London in celebration © Lea Diur

London calling
The capital city of England beckons visitors to its many attractions this summer
1 Jul 2024

Amongst the red buses, swarms of people and endless pigeons, London is home to some truly iconic sights well worth a visit this summer. Although it might be notoriously unpredictable weather-wise, there is fortunately a lot that you can do under shelter and plenty to enjoy once the sun comes out.

London has a lot to offer both as a tourist destination and to the over eight million people who call this magnificent city home. Its landmarks are steeped in history and epitomize the true essence of Britain, all of which have come to define London as a hub of diversity, tradition, and culture. 

It would seem wrong to not mention the quintessential must-see spots that draw in millions of visitors a year, such as The Tower of London, London Eye and Buckingham Palace. These three locations must be ticked off to capture the historical importance of the city, and the panoramic views of the River Thames are truly spectacular from the highest point of the ‘bubbles’ during a loop round the London Eye. 

The Houses of Parliament, which Guy Fawkes once tried and failed to blow up during the ‘Gunpowder Plot,’ is most famously recognized for its northern Clock Tower named ‘Big Ben,’ which chimes every hour. It is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner for Works, who raised Big Ben to its current place on the tower. Big Ben’s sheer size and grandeur deserves the reputation it has earned as one of the stand-out landmarks of London. 

Another famous building is The British Museum in the area of Bloomsbury. This is a public museum where important national and international artifacts are housed covering the past two million years of human history. It is an excellent place for families to visit, as well as history enthusiasts wanting to immerse themselves into the many collections the museum boasts. For those wanting a more artistic cultural experience, the National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum are more examples of structural significance containing an abundance of impressive artworks and items. 

The culinary scene is another asset to the city, internationally renowned for its variety and quality, catering for all budgets. Chinatown in Soho and Seven Dials, Borough and Spitalfields markets offer a taste of the different cuisines celebrated by the British public and for tourists, it’s perfect for a lunch on-the-go in between excursions and activities. In the evening, the streets are lit up by the many restaurants offering everything from Italian to Japanese and Indian food. 

Naturally, afternoon tea is perhaps the most traditionally British of all mealtimes. It is typically eaten around 4pm, in that pocket between lunch and supper, but beware, the best spots are often booked so make sure you secure your place in advance! The most iconic spots to enjoy finger sandwiches, cakes and, of course, fruit scones, are at the Ritz, Fortnum and Mason, and The Savoy Hotel. 

London has 12 inner boroughs outside of the City of London center, where many of its residents live. These boroughs each have distinguishing features that make them unique, and from the leafy Greenwich to the more edgy Camden, there is something to celebrate in each of them. 

The central business district of London is full of skyscrapers and city workers entering the daily hustle and bustle via the Tube, the underground train service connecting the different pockets of the city. Avoiding peak times is key to navigating this system, between 7 and 9 in the morning and 5 to 7 in the evening. If you would prefer to take in the sights at a more leisurely pace, the iconic symbol of the London red bus is always an option… but make sure to use the sightseeing bus system. There are multiple companies running a hop-on, hop-off service, so you don’t miss a thing the city has to offer. 

Regarding entertainment, the theater in the West End of London is world-renowned for its array of musicals, plays and comedy shows. From the world’s longest-running theater production, Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap,’ to the energetic musical ‘Cabaret’, there is something for everyone’s taste on offer. 

On the other hand, the music scene in London celebrates all genres from all corners of the world. The Royal Albert Hall is an iconic music venue, which hosts everything from classical music concerts to famous rock bands. The O2 and Wembley arenas also host many of the world’s most famous artists, which draw in many music tourists. It is well worth including a portion of London’s entertainment options in to your trip to fully immerse yourself in the full cultural, cosmopolitan experience the city has to offer. 

The great news is that London is easily accessible and well connected with the rest of the world. There are six major airports, three of which are linked to the underground system, and via the EuroTunnel it is connected directly to mainland Europe. Before the crowds flock to the capital city in August, book your trip to London for an unforgettable taste of British culture and history.

So, what are you waiting for? 

* Mollie Fraser-Andrews is Editorial Coordinator for UN Today.
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