London

There’s nowhere in the world quite like London.

This isn’t just another capital city; it’s a thriving metropolis with a unique personality formed by its iconic landmarks, centuries of history, world-class shopping, and arts and food scenes. It may be one of the world’s most cutting-edge cities; however, there’s evidence of London’s rich history all over, and this is a city whose heritage is lovingly preserved and presented, but never to the detriment of its modern development. London is constantly front-and-centre on the world stage, marching boldly into the future, which will undoubtedly (and true to form) marry beautifully with its past.

Tirelessly innovative, London’s cultural scene is blessed with an enviable diversity. More than 300 languages are woven into the city’s linguistic tapestry, representing the backgrounds, dreams, stories and ideas of almost every nation on Earth. The heady aromas of exotic cuisine, the impossibly bright fashion mash-ups and the unstoppable creativity of its booming population all find a home here.

History & Culture

It was 1777 when Dr Samuel Johnson said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. In this respect, London hasn’t changed one iota. Its dense, urban vitality and dynamic cultural spectrum makes it one of the most exciting places in the world. The city’s uncountable attractions, artistic milieu, world-famous icons and beautifully preserved heritage make it wonderfully diverse, yet somehow also intrinsically British. This is the place to experience tradition so deep-rooted it’s almost ritual and bold – sometimes outlandish – innovation, in perfect balance.

Cavalry Soldier
Pixabay

Shopping

Whether you’re hunting for a bargain or in the market for classic designer pieces, London is one of the world’s hottest shopping destinations. With a jaw-dropping range of markets, department stores and everything in between, if you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.

Kings Road and Oxford Street are the place for big names; Knightsbridge has some amazing up-market boutiques along Sloane Street, and then there is Bond Street.

London is renowned for its amazing and varied markets that line the streets of the city’s trendiest suburbs. For vintage bargains, handmade jewellery, avant-garde fashion, handbags, leather goods and unique homewares, get lost in the lanes of these urban bazaars. Brick Lane Market, in the East End, sells antiques, clothes and bric-a-brac; Portobello Road Market sells everything from posters and ceramics to fruit and bread; Old Spitalfields Market began in 1876 and is one of the finest surviving Victorian Market Halls in London. Shop for antiques, bohemian and vintage clothing and hand-crafted wooden toys.

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Parks & Gardens

While you might not think it to look at them now, many of London’s parks and gardens were first established as private hunting grounds for royals and aristocrats. It was an offence for a peasant to enter the grounds and poach any of animals within. You can still sometimes see evidence of their origins, such as the herd of deer that still wanders Richmond Park.

These verdant retreats offer year-round pleasure for both tourists and the locals, but they truly come alive in summer when the flowers are in full bloom and the population emerges to enjoy the fickle sunshine.

Some of the more famous parks are Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park, St James's Park, Regent's Park and The Green Park. Kensington Gardens, home to Kensington Palace, features beautiful flowers and green grass for picnics, along with the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial playground. Hyde Park has something for everyone to enjoy - swimming, boating, cycling, a children's playground, two lakeside restaurants, ice skating in winter and open air events throughout the year.

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Afternoon Tea

While drinking tea has long been a favourite pastime of the British, the tradition of afternoon tea in its current form only began relatively recently in the 19th century.

The credit goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who, tired of ‘that sinking feeling’ in the hours between lunch and dinner, requested a pot of tea and small snack in her quarters each day. She soon began inviting friends to join her for this afternoon tea, and the practice quickly took off among the upper-class social set.

Traditionally, afternoon tea was taken between 4 and 6pm. The meal would consist of a pot of loose leaf tea, taken with milk and sugar, as well as small sandwiches, scones, cakes or sweets. There are still plenty of opportunities to experience a true British afternoon tea around London; cruise along the Thames on an afternoon tea cruise; Fortnum & Mason offer tea in their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon; The Berkeley hosts pret-a-Portea tea, where cakes and eclairs are inspired by the latest fashions; for a special treat take afternoon tea at The Savoy or The Ritz!

 

High Tea
Shutterstock

The Infinity Experience

How Time Flies
In 1945, a flock of birds landed on the minute hand of Big Ben and put the time back by 5 minutes.