Your London vacation
From Royal Families to Roman history, and charming accents to the River Thames, Old Blighty draws globetrotters year-round. Wake up to Big Ben and a swirl of double-decker busses, black cabs and Brits. Wander up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, and channel your Beatlemania across the infamous zebra crossing at Abbey Road. Spend a day in the British Museum and a night at an Olde English pub.
Whatever you fancy on a London vacation, let Orbitz give you the A to Zed, starting with the best time to go, top 10 highlights and insider tips.
Best time to take a vacation to London
If chats about the weather were an Olympic sport, Londoners would win the gold. So pack everything -- Queen Mum's climate is moody: The day can go from blazing sunshine to raining buckets all before afternoon tea. Winter brings cold, damp and Burberry peacoats, plus Christmas crowds and queues.
2012 Olympics (July 27 to August 12) are the talk of the town, so prepare for heavy tourism, and higher rates. Wimbledon -- the oldest tennis tournament in the world -- draws crowds annually from late June to early July.
Though London is busy year-round, high season peaks from June to August and again at Christmas, while January and February are a little slower. The crown jewel: bank holidays. They vary throughout the year, and the city is eerily quiet. Translation: cheap hotel rates, few(er) crowds.
Insider tips for London travel
St. John's Wood
Walk the world-famous Lord's Cricket Ground and Hampstead Heath. Be on the lookout for celebs and tucked-away pubs nearby.
The Gilbert Scott
Located in the Renaissance St. Pancras London Hotel -- a Victorian masterpiece -- this is your stop for proper authentic Olde English grub. (Think: Quail, Yorkshire puddings, orange marmalade).
Fitness Gallery at the Savoy
Curb your jetlag at famed Savoy hotel's Fitness Gallery. Scrub, polish and dip your way into the Greenwich time zone with a massage and mani/pedi, or swim in the rooftop pool.
After a few hours' at the British Museum, scope out the ultra-cool Oscar Bar nearby. The scene: the unpretentious yet oh-so-stylish types, plus the sommeliers and generous portions.
Winding cobbled streets, mews and Tudor style. Visit Saint Bartholomew the Great, then take a candlelit tour of Sir John Sloane's Museum.
More on London from the Orbitz Blog
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*Savings based on all vacation package bookings with Flight + Hotel on www.orbitz.com in 2012, as compared to price of the same components booked separately.
Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages.
Catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and relive the Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey. View masterpieces at the nearby Tate Britain or Saatchi Gallery. Stroll by Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Posh spiced with London's swankiest, find Harvey Nichols, Harrods and its famed Food Halls here. Stroll Oxford Street, take in a show at Royal Albert Hall, shop on Saville Row or dally 'round Piccadilly Circus.
The West End
This drama hub offers easy access to Soho, Covent Garden and Leicester Square. While theater takes center stage, enjoy great shopping, dining and museums, including the National Portrait Gallery and famed St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
City of London
One-square-mile marks London's Roman days and now it's the city's financial hub (London Stock Exchange, Bank of England). Bordered by the River Thames, the City features the iconic "Gherkin."
This glamorous haven near Hyde Park attracts paparazzi, fashionistas and foodies. But if you're keen on natural beauty, you can bike, walk or rollerblade along Serpentine Road, or visit Kensington Gardens.
Often mistaken for neighbor Tower Bridge, London Bridge is the ancient elder. Shop and be awestruck in Old Spitalfields, a nearly 400-year-old covered market. Meet the macabre on a dungeon tour.
Home of Kensington Palace (Princess Diana's home), this area is chock-a-bloc with smart shops along Kensington High Street. Museum goers, this is your stop for the Natural History Museum, the V&A, and the Science Museum.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Towering high over the City of London, this belled beauty is Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece. Psst! No secrets in the Whispering Gallery -- they're audible across the dome.
London Eye Experience
Queue up for an eye-conic view of the city from the luxury of your own glass capsule. (Champagne optional.) Photo ops: River Thames, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Sorry, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Notting Hill's real claim to fame is the Portobello Market. Prepare to drop some British pounds at the bohemian shops and mega-watt jewelers.