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Discover London: An Extensive Guide for Zimbabwean Travelers

by Staff Reporter
10 Jul 2023 at 18:52hrs | Views
Image by paulohabreuf from Pixabay
London is one of the world's most visited cities and really needs no introduction. Home to iconic architecture, vibrant nightlife, and rich culture, London is a must-visit destination for all travelers. The UK is also now home to an increasing number of Zimbabweans, leading to further demand for travel. This article aims to provide an extensive guide for Zimbabwean travelers planning a city break in London - covering everything from tips on getting around town to uncovering some hidden gems off the beaten path.

Preparing for Your Trip

The first thing to speak about here is entry. Zimbabwean citizens need a visa to visit the UK. It is typically recommended to apply for three months before your trip, at a minimum. To do this, you need to complete an online application form and provide evidence of a couple of things. You'll need both onward and return flights, along with evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. The British Embassy in Harare is open 24 hours a day and should be your first port of call if you have more specific questions about visas.

As mentioned, before you apply for your visa, you will first need to book your flights - both to London and also your flight leaving the UK. There are several direct flights from Harare International Airport (HRE) to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR). Some of the popular airlines that offer these routes include Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic Airways. You could consider using the online travel company Opodo to help with this. They offer deals on flight plus hotel packages from Harare to London, as well as even greater discounts through their membership program called Opodo Prime.

London experiences all four seasons, so taking into account the likely weather during your trip is important. The summers can be quite hot sometimes, and the winters can get very cold. Generally speaking, the summertime is considered the peak season as the warmer weather and longer days make it easier to explore. Prices are often higher during the peak season, too, so make sure you take that into account.

While we're on the topic of money, London can be an expensive travel destination, but there are still plenty of ways that budget-conscious travelers can make their money last. Choosing the right options to get around town (Which we'll cover in the next section) - as well as opting for both free and cheap tourist attractions - can be a great way to make your money go further.

In terms of free attractions, there are some great museums like The British Museum and the Natural History Museum. Both Hyde Park and Regent's Park are beautiful places to take a walk, too and if you're looking for something to eat and drink, check out London's many markets like Borough Market and Camden Market. You can also consider taking the Thames Clipper, a boat ride up the River Thames that is cheaper than a typical river cruise but still offers great views of the city.

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Navigating London

London is a very connected city, thanks to its great public transport network. The tube network is the fastest mode of transportation in the city and consists of 11 different lines. Tourists can obtain a Visitor Oyster Card, which you can pre-load with money and then top up once you run out of credit. It works in a similar way as a pre-paid mobile phone. The trains run frequently from early morning until late at night, making them an extremely convenient way to get around.

Buses are also available, often reaching places the tube can't reach. There is also both Thames RiverBus services and Santander Cycles bike hire schemes that offer alternative ways to get around, and many parts of the city are very walkable, too. The Oyster Visitor Card can be used on many types of transport, so it's a great option for visitors.

Accommodation Options

The UK is a highly visited country which means there is a wide range of choices for accommodation available, catering to all types of travelers. There are many luxury hotels on offer for those looking to splurge on their trip, while much more budget-friendly options are also available.
The location should also be taken into account when choosing the right accommodation. Look at the proximity to the attractions you're most interested in, as well as to the tube. Some simple planning like this can help you save some extra money and also time. Generally speaking, the earlier you book your accommodation, the better the rates you'll get.

Cultural Highlights

Given the size of London, there's really something for everyone. This is true whether you're a lover of history, art, music, or something else. There is a big list of different museums and galleries to explore that showcase world-famous works. You can see works from some of the greatest minds of history - like Picasso and Rembrandt - at the National Gallery or see some classic mummies at the British Museum.

Many museums are free to enter - including the Tate Modern - which houses a collection of modern artwork ranging from painting and photography to film and installation pieces. If you're looking for something from home, the Mosi O Tunya Gallery in Holland Park showcases beautiful works of art from a number of African countries, including Zimbabwe.

The Africa Centre in Southwark may also be of interest to Zimbabwean travelers. It's a charity that gives a platform to art and culture from Africa that has its own art gallery, restaurant, and even a hub that is focused on shaping the future of African-owned businesses. Depending on the time of year, you might also be able to check out rugby side Harlequin F.C. play - particularly given their signing of Zimbabwean star Lovejoy Chawatama.

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Food and Drink

Given the diversity of people living in London, there are restaurants featuring cuisines from just about every culture you could imagine. Given its status as one of the best cities in the world, it's also home to many Michelin-starred restaurants - Amaya, The Ledbury, Wild Honey, and Ochre, to name a few. From high-end restaurants serving up multi-course tasting menus to street food markets with dishes from around the globe, London has it all.

If you're looking for some unique dining experiences, London also has that on offer. Dans Le Noir is an underground restaurant located in Clerkenwell which offers guests a meal completely in darkness. You can also head up to The Duck & Waffle near Liverpool Street Station for another unique dining experience. They serve both breakfast and dinner 40 floors above the city streets while rotating 360 degrees every hour.

Pub culture also plays an important role in life in London - just as it does all across the UK. Grab a pint at a local pub near your accommodation or explore one of the many craft beer bars across different neighborhoods like Bloomsbury or Hackney Wick.

Shopping and Souvenirs

If you are looking to do some shopping during your visit, consider Oxford Street - one of the most popular areas for international tourists. It's home to a seemingly never-ending selection of retail outlets and high-end stores that offer something for everyone. Covent Garden is another great option. This area is perfect if you're looking for unique finds like handmade jewelry or bespoke clothing items from independent retailers. For an even more authentic experience, consider some of the lesser-visited markets like Brick Lane Market or Camden Lock Market which offer everything from vintage clothes to delicious street food.

If you're looking for some traditional English souvenirs to take back home, you have many options. There is a range of Union Jack souvenirs like flags, key chains, and t-shirts, or you could simply pick up some teacups and saucers from Harrods. While at Harrods, you could also pick up some English butterscotch biscuits to have a taste of British cuisine to take back home.

Outdoor Activities

We have already mentioned a couple of beautiful parks earlier in the article, but for those looking for something more traditionally British, consider visiting Buckingham Palace Gardens. This is a great place to witness royal pageantry and one of many outdoor activities that London has to offer.

The River Thames also provides plenty of sightseeing opportunities for those wanting an outdoor experience with a view. From the Tower of London and Big Ben at Westminster Pier, there are many landmarks worth seeing from the river. River cruises can be taken daily and provide guided tours through these historical sights while giving travelers insights into the culture of London along the way.

Day Trips From London

Travelers to London often decide to take a day trip during their stay. The big city life is great, but other parts of England also have much going for them. There are many worthwhile places to visit for your day trip, but Oxford, Stonehenge, and Bath are among the popular day trips that travelers opt for.

Oxford is most well-known for its historic university buildings that are filled with secret courtyards and spires. These date back hundreds of years, making it a very popular day trip destination. The Georgian town of Bath offers up hot springs and ancient Roman baths, while Stonehenge gives insight into prehistoric history with impressive megalithic stone structures and offers breathtaking views.

Organizing these trips couldn't be easier. You can book a private tour or sign up for an organized group tour which will provide reliable transportation between London and your destination of choice. You can also choose to go it alone and simply use public transportation for your day trip. It's important to note that the latter option does require a bit more planning to make sure you leave enough time to get back to your accommodation in London that night.

London is a city of vast opportunities and unique experiences. With proper planning, travelers from all regions and with all budgets can make the most out of their time in this wonderful place. Through exploring both popular and lesser-known areas, tourists can discover London's charm at its fullest and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Source - Byo24News