Is London really different to any other city trip?
You may have seen many posts about city breaks before and think that London is no different to any other major city in the world to visit. If you think this then be prepared for a surprise! Nicola Watts the owner of Tour London – one of London’s leading Blue Badge tourist guides explains what is so unique about Britain’s capital.
While the UK itself isn’t one of the bigger countries in the world, you wouldn’t think so if London was your only example of a typical British city. This is a vast city, one that fits right in alongside the world’s most sought-after and fascinating tourist destinations, yet it is at the same time distinctly and proudly ours. Few cities have as many possible activities to keep their residents and visitors occupied throughout the year.
Of course, there are the more obvious tourist attractions of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, red buses and black taxis, all of which help attract international visitors and bring a large amount of income to the UK via the tourism industry. These central attractions do give London a unique place among the world’s cities, such that it is the most-visited city overall alongside Paris. However, there is so much more that makes London a bit different and a bit special.
Museums & Galleries
The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery can provide both cheap and cultural days out, (being free entry,) as is the case for the famous British Museum also. Meanwhile, on the famous South Bank, can be found the Tate Modern, known for being one of the most iconic art galleries around.
Without doubt, London continues its historic trend of being a centre for culture – both British and international – exemplified further by the presence of bustling Chinatown in the central hub of Leicester Square, where quality restaurants and drinking establishments are regularly packed out until after midnight.
Also found on the South Bank is the London Eye, another renowned tourist attraction and absolutely worth a visit for those visiting – the views of London from its peak are quite unlike anywhere else. The Sea Life London Aquarium is almost right next door, a must for aquatic animal lovers and anyone with maritime interests, as is the London Dungeon. The latter may be perfect for ‘memorable thrills’, though it also serves as a fine history lesson, taking visitors through 1000 years of London’s history as they meet infamous characters like Jack the Ripper.
Within walking distance, the Royal National Theatre sits round the corner from these attractions, which has been broadcasting National Theatre Live to other venues within the UK and around the world since 2009. Right next door is the BFI Southbank, home of the British Film Institute, in which is housed multiple cinema screens, a dedicated shop, bar and restaurant area.
Speaking of which, the BFI London Film Festival takes place over ten days every October, and as the UK’s largest film festival it features premieres of the biggest international releases expected to be involved in the Oscars conversation. It isn’t uncommon to catch a glimpse of a Hollywood star or two around Leicester Square at this time every year.
When it comes to what London has to offer, we haven’t even got started yet, and there is much much more than an article can do it justice – even a dissertation wouldn’t probably cover it!
London is such a large city that there is, of course, a vast amount more to see and discover. As a choice for a city break, there are few others worldwide that can match it in sheer scale and variety.
Nicola Watts founder and owner of Tour London is a highly experienced, registered and qualified London tour guide. Nicola has been taking tourists around London’s top attractions for years ending up with many satisfied guests who have fond memories of the British capital and their experiences.