London, baby! Home to over a thousand years of history, it's a continuously changing tapestry made up of some of the newest restaurants, galleries and art around.
The 18th century writer, Samuel Johnson, once said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Surely the city’s ever growing population is evidence enough that this great city still has plenty of distractions to keeps its residents and visitors very busy. With the buzzing River Thames at its core, London is a multicultural wonderland with a host of foreign influences flavouring every aspect of daily life. Enjoy one of the world’s most international cities.
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- Head to the Columbia Road Flower Market and enjoy tea and bagels at Café Columbia
- Enjoy a picnic in Richmond Park surrounded by deer
- Consult a stylist at Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty or Harvey Nichols and find some of the world’s most fabulous fashion
- Finish your evening on the sidewalk tables of Bar Italia in Soho.
Expect everything from Roman walls, medieval bridges, Tudor palaces and modernist skyscrapers. As long as it's not sunshine you're after, chances are you'll find it in London.
Central and West End
Museums, Georgian terraces, old pubs and breathtakingly expensive property are a great start for your visit to London.
The West End
Most visitors will head to the West End (which is actually one of the most central districts, wedged between the City of London to the east and distinct from London’s West) and with every good reason. Stroll the narrow cobblestone
streets of cosmopolitan and colourful Soho and catch a world-famous show at a Shaftesbury Avenue theatre. Walk through the Roman piazza of Covent Garden with its covered market and pop-up shops, bustling with tourists visiting the Royal Opera. There are hundreds of clubs, cosy pubs, trendy cafes and
eclectic boutiques lining every street, as well as Chinatown for a bite to eat.
To the immediate southwest
You'll find plenty of the big draw cards like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Horse Guards Parade, all joined together by sweeping tree lined avenues like The Mall and Birdcage Walk. And to the west, prestigious Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Notting Hill and Chelsea with their markets, million dollar mansions and green open parks. Worth sneaking a peek to see how the other half live.
Notting Hill was known for its gritty bars, alternative cafes and Jamaican culture long before its charms were amplified on the big screen with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, but you’ll still find plenty of fun on its winding streets, especially on weekends when the whole area is taken over by a sprawling street market. Head back into the centre in one of the famous London cabs and visit the sweeping Hyde Park (lots of fun on Sunday at Speaker’s Corner), elegant Kensington Palace and distinctly middle-eastern Marble Arch.
Lying to the north of central London, you’ll find countercultural Camden Town, former haunt of Amy Winehouse and epicentre of London underground life. The market at Camden Town is a classic and colourful visitor experience – with acres of open-air stalls to browse and great global food along the locks of Regent Canal.
You’ll also find Tottenham Court Road and some of London's best furniture shops as well as literary Bloomsbury with its elegant garden squares and must-visit destination, the British Museum - home to centuries of human history, art and culture. Around the corner you'll find Senate House library, an art deco architectural masterpiece worth seeing and home to the University of London library. The building also features in a number of period TV shows and was rumoured to be Hitler's preferred choice of HQ if he ever conquered the UK.
Further north you'll find affluent Marylebone, the spectacular Regent's Park, home to London Zoo and the exclusive St Johns Wood, home to the famous Lord's Cricket Ground where you can take a behind the scenes tour.
They used to say only those born within the sound of the Bow Church Bells were cockney, but East London now extends way beyond its humble origins as the city’s working class district.
A modern update
Now you’ll find swish contemporary business districts including Canary Wharf, Docklands and Whitechapel in the East and the vibrant Clerkenwell with its historic streetscape and the old Smithfield markets, along with boutique hotels, swanky bars and exclusive restaurants back towards the centre. The area received a new surge of development with the 2012 Olympics and shops, restaurants and bars have followed to this new financial and commercial hub.
The financial district
The City of London or the ‘Square Mile’ can also be considered in the east of Central and serves as the city’s main financial district. You’ll find plenty of swish
bars and expensive London restaurants as well as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Exchange and the Barbican crammed within the mediaeval walls of this former Roman settlement.
A more relaxed east end
Afterwards, you can visit the nearby Tower of London, or head north to Hoxton Square and Shoreditch, official stomping ground of the East End hipster. Or keep going east along the Thames to get to GMT, the World Heritage site Greenwich, best known as the 0 meridian and a popular Sunday destination.
‘Sarf London’ includes Bankside, Borough, Lambeth, Southwark and multi-cultural Brixton across the river within its diverse boundaries with plenty of big attractions like the Globe Theatre, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the Tate Modern and Imperial War Museum.
Rapidly gentrifying Brixton is still at the centre of the Caribbean community and is famous for its market and street art. You’ll also find freshly gentrified suburbs like Battersea, Clapham and Wandsworth, suburban refuges for London’s priced out middle class. With parks and London’s quintessential gastropubs on every corner, they’re a great place to go for a Sunday pub lunch or stroll around the park.
If shopping is your thing, you're in the right city. London is home to some of the worlds finest department stores, including Selfridges, Harvey Nicols, Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum and Mason, the Royal family's favoured shopping location. Dotted around the city, from Oxford Street to Knightsbridge, hop on the tube or catch an iconic London cab and you can be shopping to your heart, or your credit cards, delight in no time. You'll also find an array of boutiques and designer shops along Bond Street in the city, or to the south from Sloane Square down the King's road. Admire the fine houses as you go and slip in to one of the gardens to enjoy some greenery in the city.
Dominated by the impressive outline of Windsor Castle, the oldest and longest continuously occupied castle in the world and current home to HM Queen Elizabeth II, these twin towns of Windsor and Eton Riverside have a rather surreal atmosphere, with the morning pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guards in Windsor, and the sight of school boys dressed in formal tailcoats wandering the streets of tiny Eton. Windsor town centre is full of expensive boutiques, grand cafes and trendy restaurants. Eton, by comparison, is far quieter, its one-street centre lined with antique shops and art galleries. Both are easily doable as a day trip from London.
Oxford and Cambridge
You can do either in a day trip or if time allows make the most of your trip and spend a night.
Follow in the footsteps of Oxford’s most famous alumni including Lewis Carroll, Bill Clinton and TS Eliot, as you explore the home of the worlds oldest speaking English school and enjoy a peaceful walk through captivating college courtyards and cobbled lanes. See the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The unspoilt narrow alleys and ancient squares of this naturally beautiful town will definitely capture your imagination. A treat for 'Harry Potter' fans of all ages, Christ Church was used as one of the major locations in the magical films.
Spend time in the elegant city of Cambridge, home to the world-famous university of the same name, and explore renowned Cavendish Laboratory, King’s College Chapel, and the Cambridge University Library. Have a look at the oldest college that’s still in existence, Peterhouse, which dates back to 1284. If time and more importantly the weather is on your side, hire a punt (the local equivalent of a Venetian canal boat) and enjoy everything Cambridge has to offer from the relaxing River Cam.
Glorious villages riddled with beautiful old mansions of honey-coloured stone; thatched cottages; atmospheric churches; and rickety almshouses draw crowds of visitors to the Cotswolds. If you've ever coveted exposed beams or lusted after a cream tea in the mid-afternoon, there's no finer place to fulfill your fantasies.
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Spring in London (March to May) can be quite unpredictable, expect temperatures from 20°C to lows of 10°C. Summer, too, can be unpredictable, with weeks of either continuous rain or joyous sun. The average maximum is 22°C and sometimes it may reach 30°C. Autumn arrives in mid September and generally lasts until late November. Expect cooler, wetter weather. Winter in London is very cold, with the average temperature at around 5°C, maximums averaging 7°C and minimums at 2°C.
From the airport
After arriving at London Heathrow, located around 22 kilometres from the city centre, you can easily connect to Paddington Station in London’s central zone one via the Heathrow Airport Express, or to Victoria Station and other major hubs in the city’s south by shuttle bus. There are also shuttle buses direct to Oxford and Cambridge straight from Heathrow. If you don’t want to negotiate public transport after a long flight, there is always the classic black cab or our popular London Airport Private Arrival Transfer is the way to go.
In and around the city
Once in the city, there are plenty of options to get around in London – buses, rail, bike and of course, the eponymous Tube, a highly effective underground train network, with three and a half million journeys made on it every day. If you like to do things on your own, simply jump on the Tube (or the Hop-on Hop-off bus) armed with a handy London Pass and let the city take you where it may.
The cheapest and easiest way to get out of London to some of England’s wonderful cities and towns is with your own car hire or via overland train. If you don’t want to negotiate the sprawling circular roads of London, you might find it easier to hop onto one of our day tours from London to regions like Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover or Oxford, Cotswolds, Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick Castle Day Trip from London.
London car hire
Enjoy great rates with Avis, Budget, Hertz or Thrifty and no booking fees. Qantas Frequent Flyers can also earn Qantas Points^ with Avis and Budget.
Your flight with Qantas
Enjoy our on-demand inflight entertainment in every seat, with the latest movie releases, TV shows, music and more.
Enjoy the freshest seasonal flavours on your flight to London, with Neil Perry inspired menus in Premium cabins.
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Make yourself comfortable
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