Millions of tourists take cheap flights to London each year. It’s a world city, a leading light where new fashion trends emerge, bands audition, and money men in the “City” wheel and deal. It’s also where street traders wheel and deal. London is renowned for its markets – from Columbia Road Flower Market to fashionable Portobello, foodie heaven Borough Market to funky Camden and, perhaps most famous of all, Covent Garden.
London is, at its heart, a patchwork of different villages, each with their own feel. East London’s frankly gritty Hackney or Stratford are worlds away from leafy, literary Highgate in North London or gentrified Notting Hill in the West.
The startlingly modern architecture of London stands beside medieval churches. Broad thoroughfares give way to dark alleys. The Thames sweeps through the city, having carried kings and queens and exotic cargo from far-off lands in the past and, today, visitors seeing the sights on tourist boats.
The palaces of London – Buckingham, Kensington, Hampton Court and Kew – all in beautiful parkland settings, stand majestic, a far cry from the tower blocks of trendy Hoxton or) East London.
The museums (mostly all with free admission), galleries stuffed with the best traditional and modern art, world-famous landmarks such as the London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, and the vibrant street life all promise an unforgettable vacation.
Anytime is a good time to book a flight to London. July and August are the warmest months. However, you can never be guaranteed sun. While London gets its fair share of grey skies, it rains less in the South East than it does in the rest of Great Britain. Spring weather (March to May) can be unpredictable with sun, rain and cloudy skies. Average temperatures hover between 51-59 degrees. Summers (June to August) are warm with average temperatures of about 68 degrees that can sometimes soar to 98 degrees. Fall (September to November) weather is like spring weather; unpredictable. The rain is heaviest during November when the city averages 2.5 inches. Winters (December to February) are generally mild, if damp. Snow and freezing temperatures are rare in London.
London flights are always easy to come by, especially since the tourist season runs year round, with peaks from June to September and again at Christmas. Spring is the best time to see the countryside and the royal London parks and gardens at their freshest. The mid-season is from April to May and early September to October. September through October is a great time of year to get cheap plane tickets to London and it can be the best time to visit.
The British take their vacations mainly in July and August, so the resorts are crowded. London in summer, however, is full of interesting things to see and do. In winter, the weather can be dismal, but all the theaters, concerts, and exhibitions are in full season.
If you’re planning to visit London during Spring Break or when a particular event is scheduled, make sure to book at least 5 or 6 weeks in advance to find the cheapest tickets available. If you’re flexible on your dates then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the cheapest flights to London at most periods of the year. Sometimes you can catch a bargain just 2 weeks before departure—but this might be cutting it short. Once you’ve figured out your flight tickets, don’t worry too much about which side of the plane to sit on as either side offers great views of London.
Heathrow Airport is London’s major international airport, and has many direct flights from the United States. Direct flights from New York City to London take about 7.5 hours, flights from Los Angeles take about 11.5 hours, from Chicago take about 8.5 hours, and from Dallas take about 10 hours.
There are hundreds of airlines that fly to London, so you won’t have trouble finding a flight that’s right for you. Several major U.S. airlines fly into Heathrow, including Delta, United, and American Airlines. You can also fly from the U.S. to London on United Kingdom’s flagship carrier, British Airways, andon several international airlines, such as Air India and Air New Zealand.
Weather in London can change throughout the day, so you’ll want to pack layers, such as sweaters and light jackets, so you are prepared for anything. Hats, gloves, and scarves are easy to pack and will provide warmth when the sun goes down. A small umbrella is also a must because rain showers can appear suddenly. The city is very walkable, so pack some sturdy, comfortable shoes and thick socks to protect your feet. If you plan on head out to experience London’s nightlife, be sure to pack some appropriate evening wear, such as a cocktail dress, slacks, and ties.
Due to the fact London has 4 major airports, there are several ways to find your way to the center. The main option and most popular choice is the catch a train directly to your desired stop. Heathrow, for example, has a train that goes to and from the airport and is extremely regular.
If you’re flying into London Luton Airport, you can take a bus to the London Underground (the Tube) and continue your journey from there. Because the size of London is so vast, the underground is probably your best choice regardless of your arrival destination, as it offers several stops all over the city. Driving is not very practical in London and a lot of areas require payment. A last resort (or if you do have lots of baggage) is to hail a taxi. However, congestion in London is rife and you may end up paying a fortune and taking more time to reach your destination.
Don’t worry about getting around town after your cheap flight to London. There are many options, the best of which is the Tube. London’s underground system is the fastest and easiest way to get around. Like subways in many large cities, the Tube is packed during rush hour, so try to avoid it.
London’s iconic double-decker red buses are slower, but they can be found everywhere and won’t be as crowded. Look into getting an Oyster card or Travelcard for traveling on London’s public transportation systems – they will save you money. You can find them at Tube stops or corner shops.
Black cabs are everywhere and very comfortable, but can be very expensive. Minicabs are a cheaper taxi option, but you have to order them ahead of time. Watch out for illegal minicabs that troll the theatres and nightspots. They might seem like the only late-night option, but single women, and those unfamiliar with the area, should and find a different way to ride safely.
London is a big city, but many of the tourist attractions are within walking distance or along the river Thames. Take advantage of a sunny day by walking or taking a riverboat. Driving is not recommended, as parking is near impossible to find and a Congestion Charge will cost you extra when driving into the city’s center on Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm. Only rent a car if you’d like to drive into the country. You will need to be over 25 years of age with a valid license and credit card.
For more information you can visit https://tfl.gov.uk.
The best things about London are free. These include the extensive Royal Parks such as Hyde Park, Green Park, The Regent’s Park, Richmond and St James’s Park. A must-see park is Kensington Gardens: Before Peter Pan found Neverland he found Kensington Gardens. In the first Peter Pan storybook, author J M Barrie sends Peter Pan out of his nursery to Long Water in Kensington Gardens—the very spot where the statue stands today.
Relive history every day in London while watching the Changing of the Guard. The British pomp and ceremony is free of charge and takes place outside Buckingham Palace. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, and the ceremony is set to music.
Major museums and art galleries are free, too. These include the world-renowned British Museum, Natural History and Science Museums, Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum and National Maritime Museum. Additionally, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Garden Museum, and the main art galleries—the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate: British and International Modern and Contemporary Art, Wallace Collection—offer entry at no charge. There are also smaller, quirkier museums such as The Geffrye Museum, restored 18th-century almshouses with a number of period rooms from 1600 to the present day.
The two Tate museums in London are world famous for many reasons. Tate Britain houses a collection of 65,000 works, including the Turner collection of 19,000 watercolors and some 300 paintings as well as a gallery of British art from 1500 to the present. Tate Modern, on the South Bank riverfront, has galleries of modern and contemporary art; traveling shows; and ongoing activities and events.
While free activities are always welcome to travelers on a budget, there are some can’t-miss things to do in London that cost money; for example, attending the theater. London has arguably the best English-language theater in the world, with offerings even greater than New York. And, you can book your tickets online from home.
Have a “cuppa”—afternoon tea—with all the grace and ritual of the British Empire at one of several hotels that serve afternoon tea, the most famous of which is the Ritz. Remember to dress smartly as there is a dress code.
Camden Market is one of the most exciting shopping experiences London has to offer. The market is definitely worth a visit with its huge variety of food, antiques, bric-a-brac, clothing, bars, nightspots, and crowds of people.
You can eat your way around the world in London such is the number and variety of restaurants. For a proper curry head to Brick Lane in East London. For fish and chips, the traditional meal, head to Fryer’s Delight in Holborn or Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden.
Londoners enjoy their sports: cricket, football, horse racing, tennis, and golf, as well as more unusual sports, such as “going to the dogs”—watching dog racing—which is very popular, especially in the East End. Check the schedules and spend the afternoon as a spectator.
Tipping: While tips in most areas of London are discretionary, a good rule of thumb is to tip 10-15 percent of the bill in cafes and restaurants; minimally in bars and pubs; 10-15 percent at hotel restaurants, and a discretionary amount for staff, and 10-15 percent for taxi drivers.
For discounts on London transportation and attractions, get a London Oyster Travelcard and London Pass Card. An Oyster Card allows unlimited travel on the Tube, buses, and trains in the London urban area as well as a discount on many of London’s scheduled river services. The London Pass Card gives you free entry to more than 50 attractions including museums, historic ships, zoos, and gardens. You can purchase both cards before you leave home or while you’re in London.
Finding an address in London is no small task. There’s no pattern to the street names; house numbers, when they exist, run in odds and evens, clockwise and counterclockwise. You may also want to get a detailed street map with an index. Londoners carry London A to Z, the ultimate street-by-street reference guide, available at bookstores and newsstands.
If you are planning on visiting the England’s capital check out some more ideas about sites to see and things to do on a London city break. If you are over in England you may want to consider making an additional trip north to what is referred to as the capital of the North on a Manchester city break.
London is an excellent city to use as a base for exploring the rest of the United Kingdom, and Cheapflights is here to help. Ryanair, EasyJet, Flybe, and British Airways have flights to cities throughout the UK, and you can choose to travel through London Gatwick, London Luton, Heathrow, Stansted or London City airport.
Travel to and from Heathrow Airport is easy using public transportation. The Heathrow Express leaves every 15 minutes and connects you to Central London in about 20 minutes. A cheaper option is the Piccadilly line on the Tube, which will take you to Central London in about 50 minutes. there are also train options to other London area airports, such as the Stansted Express.