Be sure to add a day or two of sightseeing to your itinerary to visit the landmarks and make the most of your trip to London. London is undeniably one of the most diverse and fascinating cities in the world, so whether you're an art lover, a foodie, a history buff, or just looking to explore somewhere new, there’s a place to explore for everyone in London.
What Are Some Famous Sights in London?
London is filled with exceptional spots to visit, from modern marvels to historical landmarks, outdoor markets and top shopping spots. Here are a few we recommend you visit.
What is the Best Time to Visit London?
Ultimately, the best time to visit London depends on your personal preferences.
If you prefer milder weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting in the spring (March to May) or early autumn (September to November). If you want to experience London's festive holiday season, plan a trip in December.
Summer is ideal for outdoor activities but be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices. Regardless of when you visit, London has something to offer year-round.
Explore London’s Top Attractions and Sites:
London offers a multitude of attractions and sites to explore. Beyond the famous landmarks mentioned earlier, here are a few more top attractions to visit in the city:
- The Tower of London: This historic castle on the banks of the River Thames is known for its role in British history, including its use as a royal palace, prison, and treasury. It is also home to the Crown Jewels.
- Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament: The iconic clock tower, often referred to as Big Ben (though that's the name of the bell), and the adjacent Houses of Parliament are iconic symbols of London.
- Buckingham Palace: The official residence of the British monarch in London, Buckingham Palace is a must-visit for tourists. Witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the palace gates, which is a popular attraction.
- The British Museum: This world-renowned museum houses an extensive collection of art and artefacts from around the world, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles.
- The London Eye: Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel that offers stunning panoramic views of the city. It's a popular attraction for both tourists and locals.
- The Shard: Take in breathtaking views of London from the Shard's observation deck, Western Europe's tallest skyscraper, offering panoramic vistas of the city's skyline.
- Tate Modern: Art enthusiasts will appreciate this contemporary art museum housed in a converted power station along the Thames. It features a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art.
- Covent Garden: This bustling area is known for its street performers, boutique shops, and lively atmosphere. Enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment in this historic district.
- Camden Market: Visit Camden Town to explore one of London's most vibrant markets. It's a hub for alternative fashion, vintage goods, international street food, and live music venues.
- The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: Located in Greenwich Park, this historic site is where you can stand on the Prime Meridian, dividing the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Explore the museum, see the famous Harrison clocks, and enjoy scenic park views.
- Borough Market: Located near London Bridge, Borough Market is one of the city's most renowned food markets. Sample gourmet food, fresh produce, and artisanal products from local and international vendors.
These attractions offer a glimpse into London's diverse cultural, artistic, and historic offerings, ensuring a memorable visit to this iconic city.
What documents do I need to Enter London, England?
To enter London as a South African arriving from South Africa, you will typically need:
- Passport: You will need a valid passport. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended date of departure from the UK.
- Visa: South African citizens typically require a visa to enter the United Kingdom for tourism, business, or most other purposes. You should apply for a UK visa in advance of your trip through the UK Visa Application Centre in South Africa. The type of visa you require depends on the purpose and duration of your visit.
- Travel Itinerary: It's advisable to have a detailed travel itinerary, including flight reservations and accommodation bookings.
- Financial Proof: You may be required to provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover your stay in the UK.
- Invitation Letter (if applicable): If you are visiting friends or family in the UK, you may need an invitation letter from your host.
- Proof of Ties to South Africa: It's a good idea to carry documents that demonstrate your ties to South Africa, such as proof of employment, property ownership, or family connections, to show that you have reasons to return.
Please note that immigration and visa requirements can change over time. It is essential to check the most up-to-date information from the official UK government website or consult with the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in South Africa before you travel.
Additionally, COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements may be in place, so be sure to check those as well.
When travelling to London, being aware of the travel information below is pertinent to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:
Seasons and Weather:
- London experiences a temperate maritime climate with relatively mild temperatures year-round.
- Summers (June to August) are generally warm, while winters (December to February) are cooler and can be damp.
- Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) offer milder weather and are often considered pleasant times to visit.
- London is in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone during standard time.
- The UK also observes Daylight Saving Time (BST — British Summer Time), which moves the clocks forward by one hour from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
Currency & Budget Considerations:
- The currency in London is the British Pound Sterling (£).
- London can be an expensive city to visit, so it's wise to plan your budget accordingly. Accommodation, dining, and attractions can vary in price.
- London uses Type G electrical outlets, which have three rectangular prongs. The standard voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz. You may need a plug adapter and voltage converter if your devices are not compatible.
- English is the primary language spoken in London, but you'll find a diverse range of languages spoken due to the city's multicultural nature.
- London is a diverse and multicultural city, so be respectful of different cultures and backgrounds.
- Tipping is customary in restaurants, and it's customary to leave a 10-15% tip if service is not included in the bill.
- Queuing (standing in line) is a well-respected British practice, so be patient and wait your turn in various situations.
Always check for the latest travel advisories, entry requirements, and health guidelines, particularly regarding COVID-19, before your trip to London.