Visit London Blog » big ben Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Video of the Week: London in 1927 and 2013 Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:06:56 +0000

Compare the live footage of London in 1927 and 2013 in this fascinating video. The images of London in 1927 were captured by cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene who travelled across the UK with his new colour film camera. BFI recently restored these images.

Film-maker Simon Smith followed in Friese-Greene’s footsteps, providing a recent view of London landmarks like Tower Bridge, Peter Pan’s Statue, Big Ben and the Houses of ParliamentPetticoat Lane Market, Hyde Park and the River Thames.

]]> 0
London Video of the Week: Sunrise Over London Fri, 21 Mar 2014 14:44:42 +0000

Using a GoPro camera attached to a mini-helicopter, photographer Ben Chan has captured London at dawn as the sun rises over the city. Keep your eyes peeled for Tower Bridge, City Hall, the River Thames, the EDF Energy London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

]]> 1
Top 10 Instagram photos: February 2014 Sat, 08 Mar 2014 10:07:55 +0000 Now that our Instagram account (@visitlondonofficial) is up and running, along with the #visitlondon hashtag, here is our pick of your best pictures from the last month.

If you want the chance to be included in a future top ten get out there and start snapping our fantastic city, and make sure to hashtag it with #visitlondon

Yeoman and Raven by maviscfwang

Yeoman and Raven by maviscfwang

Westminster by rebekahesme

Westminster by rebekahesme

Tube escalator by i_shootfilm

Tube escalator by i_shootfilm

The Shard and Tower of London by mongulden

Old and New: The Shard and Tower of London by mongulden

Royal Arcade by nisaoliveira

Royal Arcade by nisaoliveira

View from the EDF London Eye by marenlm

View from the EDF London Eye by marenlm

The EDF London Eye from the river by joanamlimao

The EDF London Eye from the river by joanamlimao

Covent Garden by solar_patrick

Covent Garden by solar_patrick

Barbican by solar_patrick

Barbican by solar_patrick

Millenium Bridge by l_senator

Millenium Bridge by l_senator

]]> 1
Best Bus Routes for Sightseeing in London Tue, 28 Jan 2014 11:00:35 +0000

London’s famous double-decker buses are an ideal way to see the city if you’re on a budget. Buy a Travelcard for the day and take a self-guided city tour on London’s best bus routes. These four cover most of the major sights in the city. Their routes are described from west to east and the return journey passes the same sights in reverse.

Number 74
Starting in Putney, this route travels past London’s museums hub in South Kensington where the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum sit side by side. It then passes luxury department store Harrods and the boundary of one of London’s largest green spaces at Hyde Park Corner. You can catch a glimpse of The Dorchester hotel just after, followed by the famous haunt of public rhetoric – Speaker’s Corner at Marble Arch. The final stop is Baker Street, home to both the Madame Tussauds wax figure museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, at the site of the fictional detective’s residence.

Number 9
The number 9 is one of only two routes operating the old-style Routemaster buses on part of its route. Leaving from Hammersmith, it passes Kensington Palace (you’ll have to get off to see it) followed by the beautiful Royal Albert Hall and the monument to Queen Victoria’s husband which sits opposite it. Like the number 74, the 9 passes the museums in Kensington, Harrods and Hyde Park corner. It takes a different route afterwards to visit St James’s Palace, Trafalgar Square, The Savoy hotel and arts and cultural centre Somerset House.

Number RV1
The RV1 is a favourite route for us here at VL Towers! Despite being a single decker, it still passes through some of the best parts of London, giving you a great cultural tour of the city. Soak up some shops and street theatre at Covent Garden before taking the RV1. Hopping on it will take you to the South Bank where you’ll see the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall. The London Bridge stop is metres from the London Dungeon and City Hall is the next sight on the route, which crosses Tower Bridge to finish up at the Tower of London.

Number 24
The 24 sets off from Camden Town which offers alternative fashion and food. The bus then heads to the more mainstream Leicester Square in the centre, calling in at Trafalgar Square and Horse Guards Parade. The political heart of London is next as the bus passes Parliament Square where you’ll find Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, as well as the nearby Westminster Abbey where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married in 2011. The final site is the city’s policing headquarters at the iconic New Scotland Yard building.

]]> 3 Guest Editor: Joanna Lumley Mon, 20 Jan 2014 11:02:43 +0000


Watch actor, voice-over artist, former model, author and human rights campaigner Joanna Lumley’s London Story in the video above.

During our interview Joanna told us more about why, even after nearly half a century in the UK Capital, London still excites and energises her life and work. We’ve used some of her favourite London experiences to populate our homepage from 20 Jan-23 Jan 2014.

Here’s Joanna’s top five things to see and do in London:

Battersea Power Station and Stockwell

“I have lived in Earl’s Court, near Holland Park and in Wimbledon and now I live in Stockwell. Stockwell has a lot of extraordinary treats. It has got the most beautiful war memorial which is painted with poppies and things. Stockwell has its own personal characteristics [and] it is now linked to Nine Elms and the immense new development there. [It's also very close to] Battersea Power Station, one of the most iconic and thrilling parts of London, with its great four chimneys sticking up, you seem to see them all around, whichever side of the river you are. The power station is being developed into restaurants and places to live and offices and cafés and shops – a theatre even. Maybe [one day] I can walk to [work at] a theatre in Battersea.”

Holland Park

Holland Park is one of the best kept secrets in London. It is staggering, I took a Canadian friend there the other day and she was bewitched by it. It’s got parterres, winding paths, statues, its own little opera house. It has got a beautiful restaurant, an orangery. It has got formal duck ponds with ducks who have babies…little puffballs. It’s got peacocks which roost in the trees. It’s got tulips in springtime and magnolias. It’s got camellias coming out before the snow has even come off them, it’s a fantastic place. It sits between Holland Park Avenue and Kensington High Street. You can wander your way around – it’s got a football pitch, it’s got everything you could possibly want and wherever you go in it, you’ll find a new path and a new way. And you can wear smart shoes if you want to be a smart Londoner and not be muddy, or you can wear football boots.”

London in 24 hours: Open Top Bus Tour and Fish & Chips

“If you really have only got 24 hours, I think you should take one of those nice topless buses, they are terribly, terribly good, or go onto the river, where you get quite a different thing – the whole city sounds different. Take your camera and actually look at all these extraordinary places. If you can go to a museum, come to the British Library or the British Museum or the V&A or the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. The Sir John Soane’s  Museum is packed with treats. Try to focus on something properly for an hour, then skitter about like a gadfly. Eat something, I know it’s England, but you have to eat some fish and chips.”

Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Cromwell Road

“Whenever I come back to London after a long time away, the first thing I do is ask the driver to bring me straight down the Cromwell Road, towards Knightsbridge, veer off, round Hyde Park Corner, the great Quadriga of War – that fabulous chariot with four of them on top of the archway in the middle; a boy driving the horses furiously, and behind, aloft, holding the great wreath of peace, is the angel standing. Go round there, down past Buckingham Palace … and the great golden statue of Queen Victoria. Down Parliament Square, Big Ben, there it all is: still there, still gleaming. 

The British Library

“I think that I would die if I didn’t read books every day. Books are the most important part of my life and reading is the most important skill you can learn as a person on the planet. It doesn’t matter what else you have got. If you are able to read, you can learn everything that there has ever been known. You can read about everything, anywhere in any language, about every single thing that has ever been thought, or ever been invented, or discovered or dreamed of. So without reading, your life is dull, that’s what I say.

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at #TheLondonStory

What are your recommendations for visitors to London?

]]> 0
London Video of the Week: London Architecture Places by TheWorldsCities Fri, 11 Oct 2013 09:00:30 +0000

If you love great architecture, you’ll love London. From the Royal Albert Hall to Tower Bridge, The Gherkin to the O2 Arena, this fascinating video showcases the best of London’s eye-popping architecture.

]]> 1
RideLondon Continues Olympic Legacy Tue, 06 Aug 2013 08:56:18 +0000 Laura Trott and Martin Johnson kick off the FreeCycle Martin Johnson leads hundreds of cyclist in World Record attempt at FreeCycle Guinness World record attempt at FreeCycle FreeCycle BMX stunts at St Paul's RideLondon Festival Smoothie Bike FreeCycle past Buckingham Palace Bike stunts at Green Park FreeCycle past Big Ben FreeCycle past London Eye Grand Prix Handcycle Race London-Surrey 100 collect medals on The Mall Boris Johnson completes London-Surrey 100 Big screens in Green Park show races London - Surrey Classic Winners

Bikes took over the streets of London last weekend, as the first Prudential RideLondon took place. As the biggest cycling event ever seen in the UK, RideLondon created a lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A weekend of cycling kicked off on Saturday morning with a Guinness World Record during the FreeCycle (a mass participation eight mile bike ride). Double Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott sounded the horn, which saw former England Rugby captain Martin Johnson, followed by his family and hundreds of other cyclists depart one by one in the hope of breaking the record for the longest parade of bikes. Unfortunately the record wasn’t broken, but FreeCycle carried on throughout the day, with more than 50,000 joining in and taking advantage of the traffic-free roads, cycling past iconic land marks such as Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.

The FreeCycle was followed by a Grand Prix around St James’s Park in the evening, which saw Olympic cyclists take to the streets to compete in several races including Handcycle.

A second day of cycling began with more than 15,000 cyclists leaving Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the London-Surrey 100, lead by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who completed the course in eight and a half hours. The elite cyclists showed off their skills, leaving the park more than seven hours later for the London-Surrey Classic and arriving back on The Mall not long after the last of the amateurs.

Across the weekend festivals in Green Park, St Paul’s and Tower Hill accompanied the cycling with bike themed activities, including BMX stunts and Bike Polo, as well as live music alongside large screens showing the races.

Whether a cycling enthusiast or not, the atmosphere at RideLondon definitely captured the spirit of the Olympics, with hundreds of people lining the streets to cheer on the cyclists. With a year to train, it has inspired me to dust off my bike and give it a go!

Fancy cycling in London? Hire a Boris Bike.

]]> 3
London Dungeon: Re-Fresh Fear this Year! Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:00:26 +0000

Think learning about history is boring? You’ll think again at the London Dungeon!

Step into the dark, spooky underground and back in time at the Dungeon’s new home on the South Bank, where you will cry with laughter and shake with fear while learning a thing or two about London’s gruesome past.

For almost 40 years, the Dungeon has been terrifying visitors beneath the arches on Tooley Street (near London Bridge); since March, it’s continued to frighten visitors in the underground vaults of County Hall, between Big Ben and the London Eye.

I went on an after-hours tour of what was already one of London’s most popular attractions, to see how it has improved. During 90 minutes, we were taken on a journey across 1,000 years of London’s goriest past, where history is brought to life.

The Dungeon is now “bigger, bolder and better” than before. Spine-tingling special effects make the whole experience extremely atmospheric, from the sight of the not-so-dead bodies to the sound of explosions during the gunpowder plot… even down to the stinky smells. The interactive tour features 18 new shows which are led by 20 live actors; old favourite characters are joined by new villains including Henry VIII virtually played by actor Brian Blessed.

The journey begins with a descent into the dungeons in a medieval lift. Here Henry VIII condemns you to execution as you begin a trip down the murky Thames… you don’t lose your head just yet but you will get wet!

London’s most infamous characters are lurking around every corner, including Sweeney Todd, Jack the Ripper and Guy Fawkes, who move you seamlessly from show to show taking you from plague ridden streets to torture chambers… where a lucky few will escape the torture!

Try and keep your head as you pass through the spinning sewer, and once again when you are treated to a “hair cut” in the dark above Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop. Don’t get lost in the mirror maze and be extra careful as you stop off at The Ten Bells Pub, as Jack the Ripper is waiting to strike again.

Finally, if you have managed to make it this far, you will find yourself facing the judge in the courtroom – will you be sent through Guilty or Very Guilty? Either way you enter the Newgate Gallows to face the noose at the drop ride to DOOM!

I lived to tell the tale…. will you?!

Ellie was a guest of The London Dungeon

]]> 2
London Video of the Week: Pepsi Max & Dynamo present Bus Levitation Fri, 28 Jun 2013 09:00:22 +0000

Magician Dynamo has found a novel way of sightseeing in London – by levitating! We wouldn’t recommend this form of travel for most visitors, but you can see lots of London’s best landmarks on a regular London bus tour.

]]> 0
My London: Celebrity Chef Gary Rhodes Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:14:41 +0000 Top chef Gary Rhodes runs British restaurant Rhodes 24 on the 24th floor of Tower 42, one of the City of London’s tallest buildings. We caught up with him to talk about all things London.

Gary, do you live in London?

I’ve lived in London for many, many years. At the moment I’m based just outside of London, in Kent, but I have lived all over London and spent the majority of my time in West Hampstead, although I am from the south of London originally. Each place I have lived is totally different.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

My restaurant is in the City, but I have many favourite restaurants in the capital. In Greater London, Chapter One – a Michelin-starred restaurant with British produce and a slight French influence – is one of my favourites.

I also love Le Gavroche by the Roux brothers, who are my culinary heroes, and I love eating there. There is also an Italian, Zafferano, in Knightsbridge, which is quite sensational.

There are many places I love to eat at different times. Some of the Indian restaurants, such as The Painted Heron on Cheyne Walk, I like going to. I really like to sample and experience foods from different countries and see if they can influence my style of British food.

We’ve noticed lots of different food trends in London lately, from pop-ups to street food. What do you think will be the next trend?

We’ve seen a lot of modern British cooking, but something I think is really coming up is Middle Eastern cooking. We have seen a lot of Lebanese and Moroccan places that are having a bigger influence. This could be as the Middle East becomes more popular for holidaymakers. The great tagine dish will become very popular soon.

What would you recommend to first-time visitors to London?

It’s all food-related with me, so of course I’m going to recommend taking to the streets, taking a walk around a neighbourhood, enjoying some of our architecture – sometimes London is like walking around an open-air art gallery – and taking in some of the best local eateries. There are many more undiscovered great streets to explore. Soho has once again become one of the most fashionable places to be.

When you are away from London, what do you miss most?

When I’m travelling into London to go to the restaurant, I get off one stop early and walk across London Bridge to the City. I am approaching probably the most exciting city in the world. To my right is Tower Bridge, to my left is Westminster and Big Ben, slightly to my left is St Paul’s sitting there and I’m thinking “wow”.

From there, I walk to Leadenhall Market, where during lunchtime and the evening you will find some fantastic street food and a fantastic British pub. The story goes on as I continue my walk, and that’s the beauty of London: every path and every corner you turn there is something fresh and exciting for you to discover and enjoy.

  • We spoke to Gary Rhodes as he showcased some fantastic British cuisine at VisitBritain’s Destination Britain travel event in Bangkok, Thailand. Gary Rhodes will be appearing at Taste of London festival this month.


]]> 0