Description and Characteristics

Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million, but the estimate of between 12 and 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area better reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade. Among international tourists, London is the most-visited city in the world.

Settlement has existed on the site of London since well before Roman times, with evidence of Bronze Age and Celtic settlement. The Roman city of Londinium, established just after the Roman conquest of Britannia in the year 43, formed the basis for the modern city (some isolated Roman period remains are still to be seen within the City). After the end of Roman rule in 410 and a short-lived decline, London experienced a gradual revival under the Anglo-Saxons, as well as the Norsemen, and emerged as a great medieval trading city, and eventually replaced Winchester as the royal capital of England. This paramount status for London was confirmed when William the Conqueror, a Norman, built the Tower of London after the conquest in 1066 and was crowned King of England in Westminster.

London went from strength to strength with the rise of England to first European then global prominence, and the city became a great centre of culture, government and industry. London's long association with the theatre, for example, can be traced back to the English renaissance (witness the Rose Theatre and great playwrights like Shakespeare who made London their home).

With the rise of Britain to supreme maritime power in the 18th and 19th centuries and the possessor of the largest global empire, London became an imperial capital and drew people and influences from around the world to become, for many years, the largest city in the world.

England's royal family has, over the centuries, added much to the London scene for today's traveller: the Albert Memorial, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Tower of London, Kew Palace and Westminster Abbey being prominent examples.

London is a vibrant city with an abundance of places to visit and things to do. Art lovers can lose themselves in the Tate Modern or Bankside Gallery,just two of London's free art galleries, and those interested in the history and architecture of London should definitely add Shakespeare's Globe andWellington Arch to their list of places to visit.

Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll by the river, enjoy the streetentertainment in Covent Garden's Piazza or relax for a moment in thenumerous gardens and green parks London has to offer.

  • Arcelor Mittal Orbit, Britain's highest sculpture with viewing platform
  • BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Hindu Temple in the heart of London
  • Chelsea Physic Garden, Londons oldest botanic garden
  • Chislehurst Caves, over 20 miles of mysterious passageways beneath Chislehurst
  • HMS Belfast, the most significant surviving 2. World War Royal Navy warship
  • Kew Gardens, the world's most famous garden with fascinating collection of botanical art (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • The London Bridge Experience & Tombs, interactive museum of history of the London Bridge
  • Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition & Theatre Tour, reconstruction of the theatre where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote
  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, interactive museum of the living story of tennis with 3D cinema
  • WWT London Wetland Centre, wildlife haven with scenic walkways with lakes, pools and gardens with water voles, birds and amphibians
  • ZSL London Zoo
  • London Eye
  • The Shard
  • Madame Tussaud's
  • Emirates Air Lines
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster)
  • Big Ben
  • Green Park
  • St. James's Park
  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Gardens
  • Regent's Park
  • Greenwich Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Bushy Park

London's skyline is made up of historic landmarks, from great churches to medieval monuments. You cannot fail to be impressed by the architecture of Somerset House and the British Museum and for Royal family enthusiasts, visits to the impressive Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace are a must.

During the summer months, The Changing of the Guard takes place outside Buckingham Palace every day at 11:30.

  • All Hallows by the Tower
  • Apsley House
  • Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Eltham Palace
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Jewel Tower
  • Kensington Palace
  • The Monument
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Royal Mews
  • Royal Observatory
  • Southwark Cathedral
  • Tower Bridge Exhibition
  • Tower of London
  • Wellington Arch
  • The Wernher Collection at Ranger's House
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Windsor Castle

Both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are situated on Trafalgar Square, which is also home to Nelson's Column and St Martin in the Fields Church.

Visit the Courtauld Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, just two of the galleries which house great works of art and feature temporary exhibitions throughout the year

  • Bankside Gallery
  • The Courtauld Gallery
  • Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
  • The National Gallery
  • The Queen's Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Tate Britain
  • Tate Modern

Three of London's most visited museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum and Natural History Museum are all within walking distance of each other and in proximity to the exclusive boutiques and restaurants of Knightsbridge.

  • British Museum
  • British Library
  • Cartoon Museum
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Design Museum
  • The Fan Museum
  • Firepower Royal Artillery Museum
  • Florence Nightingale Museum
  • The Foundling Museum
  • The Garden Museum The Guards Museum
  • Handel House Museum
  • Household Cavalry Museum
  • IWM London
  • Jewish Museum London
  • London Canal Museum
  • London Motor Museum
  • London Transport Museum
  • Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising
  • Museum of London
  • Museum of London Docklands
  • Natural History Museum
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
  • Pollock's Toy Museum
  • Royal Air Force Museum London
  • Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Science Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum

Whatever you are into you'll find it in London; from luxury brands and department stores, quirky independent retail outlets, high street stores to budget fashion and famous markets.

  • Oxford Street (Selfridges, John Lewis, Debenhams)
  • Bond Street und Mayfair
  • Regent Street
  • Carnaby Street
  • Covent Garden
  • Knightsbridge (Harrods, Harvey Nichols)
  • Westfield (Shopping Centre Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City)
  • Canary Wharf (Shopping Centre with more than 200 shops)
  • King's Road
  • Savile Row
  • Notting Hill (Portobello Road Market, Saturday 8.00-17.00)
  • Borough Market