London Honeymoon Guide

London offers honeymoon couples an extraordinary palette of world-class art galleries and theatres, culinary treats, cutting-edge fashions and a frenetic nightlife . . . and let's not forget, great shopping opportunities!

From a settlement founded by Romans in AD 43, the City of London – a mere 2.6km² of expensive real estate commonly known as ‘the Square Mile’ – is now a sprawling 1,580km² metropolis.


What to do and see in London

Catch a play in the open-air galleried Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a replica of the 1599 Elizabethan playhouse; watch the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace; take high tea at the Ritz; discover Roman and Greek antiquities, including the famous Elgin Marbles, at the world-famous British Museum.

Enjoy breathtaking views on the London Eye, the world's largest ferris wheel, then cruise the Thames River to picturesque Greenwich.

Meander through London’s tranquil parks, from Hyde Park to Kensington Gardens or explore one of London’s many quiet, leafy squares; then pick up something special at Harrods – the classic department store sells everything you can imagine.

London offers a choice of must-see attractions for inquisitive honeymoon couples, including…

The British Museum – Stroll into one of the world’s greatest museums: explore Roman and Greek antiquities, including the famous Elgin Marbles.

Gaze at the most significant Egyptian collection outside Egypt; try to decipher the Rosetta Stone; discover treasures from Anglo-Saxon and Roman Britain, China, Japan, India and the Middle East; and stand in the former Reading Room where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital.

London Eye – Climb into one of the 32 enclosed glass gondolas and enjoy a bird’s-eye view high above London. Spinning slowly and silently over the Thames, the millennium wheel, at 135m tall, is the world’s largest wheel.

Tate Modern – Wander around the spacious galleries of this converted power station and discover the largest modern-art gallery in the world. See works by Monet, Bonnard, Picasso, Braque, Dalí, Mondrian, Pollock, Warhol, Lichtenstein and many more.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – Catch a play in the open-air galleried replica of the 1599 Elizabethan playhouse.

Buckingham Palace – Watch the Changing of the Guard in the forecourt daily at 11.30am (alternate days in winter). Symbolic keys are exchanged by ceremonially dressed troops to the accompaniment of regimental music.

Highgate Cemetery – Take a tour around the atmospheric and overgrown West Cemetery, with its Egyptian-style catacombs and Victorian-Gothic gloom, or wander alone among the eerie personalised tombs to discover the final resting place of Karl Marx, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Radclyffe Hall and others.

Greenwich – Cruise down the Thames from central London to picturesque Greenwich. Browse through the antiques, crafts and clothes stalls at the weekend Greenwich Market (Thursday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm).

Check out the National Maritime Museum and straddle the prime meridian (of time and longitude) inside the old Royal Observatory. Take a tour to learn how astronomers and a watchmaker discovered how to improve maritime navigation.

Shop at Harrods – The classic department store has everything: “All things, for all people, everywhere.” Check out the spectacular food hall with its shelves of exotic fare. Harrods is five minutes walk from Knightsbridge tube station.

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand – Savour the taste sensation of the classic English dish of roast beef at the 160-year-old Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, one of London’s finest restaurants. Dine in an oak-panelled dining room and be served by waiters in tailcoats. Ten minutes walk from Embankment tube station.

George Inn – Down a pint or a G&T at the 17th century George Inn, London’s only surviving galleried coaching inn. Preserved by the National Trust in a cobbled courtyard on Borough High Street, Southwark – three minutes walk from London Bridge station.

London Gardens – London offers countless private gardens to visit as well as the public gardens of Kew Gardens, Hampton Court and Ham House.

Be inspired by the colours, scents and symmetry of London’s best gardens – a showcase of nature’s glory – then take away fresh ideas to enhance your own landscape.

More about the best London gardens to visit…


Best walks

London is best explored on foot. Try these wonderful walks…

  • Stroll from Westminster Abbey, cross Westminster Bridge, along the South Bank past the London Eye to Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, then cross the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • Discover Hampstead Heath’s woods, lakes and meadows and great views over London.
  • Meander through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens past sculptures, fountains, flower gardens and boating lakes.
  • Explore along Richmond’s towpath to the royal park, catch sight of deer, break for a pint at a pub and duck into the 17th-century Ham House for a cultural treat.

London's Theatre Land

Explore London’s vibrant theatre scene, from West End theatres, famous for long-running musicals and plays, to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, renowned for original productions of mainstream masterpieces.

Or to see some of most exciting work performed in London today, head to what’s become known as the Off-West End and Fringe theatres located throughout London – just perfect for couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

At any one time there are literally scores of shows and plays running in the West End alone. Add in the Fringe theatres and you’re spoilt for choice with a huge variety of productions from musicals, comedies and plays to opera and ballet.

The West End – The West End, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, is the heart of London’s Theatreland, with Shaftesbury Avenue its centre. Here you can expect big-budget musical productions – often classical revivals that run for years – and popular plays featuring the best actors and actresses. Spot your favourite A-list Hollywood actors in lead roles.

Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre – The government-subsidised Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the National Theatre (NT) put on exceptional productions of mainstream masterpieces. Being subsidised means they are less commercial than the West End and often take risks with new writers, actors and plays that may not appeal to a wide ‘popular’ audience.

Check out the Barbican Theatre for new drama works, and of course Shakespeare, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who performs here from autumn to spring each year.

The Royal National has three theatres - The Olivier, The Lyttelton and The Cottesloe. Most performances are in repertory, so you can see quite a few plays in just one week.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, although located primarily at Stratford-upon-Avon (a great excuse to visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare), has bases in London and Newcastle.

Globe Theatre – Like the National Theatre, the Globe Theatre is one of the most popular repertoire companies in London. The season of open-air galleried theatre runs from April to September. The replica of the 1599 playhouse opened in 1966 and is worth a visit even if you’re not seeing a play (with guided tours every half-hour between 9.15am and 12.15pm).

Off-West End – This is an alternative to the commercial West End, which is not known for taking too many risks and where shows have often first proved themselves elsewhere such as Broadway. At the Off-West End theatres you get to see some of the most exciting performances in London, with new writers, actors and actresses. Check out www.offwestend.com for the latest shows.

The Fringe – Another alternative to West End theatres is the Fringe. Productions are often held in pubs in and around London. Ticket prices are typically low and quality variable.

Did you know? – The longest running shows in the West End are usually musicals: Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, ran for 21 years and 7000 performances, making its composer a multi-millionaire. However, not all musicals do so well. Oscar Wilde: The Musical ran for only one night, closing after terrible reviews and poor bookings – quite possibly the biggest flop in London’s theatrical history.


Shopping in London

Welcome to one of the world’s best shopping cities. London has it all: from famous department stores such as Selfridges, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason to high street chain stores and specialty boutiques.

Enjoyable features of London’s big stores are the in-store tea rooms, bars and gourmet restaurants – just great for stopping to catch your breath! Most of the big stores are grouped around Covent Garden, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus.

For real value, time your visit to coincide with London’s annual sales. And don’t miss the more than 300 markets, perfect for snapping up rare and unusual shopping items.

Top shopping areas

Some of London’s most interesting shopping areas, include the following…

The West End – Explore the heart of London's big-name shopping. Head to Oxford Street for affordable shopping – don’t miss Marks & Spencer (known locally as Marks & Sparks) for quality goods.

Venture along Regent Street, en route to Piccadilly, for upscale department stores (including the famous Liberty of London), various chains stores such as Laura Ashley and specialty shops.

Bond Street – Bond Street, which connects Piccadilly with Oxford Street, is synonymous with the luxury designer shopping from Donna Karan and Chanel to Ferragamo and Versace.

Discover small, chic stores specialising in fashion, jewellery, cashmere and Irish linen as you stroll through the elegant Burlington Arcade, the famous glass-roofed, Regency-style passage that leads off Piccadilly.

For high-end toiletries and bedtime fashions, check out Jermyn Street and possibly Turnbull & Asser, where HRH Prince Charles has his PJs made.

For the finest in men's tailoring, don’t miss Savile Row (between Regent St and New Bond St). Both the narrow streets of the Soho and Covent Garden area are great shopping for hip fashion (old and new), local food, books (old and new), musical instruments and palm and crystal-ball readings.

Knightsbridge and Chelsea – Knightsbridge is the home of Harrods, and nearby Sloane Street is crowed with fashionable designer shops.

Wander along Brompton Road (toward the Victoria and Albert Museum) to Beauchamp Place and Cheval Place: this area is the haunt of young British aristocrats (known in London as ‘Sloane Rangers’) who typically shop here for the ‘season.’

Further along is Brompton Cross – another chic area for designer shops, Walton Street – a tiny street specialising in nonessential luxury goods, and King's Road – forever a symbol of the Swinging '60s, now home to a collection of markets, indoor stands, stalls and booths located together within various buildings and selling everything from antiques to 60s hippy-beads.

Kensington, Notting Hill and Bayswater – For anything short, black and tight-fitting, head to Kensington High Street. Then move on to Kensington Church Street, one of London's main shopping streets, for everything from Impressionist paintings to antique furniture.

Carnaby Street – For some of the trendiest world fashions, wander around the boutiques of Carnaby Street and offshoot streets such as Foubert's Place, Kingly Street and Marlborough Court.

Covent Garden Market – Arguably England’s most famous market, Covent Garden has several different markets every day of the week, offering a huge array of goods, both old and new. Browse handmade items and antiques, glassware and ceramics, jewellery, leather goods, toys and clothes.

Open from 10am (Sunday 11am) until 6pm every day. Pop into the indoor market section, located in a restored hall, to browse the specialty shops selling fashions and herbs, gifts and toys, books and cigars.

Greenwich – Head to the flea and craft markets in the royal city of Greenwich for some of London’s best Saturday and Sunday shopping. Take the tube or, better still, float downstream past the Tower of London on a half-hour boat ride from Charing Cross or Westminster Pier.

Once there, explore several antique stalls as well as those catering to lovers of books, crafts and lots of old junk.

Best buys - Cutting-edge designer labels and affordable ready-to-wear fashions, tailor-made suits, jewellery, specialty goods, China and porcelain from Wedgwood, Crown Derby, Royal Doulton and Royal Worcester, luxury food and chocolates, antiques and books – particularly second-hand first editions.

Taxes - In Britain, most goods, even at flea markets, carry a 17.5 per cent value-added tax (VAT), which is included in the price. Fortunately, non-European Union residents can apply for a VAT refund on purchases above GBP30. VAT is not charged on goods shipped out of the country, whether you spend GBP30 or not.

Getting a tax refund - Complete the VAT refund form supplied by the retailer at the time of purchase. Present this form – with the purchased goods, receipts and your passport – to the Customs office in the airport. Once the paperwork has been stamped, you can receive a credit card refund on your credit card. Or to get your refund in cash, make your way to the airport’s Cash VAT Refund desk.


Where to stay

London offers a huge range of honeymoon accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes – just perfect for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.


Best time to honeymoon in London

Anytime. London’s climate is generally mild with damp winters and moderate summers. Summer averages 18°C (64°F) with a high of 30°C (86°F), while spring and autumn average 13°C (55°F) and winter averages 5°C (41°F).


How to get around London

The most efficient way of getting around London is on the London Underground – known locally as 'the Tube'.

The Underground is faster than taking a bus or taxi through London's often traffic-clogged streets. Trains operate from around 5.30am to 12.30am, and 24 hours on Friday and Saturday on five lines.

However if time is not a factor, jump on a double-decker bus – London's bus network is extensive, inexpensive and efficient, if sometimes slow going.

More about transport options in London


Top Day Trips from London

Enjoy a scenic day trip from London. Discover historic palaces (including Hampton Court Palace), iconic English villages and ruins rich in history as well as scenic beauty only a short car or train ride from London – perfect for a day's adventure.

Hampton Court Palace
Explore the magnificent palace; admire 400-year-old medieval tapestries; get lost in the famous maze; and discover the stunning gardens – 40 mins by train from Waterloo; by boat 3 hr 30mins.

Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens contains the largest collection of plants in the world – around seven million specimens – with tropical and sub-tropical plants displayed in magnificent Victorian glasshouses. It's a just a short ride on the London Underground.
  More about Kew Gardens. . .

Wisley Garden
Maintained by the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley Garden offers a world famous collection of plants that have inspired English gardeners for more than 100 years.
  More about Wisley Gardens. . .

Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst is one of the most visited gardens in England and offers a series of 10 small and distinct ‘garden rooms’ that are divided by high-clipped hedges and pink brick walls within the grounds of an Elizabethan mansion and medieval ruins.
  More about Sissinghurst Castle Garden. . .

Cambridge
Soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this famous university town; watch students cycle past on bicycles; and punt along the River Cam – 45 mins by train from Kings Cross.

Oxford
Explore medieval streets; punt down the River Cherwell; and step inside the Great Hall of Christ Church College – used as the dining room in the Harry Potter films – 50 mins by train from Paddington.

Windsor Castle
Stroll inside the official residence of the Queen of England; admire paintings by Holbein, Rubens, Van Dyck and Lawrence; and perhaps spot the queen watching Prince Charles playing polo in Windsor Great Park – 1 hr by train from Waterloo.

Brighton
Breathe in the sea air along the promenade; browse for antiques along narrow cobbled alleyways; and admire the Royal Pavilion palace, the former home of King George IV – 1 hr by train from Victoria.

Bath
Explore the best-preserved Roman religious spa baths in England and appreciate some of the most beautiful examples of Georgian architecture in Britain – 1hr 25 mins by train from Paddington.

Canterbury
Wander the medieval layout of narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways, picturesque half-timbered buildings and visit the spectacular 11th century cathedral – 1 hr 30 mins by train from Victoria.

Stonehenge & Salisbury
Stand beneath this huge prehistoric ring of monolithic stones and ponder one of Britain’s great archaeological mysteries.

In Salisbury stroll past the charming houses along ‘the Close’, one of the loveliest settings in England and admire the cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in England at 121 metres – 1 hr 30 mins by train to Salisbury from Waterloo and bus to Stonehenge.

Stratford-upon-Avon
Get a taste of Olde England in the birthplace of William Shakespeare and visit Holy Trinity Church, where he and his family lie buried – 2hr 19 mins by train from Marylebone.


How to get to London

London – the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom – is located on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of a 80km (50mi) estuary leading to the North Sea.

London is serviced by six international airports and several smaller airports, that handle more than 60% of all the United Kingdom's air traffic.

In deciding which airport to arrive and departure it's worth considering travel time to and from the airport as well as the relevant cost.

For instance, budget carriers generally use those airports furthest from the city centre, requiring longer transit time by train, bus or taxi, with higher travel costs.

More about how to get to London


Travel Tip

London’s favourite listings magazine, Time Out, published every Tuesday afternoon, is essential reading if you want to get the most out of your visit. The magazine provides details of prices and reviews of shows, theatre and music.

Visit online at www.timeout.com


More about London…


Latest update: London Honeymoon Guide: 14 January, 2023



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