backdrop is London's most famous bridge, Tower Bridge and keeping it company is the thousand-year-old fortress and prison, the Tower of London. It doesn't matter how many times you visit, you're soul is always lifted by the great sights of London and by its capacity to absorb the most modern, the ancient, the large scale and the small scale. Beauty, greatness, inspiration and excitement are all here for you!


Getting around
London is spread over a very large area, and to make the most of what's on offer you'll probably need to take some form of transport. There's the Underground rail network called the "Tube", the famous London taxis and double decker busses as well as river boats, the Docklands Light Railway and rail network.

Busses: London's familiar busses run from early morning to around midnight. After this, night bus services run on major routes. Route maps and timetables are available at bus stops and tickets can be bought from the driver or conductor. London Travel cards are valid on busses but are not available for purchase on busses themselves, only from underground stations and appointed outlets. Sitting on the top deck of a double decker bus can be a great way to see the city center!

London Underground: This is the quickest way to get around London (North American visitors note: The British don't call the Underground the "Subway", in the U.K. a subway is a pedestrian underpass!). Maps of the Underground are widely available in London. There are eleven different color coded routes and trains stop at every station, unless otherwise indicated. Services run every few minutes from 05.30 to midnight (Sundays from 07.30 to 23.30). Tickets are available from the manned kiosk in the station or from the automatic ticket machines. The machines also take paper currency when the "Change Given" sign is lit.

The Underground is divided into six zones. The more zones you travel across, the more expensive the ticket. One Day Travelcards (or LT Travelcards before 09.30) offer great value for unlimited multiple journeys on one day. These are valid on busses. Look out for the weekend Travelcard for great value if you're staying on Saturday and Sunday. A Travelcard for Zones One and Two covers virtually all the important attractions in London

Taxis: London's black Taxis are familiar the world over. (They are increasingly no longer black, but still the same distinctive shape) They can be hailed when the yellow "For Hire" sign is illuminated on the roof above the driver's windscreen. Journeys are metered and cabs should display their license. Tip approx. 10%.

Beware of unlicensed taxis. Cheaper fares can sometimes be had, but often visitors may be overcharged. Such drivers are known to get lost frequently. You have been warned!

Guided tours: LancasterAuthentic can arrange personal guided tours or suggest themed, guided and self guided walks in London. Alternatively, the Big Bus Company offers open top double decker sightseeing trips with hop-on, hop-off tickets.

Boat trips: Boat trips are available from Westminster and Embankment piers. You can choose from a fifty minute round trip including views of the House of Parliament and the Tower Bridge from Embankment pier. Other options are to take a trip east to Greenwich with its weekend covered market and fantastic maritime history or go west to Hampton Court Palace.


The "Must-Sees" in London

If you're only visiting London for a short time, here's a list of the sights considered to be the most important by many visitors.
  • The London (Millennium) Eye : Underground Westminster
  • The British Museum : Underground: Tottenham Court Road
  • Changing of the Guard : Buckingham Palace Underground: St James' Park, Green Park (Please check program. Changing of the Guard takes place every day in the summer season between 11.00am and 12.15 and on alternate days in the winter season. The changing of the Guard is cancelled if it's raining!
  • Hampton Court Place: Take train from Waterloo to Hampton Court or a boat from Westminster Pier.
  • London Zoo: Underground Regents Park
  • Madame Tussard's Waxworks: Underground Baker St.
  • The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square: Underground Charring Cross
  • St. Paul's Cathedral: Underground St Paul's
  • The Natural History Museum: Underground: South Kensington
  • The Science Museum: Underground: South Kensington
  • Tate Britain: Underground Pimlico
  • Tate Modern: Underground Blackfriars, Mansion House, Southwark
  • The Tower of London & Tower Bridge: Underground Tower Hill
  • Westminster Abbey: Underground Westminster
  • Windsor Castle (Outside London - 40 mins by rail from Paddington Station, change at Slough)


    Important dates from London's history:
    43AD Roman Emperor Claudius establishes Londinium on the North Bank of the River Thames.
    871 London occupied by the Danes
    1014 London Bridge pulled down by Vikings from Norway as they attacked London from ships in the Thames. From this, the nursery rhyme was born "London Bridge is falling down".
    1045 King Edward the Confessor makes London capital city of England
    1066 William the Conqueror becomes King after the battle of Hastings and orders the Tower of London to be built
    1605 The "Gunpowder Plot" - Guy Fawkes attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament is foiled
    1665 The Black Death or Plaque kills over 70,00 of London's inhabitants.
    1666 The Great Fire of London spreads over 270 acres and destroys nearly 13,300 houses and churches.
    1694 Foundation of the Bank of England
    1707 Act of Union is passed. The Scottish and English Parliaments combined under one roof in Westminster
    1712 St. Paul's Cathedral is completed in the City of London
    1785 "The Times" newspaper is published for the first time.
    1839 Trafalgar Square gains the addition of Nelson's Column
    1851 The Great Exhibition takes place in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park
    1897 Queen Victoria celebrates her Diamond Jubilee
    1914 "Zeppelin" bombs hit the city during the First World War
    1940 German bombers lay waste to many parts of London during "The Blitz"
    1953 Queen Elizabeth II is crowned
    1981 Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married in St. Paul's Cathedral
    1997 London and the country mourn Princess Diana's death
    2000 London's new landmark the Millennium Eye opens by Westminster Bridge
    2002 Queen Elizabeth becomes only the second monarch to celebrate her Golden Jubilee


    London Heathrow:
    Heathrow is now served by the Heathrow Express every fifteen minutes into Paddington Station for a cost of around £14 single, £22 return. It is quick (15 minutes into London) and easy, just follow the signs irrespective of which terminal you are in.

    When you arrive at Paddington station, if your bags are light, the tube will take you wherever you need to go in London relatively efficiently or on to other onward rail stations. If you have heavy bags, hail a cab outside the station. It will cost a few pounds for a journey in Central London. The cost of a taxi between the airport and London is a possibility. It will cost around £40 and will take up to five people.

    London Gatwick:
    Unless you are going in the small hours, a taxi will get caught up in traffic from London Gatwick. An hour would be quick, we know people who took two hours to make the journey. It will cost around £70 to make the journey. Take the Gatwick Express from the airport to London Victoria. There you take a cab to your destination or next station. If your bags are light, try the tube.

    London Stanstead and Luton Aitports:
    Both lie to the North outside of London, however regular rail services connect them to London. Allow fifty minutes approx. for the rail journey time.


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