Content and photos courtesy of VISITLONDON.COM - Official Visitor Guide
- Area: 1,737.9 km² (671.0 sq mi)
- Calling Code: +4420
- Currency: Pound Sterling - GBP (£)
- Population (EST): 8,308,369
- Official language: English
- Time Zone: GMT (UTC+0)
10 Reasons to Visit London
1. London is one of the greatest cities in the world; rich in history, culture, fine cuisine, and shopping. However no trip to the great city would be complete without venturing into a London pub. Pub culture has been thriving in London for centuries, and in every style imaginable; from the dark, wooden pubs filled with boisterous workmen, to the genteel and elaborate Victorian pubs. Central London is a great place to have a pint, especially around West End and Covent Garden. For those who are more adventurous, head towards Farringdon Station and down the streets of Clerkenwell.
2. It should come as no surprise that London is home to some of the greatest museums in the world, and since 2001 the British government has fully funded 300 of them. With all the free museums in the British capital it becomes very difficult to decide which to visit first. The British Museum is a great place to begin, with its fine pieces of art and ancient artifacts collected during the height of the British Empire. The Victoria and Albert is another popular choice for its sprawling display of the finest decorative arts that the world has to offer. Finally, no trip to London would be complete without venturing through the National Portrait Gallery to view some of Britain's greatest historical figures brought to life in rich oil paints.
3. London is the home of Shakespeare. It is undoubtedly a city that has a taste for the dramatic, and no visit to London could be complete without taking in a play; either a Shakespearean piece at the famous Globe Theater, a musical on the vibrant West End, a historical or modern play at the National Theater, or even experimental performances off the West End. There are literally thousands of theaters in the city serving-up a vast variety of entertainments every night.
4. Westminster is a town unto itself within the heart of London, and it is home to some of the city's most iconic images and architectural structures. Take for instance Westminster Abby, the famous church built in the 11th century, and coronation site of Britain's kinds and queens. Within walking distance there's the Palace of Westminster; considered one of the most beautiful government buildings in the world. It is here that you'll also find Big Ben and Buckingham Palace; the mansion that the royal family calls home.
5. For those who enjoy a city that is at the forefront of fashion, London is included amongst such fashion capitals as Milan, New York, and Paris. There are a number of designers at the forefront of the industry who reside in London, such as Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, and Stella McCartney. And of course who can neglect to mention the late, great Alexander McQueen. Every February the city comes to life for London Fashion week, as the fashionistas of the world pay homage to the latest and greatest runway creations.
6. The Royals are a prized fixture of the city, and their whereabouts are scouted not just by Londoners but fans from around the globe. When visiting London everyone always seems to have their Royal-watching antennae up. In fact, Royal watching is a kind of pastime in the city, with the family in residence for most of the year. It's important to keep the camera ready just in case Elizabeth, Kate, or William come riding-by with their cavalcade. Signing up for a tour of Buckingham Palace is a great way to increase one's chances of an encounter.
7. The Savoy Hotel is perhaps the most classic accommodation in London, and a perfect place for travelers and businessmen to get a good night's rest and enjoy some fantastic food. One may sleep in the same room as greats such as Claude Monet, Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, or Frank Sinatra. The elegance and glamour of the hotel makes it a favorite for those seeking 5-star luxury right on the banks of the Thames. Kaspar's Seafood Bar is an exceptional dining experience, and weddings and business conferences are held in the iconic hotel year round.
8. Fine cuisine is always a good reason to visit any city, and London boasts of one of the best assortments of ethnic cuisine. In fact, this multicultural culinary playground brings together some of the most dynamic flavors that the world has to offer. Take for instance the choices in Chinese food, thanks to Britain's previous rule over Hong Kong. There's also tremendous Indian restaurants near the thriving communities of immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Take a stroll down Brick Lane for a taste of curry that is sure to delight.
9. For those who love to shop, the markets of London are sure to please. With dozens spread across the city, one can find a rich array of fresh produce that is locally grown, artisan breads and pastries, as well as goods from the english countryside that provide a taste of traditional english fare. Borough Market is perhaps the most popular, sprawling across the Victorian arcades of the south bank of the Thames. The food carts make for a lovely meal on the go while walking the streets of London.
10. London owes a great deal of its fame, history, and livelihood to its great River Thames. In fact, the city would never have been built if this amazing body of water didn't bring life and energy to its shores. Today the Thames is lined with fantastic bridges and amusements, such as the famous Ferris Wheel and the London Eye. Be sure to cross the Tower Bridge, and take a ride past famous pieces of architecture such as Hampton Court, Kew Palace, and the Greenwich Royal Naval College.