London travel attractions and quality Gatwick UK taxi from airport services? The pleasure palace of the infamously extravagant Henry VIII sits on the banks of the Thames in west London. Originally the home of Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, Henry transformed it into a grand Tudor palace. In the heart of the palace lies the magnificent Great Hall, with its towering hammer beach roof and fine tapestries decorating the walls. Alongside the Great Hall, there are the impressive Great Kitchens which once served up to 1,600 meals a day and the palace’s gorgeous gardens. Stretching across the Humber estuary, this impressive bridge gained Grade I-listed status in 2018, 36 years after it opened. The 1.4-mile-long (2.2km) structure, that links Lincolnshire and Yorkshire on the A15, opened in 1981 and was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years.
If you get yourself to Heathrow Airport with plenty of time to spare, you can escape the crowds in one of the many lounges dotted around the airport. However, unless you have a membership of a loyalty program or you’re traveling business class, you have to pay to enter. We recommend the No 1 Lounge at terminal 3 to retreat for a couple of hours before your departure. Sometimes, if you’re planning on purchasing a newspaper, accessing the Wi-Fi and splurging on drinks and food, it’s cheaper to pay for the lounge and get it all for free. You’ll also be able to enjoy some stunning views of the runway while you wait to be called to your gate for departure.
A riverside titan of arts and entertainment, the Southbank Centre includes three major venues – of which, the Hayward Gallery is now open again. Its typically loaded events programme is paused, but it’s still great for a visit. Munch on vegan cake at the food market or pick up a rare first edition at the bookstalls. You could even go next door to take in a play at the National Theatre, which reboots in October. While you’re there, head along the South Bank to the Globe and gawp at the hallowed Shakespearian playhouse – still currently closed to die-hard Bard lovers.
Stonehenge, 10 miles north of the historic city of Salisbury on Salisbury Plain, is Europe’s best-known prehistoric monument. It’s so popular that visitors need to purchase a timed ticket in advance to guarantee entry. Exhibitions at the excellent Stonehenge visitor center set the stage for a visit, explaining through audio-visual experiences and more than 250 ancient objects how the megaliths were erected between 3000 and 1500 BC, and sharing information about life during this time. After walking around the various viewing points adjacent to these enormous stones, visit the authentic replicas of Neolithic Houses to see the tools and implements of everyday Neolithic life as volunteers demonstrate skills from 4,500 years ago. Although you can’t go inside the circle to wander among the stones during normal opening hours, you can reserve special early morning or late evening access into the circle through English Heritage, which manages the site. Find additional information at taxi from airport.
First up, there’s the largest Royal Park in London — Richmond Park. This park is located a fair way southwest of the city and makes a great day trip from London, especially if the weather is pleasant. This space is world-famous for being home to 600 wild deer. Keep an eye out for these majestic creatures, though don’t get too close — especially over summer — when mother deer will fiercely protect their young. Richmond Park also has a wonderful view of St Paul’s Cathedral from a vantage point on the western side of the park. It’s so big you could walk for miles within the park’s many walking trails. Being so large, Richmond Park can be accessed from several train stations — it’s about a 20-minute walk from Richmond tube station (District line and London Overground). You can also take a Richmond train from Waterloo station and get off at Norbiton and then a 15-minute walk from the south edge of the park. Richmond Park is open from 7 a.m. in summer and 7:30 a.m. in winter, closing at dusk each day.
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There are so many spots for food in Gatwick. I absolutely always grab a cheese and celery sandwich from M&S before I catch the train. If I arrive early for my flight I usually sit in Costa with an iced coffee and a cheese and tomato toastie (the best). If you want a more substantial meal there are places like Giraffe and Wetherspoons before security in the South Terminal, and Jamie’s before security in the North terminal. Nandos and Wagamamas and a couple of others are after security in the South Terminal and there’s WAY more choice after security in the North Terminal. Basically there’s no shortage of places to eat.
Once you apply for Global entry, you can avoid the long lines at immigration. This is one of the most painful airport experiences. No frustrating waiting or filling out boring questionnaires. With Global entry, you go to the special kiosks, key in some details and they recognize you from your fingerprints. You are in! It only costs $100 for five years and if you hold an American Express Platinum card, they will pay the fee for you. This system is operational in 26 US airports. American, Canadian, Swiss, and Dutch citizens can apply. To do so, fill out an online questionnaire and be prepared for a background check which includes a 30-minute interview. If you are a frequent flier to Canada, apply first for the Nexus entry because that will automatically get you on to the Global one without re-applying (it will also save you $50). Find more details on this website.