Landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey
Beauty -- everything from stunning Georgian architecture to scenic parks and wildlife sanctuaries
Lots of free activities: popular art galleries, major museums, the Changing of the Guard, Westminster Abbey, and more
Melting pot for diverse cultures and ethnicities -- South Asians, Pakistanis, Black Africans, African-Caribbeans, Bangladeshis, Americans, Chinese -- the list goes on!
Historic sites like the Churchill War Rooms, where the British High Command congregated during World War II
Many options for book worms, including Europe's largest bookshop, book markets, second-hand shops, and chains
Top-notch pubs -- high-end bars like Blue Bar in Wilton Place as well as rough-around-the-edges dive bars like Slim Jim's Liquor Store
Charming cobble-stoned streets, with trendy boutiques hidden in between historic walls
Various "vibes" from diverse districts -- trendy Shoreditch, goth Camden, artsy Hampstead, posh Knightsbridge
Easy access to other European countries via Eurorail
Fresh-air parks like Regents Park and Hampstead Heath -- ideal for afternoon strolls and morning exercise
Gloomy, cold, and damp weather
Some crime -- best to avoid open spaces late at night (such as parks)
Sometimes delayed public transit
What It's Like
London, considered one of the world's most vibrant and multicultural cities, also happens to carry a reputation for being rainy, and a public-transit rider's nightmare. But like most of the greats, this city's best qualities lie in its history, culture, and activities.
As the largest city in Western Europe, London remains a global capital of fashion, finance, politics, and trade.
Landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey are must-sees.
Definitely make a point to see some of London's outstanding collection of museums, like the Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Tate Britain, British Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Musuem. The best part is -- most of them are free!
On nice days, London's many parks sprinkled throughout the city are the place to be. Hyde Park is especially popular for afternoon picnics and evening dinners. St. James Park's romantic gardens are ideal for mid-morning strolls. Richmond Park -- a massive, green open space -- is a great park for cycling.
London has some of the best entertainment options in the world. The live music scene is massive, ranging from indie bands to world-renown musicians playing at the largest venues. The West End of London attracts many a theatre lover.
Where to Stay
Although rooms are traditionally expensive, some of the best value hotels can be found in Bloomsbury, a mainly quiet district with a number of historic homes. Other semi-wallet-friendly but worth-it options would be Paddington and Bayswater -- northwest of the city's heart. These areas have recently undergone some renovation and change, and decent hotels can be found just a short walk away from the new Heathrow Express train station.
If price isn't a concern, Kensington, one of London's most polished areas, offers visitors the glitz and glam of the true cosmopolitan lifestyle. Home to some of London's finest museums, Kensington is a great option for those seeking a high-end experience.
London's gay village lies in Soho, a highly-concentrated clump of chic restaurants, clubs, and cafes east of Hyde Park.
Visitors looking to dive into entertainment and shopping may want to look for lodging in in Covent Garden, which incorporates some of London's "theatreland."
Business travelers will probably want to stay in or near The City of London -- the city's historic core, and the heart of London's financial sector.