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London is a world-class city and the heart of British politics, culture and commerce. Its history stretches back thousands of years, and remnants of this fascinating past can still be found across the capital – from the Tower of London, a gruesome site of Medieval torture, to the majestic Buckingham Palace. A captivating mix of old and new, London is also renowned for its creativity, innovation and originality in art, theatre, music, design and cuisine. It is home to countless art galleries and museums, including the Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, which possesses some of the world's finest treasures. And best of all, entry to most of these museums and galleries is free! To catch all the 'big-hitters' in one go, you can't beat a walk along the River Thames. Strolling from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament you'll pass the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, the London Eye, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and London Dungeon. In addition to these world famous attractions, there are many more to discover during your stay. The West End is the place to go to see London's top theatre shows and musicals. Alongside classics including Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera and The Woman in Black, you will find hit contemporary shows, such as Billy Elliot, The Lion King and Thriller – Live. Don't forget to explore the many off-West End venues too, such as the National Theatre, The Old Vic and (during the summer months) Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. In the West End you will also find some of London's top shopping destinations, from Oxford Street to Seven Dials. Different neighbourhoods are known for other unique opportunities for shopping: Notting Hill is renowned for its antiques and Portobello Market, Greenwich has an excellent arts and crafts markets, while Westfield London City and Westfield Stratford are the city's most famous malls. If you would rather save money than spend it, the eight Royal Parks are well worth a visit – and a great spot for a picnic. Visit Greenwich Park to drop in on the Royal Observatory, walk through Kensington Gardens to see Kensington Palace, take a paddle on the Hyde Park boating lake, see Buckingham Palace from scenic St James's Park, spot deer at Richmond Park and Bushy Park, and meet the animals at London Zoo, which lies within Regent's Park. Along the way indulge your taste buds with delicious food at one of London's many restaurants, gastropubs and pop-up eateries. You can eat food prepared by a celebrity chef, discover modern British cuisine, or eat food from anywhere in the world – be it Indian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Italian or Lebanese. Top off your perfect day with a fancy cocktail, excellent wine or locally brewed beer at a top London pub or bar – and maybe a boogie at one of the capital's buzzing nightspots and clubs.
London has a full calendar of events, covering many different interests. This guide highlights the must-see events that take place in London throughout the year.
London is full of things to see and do; from famous attractions such as the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the Tower of London and the Tate Modern; to great shopping opportunities; to wide open urban green spaces and much, much more. Read on for inspiration and handy tips on the unmissable places to visit while you're in London. Many attractions on this list are free to enter; another great reason to fall in love with London.
Thanks to London's rich mix of cultures, the capital's restaurants serve up delicious food from all corners of the globe. Whatever cuisine you fancy, you're sure to find it in London – be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Caribbean, Polish, French, Italian, Afghan, Ethiopian, American, Spanish, South African, Persian… the list goes on. There's also an exciting buzz on the British culinary scene in London, with innovative chefs rethinking traditional British classics and creating new favourites – all with an emphasis on fresh, local produce. Plus with Michelin-starred restaurants, family-friendly eateries, cosy gastropubs, fast food joints and quirky cafes dotted all over the city, there's something for every budget too.
Delicate finger sandwiches, tempting cakes, pots of steaming tea, scones with lashings of jam and cream. With so many delicious ingredients, it's no wonder traditional afternoon tea remains as popular in London as ever. There are many top hotels, restaurants and cafes serving afternoon tea in London today, with many varieties available – from classic afternoon tea to low-calorie alternatives and even gentleman's afternoon teas.
London's nightlife is one of the most vibrant and versatile in the world, with everything from mega clubs to live music, trendy bars to traditional pubs. Central London hotspots like Soho and Leicester Square attract visitors most nights of the week, but if it's cool and trendy you're after try out-of-town neighbourhoods too, like Hoxton and Shoreditch in East London or Brixton and Clapham in South London. Here's just a taster of what London has to offer for a fantastic night out, including quirky pubs and bars, world-renowned clubs, stunning night-time views and much, much more.
Shopping in London is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors and locals alike. And little wonder given the huge range of shopping destinations across the capital, from high-end luxury boutiques and huge department stores to lively markets and vintage pop-ups. The key is to find the right shopping area for you, be it the bright lights and big brands of the West End, the quirky crafts and outrageous fashions of Camden or the sharp suits of Savile Row. Here are just a few of London's top shopping destinations well worth a visit...
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