London has to be one of the most-visited, most iconic and most-loved cities on the planet. From its rich history and diverse culture to the many fantastic boroughs and neighbourhoods, there’s just something unique about the place.
You could spend a year getting lost in London’s streets and still not have experienced everything that this fine city has to offer. But that’s OK, London is just like that. While the English capital’s stalwarts like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London stand dutifully in place, the city around them continually changes, evolves and flourishes with new places to eat, drink and explore popping up all the time – there’s never a dull moment in the Big Smoke.
Cocktails at Park Grand Hotels London – Espresso Martini
Indeed, it’s no surprise that in 2013, this wondrous metropolis welcomed a record-breaking 16.8 million people to its charming streets – that’s roughly half the entire figure of tourists that came to England for a holiday. Not only was this a massive increase on the previous year, it was also the largest amount of tourists since 1961.
One only has to look at the total tourist spending for 2014 in London to see how much people really enjoy being in the city, with a staggering sum of £3.56 billion being spent by foreign tourists (and that was just the summer!) visiting the English capital. In recent years, the Olympic Games, the birth of Prince George and Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon win have all helped increase London’s stock abroad, but there’s much more to this city than those one-off events.
So many are the reasons to love London, it’s impossible to count them on one hand. Lucky for you, we don’t have a hand, we have an infinite number of web pages at our disposal to show you just why so many fall head over heels with this magical city. Here are some of the biggest reasons why people just love London.
Not only does London have some of the best museums in the world (which it most certainly does), it also has an incredibly wide variety of museums – everything from fine art to Sherlock Holmes.
Indeed, no matter what you are interested in, there’s a place for you to learn, enjoy and appreciate it in this fair city. Due to the stature of many of London’s museums, the best and most sought after exhibitions are regularly hosted in the city as well.
After contemporary art? Try the Tate Modern. Fancy something more traditional? Head to the National Portrait Gallery or the National Gallery. A passion for science and nature? Visit the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum (both near to one another). Want to learn more about London’s most famous sleuth? The Sherlock Holmes Museum will be right up your street (on Baker Street). Other notable venues include the Tate Britain, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Design Museum and Sir John Soane’s Museum – there is literally a museum for everyone in London and a great many of them are completely free of charge to enter.
London’s famous West End is renowned for being one of the best places on the planet to catch a show. From cheesy musicals to contemporary classics, this part of the city caters to theatre lovers of all tastes.
Take your pick from drama, comedy, musicals, classics, plays coming to the end of their run, plays just starting their run – there couldn’t be more choice! As well as the many different types of show that are on offer all year round, there are also more than 40 theatres to experience them in.
When booking tickets, it’s important to remember that you can actually get a cheaper price by buying directly from a theatre’s box office the day before or on the day of a performance. Of course, this can also mean that shows can sell out, so if it’s there’s a particular show that you have your heart set on, it might be worth checking online first too.
Not only is this city incredible for live performance, it also contains some of London’s biggest attractions and best districts. Here, you’ll find the likes of Soho, Covent Garden, Mayfair and Westminster, amongst others.
The richest of history
London’s history is a fascinating, often grisly one that intrigues and delights tourists from all over the world. While most of the city’s past can be seen in its incredible architecture, there are also plenty of guides and attractions that offer tours and special insight into London.
The darker side of the city is shown through the Tower of London and the tongue-in-cheek London Dungeons, which both show a gruesome past, telling tales of imprisoned monarchs, traitors, the Great Fire, plague, Jack the Ripper and much more.
Of course, there are other aspects to London’s history than beheadings, diseased rats and prolific serial killers, and this slightly more positive, if not less interesting, side to the capital can also be experienced. Places like Kensington Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and the Tower Bridge all reflect the city’s rich and varied history and any decent tour (be it walking or open-top bus) should take in these landmarks and enlighten you as to their stories.
Explore Kensington Park and The Royal Gardens
Some of London’s most historic sights are also its simplest. The old Victorian Borough Market has been in existence for well over one hundred years and still bustles with charm every weekend whereas Hyde Park is full of memorials that form a patchwork of the city’s highest and lowest moments.
When you are in London the question you ask yourself isn’t so much “where do I want to eat?” but “what do I want to eat?”
The city is home to a wide variety of cultures and peoples and this has emanated into its restaurants with food from all over the world widely available in the city. Add to this the fact that the eateries in London are among some of the finest in the world and you really have a culinary heavyweight on your hands.
Indeed, the capital is well-loved by foodies from all over the planet for its quality, its variation and its consistency. There’s a reason the likes of Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Giorgio Locatelli, Michel Roux Jr and Marco Pierre White have all chosen the capital of England to open and operate their finest restaurants.
Of course, the city has its fair share of chains, like any other major metropolis, but if you are willing to delve deep and try new things, you’re bound to find something new to love in London.
In a city as vibrant as London, you better believe that there are some incredible places to paint the town red.
Exploring Covent Garden in London
Like every other aspect of London, there really is something for everyone when it comes to a night out in the capital. For trendy counter culture, craft beer and superb cocktails, east London haunts like Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Dalston are your best bet. For up-market evenings, look no further than Covent Garden, Kensington and Mayfair. For the LGBT scene, head to Soho, and if you are after live music, take your pick of London’s many incredible venues.
The royal family
We couldn’t have a list about why people love London without mentioning the much-adored royal family now, could we? For many, the British Monarchy is the entire reason they love the city, and thousands flock to the capital every year to see where they live and pray to catch a glimpse of the Queen, the corgis, and, most importantly, Prince George.
It seems that the British royal family have come to epitomise what a great deal of visitors think about when they consider Britain, and with so many royal residences in London, it’s the obvious place to visit to get near to them.
Indeed, there isn’t really another monarchy quite like them anywhere else on earth, another reason why they are so popular abroad – especially with countries that do not have a royal family of their own.
Of course, Buckingham Palace has to be the top of any royal-mad visitors itinerary to London, what with the changing of the guard taking place here on every odd day at 11:00am (1st, 3rd, 5th etc). It’s also a wonderful landmark in its own right and can be approached whether through Green Park or by walking down the Mall – chances of actually seeing the Queen are extremely unlikely!
Other places to visit include Kensington Palace, The Tower of London (for the darker side to the royal family) and the Palace of Westminster (no longer and actual residence). If you need a place to stay during your visit, consider the Shaftesbury hotels.