Steeped in history, England’s capital is a winter paradise for shoppers and sightseers.
There is no better time to visit London than the winter months, when the lights are twinkling, mulled wine is pouring and fires are lighting. With easy air connections from Harare to Dubai, there is little excuse not to visit the famous English capital where you can enjoy theatre, museums and tours of royal buildings on a scale unmatched elsewhere. If you are lucky, you might even see some snow — while you are sitting by the fire in a cosy pub!
Perhaps Elvis Costello got it right with his famous song lyrics, “I’m having the time of my life, or something quite like it, when I’m walking out and about in London’s brilliant parade.” This is one of the world’s most incredible cities, boasting stunning architecture, fascinating history and a host of cultural activities. In terms of journey time to England, it has become simpler, as it a case of flying from Harare to Dubai and connecting with an Emirates flight to London. This route uses the new A380 superjumbo.
Buckingham Palace, Wembley Stadium, Big Ben, Regent’s Park, Camden Town, Notting Hill, the London Underground — the list of things to do and see in London is endless. This includes the London Eye, the perfect vantage point for taking it all in.
Thankfully, London is a city built for walking — and those who don’t want to walk can hire a ‘Boris Bike’ from one of the 700 bicycle docking stations around the city. Plus, no trip to London would be complete without travelling on the famous London Underground or hopping on one of the iconic double-decker buses.
You can find a gem — historical or modern — at every corner. Whether you are exploring the hipster boutiques of Shoreditch or the high-end restaurants and cafés of Kensington, there is charm and character in every alleyway.
The architecture is every bit as varied as the neighbourhoods, from the classical beauty of St Paul’s Cathedral to the modern majesty of The Shard. London is also blessed with acres of green space, with Hyde Park and Regent’s Park (the latter of which is home to the world-famous London Zoo) offering a welcome breather from the city.
The mighty River Thames cuts through it all, running alongside the Houses of Parliament and Westminster, and passing the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It also winds under Tower Bridge towards Canary Wharf and Greenwich Pier.
Along the Thames’ way and past its riverbanks there are hundreds of theatres, galleries, boutiques, restaurants and markets — which all promise something new to discover.
Christmas markets in London
If you are hoping to find something special for the tree, the Christmas table or for a loved one, memorable shopping experiences are at your fingertips at this time of the year when dozens of Christmas markets pop up all over the city. Oxford Street is world-famous and seems to go on forever. This is hardly a surprise, as it is a former Roman road, and was known as the Tyburn Road until fairly recently (Tyburn used to be a notorious execution spot on the corner of Marble Arch, still marked with a slab on the pavement for curious tourists).
Museums, parks and manors all transform into magical Christmas wonderlands, with sparkling Christmas lights, mince pies and carols to feast your senses on. If you are a foodie, you are in luck — as well as traditional British Christmas foods, there are endless international delicacies on offer.
Perhaps you have a keen eye for crafts? You will be in your element when you wander between stalls to enjoy — and maybe even buy — a few mementos of your London trip. When you are finished with the Christmas markets, you can delight in world-famous shops including Harrods, which is situated in Knightsbridge, a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace, the official home of William and Kate. You will find it in Kensington Gardens, next to Hyde Park, and the palace and grounds can be visited for a fee. For the little ones, a look-in at Hamleys might be in order. The celebrated toy shop can be found in Regent’s Street, around the corner from Piccadilly Circus. — Emirates.