COVID 19 – TRAVEL RESTART

While parts of the world are still in lockdown it can feel like we won’t see the inside of a plane for a long time yet. However there are signs that travel is starting to make a small, yet positive comeback.

To help you make the most of this downtime we’ve prepared a handy checklist to help you give your travel program and documents an ‘Autumn’ clean, so you are ready to go when those travel requests start to roll on in!

COMPANY CHECKLIST

  • Review travel insurance coverage, and double-check if any changes are in place post-COVID.
  • Audit your traveller profiles to ensure they are all up-to-date.
  • Review who is authorised to book travel on behalf of your company. 
  • Determine how travel is going to be permitted post-COVID.
  • Determine what new procedures you want to implement to protect both your company and your travellers.

TRAVELLER INFORMATION

  • Check that you have emergency contact information on file for each traveller. This is vital when travelling during times like COVID-19.
  • Review your traveller’s preferences – do they prefer a certain seat, meal-type, particular hotel location etc.  
  • Audit what passport and visa information you have on file. Are you missing any? Are some coming up for expiry? This part can save you a lot of time when booking, particularly around passports and ensuring they are valid for the required length of time to enter certain countries. 

POST COVID POLICY REFRESH

  • What approvals are required for someone to travel.
  • How should travel be booked? Do travellers need request via their internal booker or go straight to their TMC?
  • Do you need to implement a duty of care or risk management process for travel?

GET TECHY

  • Check that your travellers have the latest travel apps downloaded and working.
  • Include apps for each airline, including frequent flyer and entertainment apps. 
  • Download the Government’s COVIDSafe app if you haven’t already. 

FOR THE TRAVELLER – BEFORE YOU GO

  • Check border restrictions and self-isolation rules for the state and country your traveller is going to. Check airline rules – are there particular health requirements your traveller needs to consider? 
  • Consider providing your traveller with a letter that states they are travelling for ‘essential work’. Make sure your travellers have at least two hard copies in their carryon luggage as well as an electronic version handy in their emails. 
  • What process should a traveller follow?  Do they need to check in with your company whilst on the trip, and what protocols should be followed when they return from a trip? 
  • Check travellers know who to contact in an emergency. Is there a point of contact at your company or at your TMC available 24/7?

Shirley Robertson

Barcelona – city break

Introduction to Barcelona

Barcelona is the Catalan capital and home to some of the world’s most cryptic architecture and pieces of art that line the city streets. Catalan culture is explored through the museums, historic monuments, food and the arts. Each section of Barcelona boasts something a little different, from the architecture of the Gothic Quarter to the sandy beaches of Barceloneta, this is a city that offers it all.

Other things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is ripe with activities and adventures all around the city. Its ground-breaking art and architecture is loaded with surreal spectacles, for example the seven of the works of Anton Gaudi are a fundamental part of the Barcelona landscape. You can take a walking tour around the city to see all the works. These are Park Guell; Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicen, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and the crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell.

Parc de Montjuïc has been the focus of many key Barcelona events such as the 1992 Olympics and spreads over a hill concealing a myriad of green space, including the Historic Botanical Gardens. Montjuïc is home to many of Barcelona’s attractions; Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) Barcelona’s museum of visual arts, Montjuïc Castle a former prison, now a military museum, the CaixaForum which houses a contemporary art exhibitions, Poble Espanyol which is a purpose-built village of 117 buildings representing the variety of architectural styles in Spain, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, Olympic and Sports Museum, the Joan Miro Foundation and The Font Màgica which is a daily evening fountain show coordinated to music and lights are all located on the hilltop amongst gardens, restaurants and cafes which offer spectacular views across Barcelona.

Other museums dotted around the city of Barcelona include the Museum d’ Història de Catalunya (Museum of Catalan History), Museu Maritim (Maritime Museum), and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

Barcelona has a vibrant night-life, with open air concerts and festivals, live music, Salsa shows, small late-night tapas bars, jazz lounges and clubs, all of which have led to its reputation of being a party city. Some of the best clubs are La Terrazza, and La Paloma which has a vintage modernist ballroom turn dance-floor that was originally built in 1903- known as Barcelona’s most spectacular club.

There’s lots in Barcelona to appeal to children of all ages: the Barcelona Aquarium holds over 400 species, the Barcelona Zoo in Parc de la Ciutadella has over 4000 animals and the Tibidabo Theme Park has a number of rides which overlook the city. If you don’t mind travelling, then PortAventura, Spain’s biggest theme park is located an hour outside of Barcelona.

For something a little different head to Torrelles de Llobregat, 17km from Barcelona to the Catalyuna en Minatura. This displays all the key Barcelona monuments including those created by Gaudi on a 1:25 scale.

Eating and drinking in Barcelona

To truly get a taste of Catalan culture sampling the cuisine is a must. Typical dishes in Barcelona include paella, clay cooked meat stews with broad beans and roasted red peppers, cannelloni, salted cod in tomato based sauces with vegetables and rice, and of course cured meats with a side of  Pa amb tomaquet. This is a simple, yet delicious crusty bread topped with garlic, tomatoes and olive oil.

When it comes to dessert, waffles and churros are a speciality with many small cafes serving freshly made Belgium style waffles topped with gelato, dulce de leche, or melted chocolate.The drink of choice for many in Barcelona is cava, a sparkling white wine which is produced in the region.

For fresh, authentic and colourful cuisine, head to some of Barcelona’s many food markets such as the well known Mercat de Boqueria just off La Rambla or the Mercat de Santa Caterina.

Barcelona climate

Barcelona has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate which results in hot summers and mild winters, rainfall is heaviest during the autumn and winter months but you can still expect a few days of very low rainfall during the summer. Average summer temperatures are 25 °C, though July and August which are the hottest months can see temperatures reaching 32 °C. Winters are pleasant, even the coldest months have temperatures around 14 °C.

When to go to Barcelona

The peak summer months are incredibly busy, in part due to the hot temperatures. If you’d prefer an escape from the crowds and avoid the high summer temperatures then April to June and September to October can be the ideal time to go.

Stockholm – city break

The Swedish capital of Stockholm is not only Scandinavia’s largest city but also one of its most enchanting, with its centuries-old alleyways and squares spread across an archipelago of 14 islands. Locals are extremely proud of the fact that in Stockholm one can go ocean-fishing in the heart of the city.

This historic metropolis with a small town heart boasts a multitude of museums, restaurants, parks, fun fairs, a never-ending nightlife (licensing hours extend into the early hours), and a rich cultural tradition. There’s never a dull moment, particularly in the summer when the sun virtually never sets because of the city’s position in the far northern latitudes.

Most tourists are initially drawn to the quaint Gamla Stan (Old Town), a warren of narrow cobblestone streets overshadowed by historic houses. It radiates out from the sumptuous Royal Castle, where Swedish monarchs have resided since the 13th century.

However, despite the rich medieval heritage, Stockholm is not an old-fashioned enclave. Citizens have developed a reputation for being trendy, daring and innovative, especially in the global realms of IT and fashion, often setting the pace in the technology and design fields.

Stockholmers are also immensely concerned with the environment, and the cityscape is made up of one-third water, one-third green space, one-third buildings, and some of the cleanest air of any city in the world. Pack a picnic, hop aboard a ferry, and make for one of the parks where you will undoubtedly be treated to a free concert; or head for the legendary shopping districts of Biblioteksgatan (exclusive European boutiques), Odengatan (antique treasures), and others.

There is culture to be soaked up too, with more than 150 museums to visit, art festivals galore, opera and jazz concerts, and architecture to be admired, including the beautiful City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet takes place. It may be old but Stockholm is a destination for the young and energetic, and not overrun with tourists like many other European capitals.

Introduction to Porto

Book flights to Porto and discover Portugal’s northern powerhouse.

Porto is a mish-mash of Medieval and Baroque, of tumbledown 20th Century townhouses and striking modern architecture. It’s a beautiful city to look at, whether you’re wandering through the centuries-old streets of the UNESCO listed Ribeira district or relaxing with a beer by the Duero, admiring the five majestic bridges that span the river.

Clérigos Church

Clérigos Church: Unrivalled views of the city from the bell tower.

Drago Stadium

FC Porto Museum by BMG: Museum dedicated to the city’s football club.

Ponte de Dom Luis I

Ponte de Dom Luis I: Porto’s best-known bridge, once the longest in the world.

Other things to do in Porto

One of the joys of Porto is simply strolling around and discovering the city’s beautiful architecture. The gothic Church of São Francisco with its intricate baroque interiors is a must-visit, as is the city’s cathedral (Sé do Porto): dating back to the early 12th Century, it’s one of Portugal’s most important Romanesque monuments. Remember to hop on the Funicular dos Guindais for a panoramic view of  the Douro and Ponte de Dom Luis I.

Hire a car at Porto Airport and explore the Douro Valley. Wine tourism is very popular in the region, with numerous vineyards offering tastings and tours. Designated drivers can pick up a bottle at the cellar door to enjoy back at the hotel. For scenic drives head to the International Douro Nature Park, the Alvão Nature Park or the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley.

Still looking for inspiration? Check out our top 10 things to do in Porto.

Eating and drinking in Porto

A tasting tour of Porto’s famous dessert wine warehouses is a must. The majority (including household names Sandeman, Cockburn and Taylor’s) are based across the Duoro in Vila Nova de Gaia. Look out for lesser known labels like Cálem, Kopke and Quinta do Noval. Northern Portuguese cuisine is hearty. Look out for dishes like feijoada de javali (wild boar stew) and leitão (suckling pig served with oranges and thin cut potatoes). One of the world’s most impressive sandwiches, the francesinha, was invented in Porto. The sandwich includes various meats and sausages, is covered in melted cheese, smothered in a beer tomato sauce, and topped with a fried egg. Yes, it does come with chips. To sample one, avoid the riverfront restaurants and head inland to Cafe Santiago.

Porto climate

Porto has a mild climate, with warm summers and wet winters. You can expect an average temperature of 20°C if you visit during July (19°C in August and September) and an average of 10°C in January, the city’s coldest month. December and February are the wettest months, while July and August are the driest.

When to go to Porto

Summer (May to September) is the most popular time to visit Porto. The chance of sunshine is high and there are plenty of festivals including the Mares Vivas music festival and the lively Festa de São João de Porto at Midsummer. The low-season (October to April) is the cheapest time to visit, and you can find great deals on hotels in Porto at this time of year. The weather is still mild, although you’re more likely to experience rain.

Introduction to Rome

The ancient city of Rome, Italy’s capital has played an influential part in Western Europe, from the Roman invasions to the literature, art and architecture. The city captivates its visitor’s imaginations with a wealth of treasures; ancient ruins, and Renaissance architecture found sitting next to modern Rome’s striking pieces including the bold MAXXI Museum and the Ara Pacis Museum. From enjoying an espresso at the Piazza Navona to exploring the ruins, museums and pieces of art, Rome has plenty to see and do.

Colosseum

Colosseum

The Roman Empire’s most iconic ruin from 80AD, it hosted gladiator battles and entertainment.

The Vatican

Vatican City

Home to the Pope and St Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church filled with art and treasures including the Michaelangelo dome.

The Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The most famous of Rome’s many fountains, throw a coin into the Baroque fountain to ensure your return to Rome.

Other things to do in Rome

Rome has a huge wealth of archaeological sites to satisfy even the most ardent enthusiast. The Colosseum was Rome’s main stadium, The Pantheon is a temple to celebrate all the gods, The Roman Forum is a collection of buildings which were the business centre of Ancient Rome and Palatine Hill was the home of the Roman Emperors. Roman baths were an important part of the culture in Rome, with almost 900 baths in the city at its peak, the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla and Baths of Diocletia can be visited today.

After visiting the ruins head to the museums and art galleries of Rome. A short walk from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum is The Capitoline Museum, founded in 1471 it is the oldest museum in the world and has collections of Ancient Roman sculptures and paintings. The National Roman Museum, Museum of Rome and the Museum of Roman Civilization are all recommended if you wish to discover more of Rome’s history.

Many of Rome’s attractions focus on the history, however there are still a few modern attractions which offer something a little different. There’s the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, and the MAXXI Museum which is one of Rome’s vibrant modern pieces of architecture designed by Zaha Hadid, it explores contemporary architecture and the arts in the city. There’s also Sala Uno, located in a former basilica at Piazza de Porta San Giovanni, this is a contemporary art gallery showcasing experimental art exhibitions.

For breath-taking views of Rome head up to the top of Gianicolo Hill (The Janiculum), on route you will see the San Pietro in Montorio Church, Acqua Paola fountain, a puppet show and over 80 statues. Continuing with the outdoors the Orto Botanico a 30 acre botanical garden, is a world away from the busy tourist crowds. Here you will find over 3000 species of plants, a Japanese garden, historic greenhouses and fountains.

As home to the Pope, and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church you can expect to find a number of religious places of interest in Rome. These include the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, ancient basilicas such as Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and the Capuchin Crypt.

Theatre and opera have always been an important part of Rome’s culture; outdoor musical performances on squares and at the ruins are a regular occurrence during summer, and 17th century opera houses such as Teatro dell’Opera di Roma host regular indoor shows.

For some of the best shopping opportunities in Rome head to Monti and the Mercato Monti, an urban market with an array of boutique fashion brands from local designers, and quirky, vintage and hip stalls.

Read more: Top things to do in Rome – a local’s guide

Eating and drinking in Rome

One of the best things about visiting Rome is sampling the Roman cuisine where simple yet memorable dishes are created with seasonal produce by passionate chefs. Freshly made pasta (spaghetti is the most popular) is the basis of most meals served in a variety of sauces, the local carbonara is a must. Staple ingredients which you can expect to see in many Roman dishes includes offal, seafood, anchovies, artichokes and zucchini.

There are countless small pizzerias dotted around the city, some of the best are those off the tourist track including Da Remo in Testaccio and La Gatta Mangiona in Monteverde. Pizzas in Rome have a thin crust, often charred at the edges, with a wide selection of toppings from prosciutto to aubergine and mozzarella.

House wines served with dinner in Rome restaurants are typically those grown from the Lazio region. The vineyards here produce white grapes, Frascati Wine, is a dry or sweet wine and the signature wine of the city.

Italians take their coffee seriously; a cappuccino is considered to be breakfast and most will refuse to serve one after 11am, if you ask for a coffee in a bar, or coffee shop you will be served an espresso.

As a city with an incredible foodie culture, there are a number of foodie walking tours around Rome available where you will get to learn more about the cuisine you’re sampling.

Rome climate

Rome has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys hot summers, though winters are cool and wet. Summer temperatures average at 25°c, and winters around 10°c. December is Rome’s wettest month with 10 days of rainfall on average, you can expect very little rain in July and August.

When to go to Rome

Rome’s hot summers attract significant crowds, however with temperatures reaching 30-32°c, July and August can be too hot for some. The best time to visit Rome is April to June and September to October where temperatures average 18°c and with some of the highest numbers of daily hours of sunshine al fresco dining is possible.

If you don’t mind the cooler weather, and potential snow Rome in winter can be a perfect city break with fewer crowds, cheaper hotels and boutiques for Christmas shopping.

UK flight ban on laptops and tablets: How will this affect your travel plans?

As easyJet becomes the first UK airline to announce a hand luggage ban on laptops and tablets, we explain what this flight ban means for your travel plans, especially if you’re flying from the Middle East and North Africa.

On March 22nd 2017, the UK and the US announced a ban on laptops and tablets in all hand luggage on board direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, and the change in hand luggage restrictions has now come into force. So how will this affect your travel plans? Here are the facts…

Which countries and airports are included in the ban?

The US flight ban affects the following airports:

  • Cairo (Egypt)
  • Istanbul (Turkey)
  • Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
  • Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
  • Kuwait (Kuwait)
  • Doha (Qatar)
  • Casablanca (Morocco)
  • Amman (Jordan)
  • Riad (Saudi Arabia)
  • Yedda (Saudi Arabia)

The UK flight ban affects all flights coming from:

Which airlines are affected?

The ban will affect six UK airlines:

And these eight overseas carriers:

Which electronic items are banned from cabin baggage?

UK flight ban:

Prohibits any electronic device bigger than 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm in hand luggage. This means mobiles and smartphones, like the larger iPhone Plus will still be allowed. Most smartphones, including the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7, can still be carried in hand luggage.

US flight ban:

Prohibits the following items, as detailed by The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – but they have said that this list is not exhaustive:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Game consoles larger than a smartphone
  • Travel printers and scanners

 

Pros and Cons of Refundable Airfare Tickets for Corporate Travel

When it comes to airfare and travel, refundable air tickets generally cost somewhere between two and four times the cost of non-refundable fares. This may lead you to wonder who is buying them and why. Despite the high cost, refundable fares remain attractive to certain travellers – generally those booking corporate travel.

Many businesses still prefer for their travellers to buy these unrestricted tickets, especially when purchasing airfare in advance. Simply put – plans change and things need to be flexible and that need is not reflected in less-expensive non-refundable airfare.

Being able to avoid the hassle that comes with changes and cancellations is well worth the added costs for many companies. One of the major perks of refundable airfare is having the ability to avoid some of the crazy fees that airlines charge these days – whether cancellations or changing fees. Many look at the costs of refundable airfare as the lesser of two evils.

However, with business travel spend expected to reach new heights year over year until at least 2020, it’s important to delegate areas in which your travel program can save money. If giving corporate travellers the ability to book refundable tickets is important to your travel program, know that it’s possible to negotiate discounted rates on unrestricted airfare if you or your travel management company have an agreement with that specific airline.

For the reasons listed above, unrestricted airfare will always be sold at a premium. It’s up to you as a travel manager to decide if it’s important for your travellers to have access to book these flights when establishing your corporate travel policy. How are you going to reach the goals set for your managed travel program?

If you’re looking for the right travel management company to help your organization implement a customized business travel solution that suits your company’s specific travel needs, Midlink Travel can help.

Contact us to learn more.

Introduction to Berlin

Introduction to Berlin

Berlin is an astonishing city where events have taken place that have had a colossal effect around the rest of Europe. It has been scarred by war, split in two and reunited, but the Berlin of today is a vibrant 24-hour city crammed full of museums, art galleries, quirky hotels and other cultural delights. It has shaken off its years of oppression with such vigour that it has taken on a trendiness which has been compared with 80s New York, making it the perfect city break destination for those in search of both culture and fun.

The Brandenburg Gate

Berlin’s most famous and symbolic landmark

 

 

 

The Berlin Wall

The remains are best viewed at the Eastside Gallery or the Berlin Wall Memorial

 

 

 

The Reichstag

 

 

The seat of the German parliament, with 360 degree rooftop views

 

Other things to do in Berlin

For a fascinating insight into Berlin’s turbulent 20th century history, head to Checkpoint Charlie, the only crossing point between East and West Berlin while The Wall divided the city. For a wider historical overview, try the Story of Berlin, which charts the fortunes of the city from when it was first founded right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and includes a 1970s nuclear bunker from the Cold War Era.

 

Don’t miss the Gendarmenmarkt, famed as one of Europe’s most impressive squares and home to the Konzerthaus, the primary venue of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. During the festive season, this is where you’ll find Berlin’s most charming Christmas markets, and it’s the ideal place to stop for a coffee at any time of year. Hotels in Berlin are hip, trendy and range from the super cheap to the extravagant.

 

For stunning views of Berlin, get the lift to the top of Germany’s tallest building, the TV Tower, where you can even enjoy a meal in a revolving restaurant which offers incomparable views while you dine.

Eating and drinking in Berlin

In Germany the simple yet satisfying sausage has traditionally been the most popular item on the menu for inexpensive eating. In Berlin it has been transformed into the local speciality Currywurst – a thick, smoked sausage smothered in curried tomato sauce. Whether you’re after sausages or a choice of international cuisine, eating out in Berlin is cheap by European standards, and Oranienburger Street is a good place to start. Beer is Berlin’s most traditional drink (the country boasts about 40% of the world’s breweries), so wherever you go you can be sure you are getting a locally made product, often with a distinctive style. The “Berliner Weiße” (beer with juice) is a well-known variant.

Berlin climate

Berlin’s climate is continental; the winters are cold and the summers are hot. If you’re waiting for sunny weather, you should go between April and the end of September. Temperatures can reach 32°C in July.

When to go to Berlin

Berlin has cultural festivals running all year round, the most notable of which is the Berlin International Film Festival, the world’s third largest film festival, which takes place in February each year with around twelve days of old, new, art house and mainstream cinema. Visit in the summer for the best weather, or December for the famous Christmas markets.

 

Turkey latest update 03-01-2016

On 1 January 2017, there was an attack on the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, Istanbul, causing a large number of casualties. There is an ongoing police operation in Istanbul as a result of the attack, and the attacker may still be at large. You should exercise vigilance and caution at this time, and follow the advice and instructions of the security authorities.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Kilis and Hatay provinces
the provinces of Siirt, Tunceli and Hakkari
On 1 January 2017, there was an attack on the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, Istanbul, causing a large number of casualties. There is an ongoing police operation in Istanbul as a result of the attack, and the attacker may still be at large. You should exercise vigilance and caution at this time, and follow the advice and instructions of the security authorities.

On 17 December 2016, a car bomb exploded in the city of Kayseri, near Cappadocia. 13 people, mostly soldiers, were killed and over 50 people injured.

On 29 October 2016, the US Department of State ordered the departure of family members of employees posted to the US Consulate General in Istanbul due to security information indicating extremist groups continue aggressive efforts to attack US citizens in Istanbul. British diplomatic missions in Turkey continue to operate as normal. You should remain vigilant and monitor travel advice.

British nationals made over 2.4 million visits to Turkey in 2015. It’s generally safe to travel to Turkey, but you should take additional safety precautions. Be alert to your surroundings and remain vigilant in crowded places popular with foreign nationals, including during festival periods such as Christmas and New Year.

Rallies and demonstrations, official and unofficial, may take place at short notice. You should stay well away from any demonstrations.

The situation has calmed following an attempted coup on 15 to 16 July 2016. But the security environment remains potentially volatile and a state of emergency is in place.

In some busy areas, especially Istanbul, the Turkish authorities are stopping members of the public to conduct ID checks. There’s also a larger than usual number of police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. You should co-operate with officials conducting checks, and keep your passport and a printed copy of your e-visa or your residence permit with you at all times.

Terrorism
There is a high threat from terrorism. Terrorist groups, including Kurdish groups, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) and far left organisations, continue to plan and carry out attacks. Further attacks are likely and could be indiscriminate.

There is a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports.

Most terrorist attacks have taken place in the south and east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul. Attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations. Nevertheless, it’s likely that some attacks will also target western interests and tourists from western countries, particularly in the major cities.

The Turkish authorities have successfully disrupted attack planning in the recent past and have said that security has been tightened in response to recent attacks. But further attacks are likely and could be indiscriminate.

You should be vigilant, follow the advice of local security authorities, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.

See Terrorism.

British nationals need a visa to travel to Turkey, except for cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports who arrive at sea ports for tourist visits to the port city or nearby cities, provided that the visit doesn’t exceed 72 hours.

If you’re visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, get an e-Visa online before you travel. Only use the official Republic of Turkey e-Visa website. Avoid unauthorised websites as they may charge an additional fee. Some unauthorised websites have issued fake e-Visas.

If you don’t have an e-Visa you can still get a visa on arrival for £20 in cash, although the visa on arrival service is due to be phased out. Getting an e-Visa from the official website before you travel will avoid possible problems or delays at the Turkish border, or when boarding your flight in the UK. See Entry requirements

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

London – Introduction

London has five airports, Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, Luton and Stansted Airport. London City Airport is the closest airport to Central London located in the Royal Docks however both Gatwick and Heathrow Airport have direct, express train services which reach Central London in less than 30 minutes.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Visit the Crown Jewels, spot the legendary six Ravens and take a Beefeater tour around this historic castle

London Eye at Night

London Eye

The giant 135m wheel on the South Bank offers panoramic views across London.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The Queens’ official residence, tour Buckingham Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard.

Other things to do in London

London is known for its vast selection of museums, the majority of which are free to visit. The Science Museum, National History Museum and the British Museum are some of the best in the world. For fashion and the arts you will have the Design Museum, the Fashion and Textile Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum which one of the most influential art and design museums in the world with an exciting selection of temporary fashion and arts exhibitions. London has an abundance of speciality museums; the Pollock Toy Museum, The Vault at Hard Rock Cafe, the Magic Circle Museum and the Bank of England Museum are just a few of the many you have to choose from.

Read more: Top 10 things to do in London

For shopping in London there’s the world famous Harrods department store, and of course Hamley’s for toys. Oxford Street is the main shopping street in London full of popular brands, Bond Street is the spot for exclusive designer brands and London’s markets are a must for something a little different. Some of the must visits include Alfie’s Antique Market is an indoor market in a bold Edwardian building with over 70 vintage and antique vendors, Camden Market – London’s most popular market and Covent Garden Market.

Escape the busy streets of London with the city’s many parks. The 350 acre Hyde Park is home to Serpentine Lake which offers pedal and rowing boat rides, and lots of sculptures and fountains, including the Diana Memorial Fountain. You will find the London Zoo and Queen Mary’s Gardens which has over 400 varieties of roses in Regent’s Park and St James’s Park which has daily pelican feedings is a great place to stop off after watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Although many of London’s attractions appeal to all ages there are lots of things especially for children throughout the city, including Kidzania, Shrek’s Adventure, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, the Sea Life Centre and Ripley’s London.

Read more: 10 things for kids to see and do in London

Eating and drinking in London

London is a cornucopia of cuisines, from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants with celebrity chefs, and champagne bars to historical pubs you will be spoilt for choice.

Read more: 12 of the Best Restaurants in London

For a truly London experience, you can’t miss out on a traditional afternoon tea during your visit, served at hotels and restaurants throughout the city. Fortnum and Mason is the place to go if you want a great selection of teas, head to The Ritz if you want to enjoy a traditional formal tea, and The Shard for views over London and an oriental take on the traditional afternoon tea.

The street food in London is easily some of the best in the city, offering a range of worldwide cuisines to suit everyone’s tastes. Take a look at our guide to the best London street food.

Read more: Best London Street Food

London climate

London has a temperate climate which results in warm summers and mild winter. London has an urban heat island effect, the hottest month is July with average highs of 24°c, and the coldest month is January, with average lows of 5°c.

Rainfall is low when compared to the rest of the UK and other European cities such as Rome and Naples. Between October and January there’s on average 10 days of rain, this falls to 8 days each month during March to September.

When to go to London

London’s mild climate, relatively low rainfall and abundance of both indoor and outdoor attractions means London is the perfect destination no matter what time of year it is.

London has a full events calendar with numerous exhibitions, events, carnivals and festivals happening throughout the year so it’s worth checking to see what’s on in advance of your trip. The famous Notting Hill Carnival takes place each August, and the London Bushstock Festival is in June.

If you’re heading to London in winter for shopping you will see the city come to life with Christmas spirit through ice-rinks, lights, Christmas markets and fairs.

Flying to London

As one of the world’s premier cities, flights to London are readily available from destinations around the world.  Heathrow and Gatwick Airport offer direct bus, train and taxi links to the capital.