This post shows you how to get to St. James’s Palace in London and where to witness the Changing of the Guard. London is home to a whole host of royal palaces but St. James’s Palace may be one of the lesser known examples. Tucked away on a side street in the district of Mayfair and St. James, the Palace is a fine example of surviving Tudor architecture and the gatehouse is one of the most magnificent in the entire country. A must-visit for Henry VIII-buffs, visitors are not allowed inside the Palace, but it is worth visiting simply to enjoy the outer premises.
St. James’s Palace is located in the heart of London, within the City of Westminster at St. James’s Palace, Marlborough Road, London SW1A 1BS. Due to it’s central location, it is accessible by most London Underground lines. The closest station is Green Park (Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines). The next nearest station is Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines). The nearest bus route is the #9 route. We recommend using this Google map for directions to St. James’s Palace from anywhere in London.
Tucked away off of Brick Lane in Shoreditch is a new cafe that everyone agrees is truly the cat’s meow. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is London’s first and only cat cafe. It is home to 13 rescue cats, each of whom was either adopted from a shelter or abandoned by their owners under varying circumstances. Visitors to the cafe get to enjoy the company of several lounging cats whilst sipping their tea and sampling a wide selection of tasty cakes in the Alice in Wonderland-themed space. Though cat cafes originally gained popularity in cities across Asia, the trend has moved to Europe and beyond as more and more people continue to flock to these novelty eateries.
What to Expect
For those hoping to visit London’s cat cafe, it’s best to make a reservation ahead of schedule. Though they accept walk-ups on a limited basis, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is very popular and are often unable to offer a table to guests without a reservation.
There are 2 options for visiting the cat cafe.
General Admission — Guests who would like to choose from the full menu on offer should select this option. There is a £6 charge for entering the cafe, which covers veterinary bills and basic costs for caring for the cats. This charge does not go towards any food or drink that is purchased at the cafe. There are a range of both sweet and savoury dishes to purchase, as well as several gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Guests are welcomed to stay for 1.5 hour slots.
High Tea — Guests can also choose to come for high tea, which includes a sparkling drink, savoury treats, scones with jam and cream, a selection of cakes and biscuits, and tea or coffee for £35. Time slots for high tea are also 1.5 hours.
Following the Rules
First and foremost, keep in mind that the cafe privileges the cats’ needs above everything else. Therefore, guests are greeted with a long list of ‘rules’ regarding how to behave in the cafe and with the cats. Some of these rules include:
Guests must let sleeping cats rest. They will awake sooner and will be more engaged if left undisturbed.
Guests must not feed the cats human food
Guests must avoid rough play: in particular, cat toys should never be used to hit a cat in the face to get its attention. Cat carers will ask guests to leave if toys are persistently dangled in the animal’s faces. All of our cats have perfect eyesight, so this behaviour is not necessary to secure their attention.
Guests should not use flash photography
Guests are not permitted to pick up and carry cats around – they are friends, not toys!
Guests are asked to avoid persistently following and/or badgering the animals
Though the rules are enforced with the sole intention of keeping the cats’ best interest in mind, some guests comment that the long list of regulations made them feel unwelcome and ill at east. However, most reviewers had no issues with the rules and greatly enjoyed their time at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.
This post compares several of the most popular food tours available in London. Food tours are a great way to learn about London’s diverse cultural history. From the curry houses on Brick Lane to the Caribbean restaurants in south London, there is no shortage of delicious food available in this city. These tours offer interesting insights into a wide variety of neighbourhoods through the lens of food, and allow guests to literally taste some of the many different cultures that make up London today. Additionally, there are several dessert tours and pub crawls that also invite guests to explore London in a fun and unique way.
The wide range of food tour options makes any visitor to London spoilt for choice. However, with so many choices it can sometimes be difficult to determine which tours are best suited for your individual needs. Below, we’ve broken down the various food tour options in London by neighbourhood so you can decide…which is the best food tour in London?
If you can’t make our guided food tours and you are planning on purchasing the London Pass, bear in mind that it includes a 20% discount on other paid food tours. Also take a look at our suggestions on eating in London on a budget.
Located directly south of London, Gatwick Airport is a popular hub for both domestic and international flights. Unlike Heathrow Airport, Gatwick does not have a tube station and therefore visitors traveling through Gatwick must find other means of getting to and from London. Fortunately, there are several transportation options.
Travelling by Coach
By far the cheapest way to get to London from Gatwick is via coach. National Express and easyBus offer coaches that run 24/7 and can cost as little as £2 if booked in advance. Unfortunately, the cheapest option is also the slowest option. Expect it to take over an hour to arrive into central London from Gatwick on a coach.
Coach pick up and drop from North and South Terminals.
Tickets should be purchased in advance for best price, but can also be bought at the airport.
Coaches run every 15 minutes, 24/7.
Coach pick up and drop from North and South Terminals.
Tickets should be purchased in advance for best price, but can also be bought at the airport.
Coaches run every 15-20 minutes (from 4am until 1am).
Visitors can also opt to travel by car, though this is (unsurprisingly) by far the most expensive option. A hire car fare will run about £80 between London and Gatwick, so think carefully about whether the ease of transport is worth the expense. In most cases, it is cheaper and faster to take the Gatwick Express to Victoria and then hire a taxi from there.
Though Christmas markets originated in Germany and Austria, they are now found all over Europe throughout the holiday season. London boasts an impressive array of Christmas markets — each of which has its own unique charm and selection of stalls. The following is a list of our favourite Christmas markets in the city.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the biggest and most famous of all the Christmas markets in London. Originally opening in 2006, Winter Wonderland has grown to feature the UK’s largest outdoor ice-skating rink, a giant Ferris Wheel, a magical ice kingdom, several food and merchandise stalls, and many other things. Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, though the cost of most of the attractions and food is fairly steep. If possible, try visiting during the daytime and weekdays as the crowds can be quite overwhelming during the weekends.
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, or Green Park
Opening times: Everyday 10am-10pm from November 18 – January 2 (except Christmas day)
The Christmas market at the Tate Modern is an ode to a more traditional German holiday market. The space features dozens of beautiful wooden chalets, each of which is adorned with lights and lovely music. All the classic Christmas treats can be found at this market: mulled wine and cider, roasted nuts, bratwurst, and crepes, amongst others. This is also a great place to pick up last minute Christmas gifts as several shops sell homemade jewelry and holiday crafts. Furthermore, the incredible setting just opposite of St Paul’s Cathedral is hard to beat anywhere else.
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
Opening times: 11am-8pm from Monday-Thursday; 11am-10pm on Fridays; 10am-10pm on Saturdays; and 10am-8pm on Sundays.
Similar to the Christmas market at the Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre Christmas market is a stunning spectacle of traditional chalets and Christmas cheer. In addition to an endless selection of homemade crafts, warm beverages, and German snacks, there are also rides and carol singing to entertain the whole family. If you have extra time on your hands, then consider walking from the Southbank Centre Christmas market to the one at the Tate Modern — the view along the way is stunning, and each market has its own unique ambience. Also, unlike most of the other Christmas markets in London, the one at the Southbank Centre stays open until the end of January, so visitors can continue to partake in the holiday spirit long after Christmas has passed.
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Opening times: Everyday 10am-11pm from November 11 – January 25
Leicester Square Christmas Market is the newest holiday market to open in London. Though entrance to the market is free, tickets to visit Santa’s Grotto or the theatrical performance LA SOIRÉE must be purchased in advance. Due to its extremely central location, the Leicester Square Christmas market is the perfect market to visit for those who lack the time or interest in dedicating an entire night to visiting a Christmas market.
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Opening times: Weekdays from 12pm-10pm and weekends from 10am-10pm. Runs from November 11 to January 8.
The Greenwich Christmas market features more than 100 wooden chalets selling a variety of food and holiday knick-knacks. Unlike several of the other Christmas markets included in this list, the Greenwich Christmas market only runs from the first of December until Christmas eve. Some might be put off by the idea of traveling to Greenwich to visit this Christmas market. However, its location away from the city centre means that it is much less crowded than most.
The London Bridge City Christmas market features the unbeatable backdrop of Tower Bridge to secure its place as one of our very favourite Christmas markets. The perfect destination for a couple’s date night, this market becomes all the more romantic on Tuesday’s when a selection of Christmas films are shown.
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
Opening times: Everyday 10am-8pm from November 30 – January 3.
The following is our guide to finding accommodation in London. Keep in mind that London is an expensive city and that prices might be higher than what you usually expect. We have included a range of hotels with the hope that you will be able to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Airbnb is a great option where you’ll find additional rooming options come on the market just for Inauguration as residents rent out spare bedrooms or entire house for the events. Check out their website for more information!
There are few cities around the world that rival London’s impressive food scene. Known for the wide variety of cuisines available at a moment’s notice, London is any foodies’ dream come true. However, though there are several pubs and restaurants worth visiting during your holiday, it’s important not to forget all the street food markets also scattered throughout the city!
From historic Borough Market to the newly established Maltby Street Market, there is no shortage of street food market options!
Below are 10 of our favourite street food markets in the city. Keep in mind that these do not run every day, so please check their opening hour / days before visiting!
Though several of these markets are very well known, Borough Market is arguably the most famous of them all….and for good reason! Borough Market originally opened in 1014 (!!!) and thus celebrated its 1,000 year birthday in 2014. Originally called Southwark, Borough Market currently resides in its original location — just south of London Bridge. Come hungry as most food stalls offer samples, and you’ll certainly want to pop into a nearby pub for a pint at the end!
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 – 17:00
Friday: 10:00 – 18:00
Saturday: 8:00 – 17:00
Borough Market is CLOSED on Sundays.
Nearest Tube or Overground: London Bridge
Types of stalls: Cheese, olives, meat, fruits and vegetables, and chocolates.
Camden Market is the heart and soul of Camden Town — a vibrant neighbourhood known for once being the home to several aspiring musicians, including Amy Winehouse. Camden Market is actually comprised of several smaller markets, each of which sells food, clothing, art, trinkets, or some combination of the aforementioned. The best variety of food options is in the section of the market right along the river called KERB.
Maltby Street Market is a hidden gem that opened in south London in 2010. The market space is a lot smaller than some of the others, which means that only the very best vendors are able to secure a place there. Also, photographers will love the picturesque location, so don’t forget your camera!
Saturday: 9:00 – 16:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 16:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: London Bridge or Bermondsey
Types of stalls: Innovative take-away meals and many samples.
Dalston Food Market is an amazing little market located in an uber-trendy part of the city. The stalls in this area tend to be cheaper than those in some of the other markets, making this a budget-friendly option.
Thursday – Friday: 11:00 – 17:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: Old Street or Barbican Station.
Types of stalls: Wide variety of ethnic food stalls.
Leatherlane Market lacks all of the pretensions that some of the other markets boast. Described as “a bit scruffy” and “down to earth”, Leatherlane Market features several fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as a variety of cheap street eats.
Open: Weekdays 10:00 – 14:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: Chancery Lane or Farringdon
Types of stalls: Fruit and vegetables, and cheap street food.
A favourite market amongst many locals, Brockley Market in southeast London is a bit of a journey from the typical tourist haunts. However, do not be put off by its location — Brockley Market is a vibrant hub of ethnic cuisine, fresh fruits and vegetables, gourmet sweets, and an impressive array of meats and poultry. It is especially worth a visit during the holiday seasons.
Open: Saturdays 10:00 – 14:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: St Johns or Elverson
Types of stalls: Fruit and vegetables, meats and poultry, ethnic cuisine, and seasonal treats.
Broadway Market first began in 1900 when Fred Cooke began selling jellied eels in the East End. Though the market was forced to close for several years due to the crumbling infrastructure of the surrounding area, Broadway Market finally reopened in 2004. Today, there are 135 stalls selling a variety of produce, artisan bread, cakes, and artwork.
Open: Saturdays 9:00-17:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: London Fields
Types of stalls: Fruit and vegetables, breads, cakes, art and and merchandise.
Though not as famous as some of the other markets, Berwick Street Market has been around since 1778. The variation in stalls is immense; expect to find stalls selling different ethnic cuisines, fruits and vegetables, and meats and cheeses, as well as clothing, art,
antiques, and flowers.
Open: Monday – Saturday: 8:00 – 18:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Types of stalls: Fruit and vegetables, meats and poultry, take-aways, flowers, art, and antiques.
The following post is our guide to visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, a historic town where William Shakespeare was born and which now is home to a bustling theatre scene. Read on to learn how to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, which tours to take, and what all visitors must see before leaving. Looking for other day-trips outside of London? Check out our posts on visiting Canterbury, Stonehenge, Oxford, Bath, Windsor Castle, and Cambridge.
Where is Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a town just over 100 miles northwest of London along the river Avon. The area is most famously known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Yet, in recent years, Stratford-upon-Avon has come to also be recognised as a cultural hub for theatre enthusiast. The surrounding county is Warwickshire, which is a county in the midlands near Birmingham.
Visitors traveling to Stratford-upon-Avon by car can do so via the M40. The route is relatively straightforward and should take approximately 2 hours. For those hoping to combine their day-trip to Stratford-upon-Avon with another destination should consider stopping in Oxford on the way there or back. Also nearby are the Cotswolds, which are renowned for their rolling hills and picturesque architecture.
Trains depart from London Marylebone or London Euston Station. Those departing from Marylebone take just over 2 hours to reach Stratford-upon-Avon, whilst those leaving from Euston take approximately 3 hours. The cost of the journey fluctuates immensely, depending on the time of day, speed of train, and how far in advance the ticket is booked. Same day tickets can be extortionate, so be sure to reserve your seat as far in advance as possible. Also, those travelling during ‘Peak’ hours will pay more than those travelling during ‘Off Peak’ or ‘Super Off Peak’.
Buy ‘Off Peak’ or ‘Super Off Peak’, rather than the standard ‘Peak’ fare.
Check whether it’s cheaper to depart from certain stations over others.
Purchase your tickets ahead of time. Buy online by at least midnight the night before, and you’ll save.
Buy a return ticket rather than 2 one-way tickets. This will massively reduce the overall price of the journey.
Deliberate over buying an ‘Anytime Return’ ticket before you do so. Oftentimes, an ‘Anytime Return’ is more expensive than an ‘Off Peak Return’. The former means that you can hop on any train at any time when you’re ready to head back to London from Bath. However, the latter requires that you only travel during off-peak hours, such as after evening rush hour. ‘Anytime Return’ is much more convenient, but ‘Off Peak’ can be cheaper.
Remember you might be applicable for discounted travel. Students, people between 16-25, and seniors over 60 all qualify for discounted rail cards.
+ By bus:
There are also several coach companies that offer services between London and Stratford-upon-Avon. The companies we recommend most are National Express and Megabus, as both have coaches departing from either location every 1-2 hours throughout the day.
The price of the journey varies immensely, depending on how far in advance you purchase your ticket. Tickets purchased within a few days of the journey, for example, can be astronomical, whilst tickets purchased at least a month in advance are often much cheaper than the train.
+ With tour group:
Golden Tours – This company offers several different day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon that are then combined with other stops at the Cotswolds, Oxford, or Warwick Castle. Regardless of which multi-stop day trip selected, all tours that include Stratford-upon-Avon last approximately 10 hours and depart from London.
Evan Evans – Also offers several muti-stop day trips that stop in Stratford-upon-Avon. Additionally, all tours last 10 hours.
Anderson Tours – Anderson offers one day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, which also includes stops at Oxford and the Cotswold villages. The trip is roughly 10-12 hours depending on your pick-up and drop-off location in London.
Stratford Town Walk – The highest rated walking tour of Stratford-upon-Avon, this company offers a historic town walk and an award winning ghost walk. Reviewers are almost unanimously positive, with many praising the guides’ knowledge and enthusiasm. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Canal and River Tours – If you’re not keen on a walking tour, then a river tour is an excellent alternative. The trip feature an audio tour accompanied by live commentary and music. Reviewers are mostly content with their experience, though some comment that it was disappointing and overpriced. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
City Sightseeing – This international company also runs bus tours in Stratford. The tours are guided and operate on a hop-on, hop-off basis. Guests comment that the bus tour is useful, but not necessary, as all the major tourist sites are within walking distance of one another. Still, this is a good alternative for those who are unwilling or unhappy to walk. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Shakespeare’s birthplace – Visit the place where Shakespeare was born! This site is obviously a must for all Shakespeare enthusiasts, though most guests speak fondly of their trip here. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens – This is where Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s future wife, lived as a girl. The lovely cottage offers guests insight into what an average person’s life was like 500 years ago. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Mary Arden’s Farm – A Tudor farm replica that is more so targeted at children than adults, this is a fun option for families visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. Reviewers are very positive, though some complain that the price is too high. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Holy Trinity Church – The church where Shakespeare is buried. Many recommend visiting, if only to read the comical inscription Shakespeare requested to be engraved into his tomb. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Ranked as the #1 “Thing to Do” on TripAdvisor, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a pilgrimage site for serious Shakespeare fans. The stage extends into the crowd, making the audience feel like part of the experience. Reviews are extremely positive. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
The MAD Museum – Standing for ‘Mechanical Art and Design’, the MAD Museum is a welcome alternative for those less interested in Shakespeare. It is particularly popular with children, who can participate in several interactive exhibits. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
London is expensive for residents and tourists alike. But armed with the right knowledge, your trip to London doesn’t need to break the bank! Obviously the best way to see and enjoy London is by coming along on our famous pay-what-you-like tours. Once you’ve done that, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time in town – So read on to find out how to get the most power for your Pound with our guide to London on a Budget.
The London Pass can save you big bucks, depending on the sites you want to visit. Once you’ve got a rough guide of the attractions you’re going to explore, take a look at their website to check if your entry could be covered with one of their cards. Not for everybody, but potentially could save you over £100.00 if your top attractions are on their list! Take a look at our post on the London Pass and Other Sightseing and Attraction passes for more information.
Other great sites to consider are as TravelZoo, Groupon, Discount London and Wowcher, which offer similar deals and discounts. In addition, some popular attractions in London have a 2 for 1 offer that you can take advantage of easily during your visit. Check out our post on 2for1 deals to get the low down!
No matter which airport you fly into, or where you are staying, you’ll always have options when it comes to traveling into the city. Check out our step-by-step guides on getting to/from Heathrow or to/from Stanstead if arriving by plane. Most airports offer tickets for rail connections and National Express usually has coach services that run from each airport. And, of course, there’s always the option of a black cab! If arriving into London after a long international flight, learn how to avoid jet lag with these suggestions.
There are many different ways to get around the city itself. London has excellent public transportation. A massive network of Underground rail, over ground train services, buses as well as boats means that all of London is accessible to everybody! Here are a few of our articles:
Oystercard or Travelcard – depending on your length of time in London, you may benefit from picking up a Travelcard or an Oystercard to save money when getting around on the Tube discounts on attractions.
Some of the most expensive hotels in the world are located here in London. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t affordable ones, too! Generally, the closer you are to the centre of town, the more expensive the room. So keep an eye on the map when choosing your accommodation. Of course, you should try booking sites like LateRooms.com. Hotels aren’t the only option though – London has a wide variety of low-cost, safe and central hostels to choose from including St. Christophers, Generator Hostels, and YHA.
University Halls – inexpensive way to stay in Central London (especially during summer months)
Other ways to save on accommodation include:
Using a voucher – Just as above, keeping an eye on voucher sites can often net you a big discount for your hotel stay!
Calling the hotel directly – If you can find a great deal on travel websites like Expedia, LastMinute or Priceline, it is always worth calling the hotel to let them know. Most will be more than happy to match the offer you found online…all you have to do is ask!
Checking out Roomorama and AirBnB – Rooms and flats offered by Londoners themselves, you can sometimes nab yourself a place to stay for as cheap as £25 a night!
London is known for our free museums and galleries. It’s possible to get your culture fix without having to pay a single penny, too! No matter what your interests are, there’s a free museum ready for your visit. For guides on where to go, check out some of our recommendations:
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London – One of the Best Free Things to Do in London
London has a lot of great eateries that are both delicious and budget friendly. It’s easy to find high quality cuisine from all around the world, but be sure to try a few classic British dishes before leaving London. You might be interested in a London Tastecard, which offers up to 50% dinners and fine locations.
Why not take an almost free London food tour?
Here are some of our favorite restaurants, pubs and food articles:
Street Food App – street food is delicious, inventive and inexpensive. This app is for street food lovers.
London’s West End is a destination for theatre-lovers all over the world. But world-class performances don’t always come with world-class prices! It’s possible to get yourself a great deal on theatre tickets, so check out our post for the best tips and tricks.
Although changing your money at the airport may be convenient, you’ll end up paying more in conversion fees there than almost anywhere else. The only two places in London that will get you both the best rate and charge no conversion fees are UK Post Offices and the Bureau de Change at Marks & Spencer, a trusted chain store in the UK. exchange your money that will get you not only the best rate, but no conversion fees. Check out our blog post on exchanging foreign currency in the UK for a detailed guide. In further regards to money, please remember that tipping is pretty standard now in the UK.
This post is a short introduction the the Charles Dickens Museum in London with a tip for free entry. Contained inside the previous London home of Charles Dickens, the Dickens Museum holds the world’s finest collection of Dickens-related items. Visited by Dickens enthusiasts from around the world, the Museum offers a unique perspective not only to the life of Charles Dickens, but the Victorian London society.