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The history of London spans two millennia, in which the capital of the United Kingdom rose from a provincial Roman town into a thriving centre of trade and influence. Today, the capital of Great Britain is a cultural and cosmopolitan hub, with many sightseeing opportunities in the city and its surroundings. Flexibility is the key to enjoying this metropolis, and renting a car in London is the way to achieve it.

It's your choice: Where to go in London

London's Hyde Park is a vast green oasis in central London, covering about 350 acres. This Royal park is ideal for strolling, cycling and skating, and many locals and travellers go there to admire its lush gardens, sunbathe and boat on the lake. The London Aquarium, meanwhile, showcases the diversity of marine life and promotes its preservation. Visit this family-friendly attraction to see sharks, penguins, turtles and rays among many other sea and ocean dwellers. To admire views encompassing the cityscape, the English Channel and north-western parts of Europe, take a ride on the London Eye. It takes around 30 minutes to complete a loop on this super-sized Ferris wheel, and buying priority London Eye tickets may save you time. Culture seekers will love the National Portrait Gallery, which exhibits around 10,000 portraits of illustrious Brits. Among other distinguished people, you will see portraits of Isaac Newton, Elizabeth I and Shakespeare. Besides paintings, the gallery displays drawings, photos and sculptures.

Things to do in London

The iconic Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, overlooks the River Thames in central London. Two tall towers, Big Ben and Victoria Tower, flank this neo-Gothic complex, while the medieval Westminster Hall, featuring large arches, is the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament. To visit an operational royal residence, take the Buckingham Palace tour. During the visit, you can admire lavish rooms decorated with chandeliers and large paintings. The changing of the guards, taking place daily at 11 am in front of the palace, is an unmissable spectacle that attracts visitors from around the globe. An impressive collection of historical artefacts awaits you in the British Museum. It displays incredible objects from ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece and other great civilizations. Sitting on London's fringes, 20 kilometres along the A3212 road, Hampton Court Palace features opulent rooms, manicured gardens brimming with flowers, and stunning architectural features. A visit here makes for a blissful escape from the city.

Important info about London

London is a sprawling city, radiating from the River Thames in every direction. Hilly in places, the metropolis encompasses many expansive parks ideal for leisure activities, as well as world-class shopping opportunities and outstanding cultural offerings. Due to its well-maintained and clearly signposted roads, many travellers rent a car in London to get around with efficiency and ease. London is also renowned as a gastronomic hub in Europe and indeed the world. Culinary influences from all corners of the globe transformed the local gastronomy during colonial and recent times. While exploring the metropolis, you will find restaurants serving gourmet, vegetarian and vegan specialities of local and foreign origins. Whether you are a fan of English, French, Chinese, Spanish, African or Indian food, you have many great opportunities to satisfy your appetite in London.

Weather in London
Facts
Country Greater London
Language English
Currency pound sterling
Time-Zones GMT
Country Code +44 20

Good to know

In London and the UK, you drive on the left side of the road. Drivers and passengers, even in the back seats, need to wear seat belts. If you need to answer a phone call while driving, make sure you have hands-free technology. Always allow pedestrians to cross zebra crossings and avoid drinking when driving. When you rent a car in London, note that the centre, including Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus can become congested during rush hours, so plan your journeys accordingly. Besides dealing with the congestion during rush hours, you need to pay the congestion charge in the zones marked with a "C" framed in red. In the UK, signs denote speed limits in miles per hour (mph), and if not indicated differently, the speed limit in residential areas is 30 mph.

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What to taste in London

Fish and chips is a popular fast food consisting of deep fried chips and buttered, fried fish. Pie and mash is another traditional dish consisting of minced meat encased in pastry and buttered mashed potatoes, typically served with gravy. Popular for breakfast, kippers is smoked herring that has been broiled, grilled or sautéed. When it comes to desserts, Eton mess is a simple classic made up of strawberries and whipped cream. Tea drinking culture has deep roots in the UK with the English Breakfast variety being preferred by most people.

What to bring to your friends from London

British speciality brands of tea make fantastic gifts that friends are sure to enjoy - nothing says classic British tea like Twinings. Complement this with a box of premium shortbread biscuits for the ultimate teatime treat. Other superb gifts that epitomise London include Sherlock Holmes related items which can be bought from the museum at the fictional character's house on Baker Street. Children and adults alike are likely to appreciate anything Harry Potter related. London is a hub for artisan gin production so why not bring friends back a bottle of your favourite that you've tried. Dodd's Gin and Sipsmith are two fine options. If you have friends who like to read, why not bring them back a book about London and perhaps inspire them to visit too? Foyles Bookshop on the Charing Cross Road has a dizzying array of books on the capital, selected by the knowledgable staff. Daunt Book on Marylebone Highstreet is another excellent place to find fascinating books all about the capital.