'After hosting the spectacular Olympic and Paralympic games, London is the city that everyone is talking about.'
London is at the heart of Great Britain, with famous landmarks that every visitor wants to see: the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, the Royal Albert Hall, Trafalgar Square … the list is almost endless.
Once you have stepped off the tour bus, it’s worth taking the time to discover more about London. You’ll find out why it’s one of the world’s favourite cities.
Many Londoners see their home city as a patchwork of villages
, each with its own charms and quirks.
The great outdoors
Walking the London section of the Thames Path
is a great place way to see the city and its outskirts. It takes you from Hampton Court Palace
at the western edge, past the world-famous botanical gardens at Kew
, on through the city and out to Greenwich. And on the way there’s a lot to watch – river traffic, birdlife and busy boatyards.
Londoners love their parks
, which are large and varied. There are immaculately manicured oases in the centre of the capital such as Hyde, Regent’s and St James’s Parks. Further afield you might see deer in Greenwich Park (the oldest of the Royal Parks) to the east, and in Richmond Park to the west.
Hampstead Heath (just four miles north of central London) offers spectacular views of London’s skyline, an all-year open-air lido and alfresco concerts in the summer.
Do you fancy some history with your walk? Take a turn round Highgate Cemetery
, where Karl Marx is one of the many famous tenants. Or head to Cemetery Park
(London E3) where a deep broadleaf forest has been allowed to grow, overwhelming the cemetery with new life.
And if you want something more energetic, there’s rafting and canoeing at the Lee Valley
White Water Centre.
Music and drama
One of the main events which happens every year in London is the BBC Proms
, the world’s largest classical music festival – two months of live music held at the Royal Albert Hall.
London echoes with live music
throughout the year, whether you are into world music, classical, jazz, funk, or rock and pop – or maybe you prefer blues, country, reggae or urban soul. There’s always a concert or gig to go to, and it’s easy to find a club playing your type of music.
For theatre lovers, London is a goldmine. West End theatres
are best known for musicals, comedies and drama; repertoire theatres such as the National Theatre
offer plays from writers old and new such as Shakespeare, Oliver Goldsmith, Alan Bennett, Sophocles, Arthur Miller and Ibsen. The Globe Theatre shows us Shakespeare’s plays in their original setting.
London’s street markets are full of exciting food, original and quirky products and great characters. Most boroughs have their own Farmers’ Markets
, and there are some other markets that everyone likes to visit from time to time.
For colour and gorgeous plants, everyone heads to Columbia Road Flower Market
on the edge of the City of London financial district. Nearby Brick Lane
has lots of stalls selling quirky clothes and second-hand stuff, lots of good food (from bagels to curry) – and great graffiti by world-famous artists such as Banksy and D*Face.
first opened for business in the 13th century. Today it’s a mixture of market stalls and independent shops selling anything from art-deco furniture to old vinyl records
is particularly popular with young people and tourists. Its stalls range from traditional fruit and vegetables to cutting-edge fashion, music, arts and crafts and a bit of everything else. It's very busy at the weekend.
Food-lovers flock to Borough Market
south of the river in Southwark, which is well known for high quality ingredients and artisan foods from the UK and further afield – chillies from Mexico, ham and cheese from Spain and Italy, bread from Germany and lots more. There is always a buzz here (except Sundays, when the market is closed) with demonstration kitchens and many cafes, bars and restaurants.
Shopping and eating out
Lots of Londoners love shopping, and in the past couple of years several giant shopping centres have opened. The new Westfield Stratford City
retail centre has more than 300 shops, a cinema, bowling alley and other entertainment.
Whatever your budget, London has great places to eat out – from street stalls in the markets and fish and chip shops to smart restaurants and lots in between.
Finally, a quick look at some of the surprising places to visit in London.
- Dr Johnson's House - home of Samuel Johnson who compiled the first comprehesnive English dictionary.
- Sir John Soane’s museum - John Soane designed the Bank of England; he collected over 20,000 drawings, including works by Turner and Canaletto, and even an Egyptian pharaoh’s sarcophagus.
- The Fan Museum - the world’s most remarkable collection of fans, from the 11th century to modern times.
- The Whitechapel Bell Foundry - dates from 1570. Big Ben (the Westminster bell) was cast here. In 2012 eight new bells, cast to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, were rung from a floating belfry during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
You can use the Education UK Search tool - to the top-right of the Education UK website - to find a place to study in this region that interests you.
And take a look at our own interactive map
of the UK to explore the area.
You can find out more about different regions in the UK on Visit Britain