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Need to know – London

Dusk view over Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park
Image courtesy: Doug McKinlay

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s London travel guide, we look at some of the very basic information you need while planning a trip to the city.

Quick facts

Language: English

Time: London is 4 ½ hours behind IST in summer, and 5 ½ hours behind in winter.

Currency: Pound sterling (£)

Mobile phones: The UK uses the GM900 network, which is compatible with Indian phones. International roaming rates are very high, so buy a local S IM card from any mobile phone shop.

Internet access: Wi-fi is available in most hotels and cafes and is free.

Tourist information: Britain Visitor Centre (; 1 Regent S t S W1; 9.30am–6pm Mon, 9am–6pm Tue–Fri, 9am–4pm Sat, 10am–4pm S un & bank holidays Sep–May, to 5pm S at Jun–Sep; Nearest metro: Piccadilly Circus).

When to go

Summer can get hot and crowded. Spring and autumn are cooler, but delightful. Winter is chilly.

June–August (high season): Summer is peak season: days are long, festivals are on, and it’s busy and crowded. Accommodation rates are high, especially for the August school holidays.

Easter–end-May/mid-September–end-October (mid-season):  Crowds reduce; prices drop. September to October can be quite warm.

December–February (low season): Winter is cold and quiet with the possibility of snow. Opening hours reduced October–Easter. Some places shut down.

What to pack

Rain jacket & woollens: The unpredictable weather and rain make it sensible to carry these. The English summer may seem chilly for Indians.

Comfortable shoes: Necessary for endless strolls.

Small day-pack: For putting away your rain jacket when the sun does shine

Medication: Carry prescriptions, over-the-counter painkillers and first-aid basics.

Getting around

Underground, DLR & Overground: The London Underground (the Tube, 11 colour-coded lines), Docklands Light Railway and Overground network (mostly outside of Zone 1) are overall the quickest and easiest way of getting around the city.

Bus: London’s iconic double-decker Routemaster plies through two ‘heritage routes’ (Nos 9 and 15). Bus services normally operate from 5am to 11.30pm.

Taxi: Cabs are available for hire when the yellow sign above the windscreen is lit.

Walk: London is a remarkably easy city to explore on foot. Just take the Tube to the neighbourhood you want to explore and wander around.