All excitement aside, planning your first trip to London can be overwhelming, particularly if you have no idea where to start. Not only is the city the capital of Great Britain, but it is also one of the world’s capitals of fashion, finance, arts and entertainment, so it is no wonder that planning for your visit can seem daunting. Here’s a simple guide to the big smoke that will ensure you make the most out of your trip, time and budget.

Where to Stay

If you are visiting London for a short weekend break then a hotel is your best option. Although hotels in central London can be expensive, opting for a cheaper choice in the suburbs is a decision you will quickly regret. Commuting into the city everyday will only cost you more money and waste valuable time that could be spent sightseeing and discovering the wonders of the city.

There isn’t a right answer to where the best location to stay for sightseeing is, there is a range of fantastic choices to choose from which offer anything and everything you could possibly need for a weekend break.

The West End (Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Mayfair) is a very central district and a magnet for tourists. The area is home to most of London’s top theatres, art galleries and a variety of delicious cuisines. The nightlife is also super bustling and perfect for those who enjoy evening drinks in a sociable atmosphere.

Covent Garden is probably the best area to stay in for first-time visitors as it has a great entertainment and dining scene, as well as being just a short walk away from some of London’s biggest attractions such as the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and the National Gallery.

Where to Eat and Drink

There has never been a better or wackier time for food in London, with an abundance of quirky bars and restaurants to choose from.

Cheap Eats

If you are looking for something quick, simple and affordable to fuel your busy day, then El Pellicci is located on Bethnal Green Road and has been serving honest Italian food and mouth-watering sandwiches since 1900. Make sure you don’t leave within trying the homemade Penne Pellicci for £7. Or for something even cheaper but equally delicious, go for the rump steak and caramelised onion ciabatta for just £4.40.

Quirky Bars

London is fortunate enough to host several of the most unique, weird and wonderful bars in the world.

Moonshine Saloon Cocktail Bar is inspired by the Wild West and the perfect place to visit for quirky drinks with friends or loved ones. Enjoy a menu filled with delicious cocktails whilst immersing yourself in a game of cards.

The Bletchley creates bespoke cocktails that match your personality by the input of data into its machines. You can choose from a selection of colours and scents that appeal to you and let its code-breaking team work its cocktail making magic to create a cocktail that is totally catered to you.

Special Occasion Restaurants

The Rainforest Cafe is one of the most fun and enjoyable restaurants in London, whilst being a great place to take the kids, although kids are not a requirement. With the sound of running waterfalls, lighting and rain as well as giant animals and real-life tropical fish you may forget to actually order.

What to Pack

London can pose a packing challenge as no matter what day of the year, you may need warm layers, sunscreen a raincoat and umbrella or sandals. There is a certain possibility of rain at whatever time of year you visit.

Whether you are flying to London or taking the train, a great thing to remember to pack is a travel pillow as this will ensure you stay comfy on your long journey.

Casual dress will often do, but keep in mind that London is an international cosmopolitan city, so it is nice to dress nice. If you have a special celebratory meal planned then be sure to pack your fancy clothes.