Cool Weekend Getaways: London
London, the capital of the United Kingdom and England is a city of 8 million people that welcomes 14 million international visitors every year. This world-class center of culture is home to such icons as Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace. Some of the world’s best theatre productions may be enjoyed in the West End, and sports fans can watch games played by several professional soccer teams, including some of the world’s most prestigious. Museums located here attract visitors from throughout the world. In fact, entrance to the British Museum – and all national museums – is free.
London’s roots were formed in the City of London, a small section of central London that fills a little more than a square mile of space. It was first settled by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, and they remained in the community for several hundred years. The Romans likely conquered a burgeoning community that had formed there prior to their arrival. However, it developed much more quickly after they arrived. By the year 100, it was the largest settlement located in the land area comprised by present-day England. This community became the capital of Roman Britain a few years later. Today, the City of London is one of the world’s financial capitals as many major banking institutions call the area home.
London is one of the most connected cities in the world with six airports in the greater metropolitan area. However, Heathrow is easily the largest. In fact, it is the busiest in Europe as more than 10 million passengers travel through here on an annual basis. Non-stop flights arrive at Heathrow from places as far away as Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia. The Heathrow Express provides rail service from here into the city. Another popular option for those heading into London from mainland Europe is Eurostar, a high-speed railway service that travels from France and Belgium and under the English Channel. Once in London, transportation options are provided by the iconic Tube and nearly 10,000 buses.
Although London has a reputation for being rainy, this is actually not the case as just 23 inches of precipitation falls here on an annual basis. That is less than half of the 50 inches that New York receives every year. However, it is in fact very cloudy as its 1,480 hours of sunshine every year is two-thirds of the amount that Seattle receives. Temperatures are nice in the summer with high temperatures at that time averaging in the low 70s. Although winter months are chilly, temperatures usually stay above the freezing mark.