A Beginner’s Guide to London

by Alicia Taggio
camden town oyster card london tube UK

London is not only one of the world’s most visited cities, but it’s a city that will never leave you bored. Offering everything from culture, to art, history, fashion and food; a trip to England’s capital is always an unforgettable experience. Yet it can sometimes be confusing to know where to start, or how to see it all in a short amount of time. Here’s a complete beginners guide on what to know before you go.

How to Get to London from Canada

There are a number of airlines that will take you directly into London Heathrow Airport or London Gatwick from Canada. Air Canada provides the greatest selection of non-stop flights to London – flying direct from 8 cities in Canada, however you can also find great deals with Air Transat, Westjet, and more. Browse flights to London from all major Canadian cities.

london map

Where to Stay in London

Before you decide where you want to stay, you’ll want to consider accommodations that are easily accessible by bus or the London tube. You can easily spend between GBP20 and GCP200 per night depending on where you’d like to be. The heart of the West End has many 4 and 5 star hotels, where as Earls Court is home to many hostels and more mid-range options. Choose to base yourself in the West End if you want to be central, South West London for classic hotels, or East London for designer and boutique hotels. A Flight Centre London Expert can help you find the most suitable option for you based on what you want to experience when visiting this fine city.

Must-see London Attractions

St. Pauls Cathedral London

There is so much to see and do in London that is hard to decide where to start. Here are a just a few of our favourite spots we recommend:

  • Camden Markets: As if Camden Town wasn’t a cool enough neighbourhood in itself, it also has some incredible markets like the Camden Lock Market, Stables Market and Buck Street Market which are all worth exploring. Enjoy the live music and entertainment buskers along the streets while you are there.
  • Brick Lane: in the East End of London, this is a vibrant street full of curry houses, street art, markets and entertainment.
  • Thames River Cruise: If you want to see all the iconic London attractions in a short amount of time, take a Thames River Cruise which will allow you to see Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The London Eye, and more all in merely an hour.

thames river city cruises london

  • St Paul’s Cathedral also offers panoramic views of London in the Golden Gallery. It’s also one of our Top 10 Royal Attractions to see in London.
  • The Tower of London (often confused with Big Ben) is one of the most popular tourist attractions with tales of historical drama, the Crown Jewels and more.
  • A visit to London isn’t complete without stopping by Buckingham Palace to see the famous Changing of the Guard. The guard change is held daily from April to July and every other day for the remainder of the year.

changing of the guard London

  • SOHO: If you’re riding the London tube, get off at Oxford or Picadilly Circus and explore the vibrant neighbourhood of SOHO. Teeming with restaurants, pubs, and shops, you’ll easily want to spend your whole day here. If you spot SOHO George, be sure to say hi.

A photo posted by Alicia Taggio (@taggio) on

Museums in London

Did you know that there are over 240 museums in London and most of them are FREE?! Some offer some special exhibitions for a fee, but all the major ones have free entry. Whatever ones you decide to visit, be sure to add the The Natural History Museum to your list! This impressive building will not only wow you from both the outside and inside, but their exhibits are truly one of a kind.

natural history museum london

If you’re a history buff, The British Museum offers an extensive diverse collection of human history and culture with 8 million items in its permanent collection. The Tate Modern has a collection of international modern art from 1900 to the present day with works from famed artists such as Dali and Warhol. The National Maritime Museum is another great museum to explore with over 2 million items related to seafaring.

Where to Eat in London

When it comes to eating, you can find anything you fancy in London. London is full of Markets, but Borough Market has to be one of my favourites. Each day food stands are set up which sell everything from Ethiopian to Balkan bites. The Borough Market is located next to London Bridge station which is serviced by the Jubilee and Northern Lines Lane.

borough market london

Brick Lane is a classic place to find a fine curry and Finsbury Park will dish up great Greek food. If you’re a real foodie, head to Soho and eat your way through this hip neighbourhood. It’s also full of classic English Pubs to whet your appetite along the way.

With many of the world’s top chefs living in London, you can experience a meal at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road, while Jaime Oliver is the mastermind behind the restaurant Fifeteen.

Where to Shop

shopping in london

There are so many shopping choices in London from luxury shops, bargain and vintage markets or big shopping centres. Apart from the famous shopping areas of Oxford Street and Westfield Shopping Centre, check out Portobello Road Market for all sorts of knick knacks and vintage clothing and Camden Markets for funky clothes and original gifts from independent designers. You should also check out one of these other London Markets which offer both food and knick knacks made by locals.

The essentials:

      • Currency: British Pound (GBP)
      • Visas: Canadians do no require a visa
      • Tipping: Service is often included in restaurant bills. When it’s not, tips of 10% to 15% are appreciated.
      • Electricity: UK outlets run on 250V. You’ll need a Type G adaptor.
      • Getting Around: We recommend getting an Oyster Card and filling it up with British Pounds so you can easily tap on and off the London Underground and Double Decker buses.

alicia at tower bridge london

So whether you explore the city on your own, or with a guide on foot, by bike or the Underground, London will leave you wishing you had more time to explore it, and you’ll be planning your next trip back, before you’ve even left.

London art umbrellas

Want to create an unforgettable London experience this year? Contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert at 1-877-967-5302, connect with us online, or find your closest Flight Centre store .