One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history to culture, art to architecture.
Why I love London
By Emilie Filou
I was born in Paris, France, and while the Gallic capital never did much for me, I have fallen head over heels for London. It's been 10 years and I still revel in its energy, its amazing diversity and its unparalleled green spaces. Swimming in Hampstead Heath's ponds has to be one of my favourite things to do, followed closely by a pub quiz with friends and cocktails in Soho. And then there is the food – London is, without a doubt, the culinary capital of the world. Just come and see for yourself!
A Tale of Two Cities
London is as much about high-density, sight-packed exploration (the West End, South Bank, the City) and urban dynamism as it is about wide-open spaces and leafy escapes. Central London is where you will find all the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights, but escape to Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Park to flee the crowds and put the city’s greener hues into gorgeous perspective. Or venture even further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for effortlessly good-looking panoramas of riverside London.
English may be the national tongue, but over 300 languages shape London’s linguistic soundscape. These languages also represent cultures that season the culinary aromas on London’s streets, the clothing you glimpse and the music you hear. It can seem like the whole world has come to town. Museums, such as the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, have collections as diverse as they are magnificent, while flavours at markets such as Notting Hill and Maltby Street range across the gourmet spectrum. London’s diverse cultural dynamism makes it quite possibly the world’s most international city, while still being somehow intrinsically British.
London is immersed in history. Not so much that it’s intimidating, but there’s sufficient antiquity and historic splendour (Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court) to blow you away. London’s buildings are eye-catching milestones in the city’s unique and compelling biography. There’s more than enough funky innovation (the Shard, the Aquatics Centre, the Gherkin) to put a crackle in the air, but it never drowns out London’s well-preserved, centuries-old narrative. Architectural grandeur rises up all around you in the West End, ancient remains dot the City and charming pubs punctuate the Thames riverside. Take your pick.
Art & Culture
A tireless innovator of art and culture, London is a city of ideas and the imagination. British people are fiercely independent thinkers (and critics), so London’s creative milieu is naturally streaked with leftfield attitude, from theatrical innovation to contemporary art, pioneering music, writing and design. And that’s even truer in these testing recessionary times. The 2012 Olympic Games, and their attendant opening and closing ceremonies, have also inspired new artistic vigour and confidence.