LONDON – WHY GO?
For pageantry, shopping and 24/7 action London is unbeatable. Admire the royal palaces, leafy squares and rich period buildings, stroll through the parks and flex your plastic in some of the world’s best stores.
London’s plethora of monuments, museums and galleries would take months to exhaust. Deciding what to see first is a question of pick-and-dip: the blockbuster heritage sights, the buzz of the West End, the cafes of Chelsea and Notting Hill or the soaring towers of the new East?
First-timers in London will want to tick off some of the big traditional draws, whether it’s Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard (you can see around 20 of the palace’s 600 state rooms during August and September), Westminster Abbey or the other royal residences.
Over in the City of London – the capital’s business heart – awesome St Paul’s is a cathedral second in size only to St Peter’s in Rome. From here you’re just walking distance from the Tower of London – home to the crown jewels and 1,000 years of royal history – and iconic Tower Bridge.
If history is your bag, a morning at the British Museum – a vast emporium is stuffed with more than four million exhibits – will be on the cards. The Victoria & Albert (V&A) in Kensington is another must-see with a more arty flavour.
London’s South Bank is one of the city’s happening hotspots. Cross the Thames on the Millennium Bridge near St Paul’s for one of the city’s finest skyline views, then gaze at the outsize installation art of the Tate Modern before taking in Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (see an open-air production in summer) and walking along the Thames to the London Eye. Hop into a capsule for a big-wheel experience with amazing city-wide views.
Stroll through Hyde Park towards genteel Kensington and Chelsea, whose stuccoed mansions, leafy squares and chic boutiques make these some of London’s most appealing neighbourhoods. Chelsea's luxury hotels are close to the stores of King’s Road, the V&A and Science museums and to the fascinating Chelsea Psychic Garden.
From the chic bars of Shoreditch to the ethnic eateries of Brick Lane and Camden, the chic haunts of Notting Hill and Chelsea and the sleek brasseries along the South Bank, London is a city made for dining out. Take your pick from every cuisine in the book.
Some of the world’s hottest theatrical talent hits the London stage year-round. Take in a West End show, then do some late-night bar hopping in Soho or Covent Garden.
There’s over three miles of style showcased in the top stores of Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street, while the markets at Portobello Road and Camden Lock are great for vinyl and bric a brac. Borough market near London Bridge is a huge foodies’ emporium, while Spitalfields is great for quirky clothes and organic food stalls.