Home to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Tate Museum, Westminster Abbey… We could go on and on about all the history, art and culture that await in London. One of the world’s most visited cities, it’s also one of the most diverse, with citizens from all over the world calling it home. Thanks to this, London is wonderfully multicultural, especially when it comes to food. In the mood for Ethiopian injera (traditional dish)? You’ll find it here. You’ll also find the very best of European, Asian, Latino and Caribbean eats alongside local British dishes.
London is a city that offers something unique to every visitor, whether that’s a stroll in the Sky Garden 43 floors above the ground or a trip to the V&A museum. There’s picnics in Hampstead Heath in summer, and cosy mulled wine at Borough Market in winter. All-year round, London packs a punch in architecture, music, theatre, food, drink and fashion.
And while the city itself is never dull, it’s also a great place to explore other parts of south UK. From seaside road trips to Mersea Island to a magical trip to Stonehenge, you’re perfectly positioned to see many British highlights.
Navigating London’s roads can be intimidating if you’re not used to driving in the UK, but stay alert and be aware of any differences to what you’re used to and you’ll be just fine. Here’s some important tips for renting a car and driving in London.
Just 90 miles from central London (about 2 hours drive) lies Stonehenge, the pre-historic monument that’s still shrouded in mystery. The Stonehenge Visitor Center is excellent, although there’s no doubt that the 4,500 year-old stone circle is the main attraction. Stop off in the village of Avebury, which is also world-famous for its spectacular stone circle before returning to London.
Take a trip to the seaside at Mersea Island to splash in the sea, admire the candy-coloured beach huts and feast on fresh Native oysters. This paradise place is just over 2 hours away from London. Take note though, that twice a day Mersea has a high tide. Sometimes this covers the road and prevents anyone from entering or leaving this magical little island! Check the tide times in advance.
The Oxford/Cambridge debate reigns strong, but if you can only pick one famed University town to visit, Cambridge won’t disappoint. The ‘city that changed the world’ is home to more Nobel Prize winners than any other city. There’s a lively local feel here, with a great art, music and food scene to enjoy. You’ll find plenty to explore after visiting Cambridge University and its major landmarks, like King’s College Chapel and the library.
Stratford-upon-Avon (also known as just Stratford), is a charming Tudor town along the banks of the River Avon. It’s famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Naturally, highlights include historical Shakespeare attractions, including the bard’s former home. While you’re here, be sure to catch a play in the Swan Theatre’s traditional Elizabethan stage where the world-famous Royal Shakespeare Company perform.
If you’ve been binge watching The Crown then a day trip from London to Windsor is the perfect activity. It’s just 45 minutes by car. Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle in the world and remains a working palace today. The Queen usually spends weekends here and the castle grounds also contain St George’s Chapel (where Prince Harry and Meghan held their wedding ceremony). You can take private tours of the castle and grounds.
The Cotswolds are a popular weekend escape from London: in just over 2 hours, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque villages made of honey-coloured stone. The Cotswolds is an area of nearly 800 square miles of unspoilt countryside with more than 3,000 miles of walking trails. Spend the night in a grand country house inn, sip on ales at traditional pubs and see medieval churches, rolling hills and market towns.
This scenic fishing town in Kent has long attracted Londoners in need of some R&R by the seaside. Well known for its fresh seafood and annual oyster festival, Whitstable also has a buzzing arts scene. There’s an amazing Farmer’s Market that showcases produce from within a 30 mile radius and cute cafes. At low tide, enjoy ‘The Street’ on Tankerton Beach: a natural path that takes you right out to sea.