London is a lot of things to a lot of people. Despite being a vibrant business centre of the world and home to millions of Brits, the UK capital is undoubtedly best known for its tourism, welcoming over 20 million visitors each year to take in its rich history, varied sights and plenty more.
Even for those visiting for business, London has much to offer from a cultural standpoint, from great food to world leading retail. Here are five of the key areas that make London a firm visitor favourite around the world.
Does England have a national dish? Ask some people and you’ll be told fish and chips, ask others and you’ll get chicken tikka masala. British cuisine is often criticised for lacking identity due to the melting pot of cultures and their associated cuisines found within it, but that’s actually a brilliant thing for the average foodie.
There is no bigger example of this melting pot culture, for cuisine and beyond, than London. Visit the city and you’ll find tasty meals available from every corner of the planet, with highly diverse options found at every level from quick and easy street food through to Michelin starred restaurants.
A great theatre scene
Many drama heads make their way to London for the West End alone. A location as familiar and revered as Broadway in New York, you’ll find a full spectrum of performance art available to consume from independent, grass roots productions through to world class plays and musicals.
The West End and its various famous theatres are also home to the likes of comedy, dance and opera, meaning there should be something tickle everyone’s fancy on any given evening.
Shop ‘til you drop
Every big city has something to offer shopaholics, but London is a cut above in the retail regard. With names like Oxford Street, Regent Street, St James’s, Bond Street and Mayfair just a handful of the instantly recognisable districts in the city, the shopping possibilities for visitors are extremely wide ranging.
From independent, edgier districts like Camden and Spitalfields through the high-end fashion boutiques found on many of the streets and areas named above, the capital is a true shop ‘til you drop location.
History in abundance
Few cities in the world have as much of their history and development on show as London, hence why 20 million people a year come to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or see the Beefeaters at the Tower of London.
The capital offers tourists the biggest insight into the chronology of British history, from the city’s Roman origins to the legacy of its medieval struggle and the imperial grandeur of the 18th and 19th centuries. Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge – you’ll never be short of tourist hotspots across the city.
In addition to the heavyweights of London sightseeing, the city has countless “hidden gems” that make the place almost impossible to fully explore, even in a number of visits. Areas like Little Venice and Richmond Hill are “popular less popular” areas, while there are plenty of lesser-known cultural experiences, such as sampling some jellied eels or a traditional pie and mash shop, that all add to the charm.
London is one of those cities that can be visited time and time again without becoming anything close to old news. With so much to see, do, eat and experience, it remains one of the top visitor locations in the world, and with good reason.