Surviving London

Who is this site for ?

We like the history of London, and we like walking around London. On top of the famous tourist sites, we've listed what else we find interesting; the unusual or out of the way places.

There is no information about clubs or evening attractions for young people.
London is roughly defined as being within the M25; that's the Motorway that forms a neat circle around London. It's 28 miles (39 Km) in diameter.
London Heathrow Airport is next to the M25, in the west.

London City Airport is close to the City in the east.

Gatwick airport is about 20 miles outside, to the South.

Stanstead airport is about 20 miles outside, on the North.

Trains are good; just jump on a train from the airport, and get to the centre.

We're assuming that as a tourist you won't stray far from the centre. All of Tourist London is in the centre. But, from West to East, that's still 11km and North to South, it's 4 km.

London is split into areas... City. West End. SW1. Islington. Theatre Land. oh, and hundreds more.

Much of what's best in London is in the side streets close to the famous parts.

We aim to show you what many tourists miss; to explore a little.

For instance, did you know that all the best photography shops are close to the British Museum ? They're worth strolling around ...

Best weather prediction for London

The best weather prediction for the UK, and for London, is something you can see for yourself when you look at the satellite images from the last 24 hours - it shows you what's coming and where it's coming from. See Here.

Free ECard

Send a Free ECard with a picture from one of London's parks.

Getting to the centre

Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, London City Airports

All of London's airports are a fair distance from the centre. Transport is quick, frequent and efficient.

From Heathrow, the tube is cheaper but slower - about 50 minutes. The train is faster and goes to Victoria train station.

From Gatwick and Stanstead, the train is the best option. Any mainline train station is on the tube, making it easy for you to travel onwards.

London City Airport is close to the City in the East. Catch the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). The DLR is interesting in it's own right. It's fully computer controlled with no train driver so you can sit right at the front.

Hiring a car

We don't recommend this. Parking is very difficult. Public transport is good. If you hire a car, we can't advise you beyond the obvious - check where you can park the thing.

There is also the London Congestion Charge to remember. There are cameras around certain areas of London. They photograph your car license plate. They are efficient at this !

For more info, try, and do your research well.

Daily Transport in the Centre

There is a single great website for all London Transport :
Here you can even find live departure boards for most tube stations, also downloadable bus maps in pdf format.

  • These are plastic cards with a chip in. They're the same size as a bank card.
  • You buy one from a newsagent (look for the Oyster sign in the shop window)
  • You pre-pay at a newsagent. You can pre-pay any amount.
  • When you enter through the ticket barrier at a tube station, touch the oyster card onto the yellow reader and the gates open for you.
  • When you exit through the ticket barrier at your destination, touch the oyster card onto the yellow reader; the gates open for you, and the money is deducted from the card.
  • When you get on a bus, touch-in using the yellow reader next to the driver.
    The fare is deducted immediately.
  • On a bus, there is no need to touch-out when you get off the bus. Simply walk off the bus when you want.
  • The bus fare is £ 2 in cash, or £ 1.20 if you use an Oyster card.
  • Any one bus journey is the same price, regardless of how far you travel
  • Oyster cards are also easier and quicker than cash.
  • There is a maximum charge in any one day - normally about 3 bus journeys. After that, your travel is free. Simply touch-in and touch-out and no money will be deducted.
  • Allow £ 4 per day for all your travel needs on bus and tube.
You can buy Oyster cards in advance, online, delivery is via the post to any of 63 countries, see


These were the best option before Oyster Cards came along. They are still widely used.
London is split into Zones. The centre is Zone 1. Zones 2 to Zone 6 are outside, getting further from the centre. Your travel card allows you to travel in certain zones.
The more Zones you want to travel in, the more expensive the Travelcard.


Islington is a worthwhile trip. Take the tube to Angel (Northern Line), and then walk up the high street. You will find a whole range of interesting shops.


SW1 is posh. You will either find it fascinating or boring. Walk between Hyde Park Corner, along Knightsbridge and down Sloane Street towards Sloane Square. All the best designers and jewellers have a boutique here.
Harrods is here, too.
Sloane Street is described well here

London Silver Vaults

This is often missed by tourists. It's a massive underground vault. Within the vault are about 80 individual shops, each one selling silver.

The website is here

Electronics and Computers

The best computer hardware stores are traditionally found on Tottenham Court Road - BUT be careful ! These shops sometimes move their front door, from one side of their frontage to the other. This makes them (legally) a different shop, which makes any guarantee Worthless.
See for information,
Nowadays of course, buying these items online is often cheaper.

How to count in Roman Numerals

Many buildings have the construction date written in stone, using Roman Numerals.
These can be bemusing until you know that you should subtract as well as add; like this :
I is 1.
V is 5.
X is 10.
L is 50.
C is 100.
D is 500.
M is 1000.
Read the numbers from left to right. You either add or subtract. If the next number is smaller, you add them. If the next number is bigger, you subtract.
MCM = 1900 (1,000 plus ... 100 before 1,000)
MCMLXXIV = 1974. That's 1000 + 900 + 50 + 10 + 10 + 4
MDCCC = 1800
MDCC = 1700
MDC = 1600
MD = 1500
MCD = 1400
MCCC = 1300
MCC = 1200
MC = 1100
That should cover most of the dates that you will see on buildings.
You can

Great Fire Of London

Most of London (City area) was destroyed in the Great Fire (1666), read details at


The Plague started around 1340 and continued on and off until 1666; when London was destroyed by the fire.

Many churches bear evidence of plague, you need to research elsewhere for details.
It is still illegal for construction work in many places in London, since digging the foundations would disturb the plague pits where thousands of people were hurridly buried, for fear that the Plague would return.

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