Explore London by district, taking a different area each day to get under the capital's skin. Discover chic Notting Hill and Kensington, upmarket Chelsea, quirky Camden Town and Regent's Park, the resurgent Docklands, genteel Hampstead and Highgate, cutting-edge Shoreditch and villagey Stoke Newington.
After all, London started out as two separate cities - The City for trade and Westminster for royal governance - surrounded by outlying hamlets. And although the green fields between those villages were terraced over by the Victorians, much of London's village atmosphere remains, if you know where to look for it.
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London is of course home to some of the most iconic sights and buildings in the world. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London are high on any sightseeing hit list. You can see it all from the air in London’s latest iconic structure, the London Eye, an enormous Ferris wheel on the South Bank.
Madame Tussaud’s is a celebrated wax museum which presents London’s history in an accessible way. For real British and international history, the British Museum has an unparalleled collection of artefacts stunningly displayed. London Zoo and Aquarium are both equally superb. Trafalgar Square could be regarded as the heart of London. Nelson’s Column surveys the Square, and it’s the centre of London’s bus routes, so you can conveniently get round the city from this location.
Walking can be the most interesting way to explore London: there’s so much to see. Walk over Waterloo Bridge to the London Eye; you can’t miss it! You can walk past the Royal Festival Hall, which holds a fascinating range of concerts, and have a break in one of the many cafes at Gabriel’s Wharf, which are thronged in the summer. The British Film Institute is housed in the Southbank Centre, and shows an unparalleled range of rare and classic films. The Hayward Gallery hosts major exhibitions by international artists. Two of London’s most exciting theatres, the Old and Young Vic, are in the area. You can walk all the way to Southwark, to visit the Tate Modern, a stunning collection of contemporary art in an equally stunning building. A recreation of the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s original theatre, is nearby. From Tate Modern you can cross the Millennium Bridge to historic St Paul’s Cathedral.
LONDON BY RIVER
The River Thames is central to London; many of the city’s greatest landmarks and buildings are located on its banks. There is no better way to see the city than by boat. And there is a wide range of boat tours that you can take. You can enjoy unlimited travel on the river with a City Cruises River Rover ticket, weaving your way through the splendor and sights of London.
Experience the beauty of London by night from the best seat on the river with the Bateaux London Dinner Cruise. A truly magical blend of fresh food, friendly service and superb entertainment combine to offer the perfect Thames experience. Bateaux London also run a daily Lunch Cruise.
Musical lovers can listen to their favorite songs from the world's most famous musicals on the London Showboat cruise. A river trip, a superb four-course dinner, and dancing form the perfect accompaniment to the sights of London Art lovers can take advantage of the Tate Boat from Tate Modern to Tate Britain, to see some great sights and art.
The Waldorf Hilton is ideally located in the heart of the West End’s Theatreland. Flanked by the Aldwych and Novello Theatre, you are close to London’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal, the more contemporary Donmar Warehouse, and the Royal Opera House.
The Waldorf Hilton is also close to some of the world’s best art galleries and museums. The National Gallery has one of the finest holdings of pre-20th century European art in the world. For 20th century and contemporary art, the Tate Modern is a must see. Tate Britain focuses on British art from all periods. Somerset House is a splendid neoclassical building which houses the Courtauld Institute, an unrivalled collection of Impressionist and Postimpressionist art. There are also open-air concerts and film screenings in the summer.
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THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
London is one of the culturally richest and diverse cities in the world. There’s a museum for everything, from fashion to Freud. The Victoria and Albert Museum has one of the most historic and comprehensive collections of design in the world; the Fashion Museum concentrates on style since the 1950s.
The Serpentine is a world-renowned contemporary art gallery in a stunning setting. The East End of London has recently become one of the most exciting parts of the city, with Hoxton and Shoreditch full of interesting art galleries and venues.The British art market is largely influenced by Charles Saatchi; visit his gallery in Chelsea.
The rich multicultural feel of the city results in one of the most varied restaurant scenes in the world, with food from every corner of the globe represented, and a similar array of prices.
London is of course celebrated for its music scene, and thrives with live music venues from Ronnie Scott’s to the Roundhouse. And Freud’s house has been turned into a museum, complete with the famous couch.
SHOPPING IN LONDON
London is one of the world’s top shopping destinations. Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe, hosting all the big-name multinationals. Regent Street is another major shopping street, hosting the Apple Store and the world’s largest toyshop, Hamley’s. Nearby Saville Row is renowned for the quality of its tailoring and menswear. Flagship designer stores for womenswear can be readily found in Knightsbridge, as well as the famous Harvey Nichols. The largest, most exclusive and iconic of all London shops, Harrods, can also be found here.
Culture vultures will be entranced by the incredible array of specialist bookshops, and there are scores of art galleries with original pieces for sale. Not to be confused with Camden Market, Camden Passage is a street in Islington hosting a treasure trove of antiques and retro shops.
London is renowned for the quality and amazing variety of its street markets, some of which date back to medieval times. Here you can pick up anything from chic retro clothing to antiques or the finest food and drink. The Waldorf Astoria is situated next to Covent Garden, a great place to find limited edition arts and crafts pieces, clothing by young designers, or just be entertained by the street theatre.
Camden Town is famous for its four markets - Camden Market, Camden Lock Market, Camden Canal Market and Stables Market - all selling vintage clothing, street fashion and arts and crafts.
Spitalfields market is one of London’s oldest and best-known markets; in recent years it’s had a facelift courtesy of Sir Norman Foster and gone somewhat upmarket.
Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is another well-loved market, and a great place to pick up antiques at a bargain price.
Underneath the arches of London Bridge is Borough Market, one of the finest London food markets, selling fine artisan produce.