Los AngelesTravel Guide

A favourite destination for many travellers, Los Angeles is super easy to get to and jam-packed with famous places and things to do. Map out your days well and you can see so much, from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Universal Studios to Disneyland and the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills. Don’t underestimate the little pleasures either, such as the mouthwatering eats you’ll find all over town (In-N-Out Burger, we’re coming for you), the shopping streets, the cool rooftop bars and so much more. Every precinct has a story, and here you’ll find the lowdown on LA.If you’re planning to visit, check out our Los Angeles travel guide. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts and have top suggestions for things to do, when to travel, where to stay, getting around and more. We even have a handy guide to navigating your way through LAX.

Los Angeles quick facts


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Explore Los Angeles

Where to stay in Los Angeles?

The topic of where to stay in Los Angeles is, as you may expect, entirely dependent on what you plan to be doing when you’re not in your hotel room. Heading to Disneyland for a day or two? It’s a good idea to stay in Anaheim. Planning to scour Hollywood? Find a place on Hollywood Boulevard. Basing yourself near the landmarks that interest you most is a great way to cut down on time spent in transit, allowing you to see much more of this incredible, vibrant city.

Fresh from a long-overdue restoration, Downtown Los Angeles is rapidly filling up with gorgeous, five-star hotels. As an example, staying on Francisco Street will put you within walking distance of every major Downtown landmark, from the historic Flower Street and L.A. LIVE to the sprawling Los Angeles Convention Center. Downtown is now one of the best areas to base yourself in Los Angeles.

Beverly Hills and ‘WeHo' are dense with luxe five-star accommodation, as you would expect from such affluent places in Hollywood. The Hotel Palomar on Wilshire Boulevard is a beautiful boutique establishment in the heart of Beverly Hills that will satisfy even the pickiest traveller. Similarly, the Ramada in West Hollywood is perfectly placed for exploring everything Hollywood has to offer.

Staying at Marina del Ray puts you right on the water and directly next to the beautiful Venice Beach. A sprawling marina filled with expensive yachts, this is the perfect area to stay for those who intend to take advantage of the many beautiful Los Angeles beaches and stunning weather. Throw open the door in the morning and head straight down to the beach.

Santa Monica is packed with hotels as quirky and oddball as the area itself. Check out the Palihouse Santa Monica for an example of what we mean – clean, spacious and luxurious to be sure, but also with a personality entirely its own. You'll find some of the most memorable places to stay in this neck of the woods.

The San Fernando Valley, or simply The Valley as it's known by the locals, is a large area comprising much of Los Angeles north of the Hollywood Hills. Here you'll find plenty of upmarket hotels placed near every major movie-making landmark. For those looking to spend the day at Universal Studios or exploring beautiful Burbank, this is where you should find accommodation.

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Things to do in Los Angeles

When thinking about things to do in Los Angeles, it’s easy to be blown away by the sheer amount of options you have. Los Angeles is a huge city packed with places to see, things to do and experiences to enjoy, so you may want to do your research and prepare a list of musts before you arrive. In Los Angeles good time management is easily your greatest ally.

The site on which the world-famous Universal Studios stands is so large that it was designated a suburb called Universal City. Found on the northern side of the Hollywood Hills, Universal City contains not only the Universal Backlot where many major films and TV shows are shot, but also the massive Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, filled with rides and attractions from over 100 years of movie history.

Are you the sort of person who likes to keep fit even while on holiday? If so, make sure you set some time aside to hike beautiful Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Los Angeles. Plus, the spectacular view from the top of the city back towards Downtown and west to Santa Monica Pier is worth all the work.

If you're heading into the Hollywood Hills but not really looking for a hike, you should absolutely take a moment to visit two of the area's most famous monuments: the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign. The Griffith Observatory has featured in numerous films, including La La Land and the classic Rebel Without a Cause. The Hollywood Sign is, of course, a Los Angeles institution

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, located on Exposition Boulevard right across the street from the University of Southern California campus, is one of the city's most well-appointed museums. Dedicated to the study and education of our history as a species and of our planet, it's a must-visit location for anyone with a curious heart and a desire to learn.

Located just off the San Diego Freeway near Bel Air is the Getty Center, one of Los Angeles' most celebrated art museums. Home to thousands of pieces and numerous installations both indoor and out, the Getty is the perfect place to spend a peaceful afternoon. The centre is open year-round except for specific public holidays.

The famous Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens provide an incredible way to spend a day in one of Los Angeles' most prestigious suburbs. The Huntington Library's art collection seeks to amplify the voices of local creators, ensuring many others can hear their stories. The Botanic Gardens are a tranquil place to pause, relax, and reflect on the amazing art you've just admired.

Ask most travellers what they'd like to do in the United States, and Disneyland will appear on nearly every list. Disneyland, and the attached Disney California Adventure Park, is a sprawling complex that is part theme park, part resort, and entirely fun. The park is always adding new attractions but some, like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, have been around since its opening.

Part of any great walking tour of West Hollywood, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great way to not only witness a piece of true American history but also explore one of Los Angeles' most beautiful suburbs. The stars are awarded for significant contribution to the American entertainment industry, and they comprise some of the greatest talent ever to grace the stage or screen.

There are two major venues in Los Angeles for live entertainment. The first, the Staples Center in Downtown, is the city's most popular concert and sporting arena. Every week features a slew of high-profile artists and sports teams from the NBA and NHL on the Staples Center marquee. The second is the venerable Dodger Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the great American sport of baseball.

Located on Wilshire Boulevard in Park La Brea, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States. Dedicated to collecting works from both the modern era and antiquity, it's also one of the finest displays of work from local Los Angeles the city has to offer –not to be missed by any art lover. Exhibitions rotate frequently so check ahead and see what's on.

If you're looking to soak in the storied history of Tinseltown, the Hollywood Museum has a collection of over 10,000 memorabilia items and artefacts from the golden age of movie making. The perfect way to kick off your tour of Hollywood, the museum is located in the old Max Factor Building and is open every day – you can book your tickets online.

Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Los Angeles travel tips

When you’re preparing for a trip so far from home, it’s best to know exactly what you’ll need well ahead of your departure date – so below are a few important Los Angeles travel tips to help get you started. Travelling to the United States can feel a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you’ve never been before. Don’t worry – the things you need to enter the country are actually very simple and easy to obtain.

Here's the good news: You don't need any specific visa to enter the United States unless you're intending to work while you're there or stay for an extended period. You will need to arrange what's called a visa waiver or ESTA from the US Customs Office, but this won't set you back more than about $15 USD. Once approved, print and keep it with your passport for when you arrive at Los Angeles International Airport.

A holiday in Los Angeles is your chance to dine on classic American dishes. Head to an inner-city steakhouse to test the limits of your appetite with hearty flavoursome food. Indulge in a bigger-than-life burger then duck into a doughnut shop for dessert. Thanks to its multicultural influences, Los Angeles also boasts incredible food trucks, Chinese food, Korean BBQ, sushi, tacos, and more.

Making sure you have the correct plugs and voltage adapters for all your devices is pretty important when travelling to the United States. Luckily, unless you're bringing heavy-duty equipment, devices like laptops, smartphones, cameras and portable batteries can all be charged using a simple US power converter from your nearest electronics store. Plus, many places in Los Angeles have USB ports available for charging phones.

It's likely that the airport you'll be flying into is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). As one of the largest airports in the continental United States, LAX can take a while to navigate. The international terminal is located at the rear of the complex and there are plenty of carts and buggies to pick you up if your legs are a little stiff from the flight.

Having currency for when you arrive in the United States is very important. You can arrange overseas travel cards and purchase currency well before getting to the airport to lock in your exchange rate. Remember to check the exchange rate before you buy, and keep a few $1 bills on hand for tips.

Knowing how much to tip in the United States is a source of stress for people from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom who've never had to deal with it before, so this will be among the most useful Los Angeles travel advice we can provide. You don't have to tip everywhere, but you should for services like drivers, waiters and busboys. A free tip calculator app for your phone will be a big help for working out specific tips, but here's a good rule of thumb: tip 10% of the total bill for average service, 15% for good service, and 20% for great service.

Los Angeles is a cultural melting pot filled with people from different walks of life, so you may be concerned that language could present a barrier. While the vast majority of locals speak English, being steeped in Mexican and Hispanic culture as they are, most locals know shorthand Spanish as well.

Flights to Los Angeles

Los Angeles food and drink

Los Angeles food and drink is some of the finest the United States has to offer. The city is home to a thriving culinary scene, attracting some of the biggest names in food but also offering an assortment of classic American fast food. With so many different city areas that specialise in distinct cuisines, there’ll be something new and exciting to try every single night of your holiday. Make sure to check your hotel lobby for a must-eat places guide – from the finest seafood to simple French toast served at a family-owned greasy spoon, you’ll find the best of it in Los Angeles.

The locals love a good farmers' market. The city's oldest, the Original Farmers Market located on Fairfax Avenue just south of CBS Television City, is one of the most popular Los Angeles food markets. If you're the sort of person who craves fresh food even on holiday, a stop here would be ideal. Need a wider selection? Try the Grand Central Market on South Broadway!

When you think of Los Angeles bars and nightlife, your mind may go straight to the immortal Sunset Boulevard and its famous bars. While it's certainly exciting to say you got a drink at the Viper Room, if you're looking for a more sensible night out make sure you take time to explore the Universal CityWalk area just over the Hollywood Hills.

Los Angeles restaurant precincts are a popular weekend and evening destination for many locals. Among the most popular is the sprawling L.A. LIVE precinct in Downtown Los Angeles, filled with amazing restaurants and entertainment centres. Across town, West Hollywood is a booming suburb fresh from a reinvention of its own and full of fabulous eateries. Don't forget to tip your server – 15% for good service, 20% for great service.

When in the United States, there are certain things you just have to try. Coffee is one of them. The question of where to get the best coffee in Los Angeles is the subject of much debate among locals. Prestigious Los Angeles cafes like Alfred Coffee in Melrose Place and Cafe Gratitude on Larchmont Boulevard rank among our favourites.

Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Los Angeles through your eyes

Where to shop in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles shopping is much more than a way to collect a memento of your time in the United States. Beyond being a great way to support local businesses, it’s also a fantastic chance to discover items that you might never have been able to procure at home. From high-quality designer clothes to obscure American chocolate bars, every suburb of Los Angeles reveals brand new opportunities for you, the savvy bargain hunter, to take home something really special. Also, if you find yourself frequenting Los Angeles markets, don’t be afraid to haggle!

One of the most famous Los Angeles shopping centres, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills merges three full blocks of cityscape into a single, massive, high-end shopping precinct. Unsurprisingly, this area is considered the epicentre of Los Angeles fashion retail. If you're still figuring out what to buy in Los Angeles, chances are you'll find it on Rodeo Drive or in the surrounding shops of Beverly Hills.

Santa Monica is famous for its waterside attractions, but did you know it's also a fantastic shopping destination? The famous Third Street Promenade is filled with posh outlets and small businesses. The perfect addition to a walk down the pier, few bargain hunters can resist exploring this fabulous retail precinct. Shopping in Los Angeles doesn't get much more picturesque than this!

Over on Hollywood Boulevard lies the famed Hollywood and Highland Center, a cluster of some of the most famous Los Angeles landmarks including Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and more. Another location brimming with high-end wares and specialty retailers, this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon when you need a little retail therapy.

Grab a Los Angeles shopping guide from your hotel lobby and you're likely to find a bunch of information about Downtown's recently refurbished public areas. L.A. LIVE and Precinct DTLA have reinvigorated the city centre in recent years, allowing incredible new stores and outlets to open and flourish. This is one of the city's most vibrant additions.

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Los Angeles?

Here’s the great thing about planning a trip to Southern California: you never really have to worry about the Los Angeles weather. Known for its perennially warm, sunny climate, Los Angeles is gifted with near-perfect weather conditions year-round. This makes putting together a tour itinerary extremely easy, especially if you’re the sort of person who wants get out there and explore the great American outdoors. There are wonderful things to be seen and done any time of year in Los Angeles.

Summer is one of Los Angeles' most popular periods with tourists arriving from all over to enjoy the sunshine. Interestingly, summer is one of the only times of the year you'll see any Los Angeles rainfall. Early summer is ruled by what the locals call June Gloom, a month of on-again, off-again drizzle and mild temperatures. The scorching Los Angeles summer begins promptly in July. Few would disagree that summer remains the best time to visit Los Angeles. Appropriate clothing: A short-sleeve shirt, shorts, and thongs (or ‘flip-flops'!). Don't forget: Use plenty of sunscreen, drink plenty of water.

Winter in Los Angeles typically consists of highs of 20°C and lows of about 9°C overnight. While the water might be a little cold to go into now, there's still plenty to see, the city's attractions remain open and, during the day, you still won't have to rug up. This is perhaps the most beautiful of all Los Angeles seasons. Appropriate clothing: Jeans and a jumper. Don't forget: Sunglasses – the winter sun can be glary!

As the blazing summer heat begins to dissipate, autumns brings a fresh form of heat in the warm Santa Ana winds blowing in from the south. Autumn in Los Angeles is, for the most part, still quite warm and dry, which makes it perfect beach weather. The bustling tourist season is ending and the traffic eases back to its regular level of chaos. The change of weather also allows the air pollution to clear, revealing deep blue Californian skies. Appropriate clothing: Jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. Don't forget: Your TAP Card for getting around now that the crowds are thinning.

Spring is when the Los Angeles temperature reaches its lowest ebb and begins to climb back up. Starting at an average of around 14°C but climbing back to highs of 20°C by April, spring is the perfect time to visit if you prefer milder temperatures and far less hustle and bustle. With the temperatures reasonably low, sites are less crowded and the traffic less hectic. Appropriate clothing: Jeans and a jacket. Don't forget: Sunscreen – it may be colder, but the sun blazes on.

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How to get around Los Angeles

Los Angeles transport can be a tough nut to crack. Time management is the key to a great Los Angeles holiday because, as the second-most populous city in the country, Los Angeles has a lot of traffic. What looks like a simple 15-minute journey on Google Maps may actually take you 40 minutes or more depending on the time of day and your mode of transport. As such, getting around Los Angeles is all in the planning. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get from A to B.

Taxis are among the most direct ways to get to where you're going in LA, but they may not be your best option if you're in a hurry – you don't want to get stuck in traffic! That said, taking a Los Angeles taxi can get you from one side of the city to another quite quickly if the conditions are just right. Uber and Lyft also offer competitive rates for the same service.

If you plan to be in one location for a few days but still want to get out and explore the wider area, getting on board with Los Angeles Metro Bike Share is a great idea. Rent a bike from one of the many kiosks and get moving! This is a great way to get around town and see everything nearby at your own pace.

Los Angeles public transport remains one of the most affordable and reliable ways to get around town. Colour-coded train lines run right across the city so you'll always know where you're headed, and an extremely extensive bus network picks up the slack everywhere else. Just head to any supermarket close to your hotel and pick up a weekly TAP Card. This will allow you to ride on any train or bus across the city for only a dollar or two at a time.

The key to walking Los Angeles is to keep things simple. When touring on foot, always remember that Los Angeles is a huge city. It's not uncommon to pull up a route on Google Maps that looks quite short only to discover you have a 50-minute walk ahead of you. This distance factor is why so many people choose to drive instead. If walking, just keep it local!

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What are the best beaches in Los Angeles?

Southern California is known for two things: movies and beaches, and you’ve probably seen most of these beaches in a movie. With so many beautiful seaside locations, Los Angeles beaches rank among the most well-known in the state. There’s a spot by the water for everyone, from surfing beaches to craggy inlets perfect for a picnic. The perfect holiday destination if you’re the sort of traveller who loves fun in the sun, California’s gorgeous beaches await. Grab your sunscreen and prepare to explain to the locals what you mean when you say ‘togs’.

Home to the iconic Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice has long been considered one of Los Angeles' most creative suburbs and is known for being as wildly eccentric as it is picturesque. Beautiful murals and artworks sit alongside Venice's beautiful Pacific Ocean backdrop as the wonderfully weird locals mingle with tourists headed down the Ocean Front Walk.

Santa Monica is possibly the most well-known of Los Angeles' many beaches, home to the historic Santa Monica Pier and its many attractions, cafes and hotels. It's a wildly popular tourist spot, attracting surfers from around the world looking to add one of the USA's greatest beaches to the list of waves they've ridden.

But we know you aren't done with Malibu just yet! Zuma Beach is a long, sandy stretch of coastline that's perfect for a walk or a sunbake when you're taking a break from your hectic tour schedule. The swell is often quite flat, which means Zuma is the perfect beach for a swim. Zuma Beach is quite popular in the summer though, so make sure you arrive early.

Home to Los Angeles' richest and most famous residents, Malibu is located in the city's northeast and is known for its palatial homes and affluent atmosphere. This is also where some of Los Angeles' most stunning beaches lie, including the famous Surfrider Beach, the Leo Carrillo State Park, and the gorgeous Malibu Bluffs Park. Called ‘The Bu'' by locals, this is a must-visit for surfers of any age.

Are you still in Malibu? Good! El Matador Beach is one of Malibu's finest beaches that, while perhaps a bit rocky for surfing, is perfect for just relaxing by the water. Located at the base of the Malibu Bluffs, the picturesque surrounds create a small bay. This is an idyllic place to get back to nature and get some quality sun in the city of angels.


Los Angeles Frequently asked questions

Los Angeles is a world unto itself and can be daunting for first-timers. Some things to know – it’s generally always sunny but can get chilly in the evenings, sometimes the best food can come from the back of a truck and the tours of celebrity houses aren’t always entirely accurate. LA is massive, so plan your days and travel times wisely.

Comfortable shoes, a light jacket and a backpack for day trips. Los Angeles is generally always sunny, so a hat is essential. Don’t stress if you forget something, the shopping here is excellent so you’ll be looking for excuses to hit the mall!

For first timers, Hollywood is basically a prerequisite. For a taste of that Cali sun-soaked lifestyle, head to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. For shopping, West Hollywood has Sunset Plaza, and for those budget-is-not-for-us holidays, Beverly Hills is where you’ll find luxe lodgings and fancy restaurants.

Life happens - we get it! Read more here

In short, no. If a weekend is all you have, then be prepared to leave wanting more, much more. Los Angeles is the kind of place you can lose yourself (and find a new version) over weeks/months/years. There’s always something new to see, do and devour.

The good news is that Los Angeles experiences near perfect conditions year-round, so there’s no bad time to visit! The peak summer season, however, kicks off around June and stretches through until August.

The beauty of LA is that it can be as busy or as relaxed as you desire. For those classic I-went-to-LA snaps, be sure to get a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign, cruise along Venice Beach Boardwalk, do your finest Pretty Woman impression on Rodeo Drive or bar hop along Sunset Boulevard. Culture seekers can skip between museums and art galleries, while foodies can embark on a self-guided street food tour of the city. Then, when you need a break, roll out a towel and soak in the sunshine on one of LA’s many stretches of beach.

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