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City of London

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England London City of London

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Introduction

Tower Bridge of London

Tower Bridge of London

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The City of London has been the financial and trade centre of the Greater London, and of England, since the start of civilisation in Europe. Geographically, it covers only an area of one square mile and the boundaries has remained almost the same since the Middle Ages. It is often referred to as just the City or the Square Mile. Settled before Roman times - and by every ruling and occupying dynasty since - there's enough to see in just the Square Mile itself to keep you going for days.

It's not just history - the City of London includes some modern attractions, including spectacular modern architecture and some of the world's top restaurants and bars.

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Sights and Activities

  • St Paul's Cathedral - The famous Anglican cathedral, and seat of the Bishop of London.
  • Guildhall - The home to the City of London Corporation since the Middle Ages.
  • Museum of London - Tells the story of London from prehistory to present day.
  • Guildhall Art Gallery - Located within the Guildhall Yard.
  • Mansion House - Home of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
  • Keats House - Museum of the poet John Keats.
  • Clock Museum - Located within the Guildhall Library building.
  • Monument - Commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666.
  • Old Bailey - Officially known as the Central Criminal Court, it is the most famous criminal court in the world.
  • Prince Henry's Room - One of the few houses survived today from before the Great Fire.
  • Temple Bar - An arch gateway which functioned as one of the entrance gates to the City back in those days.
  • Barbican Estate - A modern high-density residential development with dramatic architecture.
  • Tower Bridge - The most iconic bridge in London, often mistaken as the London Bridge.
  • Tower of London - Located adjacent to the Tower Bridge, just outside the City's boundary, it is home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
  • Tower 42 - At a height of 183 metres, it is the tallest skyscraper in the City of London, and fifth tallest in London.
  • 30 St Mary Axe - Known locally as "The Gherkin", the second tallest tower in the City of London.

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Events and Festivals

  • The City of London Festival occurs each year in June-July and has done since its inception in 1962. It offers a wide range of activities at indoor and outdoor venues across the square mile, all kinds of music, literature, visual arts exhibitions, guided architecture walks and much, much more. Many free events can be found on the program, so it needn't break the bank!

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Getting There

By Train

Major stations around the cities of London and Westminster are:

  • Kings Cross to the north of the City, for destinations northeast of London. Destinations served from Kings Cross include Edinburgh, Inverness, Newcastle, Durham, Leeds and Peterborough.
  • St Pancras is the new home of the Eurostar, with regular direct services to France and Belgium. Some services for destinations in the Midlands and in South Yorkshire (indlucing Sheffield) also depart from here.
  • Euston for destinations to the nNorthwest of London, including Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and the Lake District.
  • Cannon Street, London Bridge and Charing Cross stations serve destinations to the south and southeast of London, particularly Kent.
  • Victoria station serves trains for Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, including Brighton and Portsmouth. The https://www.gatwickexpress.com/index.asp?SID={B6C4D74A-46A7-4AC2-8BA8-65F29316C87C (< ERROR: the link title is too long!) departs from here.
  • Waterloo and Paddington serve the west of the country - destinations including Reading, Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff. The Heathrow Express departs from Paddington.
  • Liverpool Street station serves destinations in East Anglia, including Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester. The Stansted Express departs from here.
  • Blackfriars and City stations are on the Thameslink network, for destinations between Luton (including a station at Luton Airport) and Brighton.

There are a large number of tube stations situated within the City of London - see 'Getting Around' for details.

By Car

Apart from the heavy traffic and lack of suitable parking, the entire area is within the Congestion Charge zone - you'll be charged at least £8.00 simply for driving through it. Finding a public transport alternative is generally a better idea.

By Bus

Buses are cheap (90p per journey with an Oyster card) and frequent, serving destinations all across London. The easiest way to figure out the bus routes is to use the TFL website.

By Boat

It is possible to travel to the public piers in the City of London by Thames ferry, and this is an interesting way to get a different view of the city. It is possible to travel all the way from Hampton Court in the west of London, or from Woolwich in the east, and from any pier in between. Full details on the TFL website.

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Getting Around

By Car

As mentioned above, because of the heavy traffic and lack of suitable parking, the entire area is within the Congestion Charge zone - you'll be charged at least £8.00 simply for driving through it. Finding a public transport alternative is generally a better idea.

By Public Transport

Public transport is by far the best way to travel the City of London. No major attraction is more than a short walk from one of the many Tube stations. Buses and boats are also available. See the TFL website for details.

By Foot

Exploring the City on foot can be interesting, and though the City of London itself is not that huge, the layout can be rather disorientating. Make sure you take a good map - every Londoner has a copy of the A-Z Guide, and it would also be a good investment for any tourist.

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Eat

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Sleep

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.

Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.

Post

The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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This is version 18. Last edited at 8:07 on Aug 27, 13 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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