The Sightseers Joy
London is a year-round tourist centre, with few of its attractions closing or significantly reducing their opening hours in winter.
London is a cosmopolitan city where it is possible to sample cuisine from all corners of the world. There are establishments to suit every taste and pocket, from burger restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe on Piccadilly and Planet Hollywood near Leicester Square, to those serving exquisite modern cuisine such as Quaglin’s near Piccadilly or the Blueprint Cafe at the Design Museum. Britain is famed for its pubs and London has literally thousands to choose from, where one can sample a pint of British beer, enjoy good-value bar meals and savor the friendly atmosphere.
With a population of just under eight million, London is Europe’s largest city, spreading across an area of more than 620 square miles from its core on the River Thames. Ethnically it’s also Europe’s most diverse metropolis with around two hundred languages spoken within its confines, and more than thirty percent of the population is made up of first, second and third-generation immigrants.
For the visitor London is a thrilling place and in the last few years, the city has been in a relatively cheerful mood. Thanks to the national lottery and the millennium-oriented funding frenzy, virtually every one of London’s world-class museums, galleries and institutions has been reinvented, from the Royal Opera House to the British Museum. In the Tate Modern and the London Eye, the city can now boast the world’s largest modern art gallery and Ferris wheel, and the first new bridge to cross the Thames for over a hundred years.
London’s traditional sights like the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London have continued to draw in millions of tourists every year. Monuments from the capital’s more glorious past are everywhere to be seen, from medieval banqueting halls and the great churches of Christopher Wren to the eclectic Victorian architecture of the triumph list British Empire. There is also much enjoyment to be had from the city’s quiet Georgian squares, the narrow alleyways of the City of London, the riverside walks, and the quirks of what is still identifiably a collection of villages. There are large expanses of greenery to be enjoyed like Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park. Further away one can enjoy the more expansive countryside of Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park.
One could spend days just shopping in London, too, mixing with the upper classes in the tiara triangle around Harrods, or sampling the offbeat weekend markets of Portobello Road, Camden and Greenwich. The music, clubbing and gay/lesbian scenes are second to none, and mainstream arts are no less exciting, with regular opportunities to catch brilliant theatre companies, dance troupes, exhibitions and opera. Restaurants, these days, are an attraction, too. London is now on a par with its European rivals, and offers a range from three-star Michelin establishments to low-cost, high-quality Chinese restaurants and Indian curry houses. One must visit London to get the complete picture of this dynamic metropolis.