If you’re planning a city break to London, then the biggest problem you’ll probably face is where to begin! The UK’s capital is a world-beater in terms of visitor attractions: popular tourist destinations like St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben draw millions of sightseers every year. The most conveniently located Club Sites to London are at Walton on Thames, south west of the centre, and Theobalds Club Site near Enfield in North London. Both are positioned to take advantage of fast and frequent train connections into the heart of the capital. In order to help you make the most of your trip, we’ve created a guide to some of the capital’s most popular attractions as well as a few of its hidden gems.
On the move
Where to find the best views
The Shard is now the tallest building in the UK and as such, the perfect place to begin your quest for the ultimate panorama across town. Its viewing platforms spread over three floors – 68, 69 and 72 – all of which afford splendid panoramas across London. On a clear day, it’s possible to see over 40 miles, but if there’s zero visibility at the top, your ticket will be good for a return visit. It may not be as tall, but the London Eye on the South Bank has proved a popular choice for those seeking to admire the city’s skyline since it opened in time for the capital’s Millennium celebrations. Standing 135 metres tall, it has become the focal point for London’s New Year fireworks but is well worth a visit at any time of the year. But where views are concerned, the new kid on the block is the slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit, designed by Anish Kapoor. Located in the heart of London’s Olympic Park, you’ll be able to appreciate London from a different perspective as you slide down to earth at an average speed of 15 miles per hour – so long as you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open, of course.
Getting around London doesn’t have to be a chore or intimidating. In fact, part of the joy of exploring the capital is in trying out the various methods of transport available or participating in one of the many guided walks on offer. The Tube network is extensive, reliable and, with an Oyster card, good value. For an alternative, try the Thames Clipper for serene waterborne sightseeing, though the brave might prefer the thrill of the tight turns performed on the high-speed RIBs that zoom down to Docklands. Or perhaps take to the air: the Emirates Air Line
is a cable car linking the Royal Docks with the O2 Arena and even if you’re not off to see a show it’s a fantastic way to see the views up and down river. You’ll remember it as the setting for the now infamous snap of Boris Johnson suspended mid-air in a harness. There are also plenty of hop on, hop off sightseeing buses, but for sheer value, it’s hard to beat a ride on the Number 15 bus. It follows a route that passes the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Courts of Justice before arriving just short of Trafalgar Square for a mere £2.40.
The quirkiest museums
No visit to London is complete without a visit to the interactive and engaging exhibits that form the collections of world-renowned museums such as Kensington’s Science Museum, Natural History and V & A, or the marvellous artefacts on display at the British Museum. But London also has several museums covering altogether quirkier subject matter. Amongst the best is the Old Operating Theatre Museum, located in the attic of a church south of the river at St Thomas Street. There, you’ll learn about some of the gruesome methods used in surgery in the days before anaesthetic or antiseptic. For something completely different, head to Number 221B Baker Street
, home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. You’ll be able to step into Holmes’ study and see his Persian slippers, distinctive calabash pipe and famous magnifying glass. Upstairs, scenes from his stories have been created using waxwork models. Popular culture is celebrated at Notting Hill’s Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. If you’re keen on nostalgia for your childhood, this is the place to see your favourite brands as they were in the past. From 19th
century Rimmel cosmetics to a 1970s Chopper bike via First World War Oxo cubes and 1930s Kit Kats, there’s something to unlock memories whatever your age.
History brought to life
London’s history dates back to Roman times and beyond. Throughout the city you’ll see evidence of its long and illustrious past from remnants of the old Roman Wall to the underground chambers of the Cabinet War Rooms used by Churchill during World War Two. History lovers are quite obviously spoilt for choice. Royal fans could visit The Royal Mews. Adjacent to Buckingham Palace, this is where you’ll discover the Queen’s carriage collection. The dazzling Gold State Coach dating from the reign of George III it takes eight horses to pull it and has been wheeled out for every coronation since it was commissioned. Across the Thames there’s a plethora of historic attractions, particularly in Greenwich. There, you can board the Cutty Sark and learn about the tea trade from the world’s sole surviving clipper. Up the hill, a steady but manageable climb is rewarded with the Greenwich Observatory
, where you can find out about the role timepieces played in accurately determining longitude. Upriver, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has been rebuilt a few hundred metres from its original site. Its first incarnation burnt down after a cannon ignited a thatched roof in 1613. This modern reconstruction opened two decades ago and has staged acclaimed performances of the Bard’s works ever since.
Camping near London
As Dr Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." One visit to the capital is going to serve only to whet your appetite, but we’re sure that you’ll be happy to return to our Club Sites
to become better acquainted with this absorbing and addictive city.