Iconic landmarks, engrossing museums, charming markets, world-class theater and luxury shopping galore are just some of the reason that London is one of the most-visited cities in the world.
Here are 10 reasons why you should travel to the U.K.’s capital city.
Renzo Piano’s vertiginous glass structure is as impressive to stand beneath and look up at. But of course, you have to go inside for breathtaking skyline panoramas.
Aside from some of the best 360-degree, bird’s-eye views over London you’ll spy in the city, the tallest building in Western Europe is also home to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, four restaurants and a 52nd-floor cocktail bar, Gong, the highest in the city.
Maltby Street Market
What this hidden gem weekend market lacks in size, it makes up for in quality and atmosphere. Around 30 stalls run down the middle selling a gourmet selection of everything from grilled meats, artisanal cheese toasties (similar to grilled cheese sandwiches, but toasted instead of fried) and brownies, to cold-pressed coffee, fresh juices and gin cocktails.
While under the cover of the railway arches, you’ll find the celebrated St. John among the bars and restaurants.
In the heart of central London, the South Bank area is a cultural hub, home to the Southbank Centre, National Theatre, BFI and The Old Vic.
Its Thames-side position is also a great spot for a leisurely stroll or jog. Start at Waterloo Bridge and head along the river for views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and other iconic sights.
Stop at one of the restaurants and bars along the way, browse the independent boutiques, galleries and daily secondhand book market, or get something to go from one of the coffee shops and watch the boats go by.
The British Museum
London boasts many visit-worthy museums, most of which are free to enter, and The British Museum is one that stands out. It’s a perfect rainy day escape with a breathtaking structure and an ever-growing collection of more than 8 million objects and antiquities documenting human history, from the stone age to today.
Make a mid-visit pit stop to the one of the three restaurants, to keep your energy levels up.
A verdant calm within walking distance of the action makes this North London Royal Park popular with locals and visitors alike.
The surrounding multi-million-dollar properties are known to house a celebrity or two, who are attracted to its village-like, family-friendly atmosphere, while the park itself is a grand place to walk the dog or roll out a picnic, with views across the city to boot.
With its close vicinity to Regent’s Park and ZSL London Zoo, you could tick off a few attractions in one day.
The U.K.’s preeminent modern and contemporary art museum keeps people talking with thought-provoking, boundary-pushing works from renowned artists such as Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and Joseph Beuys.
Inquire about the slate of daily tours, which focus on a particular theme or exhibit and are complimentary.
When you want a break from the art, head to the top-floor terrace of the Blavatnik Building for fresh air and vistas of the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium. Or pop into the chocolate shop for a housemade pick-me-up.
The London Eye
Sunset is the best time to hop into one of the 32 pods of this 443-foot-high observation wheel. During the 30-minute ride, you’ll get a glimpse of many of London’s iconic sights, which on a clear day includes Windsor Castle, around 25 miles away.
It’s worth booking tickets online before you go, to save precious time waiting in line.
Nicknamed “Theatreland” by Londoners, the West End is one of the world’s top theater districts. Possessing about 40 venues, the West End has hosted premieres for shows that went on to become blockbusters, such as Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera.
Taking in a show here while visiting London is required for theater lovers.
This charming neighborhood is a short walk from major shopping corridor Oxford Street, but a world away, metaphorically speaking.
The laidback village vibe combined with some of the best shopping in London — from independent stores to boutique outposts from international brands, including the likes of Daunt Books, The Conran Shop, Emma Bridgewater, Aesop and Diptyque — make it a destination for gift hunting.
Food choices range from the Saturday Cabbages & Frocks market to the one of the city’s finest restaurants, Roux at the Landau at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Langham, London.
The Cutty Sark
Built in 1869, the world’s only surviving tea clipper was designed to transport tea from China to England as fast as possible, breaking records as it traveled the globe visiting every major port.
Now, raised 10 feet above ground (so you can walk around, on board and below), it’s a breathtaking sight, steeped in interesting history that’s told through interactive exhibitions and character reenactment.
Beneath the hull is the Cutty Sark Café, a poignant place to enjoy a pot of freshly brewed Cutty Sark tea.