“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” Samuel Johnson
There’s nowhere in the world quite like London. This isn’t just another capital city, it’s a thriving metropolis with a unique personality formed by its iconic landmarks, centuries of history, world-class shopping and achingly cool fashion, arts and food scenes.
London’s food scene has given British food a new reputation - gone is the stereotype of stodgy, overcooked food, and in its place are award-winning chefs serving fresh British produce that draw in food lovers from all over the world. The city is home to 60 Michelin starred restaurants, but it’s the fantastic street food and short-term pop-up restaurants springing up all over the city with barely any notice that Londoners can’t get enough of.
You can’t go far in London without stumbling across one of the city’s iconic attractions. A 40-minute walk along the South Bank will take you past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. There are also eight Royal Parks to explore, and over 300 museums and galleries, many offering free admission.
Whatever your taste in art, you’ll find it in London. For the classics, head to the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery or Tate Britain. If you like your art with an edge, you’ll love Tate Modern, where you’ll find the likes of Damien Hirst, Rothko and Hockney. Prefer your art out of a can? You’ll find some of Britain’s best street art (and artists) in the Leake Street Tunnel in Waterloo, as well as the streets of Shoreditch in East London. As for theatre, look no further than London’s legendary West End boasting over 40 world-class theatres.
When the sun sets on London the city comes alive, and believe us when we say there’s something for everyone here - from the high-end nightclubs of Chelsea and Mayfair to cool clubs like Fabric and the warehouse raves of Dalston. Or perhaps you’d like to explore the live music scene? Head to East London’s Cargo, Soho’s Ronnie Scott’s or Bar Fly, Proud or Jazz Cafe in Camden - on any given night you’ll find everything from rock and hip hop to jazz..
London is the perfect playground for kids of all ages. Don’t miss the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Horniman Museum, where they’ll have so much hands-on fun they’ll forget they’re learning. Animal lovers will love getting up close to the creatures at London Zoo and the London Wetlands Centre and Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, and if there’s pocket money to be spent, head to the world famous Hamleys toy store.
In 2012, London became the sporting centre of the world when it hosted the Olympic Games. The Olympic Park reopens as the Queen Elizabeth Park in 2013, but there’s plenty to keep you sports fanatics occupied until then. Soak up the atmosphere at one of London’s 13 professional football clubs, watch a cricket match at Lords, see the pros in action at Wimbledon, or take in a football or rugby match at the incredible Wembley Stadium.
London is a dream for shopaholics, whatever your budget or taste. High-end meets high street in Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, Knightsbridge and the boutiques of Westbourne Grove, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden. Those with a penchant for vintage need to head to Portobello, Camden, Spitalfields and Brick Lane markets. And don’t fret if you’re caught out by the rain - the Westfield shopping centres, Dover Street Market and world-famous stores like Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods will all keep you dry.
It may be one of the world’s most cutting-edge cities, but there’s evidence of London’s rich history all over. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Tower of London, Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Maritime Greenwich are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as top attractions. For a glimpse of London that dates back to Roman times, visit the historic City of London, also known as the Square Mile.
Don’t just stick to the traditional tourist areas - explore London’s residential ‘villages’, where you can experience the city as locals know it. Hampstead, Greenwich, Barnes, Highgate, Wimbledon and Richmond are packed full of beautiful houses, boutiques and restaurants, but don’t miss the edgier areas like Brixton and Dalston which are home to dynamic culture and cool music.