London is truly incomparable. There isn’t another place in the world with as much history, diversity or innovation than the United Kingdom’s capital city. Like most cities, there’s more than one way you can explore London: the local’s London, tourist London, Royal London, artsy London, and on and on and on… Twice the size of New York City, London has more to offer than meets the eye. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or super into getting the perfect Instagram, there’s something for you in London. It’s impossible to see it all, but it’s worth a try!
It takes only seven hours to fly directly from JFK to Heathrow and London is waiting for you. Visiting London will change your life — here are 20 reasons why:
1. Street Markets
Borough, Broadway, Camden, Maltby Street, Dukes Yard, Hampstead, and Southbank are just a handful of the amazing street markets in London. Each has something different to offer, but they all have one thing in common: food. Become a true Londoner and stroll around a market on a lazy afternoon.
2. The Royals
The British Royals are just so cool. Sure, they don’t hold as much power as they used to in the days of knights and dungeons, but they’re still pretty darn fascinating. You can visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace or have tea with Kate Middleton at Kensington Palace. Okay, so you probably won’t actually see them, but one can dream, right?
3. Acres and Acres of Parks
The thing that makes London stand out from other major cities is its enormous amount of green space. Every where you go, a park is near. Grab a blanket and some takeaway and sprawl out in one of eight royal parks.
4. Beautiful Architecture
Your Instagram will look like a pro-photographers account when you post all your pics from London. You just can’t find old Victorian and Tudor buildings like this in America!
5. South Bank
A stroll along on South bank is always a good idea. Grab some dinky donuts (yes, those are a thing), take a seat on one of the benches along the river, and people watch the thousands of tourists. Or head over for a sunrise walk to have the river all to yourself.
6. Time Travel
Okay, so you can’t actually go back in time in the U.K. (yet!) but London was founded by the Romans in 50 AD, so yeah, London is pretty old. It’s basically impossible not to visualize how things used to be while roaming the city. You can see Roman ruins, just across the street from London’s oldest tower, the Tower of London. Head to the Tower and pretend you’re in the medieval times. It’s fun, trust me.
London’s own answer to the English countryside. Just 30 minutes or less from Central London, you can be walking through Hampstead Heath and enjoying the cities skyline from Parliament Hill.
8. Old vs. New
One of the best views in London (IMO) is from the middle of Waterloo Bridge. To the East, you have the City with dozens of skyscrapers and the Shard in London Bridge. And to the West, you see Big Ben and Parliament. It truly captures the feel of old and new that makes London so distinct.
9. Notting Hill
You’ve probably heard of this neighborhood from the popular Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant film of the same name, but there’s much more than the travel bookstore. Wander the colorful streets and stop off at a cute coffee shop for a break.
10. West End Theatre District
It’s Broadway but in London! Les Miserables is a must see, but there are dozens of other plays and musicals that will blow you away.
This one’s for all the hipsters out there! This London neighborhood is home to tons of vintage markets and Instagram-worthy foods. Cereal Killer Cafe, anyone?
12. Most museums are free!
Check out Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, a variety of species at the Natural History Museum and beautiful artwork at the National Gallery and your wallet is still gonna be happy because it’s all free! Meaning you’ll feel fine about buying some expensive AF beers at the pub after your museum day…
13. Great Pubs
Which of course brings us to a huge draw of London. Join the locals after work for a pint at one of the thousands of pubs sitting on every street. Low-key or high-key, London’s got some iconic pubs and clubs.
14. Luxury Shopping
Even if you aren’t willing to drop a month’s worth of rent on a pair of shoes, it’s fun to pretend you are. Harrods and New Bond St. are window shopping heaven.
15. Concert venues
Seeing a concert is always fun, but it’s even more fun at iconic venues like the O2 Arena and the Eventim Apollo.
16. Afternoon Tea
There’s nothing more British than high tea, and London is filled with adorable little tea rooms.
17. Visit Harry Potter sites
You can actually visit Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, which is a must for any Harry Potter fan. Many scenes throughout the films use London monuments like the Millennium Bridge, the Australia House, and Borough Market. Alternatively, you can head to the Warner Bros. Studios to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. But book those tickets in advance!
18. Haunted ghost tours
London has a pretty dark history including beheadings, serial killers, plagues, and other gruesome stories. So there are lots of ghosts floating around — if you believe in that kind of thing. Take a tour to hopefully see some old tortured souls for yourself and freak yourself out if nothing less.
19. The public transport is really, really good
Traveling by public transport in London will make you never want to take the New York subway again. The Underground will take you anywhere you need to go without making you feel gross and dirty. And those iconic red double-decker buses? Those are public buses, too!
20. London is a community
It’s rare to visit a place and instantly feel welcome, but London will do that do you. No matter who you are or where you come from, there’s a place for you in this amazing city.