London, baby! Home to over a thousand years of history, you can be sure Monday always looks better with a view like this.
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.
Plus speed through UK border control when you apply for the Registered Traveller serviceOpens external site in a new window. You won't have to fill in a landing card and can use UK/EU lanes and ePassport gates (at selected airports). Charges and conditions apply.
Britain Unlocked: 48 Hours in London
It’s the people that make London hum. If you’re planning a trip, there’s no better way to explore than by checking out the culture, food and nightlife created by the city’s game changers.
Start with the big ticket items – Big BenOpens external site in a new window, Buckingham PalaceOpens external site in a new window, Oxford and Regent StreetOpens external site in a new window, Madame TussaudsOpens external site in a new window, Tate Modern, Tate BritainOpens external site – and tick them off the list. Then look for more local highlights:
- 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.
- Interested? Find out about flights to 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 theatreOpens external site. Walk through the Roman piazza of Covent GardenOpens external site 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 PalaceOpens external site, Westminster AbbeyOpens external site, Big BenOpens external site 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 ParkOpens external site (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 TownOpens external site in a new window 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 MuseumOpens external site in a new window - home to centuries of human history, art and culture. Around the corner you'll find Senate HouseOpens external site in a new window 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 ParkOpens external site in a new window, home to London ZooOpens external site in a new window and the exclusive St Johns Wood, home to the famous Lord's Cricket GroundOpens external site in a new window where you can take a behind the scenes tourOpens external site in a new window.
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 marketsOpens external site in a new window, 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 CathedralOpens external site in a new window, 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 TheatreOpens external site, Tower BridgeOpens external site, London BridgeOpens external site, the Tate ModernOpens external site and Imperial War MuseumOpens external site in a new window.
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.
In the southwest, you'll find polite London suburbs like Richmond ParkOpens external site in a new window, Kew GardensOpens external site and Wimbledon Opens external site– all popular places to visit in London on the weekend.
If shopping is your thing, you're in the right city. London is home to some of the worlds finest department stores, including SelfridgesOpens external site in a new window, Harvey NicolsOpens external site in a new window, HarrodsOpens external site in a new window, LibertyOpens external site in a new window and Fortnum and MasonOpens external site in a new window, 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 CastleOpens external site in a new window, 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 LibraryOpens external site in a new window, 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 puntOpens external site in a new window (the local equivalent of a Venetian canal boat) and enjoy everything Cambridge has to offer from the relaxing River Cam.
If you've dreamed of visiting quintessential England, the Cotswolds is where you'll likely find it. Think dry stone walls and undulating countryside. And quaint villages filled with old-world churches, tempting inns and ancient woodlands. No matter the season, there are festivals to celebrate, gardens to explore, cream teas to indulge and so much more.
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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.
Your flight with Qantas
You can also enjoy speedier access through UK border patrol when you apply for the Registered Traveller serviceOpens external site in a new window. You won't have to fill in a landing card and can use UK/EU lanes and ePassport gates (at selected airports). Charges and conditions apply.
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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