London/Travel Info

History

London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile mediaeval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core.

London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. London has been described as a world cultural capital. In 2012 London became the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.


Overview


    Greater London covers an area of 1,583 square kilometres. A larger area, referred to as the London Metropolitan Region or the London Metropolitan Agglomeration covers an area of 8,382 square kilometres.
 
    Modern London stands on the Thames, its primary geographical feature, a navigable river which crosses the city from the south-west to the east. Since the Victorian era the Thames has been extensively embanked, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground.

    The estimated population of London is close to 8.2 million,  accounting for 12.5% of the UK population. The London metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million.


Travel information below by Lonely Planet. For more detailed information visit Lonely Planet London.

Visas

Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA are given, at their point of arrival, ‘leave to enter’ the UK for up to six months but are prohibited from working without a work permit. If you’re a citizen of the EU, you don’t need a visa to enter the country and may live and work here freely for as long as you like.

Visa regulations are always subject to change, so check at www.ukvisas.gov.uk or with your local British embassy before leaving home.

Getting Around

The best way to get around town is by the underground system. The London Underground — all of which is now commonly referred to as the Tube — is the oldest, and second longest metro system in the world. The Docklands Light Railway, which opened in 1987, is a second, more local metro system using smaller and lighter tram-type vehicles which serve Docklands and Greenwich. The Oyster Card is a plastic smartcard that can be used on pretty much every form of London public transport, from the Underground (the "Tube") and the buses to surface rail networks and even the suburban Croydon-Wimbledon Tramlink.


Money  (Exchange Rates: GB Pound; Euro)

Despite being a member of the EU, the UK has not signed up to the Euro and has retained the pound sterling as its unit of currency. In general, cost of living in London is higher than elsewhere in Britain. Eating out can be done on a budget, with plenty of good cheap eats to be had in every neighborhood, a decent sandwich will cost around GBP5. A good meal for two with wine is usually around the GBP80 to GBP100 mark. Getting around London can also be expensive. One obvious step to save cash is to get an Oyster travel card immediately upon arrival.


ATMs/Credit Cards/Taxes

ATMs are a way of life in London, as the huge queues by them on Saturday nights in the West End attest. There is no area in London unserved by them, and they accept cards from any bank in the world that is tied into the Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro systems, as well as some other more obscure ones.
Credit cards are widely accepted in London's restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. Taxes: Most price quoted usually already includes VAT, althought some top-end restaurants often add a "service charge" of 10% to 15%.


Weather

London has a temperate oceanic climate, similar to much of southern Britain. Despite its reputation as being a rainy city, London at 592 mm (23.3 in) receives less precipitation in a year than Rome at 834 mm (32.8 in), or Bordeaux at 923 mm (36.3 in). Summers usually begin from mid- June to late August, are generally warm and sometimes hot, the heat being boosted by the urban heat island effect making the center of London at times 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the suburbs and outskirts. London's summer average is 24 °C (75.2 °F).



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