London shard

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The River Thames

Posted by & filed under London.

If you are in London, it’s hard to miss this waterway that cuts through the city. Many visitors will enjoy a sightseeing or dinner cruise, while others will walk over or alongside it.

Exploring the River Thames is just one of the many things to do in London.

Below are 10 things that you might not know about the River Thames.

The Thames is home to the world’s first underwater tunnel 

Built in 1843 by engineer Marc Brunel, the Thames Tunnel was the first thoroughfare ever built underwater.

The original tunnel is still used today by London Underground on the stretch between Wapping and Rotherhithe.

The Thames goes well beyond London 

The Thames is over 200miles (300km) long and runs through places like Oxford and Windsor Castle Read more »

Oxford near London

How to Get to Oxford From London

Posted by & filed under London.

This post covers day trips to Oxford from London, including how to get here by bus, train as well as taking an organized guided tour.

 

 


WHY VISIT OXFORD?

Known throughout the world as one of the most historic and beautiful sites on earth, Oxford is an easy day-trip away from London.

With monuments, colleges, parks, and museums for any taste, a visit to Oxford is fun for everyone – no matter what their interests! Read more »

London Weather in August

How is the Weather in London in August?

Posted by & filed under London.

This post is an overview of the weather in August in London in August, with tips on what to expect for temperatures and rainfall, as well as what to pack and things to do. 

 

 


AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN AUGUST

August is perhaps the best time of year in London as this month provides comfortable and relatively dry weather for most outdoor activities and for just exploring the city. Read more »

Things to Do in August in London

What to Do in August in London

Posted by & filed under London.

This article gives you the best things to do in London during August, including a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly attractions. 

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN AUGUST

This section lists our top 10 ideas for things to do in London this month, including tours, concerts, events, and attractions.

For more ideas of popular things to do, check out our posts:

Read more »

London Zoo Tickets and Discounts

London Zoo Discounts and Vouchers

Posted by & filed under London.

This post will help you plan your visit to the London Zoo. We include ticket prices, discounts and deals, when you should go, and what to expect at the zoo.

 

 


TICKET PRICES

Ticket prices tend to fluctuate during peak times, such as the summer months, so you should look at their pricing table to double check. If you purchase a ticket at the gate, you will pay approximately £3 more.

Note: Students and disabled adults receive the Senior concession price. Essential carers of adults are free.

 


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DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

You can find multiple ways to save money on your visit to the London Zoo!


Tourist Discount Passes

Tourist discount passes are easy ways to get into most of London’s top-rated and popular attractions for free or at a discount. For one up-front ticket fee, you’ll get access to bundled discounts all over the city.

 

 

The London Pass 

The London Pass is an all-inclusive attraction discount pass that includes entry the London Zoo.

You can purchase this pass to be active for 1 – 10 days and visit as many attractions as you can that are included in the pass. The London Zoo is one of the most popular options for this pass. 

The Explorer Pass and iVenture Card

The Explorer Pass and iVenture Card both allow you to choose 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 attractions to visit with one bundled discount, which can save you up to 50% of your total ticket costs. 

The London Zoo is one of the attraction options on both of these passes. 


Combination Ticket

If you’re interested in a Hop-On-Hop-Off boat tour of London’s River Thames, you might consider this combination ticket that includes entry to the Zoo and a 24-hour ticket to a Thames Hop-On-Hop-Off tour.

With this combination ticket, you’ll save approximately £3 off of the combined cost if you get the London Zoo’s online ticket price.


Other Available Discounts

  • Check out discount websites, such as Groupon and Living Social, who often offer 50% off the listed entry price.
  • 2for1 London lets you buy one ticket and get one ticket free.
  • Booking online will give you a discount – so definitely consider purchasing your tickets in advance!

TIP: For more ways to save money in the city, check out our post on free things to do in London or take a free walking tour.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

The information in this section includes hours, directions, and ways to make your visit a fun one!


How to Get There

The London Zoo is located in Regent’s Park at Outer Cir, London NW1 4RY.

London Zoo in Regent's Park

By Underground

  • Camden Station
  • Baker Street Station
  • Regent’s Park Station
  • Great Portland Street Station

By Bus

  • Routes 274 and C2

Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus

  • Baker Street

TIP: Several routes, such as the Big Bus Tours Orange Route, make stops within easy walking distance of the London Zoo. Take a look at our Hop-On-Hop-Off bus comparison post to see which one will work best for you.

Other Transportation

  • Nearest Rail Station: Euston Station
  • Bike: The Zoo has two Barclay Cycle Hire stations
  • Waterbus: The London Waterbus Company runs a scheduled service between Camden, Little Venice, and Soho

Use this Google link to get directions from your exact location. If you’re taking the Underground, don’t forget to read our tips on mastering the Tube.


Hours

The London Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas day. However, the opening hours depend on the time of year. We suggest checking their timetables to be certain, as they occasionally close early for special events and galas.

  • March – September from 10:00 am – 18:00 (6:00 pm)
  • September – late October from 10:00 am – 17:00 (5:00 pm)
  • Late October – February from 10:00 am – 16:00 (4:00 pm)

NOTE: Last entry is admitted one hour before closing, and some animal exhibits may close 30 minutes before the park does.


When is the best time to go?

Since the London Zoo is such a popular activity for local families as well as visitors, your best bet for smaller crowds will be while school is in session. This means weekday mornings are the least busy year round, but especially from September to May.

Weekends are especially busy, so if you must go on a Saturday or Sunday try to arrive right around the 10:00 am opening time.


How much time will I need to see everything at the Zoo?

Some visitors can make it through the London Zoo in 1 hour, but most people spend 2 – 3 hours walking through the animal exhibits, riding the train, and watching zookeeper talks and demonstrations.


Can I take photographs and videos?

Feel free to take all the non-commercial and non-flash photos and videos you like.

 

Animals at the London Zoo
This photo of the London Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 


Will children enjoy this attraction?

Yes! Kids of all ages – and even adults – will enjoy the London Zoo. There are fun and exotic animals in their habitats, a fun train to ride, and talks with the zookeepers at various points throughout the day.


Are there dining options in the Zoo?

Yes – the London Zoo has The Terrace Restaurant which offers full meals such as sandwiches, pizzas, and salads, as well as an Aquarium Kiosk with drinks, pastries, and snacks.

Both dining options offer vegetarian and vegan menu items.


Is there a gift shop?

Yes! There is a gift shop with souvenirs, toys, shirts, and other trinkets.


Can I bring my backpack or pram/stroller?

The London Zoo allows you to bring purses, backpacks, prams (strollers), and picnics. However, all of these will be subject to a search for safety upon entering the park.

If you want to store bags or luggage while visiting, they have a few lockers for hire on the premises which are monitored by CCTV cameras. However, they only accept coins, do not issue change, and are available on a first come, first served basis.

If you want a convenient way to store your bags while enjoying the Zoo, check out some Airbnb-style luggage storage options in London.

 


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WHAT TO EXPECT

Opened in London on 27th April 1828, London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Originally, it was created to be used as a collection strictly for scientific study for those belonging to the London Zoological Society.

 

 

The zoo was later opened to the general public in 1847. Within the past decades, huge improvement works and new environments for countless animals have been created an expanded – making the London Zoo one of the largest, most diverse, and most enjoyable zoos in the entire world.


Animal Exhibits

Currently, the London Zoo is home to over 19,000 animals of over 806 different species. The layout is carefully organized into individual habitats where animals are grouped together in geographically similar environments. Here are a few of the popular exhibits you can find:


Rainforest Life/Nightlife

This is a walk-through exhibit that houses several species of rainforest animals such as marmosets and sloths. Housed here are also a number of nocturnal animals such as bats, scorpions, giant rats, and chinchillas.


Into Africa

Holding animals from the African continent, this area includes a high-level viewing platform to bring guests face-to-face with the giraffes housed here.

 

Lion Exhibit at the London Zoo
This photo of the London Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Another interesting animal species included in the Africa exhibits are lions.


The Outback

An Australian themed exhibit dating originally from 1913, housing wallabies, kangaroos and emus.


Gorilla Kingdom

Opened within the past few years, in 2007, the Gorilla Kingdom is made up of a large, moated island with an indoor gym for use by the gorillas. As of today, London Zoo owns four gorillas – one male and three female! Other species of monkeys are housed in the Gorilla Kingdom, as well.


Aquarium

Originally the aquarium at London Zoo was the world’s first public aquarium!

 

London Zoo Aquarium
This photo of London Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

In fact, it is believed that the word ‘aquarium’ originated here at London Zoo – having previously been referred to as an “aquatic vivarium.”


Meet the Monkeys

A walk-through enclosure that houses a troop of black-capped squirrel monkeys, this exhibit is unique in that there are no boundaries between the visitors and the monkeys themselves.


B.U.G.S.

Standing for Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival, the B.U.G.S. exhibition holds over 140 species of animal, primarily made up of invertebrates.


Butterfly Paradise

Displaying different species of butterfly and moth from throughout the world, there is also a caterpillar hatchery here on public view!


Reptile House

Housing creatures such as snakes, frogs, and crocodiles, the Reptile House is one of the most famous areas of the Zoo – partially in thanks to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which filmed a scene in the actual reptile house itself!


Animal Adventure

A part of the zoo designed for children, the exhibit here features a playground and numerous domestic animals such as rabbits and chickens and exotic species such as porcupines and prairie dogs.

 

London Zoo Animal Experience for Kids
This photo of London Zoo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Kids can even pet some of the calmer animals such as goats.


Komodo Dragons

Opened by Sir David Attenborough himself, the Komodo dragon enclosure houses two dragons and is designed to resemble their natural habitat: dry riverbeds.

 


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This post tells you everything you need to know about witnessing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, when to arrive, finding the best spots, as well as explaining all aspects of the event. 

 

 

Viewing the Changing of the Guard is free. In fact, it’s #1 on our top 10 list of free things to do in London.

For even more ways to save, read our Guide to London on a Budget

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London Downing Street

10 Downing Street Tour

Posted by & filed under London.

This post covers tours of 10 Downing Street and includes information to such as how to get there, best times to go, as well as some virtual tours of the famous residence.

 

By Photo: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD, OGL v1.0

 


INTRODUCTION

Number 10 Downing Street is one of the most famous addresses in the world. Since 1735, it has been home to the UK’s prime ministers.

Although it’s hard to get a good look at the street due to security, Downing Street still remains as one of the most visited sites in our capital city. 

Should you want to visit this historic street to get a glimpse of the iconic black door of No. 10 Downing, check out our guided Westminster Tour and our London in a Day Tour, which both stop at Downing Street.

You can also try our GPS-enabled anytime audio tour which includes a stop at Downing Street.


 

PLAN YOUR VISIT

How to Get Here

10 Downing Street is located in the City of Westminster just a short walk away from the Palace of Westminster and Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  

Click here to get exact directions from your point of departure. 

To reach 10 Downing Street by tube, it’s best to reach it by either the Westminster or Charing Cross Station.  

If you need help figuring out which tube to take, make sure to read our posts covering the London Underground and which tube pass you should buy.

You can take bus #11 or a hop-on, hop-off tour bus, both of which pass by frequently. You can also reach it by boat with City Cruises from the Westminster City Pier which is very nearby.

 

Map of 10 Downing Street

 


Security

For obvious safety reasons, the public is not allowed to walk on Downing Street, let alone go into the residence of the Prime Minister (PM).

There have been barriers erected along both sides of Downing Street since the 1920s. In 1974, it was suggested that permanent barriers should be erected to prevent the public from walking along the street.

However, the Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, overturned the idea. He felt that it was not right that the public should be prevented from walking down the street and taking photographs outside Number 10.

That has changed, and now security is very tight, as one would expect for the home of a country’s head of state.

Today, the closest visitors can get is standing on the edge of the street to peer through the permanent black metal gates. 

See below for some tips on how to get the best view of the street and door.

 


Things to Do Nearby

There are plenty of other significant London sites within walking distance of Downing Street.

Find some more ideas, read our post on what to see in Royal London.

 


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TOURS OF 10 DOWNING STREET

As noted above, you cannot walk on Downing Street as a member of the general public, but there are a few ways that you can see what the inside looks like, and also potentially glimpse the PM or cabinet members coming or going.

Inside 10 Downing Street

This video below made for the 2012 Olympics, gives you a good look into the public rooms inside 10 Downing Street.

 

 

Also, take a look at the virtual tour of 10 Downing Street on the UK Government’s website.

Lastly, Google made this crystal-clear 360-degree virtual tour of some of the rooms in 10 Downing Street.

 

 


Outside 10 Downing Street

Here are some tips on how to get a good glimpse of the famous black door (and perhaps famous people as well).

(1) To get a quick photo-op of 10 Downing Street, you can take the #11 bus, and sit on the top deck of the doubledecker. You may want to take a video from the bus since a still shot might be hard to capture while the bus is in motion.

(2)  You can actually see 10 Downing Street while taking a ride on the London Eye

(3)  Make sure to go to the gates on Whitehall, which is where you will get your best pictures through the heavy security and barriers.

(4) To see any comings and goings of the PM and other government members, Thursday morning is the best time, as this is when the PM and Cabinet meet.  Also Wednesdays between 11 and 11:30 a.m. is good since the PM leaves at this time to head to Parliament.


Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

Prime ministers come and go, but one resident of 10 Downing Street has no plans to leave any time soon.

Larry the cat, whose official title is Chief Mouser, has been living at 10 Downing Street since February 2011. He has now seen two PMs come and go.

He may the most beloved resident of 10 Downing Street in the modern era and his activities are watched closely by the press and the adoring public. 

Here he is, on May 24, 2019, being escorted into the residence just minutes before Theresa May stood in front of the famous black door and announced her resignation.

 

 


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HISTORY

Downing Street

Downing Street itself was built in the 1680s by Sir George Downing who had purchased a large tract of land near Parliament, on the edge of St. James’s Park.

He originally intended that the street should be full of fine townhouses designed specifically “for persons of good quality to inhabit in…”

When building these houses, Downing was assisted by master architect Sir Christopher Wren, who designed the buildings.

Most were actually built rather cheaply and were not of good quality – still the case when Winston Churchill resided at Number 10 and he is quoted as saying his house was “shaky and lightly built by the profiteering contractor whose name that bear.”

Earls, Lords, and Countesses quickly moved into the prime real estate built here although it seems unlikely that Sir Downing himself ever actually resided on the street that holds his name.

Regardless of this fact, a portrait of him still hangs in the entrance foyer of Number 10 Downing Street.

By the 1800s the houses had nearly all been taken over by the government. Some of the original buildings were demolished to allow space to build and expand the Privy Council Office, the Board of Trade and the Treasury Offices.

10 Downing Street

The majority of UK’s Prime Ministers, dating back to the very first, (Robert Walpole in 1720) have called Number 10 home.

The building itself is made up of over 100 hundred rooms – only part of which is actually residential.

There is a private residence on the third floor and a private kitchen in the basement. Everything in between is offices, conference rooms, reception halls, sitting rooms, dining rooms, etc.

These rooms are all in constant usage – Foreign dignitaries are entertained here and the Prime Minister and his government base the majority of their work at Number 10.

The Door

The front door to Number 10 is most likely the most famous feature of the building. Large, shiny and black and bearing ‘10’ in large brass numbers, the door is most likely one of the most photographed in the world!

Originally, the door was made of Georgian black oak; it is today made of blast-proof steel and takes a reported eight men to lift it.

The original door can be seen by the public – it is on display in the Churchill Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms.

According to Margaret Thatcher, Number 10 Downing Street is “one of the most precious jewels in the national heritage.”

 


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