London is the home of the Queen
Arguably the world’s most popular reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has ruled the UK for 65 years. Buckingham Palace has pride of place. Built in 1703 by the Duke of Buckingham, it was turned into a palace in 1820 but the land around it and the Mall has always belonged to British royalty. Give the Queen a wave as you walk past.
Sing like you mean it
Aside from Broadway, nowhere has such an intense commitment to musical theatre as London does. Whether it’s something long running like Cats, or a newcomer like School of Rock, the West End was built from glitter, showtunes and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
There are 7,000 pubs
Yup, London loves a drink. Preferably a craft beer or a gin and tonic in the summer sunshine. Explore the revered beer garden, a staple for all British people’s summer fun. Some of the best are in north London, like The Albion in Islington.
Because 47% of London is green space
That’s right. It may not seem like it but nearly 50% of London is made up of parks. There are over eight million trees and two natural nature reserves. Discover the more off the beaten track parks like Kennington Park with its bee garden or head out to the London Wetland Centre to see otters and migrating birds.
Because it’s one of the world’s best cities for foodies
Forget any idea that British food is old-fashioned or awful (it’s not). London offers amazing street food, supper clubs and restaurants for every budget and every cuisine you can think of, then smashes a lot of them together to create something new. Global food trends are embraced and evolved and Londoners love trying something new. Head to Borough or Exmouth Market for some of the best street food.
You can go on a Harry Potter tour
Aside from the platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross where the boy wizard heads off to Hogwarts for the first time, London is rife with Potter related places – you can do a Harry Potter Film Location tour on foot before heading out to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio – a short trip from London.
It’s romantic and charming at Christmas
It might seem a long way off but nowhere does Christmas better than London – sorry New York. Londoners start hitting the mulled wine come mid November, the ice rinks go in, the pretty Alpine markets pop up on any available space and everyone is the happiest they’ve been since the two days of sunshine we had in the summer. Don’t miss the epic winter window displays at Hamleys and Harrods, the decorations down Carnaby Street and Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.
Watch the beautiful game
While Man U might be up north, London’s football teams entertain a global slew of fans – whether you’re at Wembley or Arsenal stadiums or watching Tottenham Hotspurs or Chelsea in one of the city’s many many footie loving pubs (try Bar Kick in Shoreditch).
The houses of Parliament are spectacular
No other country can beat the UK’s impressive Parliament buildings. Built in 1840, there has been a royal palace here since the 11th century, but several fires over the centuries meant they had to rebuilt. What you see today is mid 19th century neo-Gothic and Big Ben (or the Elizabeth Tower as Big Ben is actually the bell) has become a icon for Western democracy.
There are urban beaches
Just because London is landlocked, doesn’t mean you can’t hit the beach. Every summer, tonnes of sand are trucked into various spaces (try the South Bank or around Brick Lane) to give the urban dwellers a blast of the seaside. Grab a deckchair and a cone of chips and close your eyes – you won’t notice the difference. Much.
London loves a festival
Come summer, almost every weekend there are huge musical festivals, from massive mainstream acts in Hyde Park for British Summer Time, to local borough festivals and quirky gatherings. Field Day and Lovebox put London on the summer map for electronic festivals, where you can sleep in a bed not a sleeping bag.
It’s the home of Shakespeare, Dickens and TS Eliot
Some of the world’s best writers used London as their inspiration. You can still walk the streets around Holborn and the City of London which Dickens brought to life in the 19th century, cross one of the bridges over the Thames like the hurried workers of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and see Shakespeare’s plays performed at a traditional Elizabethan theatre, The Globe.
It’s also the home of James Bond and Sherlock Holmes
Whether your Bond is Daniel Craig or Sean Connery, almost every Bond filmed has scenes in London. Bond films have blown up MI6, hit the Thames on speed boat chases and even climbed all over the O2. Benedict Cumberbatch wins hearts as London’s favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes and the sleuth has thrilled modern London. You can even walk past 221B Baker Street.