About London

Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of both England and of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade.

london skyline

Climate

Despite a perhaps unfair reputation for being unsettled, London enjoys a drier and milder climate than the rest of Britain on average. Only one in three days on average will bring rain and often only for a short period. In some years, such as 2010, there was no rain for several weeks.

rainy weather in london

Winter in London is mild compared to nearby continental European cities, due to both the presence of the Gulf Stream and urban heat effect. Snow does occur, usually a few times a year but rarely heavy.

snowy london

Summer is perhaps the best season for tourists as it has long daylight hours as well as mild temperatures. London can feel hot and humid for several days in the summer months. Also, because of urban heat effect, during night time it could feel muggy. Regardless of which time of the year, the weather in London could change quickly from sunny to rain and from hot to cold.

Buckingham Palace

There's no icon more British than the Queen, so no wonder we're all so interested in visiting her gaff. Buckingham Palace is more than 300 years old and has 775 rooms, and although only 19 of these are available for the public to explore there's always a photo (or three) to be taken in front of its impressive facade and stoney-faced guards.

buckingham palace

As it's royal family's home, Buckingham Palace isn't always open, but during summer you can visit the interior while they're off on holiday. Don't expect to get a nose around the Queen's knicker drawer; you'll only get to access the State Rooms.

Big Ben

The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben, are among London's most iconic landmarks. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg). The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the four clock faces are illuminated.

big ben

A massive bell was required and the first attempt cracked irreparably. The metal was melted down and the bell recast in Whitechapel in 1858. Big Ben first rang across Westminster on 31 May 1859. A short time later, in September 1859, Big Ben cracked. A lighter hammer was fitted and the bell rotated to present an undamaged section to the hammer. This is the bell as we hear it today.

London Eye

The London Eye is London's newest major tourist attraction. Visitors climb aboard glass-encased capsules for a leisurely circular orbit, high above the Thames, allowing spectacular views across London and far beyond.

london eye

The Eye was built between 1998 and 2000. It seems remarkable that a site that has so quickly become a symbol of modern London has been around for such a short time! It took fully seven years from start of the design process to create the Eye.

london eye

Each rotation of the wheel takes about 30 minutes, which translates to a speed of about 0.9km (0.6 miles) per hour, or approximately twice the speed of a land tortoise in top gear! In practice this means that you get plenty of time to enjoy the view.

London Tube

The London Underground rail network, or or "the Tube" is a great way to travel to and from Central London and will be an integral part of most people's stay in the UK capital.

london tube

Greater London is served by 12 Tube lines, along with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and an interconnected local train network. Underground trains generally run between 5am and midnight, Monday to Saturday, and operating hours are reduced on Sunday.

london tube

London's public transport network is divided into nine travel zones. Zone 1 is in Central London and zones 6-9 are on the outskirts of the city.