While most European Union countries have switched over to the Euro, Britain has stuck with the Pound Sterling. The Pound’s £ symbol refers to librae, the Latin word for “weight”; the Pound is divided into one hundred pence, with 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 coins, and bank notes range from £5 to £50.
The Pound exchange rate tends to be unfavorable for North Americans and most Europeans; before visiting London, be sure to check the current rate and plan your travel budget accordingly.
Locally, the best rate of exchange will probably be from a bank. There are four main banks found all over the UK and London: NatWest, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyd’s. While opening times vary with location, the majority will be open Mon-Fri from 9.30am-5.00pm and Sat 9.30am-1pm. UK banks are closed on all public holidays.
You’ll find Bureau de Change at all of London’s airports and throughout the city, but while their long hours can make them a more convenient choice than banks, their rates aren’t as favorable. For the best comparison between the two options, check the Travelex website.