London’s a huge city, so planning your itinerary is essential if you want to make the most of a stay there. The capital is divided into 32 boroughs, so exploring the city borough by borough is a great way to organize your trip. Read on to find out more about five of London’s main boroughs.
Camden’s one of London’s most colorful boroughs and it’s the place to be if you like alternative music and bohemian culture. Created in 1965, it’s one of the capital’s newest boroughs but it still has many historic landmarks, including Dickens House and Highgate Cemetery.
Its main draws, however, are its vibrant pubs and clubs and its markets. Camden Market features hundreds of stalls, selling everything from clothes to food, whilst Camden Lock is the place to go for antiques and curiosities. You can also visit London Zoo or unwind in Primrose Hill’s parkland.
Situated in South London, Lambeth is one of London’s older boroughs, dating back to the eleventh century. Today, it is known for its lively arts scene and is home the well-respected South Bank and a number of the capital’s key attractions.
Visit Lambeth and take a trip on the London Eye for stunning views across the city, spend some time exploring the London Aquarium, take a stroll along the South Bank Riverside Walkway, see a play at the Old Vic or enjoy a musical performance at the Royal Festival Hall.
3. City of Westminster
The City of Westminster’s origins date back to before the Norman Conquest, so it’s the perfect place for history buffs to go to indulge their passion. The borough, which is situated in Central London, lies between the City of London and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its centrepiece is the magnificent Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. Other landmarks within the borough include Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
Considered one of the most tourist friendly districts of London, visitors can find a wealth of attractions. Spend the day in Westminster and you can visit Trafalgar Square, discover the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the National Gallery and Tate Britain, take a stroll through Hyde Park, or watch a performance in one of the West End’s historic theatres.
4. Kensington and Chelsea
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to some of London’s most prestigious areas and many celebrities have made their homes within its leafy suburbs. It’s home to exclusive stores and boutiques, including Harrods and Harvey Nichols, but it’s not just fashionistas who will love exploring this part of London.
Exclusive Kensington and Chelsea has a wealth of attractions and amenities for it’s guests – from exclusive museums, restaurants and bars to some of the best 5 star hotels in London. You can visit the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, enjoy a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, explore Kensington Palace or relax in Kensington Gardens, where you’ll find the Albert Memorial and the Peter Pan statue.
Southwark has been a settlement since Roman times but it’s also home to London’s newest landmark, The Shard, making it an ideal mix of the historic and the contemporary.
Whilst in Southwark, you can visit the Imperial War Museum, see the stunning Tower Bridge, explore the Tate Modern, or take a tour of the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and watch a performance of one of the Bard’s plays there.
Whether you are in London for a weekend break or for longer, exploring it borough by borough is a fantastic way to get a real taste of what the city has to offer.
About the guest author: Tom is a travel writer with a wealth of experience of the London tourist scene.
This spring TravAddict has partnered with Busabout to offer an exclusive Europe deal to our fans!
With summer just around the corner, we are headed into the best time of year to explore Europe. Busabout Adventures is a leader in budget tours, and this spring with our exclusive deal, you can get 20% off their Europe tours!
Book with Busabout before June 2nd 2013 and receive 20% off ANY of their Hop-on-hop-off passes, and Eastern Europe tours. Make sure you use the promo code TRAVADDICT in order to receive this exclusive offer. This deal excludes bookings from residents of Australia and New Zealand, and is valid for travel during 2013.
Our favorite thing about Busabout, is their unique approach to flexible travel throughout Europe. Their Hop-on-hop-on bus network is designed exclusively for backpackers looking for freedom and flexibility as they explore Europe. They offer door-to-door pick-ups at quality affordable hostels, with informative and helpful tour guides on all of their comfortable coaches. Busabout is a great choice for young budget travelers looking for flexibility, comfort, and ease of travel while still having the freedom to plan their own itinerary at their own pace. Travel with friends, or easily make friends when you jump on the coach, as there are likely to be plenty of other travelers who have chosen the same travel route as you!
Busabout also offers great Eastern Europe tours for travelers interested in exploring more of Europe, or another side of Europe. Destinations include Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia and Turkey. You can even combine one of these great Eastern Europe packages with your Hop-on-hop-off pass for a complete trip through both East and West Europe.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out Busabout’s discounted tours now!
Some of you may have heard of the Southwest Airlines rapping flight attendant before, and some of you may have even been lucky enough to fly with him. I however, have been in the dark, and this talented flight attendant who aims to brighten the day of Southwest passengers, has only recently been brought to my attention.
I figured if I am just hearing about this flight attendant (who has become a youtube sensation), I can’t be the only one. I am a big fan of people who work in the travel industry for the right reasons, so I wanted to highlight David Holmes, and his creative way of helping to turn someones trip into the trip of a lifetime. David is based in Las Vegas, and says he often raps on flights traveling to Las Vegas in the afternoon or evening. Imagine starting off your crazy weekend in Vegas with a unique opportunity to see the Flight Attendant Rapper live! David even has a few different raps up his sleeve.
Truly great workers in the travel industry are inspired to go out of their way to help make someone’s trip a little more spectacular, and David is a true inspiration to anyone looking for an example of what going above and beyond for a travel guest means. I am not suggesting that every flight attendant follow David’s lead though. I for one, could never rap or even sing a song for a crowd to make them smile, but going further than just the basics of what is expected from a customer service representative in the travel industry, is what sets a travel company apart from all of the rest. Whether that be an employee at an airline, a hotel, a tour company……the list goes on.
So, I am assuming you want to see David in action? Here it is:
I have visited London many times, enjoying the major sights and museums that London has to offer. So on my most recent visit, I was quite content to simply enjoy some new restaurants, and enjoy the company of friends. But, as a travel enthusiast I cannot visit a place (even if I have been there more times that I can count), and not attempt to do or see something new.
I recently read an article by Tim Leffel titled ‘Build Splurge Money Into Your Shoestring Budget’, which inspired me to ‘splurge’ on my most recent trip to London. Since I have visited so many sights in London already, I decided to save some splurge money for a taste of the elegant side of London.
I stayed with a close friend while visiting (which always cuts the budget significantly), and she introduced me to the elegant and iconic Mayfair Hotel, Claridge’s. Claridge’s is a favorite hotel among royalty, including Queen Elizabeth. If you are looking to experience how high-society has been kept a tradition, then Claridge’s is where you will find it. We watched a fantastic BBC documentary about the Hotel, detailing all that goes into creating the elegant and high class experience at Claridge’s. This 5 star hotel has been operating since the mid-1800’s, and almost all of the furnishings and decor at Claridges have been preserved from its original layout.
While I didn’t quite have the budget to splurge on a night’s stay at Claridge’s, I did have the budget to splurge on lunch with a friend. Elegance and perfection is something people are willing to pay for if they love luxury, and Claridges most definitely delivers. The lobby was immaculate, laid out with fresh flowers and pristine shining marble floors with the highest quality furnishings.
Our lunch was obviously wonderful. The menu ranged from simple to elegant, myself choosing to simply go with a sandwich, but it was quite a sandwich at that! We also had to try their scones and tea, because we all know the English make the best scones with jam and cream, and since Claridge’s makes their own scones and hand-picks their seasonal jams from local farms, we had to squeeze it in! The end of our meal was completed with delightful complimentary treats, and the experience was nothing but wonderful and delicious. While I would typically not spend the amount of money I spent at Claridge’s on a regular lunch, the experience and the atmosphere of an iconic hotel in the famed area of Mayfair, was relaxing, exciting, and memorable.
While lunch was fantastic, the highlight of our visit was the chance to meet Mr Parker. We were introduced to Mr Parker on the BBC documentary ‘Inside Claridge’s’. As soon as we walked into the lobby we instantly recognized him sitting in the reading room, reading the paper. Mr Parker has visited Claridge’s every day to have breakfast for 40 years. We could not help but to introduce ourselves to Mr Parker, and have a chat. He was a lovely man, who simply likes to enjoy his breakfast in style, and Claridge’s is the only place he wishes to indulge. Mr Parker is as much an iconic part of Claridge’s as the decor, and he is a testament to the fact that great service, cloth napkins, and a pristine surrounding is worth so much more than just eggs and bacon on a plate.
Just a few hours of elegance and sophistication was a great getaway from the crowded streets and tube rides of London, and given that royalty is such a huge part of the United Kingdom’s identity, it was a wonderful experience to indulge like royalty in the most expensive area of London, and well worth my splurge money.
It is not secret that the Spanish know how to party, and they are constantly celebrating year-round all over the country with crazy festivals. During the summer time, some of their largest and most well-known festivals take place, and given that the summer is a popular time to visit Europe, it is worth considering visiting Spain while one of these festivals takes place. Here are three Spanish Festivals we recommend you check out this summer:
La Batalla Del Vino:
Every year on the 29 June, the village of Haro recognizes their patron saint San Pedro by dressing in white and drenching each other with wine. Participants come armed with wine-filled Spanish Bota Bags, and battle for approximately three hours with approximately 40, 000 liters of wine.
Busabout offers a 3 day tour to La Batalla Del Vino from $269 USD per person.
Running of the Bulls:
Celebrated from July 6th to the 14th every year, this festival dates back to 1591. The origins of the festival are to celebrate the Patron Saint of wineskins; San Fermin. The actual ‘Running of the Bulls’ began as the need to transport the bulls from their location outside the town into the bullring for the festivals daily bullfight. It became a daring phenomenon to run with the bulls through the street into the bull ring every morning, and today approximately 20 000 people run with the bulls every year, with many more simply participating in festivities.
Topdeck Travel offers 8 different tour options to Pamplona for Running of the Bulls from $365 USD per person.
La Tomatina is the world’s largest and messiest tomato fight. The festival is held every year in Buñol, Spain in August. Approximately 40,000 people join this crazy festival of tomato throwing, lasting a few hours. No-one gets away clean in the world’s biggest tomato fight, and with the festival receiving more and more visitors from all over the world every year, it is clear that everyone loves a food fight.
Travel Talk Tours offers 6 different tour options to the La Tomatina Festival from $240 USD per person.
As you can see, participating in these festivals is not for the faint of heart, but even if the participation in not quite your thing, visiting these festivals and all of the celebrations that go along with the main event are well worth it. The Spanish know how to put on a show, and these festivals are a great way to experience the Spanish party life to the max!
Most people know a few of the things to see and do when traveling to San Francisco. Some of the more obvious are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, The Presidio, cable cars, and Chinatown. But what else is in the San Francisco area to see and do?
Parks and Museums
Aside from Alcatraz and The Presidio, there are plenty of other parks and museums to visit in San Francisco and the surrounding area. One good place to start is at the California Academy of Sciences, which has a natural history museum, an aquarium and a planetarium all in the same place. Part of the museum is underground and has a grass roof with portholes to see the Golden Gate District from an entirely new perspective. A 50-foot tall rainforest and a coral reef are just a couple more attractions at the Academy.
The Asian Art Museum examines art relics from the Pacific Rim cultures, which are a large part of San Francisco culture. Exhibits have included Ming Dynasty royal accouterments, Japanese Kamikaze culture, and the terra cotta army of the first Chinese Emperor.
The War Memorial and Performing Arts Center is home to the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony. The Fillmore Theater in the Western Addition has hosted the biggest names in rock music.
If you are planning to visit between March and October, a great way to get into San Francisco’s neighborhoods is Sunday Streets, a monthly block party held in a different neighborhood each month. These are full community days, with music, food, dancing, games, attractions and historical tours.
You can cross the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Bay for a day of touring vineyards and ghost towns in Napa wine country.
Water sports and other outdoor opportunities abound in San Francisco, including surfing at North Beach and Mission Beach. San Francisco has over 200 miles of bike trails in the city, allowing a leisurely, wandering trip through the city to view historic architecture and experience its neighborhoods.
The islands in the San Francisco Bay also offer lots of outdoor activities, from boating and sailing to hiking and biking. The largest of these is Angel Island State Park, featuring photo opportunities galore of the Marin County shoreline as well as San Francisco itself. There are also camping, hiking, biking, historic sites and state parks activities.
The Land’s End Trail is a great way to walk along the shore of the San Francisco Bay on the hillsides for fantastic views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. The trail takes in the Sutro Baths, a city museum featuring the ruins of a large private swimming pool complex from the early 20th Century. Also found along the three mile hike are the USS San Francisco Memorial and the Legion of Honor, a fine arts museum featuring over 4000 years’ worth of ancient and European art. The Cliff House has an installation of a camera obscura in jumbo size and several dining rooms. Further along the trail is a 100-foot staircase leading down to the beach. Back at the top of the trail, above the Sutro Baths, sits Louis’ Restaurant featuring traditional American food.
There’s enough to see and do in San Francisco to keep anyone busy without needing to stick to the tried and true favorites, though they do have their charms. Just remember, it drives the locals crazy if you don’t use the city’s proper name. Don’t call it “Frisco”. Remember that one rule and you’ll have all the friendly help you need to find those out of the way treasures.
This guest post was written by author Kevin Caldwell. Kevin is a writer at San Francisco Hotel Guides. Kevin enjoys writing about travel and helping other plan their trips. Connect with Kevin on Googe+ to learn more about him.
Experiencing the local culture when traveling is something most travelers have high on their list, and with so many travel options out there, you can really immerse yourself in the local culture if you desire. If you are one of those travelers looking for a local travel experience on a new level, then I recommend you check out G Adventures Local Living Tours. On a local living tour you will stay in local property carefully selected by G Adventures with a homey feel. Not only will the accommodation boast a local feel, it will be centrally located in your chosen destination. And the best part about these tours? They don’t break the budget! Booking many of these accommodation options on your own would put you much more out of pocket.
Local living tours are typically one week in length, and only visit one destination. The purpose of one destination is to give you the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture of a specific region, because we all know that even at home, the local culture in one region can be very different from the next!
A G Adventures CEO will be at your disposal to show you the best parts of town, and help with suggestions on truly local dining and entertainment experiences. One of the coolest features of this tour style, is the opportunity to enjoy a meal with a local host. Depending on the destination you choose, these local dining experiences can be anything from dinner prepared by a local chef, to a cooking class with local organic ingredients.
So where do these local living tours travel to? Here is a list of the tours currently available, with more destinations likely to be added in 2014:
- Southern Tuscany, Italy
- Terelj, Mongolia
- Antigua, Guatemala
- Granada, Nicaragua
- Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica
- Marrakech, Morocco
- KRK Island, Croatia
- Burgundy Canal, France
- Provence, France
- Crete, Greece
- Amalfi Coast, Italy
- Tuscany, Italy
- Rome, Italy
- Puglia, Italy
- Sicily, Italy
- Drumbo, Iceland
- Barcelona, Spain
- Costa Blanca, Spain
- Ibiza, Spain
- The Lycian Way, Turkey
- Amazon Jungle, Ecuador
If you would like to learn more about the G Adventures local living tours and their specific itineraries, then check out their website.
During the entire month of March, we are running a photo competition on Facebook. Entering is easy, just upload your coolest travel pic and ask your friends to vote for your photo. At the end of the month, the photo with the most votes wins! So make sure you get your entry in early so that you have plenty of time to accumulate the most votes!
The prize is a $500 travel voucher with Tucan Travel. Tucan offers over 400 high quality, affordable and exciting adventures to worldwide destinations including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America & Antarctica. Whether you are a first-time adventure seeker or a seasoned independent traveler, Tucan Travel can help you discover the world’s most amazing people and places. We have already received a few great entries, below is a sample of the latest. If you like what you see, make sure you visit our competitions page and vote for your favorite!
On our recent visit to the Cayman Islands, we got the chance to swim with wild stingrays! It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. There are very few places in the world where you can get up close and personal with stingrays in the wild, so close in fact that you can hold them! About a 20 minute boat ride from Seven Mile Beach (the main beach on Grand Cayman) is a sandbank now known as ‘Stingray City’. Most of Grand Cayman Island is surrounded by a coral reef, and a break in the reef has caused a sandbank to form overtime.
Years ago fishermen would stop off at the sand bank after a day of fishing to gut their fish, attracting stingrays who would return loyally everyday to feed on the fisherman’s scraps. As time went by the stingrays became quite the attraction, and today they swim with hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors on the sand bank each day.
When we first stepped into the waist-high water, the stingrays were very welcoming, rubbing up against our legs to say hi. It was quite overwhelming at first, and I was a little nervous, but after about 10 minutes in the water, I started to to come around and enjoy the company of these beautiful creatures. You can touch the rays as they swim by, and even hold one if they are open to swimming into your arms! So, what do they feel like? The skipper of our boat described their touch as a ‘wet portobello mushroom’, and I have to say this description is quite accurate!
There are many different breeds of stingrays throughout the world, and the ones we swam with are known as the Southern Stingray, or Dasyatid.
It is always exciting to see new and interesting tour companies popping up around the world, mostly because it means more options for curious travelers! We recently stumbled across a great new tour company in New Zealand called The Road Trip. What we like about the Road Trip is the fact that they are a small company owned and operated by locals, which runs PRIVATE tours throughout New Zealand. These tours are a great option for people traveling with friends or family who want to ‘do it on their own’ but don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning the itinerary, booking the accommodation, researching the ‘must-sees’ etc. And the best part about The Road Trip, is that their tours are very affordable! We were fortunate enough to interview the founder of the Road Trip, Chris, and pick his brain about his new tour company, and what The Road Trip offers adventure travelers in New Zealand:
Q. What inspired you to begin running adventures tours in New Zealand?
A. I was always inspired by travel from a very early age. When I was a child I used to plan our family holidays down to the very last detail. I would always choose the hotels, where we were going to stop along the way and what activities and walks that we would undertake. I decided that I wanted to be a tour guide after leaving university and obtaining my degree in French, Spanish and German. This gave me the ability to also guide trips in these languages. I always loved the fact that I was showing people my back yard and doing it for a job. After a few years of guiding for other companies, I took the knowledge that I had gained of customer service, best locations, activities and accommodation providers that I had researched over the years and started my own company, The Road Trip which really focuses on tailor made trips down to the very last detail of what the client wants to experience. What inspires me the most is that The Road Trip has introduced me to clientele from all over the world and I am always learning something new from my travelers.
Q. Can you tell us about some of the unique features included in your tour packages?
A. In our tour packages there are many unique experiences that you would not be able to experience on a coach trip or may struggle to find on a self drive holiday. Because we are registered with the Department of Conservation which is a government body in New Zealand dedicated to protecting our environment, we can take you to idyllic photo spots on Dept of Conservation land which coach tours are not allowed to access. These hidden jewels as I like to call them are majestic opportunities for those perfect holiday photo spots. We have package itineraries on our website. Examples of some unique features on our tours are:
On the Bay Of Islands 5 day Winerless North Explorer you will see ancient kauri trees, stunning beaches of the Northland region, learn all about the history of New Zealand with a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and have your own private VIP tour of Auckland city with a driver guide.
On the North Island 8 day tour from Auckland-Wellington you will encounter the marvels of the Coromandel Peninsula including a ride on a miniature railway built over years by the owner in his backyard featuring stunning views of the coast, visit Hot Water Beach and its geothermal waters (we dig our own pools and relax in the 40 C thermal waters), get up close and personal with the Maori Culture in Rotorua, see geysers, volcanoes and bubbling mud pools in the Rotorua area and discover our capital city Wellington.
On the South Island Adventurer 9 day tour you will see mountains, glaciers, rainforests and isolated beaches as well as a journey on the Tranz Alpine Train, and stay in Queenstown known as the adventure capital of the world with stunning backdrop made famous by Lord Of the Rings.
On the 16 day South Island Supreme Adventure you will see the best of everything. Penguins, Dunedin City the scotland of the south and spend a night on the Fjords in Milford Sound with an overnight boat cruise on the luxury Milford Mariner.
Q. You currently run your trips for private groups. What is the minimum number of people needed to book a tour with you?
A. We run trips with a minimum of just 2 people. Because our tours are so niche they are perfect for couples, families, corporate groups and small groups of friends. For small groups we use SUV vehicles and larger groups we use spacious modern private vans. This enables us to reach those backcountry spots.
Q. What is your favorite destination in New Zealand and why?
A. My Favourite destination in New Zealand is the South Island’s West Coast. There you can experience glaciers surrounded by rainforest, towering mountains and beaches all within 15 km of each other!
Q. If people are interested in booking a tour with you, where can they find you?
A. People can find more information on our website located at www.theroadtrip.co.nz