We love London. I lived there for awhile as a fresh 20 year old and we have since been back numerous times. We have our own lists of things to do in London, but here's another great 8 by Amanda.
London is a unique and captivating city that finds itself high on the list of many travel bucket lists. It has the distinction of being richly cultural, deeply historical, and more than a little funky as well. Because it offers so much to so many different types of travelers, there are endless reasons to pay a visit to the popular city, including the chance to hear those incredible accents.
It's Filled with Top Tourist Spots
From the London Eye and Piccadilly to the Thames and Buckingham Palace, there are dozens of popular tourist hotspots in London. No matter what you enjoy, you'll find something to tickle your travel fancy. You'll need several days to see everything on your itinerary, but the best part is that whatever tourist destination you seek, it's guaranteed that you'll find dozens of amazing, unexpected attractions on the way. For example, during a trip down the Thames or on your way to London Bridge, you might find the best boutique or the most incredible pub you've ever visited.
The Markets Are Marvelous
London has more than its fair share of markets, and they run the gamut in terms of inventory. There are flower markets, farmers markets, ethnic markets, flea markets, and countless others. You'll discover stunning vintage clothing, gorgeous antique furniture, delicious food, touristy souvenirs, and tons of niche products. Head to Notting Hill's Portobello Road for antiques, Camden Market for quirky clothes, and Borough Market if you want fresh, locally sourced produce.
There's Crazy Culture
From Shakespearean theatre to museums that explore history in ways you've never experienced, London is a capital of culture. It's worth a visit just to see the plays, but you'll also get to enjoy live music acts, visits to the Tate Modern or the Natural History Museum, and unique experiences such as Madame Tussauds.
Whether you want to stay in the West End to score accommodation near the theater district or if you want to stay near one of the many museums, there are countless hotels, luxury boutiques, hostels, and bed and breakfasts. Check out local rooms compared by Expedia in your favorite districts and you can easily stay close to all the cultural action.
The Culture Is Far-Reaching
While London has artistic and theatrical culture, it's also a melting pot. Just within the city, there are 300 languages spoken. You'll hear exquisite Italian in Soho, you can watch the football in Real Madrid and feel like you're actually in Spain, and you might mistake Regents Park for Argentina if you go on the right day. Brick Lane is a wonderful place to experience the city's Indian neighborhoods, while Brixton is perfect if you want some Jamaican flair. London is a tapestry of different ethnicities, cultures, religions, rituals, and belief systems—and that's not even counting the cockney.
It's Surprisingly French
Speaking of different cultures, France is enormously represented. There's only one France, certainly, but if a trip to Paris or Marseille isn't possible, visiting London is the next best thing. It might seem strange to hear that you should head to London when you're looking for a little French culture, since the city is the epitome of all things British, but it is nonetheless true.
According to CNN, London is "the sixth largest French city in the world." There are more French folks than you'll find in Strasbourg or Bordeaux. That means that, yes, there are also lots of places to find authentic, decadent French cuisine.
The Food Is Better than You Think
British food suffers from a bad reputation, or at least it has for a while. Fortunately, London is now known as a growing foodie capital. It's not just the authentic British cuisine, although you can enjoy that in both local pubs and five-star restaurants—just wait until you sample gourmet takes on fish and chips or some of those signature puddings.
However, London's culinary reputation has definitely expanded, and it includes a wealth of ethnic cuisine as well. Whether you want to enjoy a sumptuous curry or a delicious North African dish, you'll find a restaurant, dive or food truck to fulfill your craving.
It's a Writer's Haven
Writers throughout history called London home, or at least found their inspiration there. If you're a writer, a poet, an essayist, or simply an avid reader, you too will find inspiration along its old stone streets. You can take tours dedicated to viewing writers' homes and haunts, and you can walk in the departed steps of Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, and Shakespeare. You can even channel your inner Sherlock Holmes or Oliver Twist.
If verse is your thing, then Poets' Corner is a must. You'll find it at Westminster Abbey. The tombstones are as telling as the odes written by the poets who rest there. You can also visit Gothic Highgate Cemetery to pay the proper respects.
There's Magic Afoot
London is a marvelously magical place. For instance, in Hyde Park near the Serpentine Gallery, you'll find a statue of Peter Pan, leader of the Lost Boys. J. M. Barrie, Peter's creator, paid for it. A fun fact is that he demanded to have it put up overnight, in total secrecy, so that it seemed to appear magically. It's been delighting children and adults ever since. It's almost as if Tinker Bell herself erected an homage to her hero.
However, London is also largely the land of Harry Potter, and both the books and movies have been beautifully immortalized there. While fans of all ages continue waiting for their letters to arrive via owl post, they can spend time visiting Platform 9 ¾, and sampling some Flavour Beans or seeking out the perfect magic wand.
The city itself is the best reason to visit London because there is always something going on and it's always interesting. What would you put on your perfect London itinerary?
Amanda Brown has been living in London for the last five years. She came over for a holiday and absolutely fell in love with it. Amanda's favourite past time is visiting Hamleys Toy Store just to play.
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