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London’s status as a truly global city is indelible. New visitors tend to focus on the West End and its surrounding areas, immersing themselves in classic icons of The Big Smoke; from black cabs and red double decker buses to the gothic turrets of the nearby Houses of Parliament. The shopping options match up to any city, with the flagship high street stores on Oxford Street towering like a beacon. Close by is Carnaby Street, with its rich mod-influenced tradition, Bond Street’s jewellery emporiums and Covent Garden’s card-draining mix of designer and vintage shops.
But for those not there to shop, there’s a bevy of cultural attractions to keep the most ardent sightseer amused; from the National Portrait Gallery, to the Tate Modern and, of course, Buckingham Palace.
For the new foodie generation, a vibrant scene ensures you can dine in all corners of the world in a day. Whether you want the three star Michelin dining of Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, the exquisite ramen of Bone Daddies or the life affirming smoked meats of Kiln, you’d have to be the fussiest of eaters to not pack on a few pounds.
You’ll quickly realise, however, that London is a sprawling city with life bursting from every seam, and that many of the city’s true treats exist way from the centre. East London is the city’s creative hub, with the country’s most forward thinking nightclubs, bars and galleries dotted around Shoreditch, Dalston, Hackney and Peckham. Head out south west for the bucolic beauty of the deer-populated Richmond Park, or the dizzying array of fauna at Kew Gardens. And if you want to attend a football match or concert, the iconic Wembley Stadium is in the north east and has a capacity of 90,000.
With over 300 languages spoken in the city, you’ll find a different smell on every corner and a new sound in every shop. It’s the beauty of a place that, ultimately, doesn’t just feel like the centre of the world but like the world in one city.