Immersed in history, London’s rich seams of eye-opening antiquity are everywhere. The city’s buildings are striking milestones in a unique and beguiling biography, and a great many of them – the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben – are instantly recognisable landmarks. There’s more than enough innovation (the Shard, the Tate Modern extension, the planned Garden Bridge) to put a crackle in the air, but it never drowns out London’s seasoned, centuries-old narrative. Architectural grandeur rises up all around you in the West End, ancient remains dot the City and charming pubs punctuate the historic quarters, leafy suburbs and river banks. Take your pick.
A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.
Art & Culture
A tireless innovator of art and culture, London is a city of ideas and the imagination. Londoners have always been fiercely independent thinkers (and critics), but until not so long ago people were suspicious of anything they considered avant-garde. That’s in the past now, and the city’s creative milieu is streaked with left-field attitude, whether it’s theatrical innovation, contemporary art, pioneering music, writing, poetry, architecture or design. Food is another creative arena that has become a tireless obsession in certain circles.
This city is deeply multicultural, with one in three Londoners foreign-born, representing 270 nationalities and 300 tongues. Britain may have voted for Brexit (although the majority of Londoners didn’t), but for now London remains one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and diversity infuses daily life, food, music and fashion. It even penetrates intrinsically British institutions; the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum have collections as varied as they are magnificent, while the flavours at centuries-old Borough Market run the full global gourmet spectrum.
A Tale of Two Cities
London is as much about wide-open vistas and leafy landscape escapes as it is high-density, sight-packed urban exploration. Central London is where the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights congregate, but visit Hampstead Heath or the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to flee the crowds and frolic in wide open green expanses. You can also venture further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for beautiful panoramas of riverside London followed by a pint in a quiet waterside pub.
- 1,572 km²
- 11 m
- 8.136 million (2011)
- Sadiq Khan