One of the busiest cities in the world, London is a vibrant, multicultural metropolis. Each of its 32 boroughs has its own, distinct character, from hip Hackney to historic Westminster and leafy Richmond to grand Kensington and Chelsea. Imposing landmarks are juxtaposed with cutting-edge architecture and innovation, and leading museums compete with world-class theatre, design, an astonishing number of wide open green spaces and superlative hotels, restaurants and bars. With celebrated sites at every turn, from St Paul’s to the Shard and the National Gallery to the Tate Modern, London is a timeless city offering a fascinating mix of old and new.
Best time to go: Late spring and early autumn, when temperatures are mild and the city is less crowded than in the height of summer.
The weather in London: London’s weather can be fairly unpredictable and often grey and cloudy. Average daily highs reach 9°C in winter and 23°C in summer.
How to get there: There are five main airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City). Heathrow (heathrow.com) is 15 miles west of central London and accessible by bus, Underground, train and the Heathrow Express from Paddington. Gatwick (gatwickairport.com), 30 miles south of London, is accessible by main-line trains, as well as the Gatwick Express from Victoria station. Stansted, Luton and City are also well connected.
What’s the currency? British pounds.
Best ways to get around: Public transport in London is efficient and covers all areas of the city, including the suburbs. It’s worth investing in an Oyster card to use on the Tube and on buses. If you are travelling within zone 1, it may be quicker to walk.
Recommended films set in London: Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews, the Paddington movies, romantic comedy Notting Hill, Guy Ritchie’s gritty gangster classic Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Recommended books set in London: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Swing Time by Zadie Smith.