London’s vociferous mix of grandeur, history, style and culture seems to get more enticing by the year. It charms with leafy Royal parks, free world-class art galleries and frothy ale amid wood-clad pubs; it intrigues with ancient streets and grand architecture, and excites with the neon-lit West End, designer shopping and an innovative dining scene that has become one of the richest in the world.
The average London street transports you back centuries with its architecture, and across continents with its population. Brimming with iconic British emblems – the ubiquitous black cab; the Houses of Parliament’s soaring limestone peaks – London unites a colourful history and solid traditions with boundary-pushing creativity and true multiculturalism. Whether exploring one of its glorious markets or taking it easy in a soft green park, expect to see faces from all corners of the globe.
Culturally, London is breathtaking, with its galleries and museums among some of the most prestigious and comprehensive on earth. From the natural wonders housed inside the ornate, terracotta façade of the Natural History Museum to the cutting-edge artists pushing boundaries inside the Tate Modern, a staggering number of London’s cultural attractions are free.
With all this and more, London rarely sits far from the world’s attentions, but 2012 proved to be a truly exceptional year for the city. In June, the Diamond Jubilee saw thousands upon thousands of flag-waving revellers take to London’s streets in celebration of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne despite being deluged in rain showers. Street parties, open air concerts and heaving crowds all craved for a glimpse of a regal face, proving that the British Royal Family remained a much-loved institution.
The spotlight on London shone even brighter during the 2012 London Olympics. Key landmarks provided the backdrop to thrilling sporting action, such as Horse Guards Parade playing host to beach volley ball and sprawling Greenwich Park offering the setting for equestrian events. Olympic fever truly swept through and beyond the capital to the rest of the country, capped by spectacular triumphs from Team GB. Now, the stadium which hosted iconic events – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will host concerts while surrounding areas and venues are being transformed into a park and leisure facilities, some of which will be open to the public from summer 2013.
Another attraction stealing the limelight in 2013 is the newly-opened View From The Shard. Piercing the sky at 1,016ft (310m), the tallest building in Western Europe has redefined London’s skyline. Visitors can gawp at stunning city views at 244m (800ft). Meanwhile, a series of musical and festival-style events in the summer are planned to mark the Queen's Coronation.
But London doesn’t need grand events or attractions to show what it’s all about. More than 300 languages are spoken in the city, with residents originating from every corner of the globe. London feels not only like the centre of the world – but in many ways, it is also a world in one city.
Whether in the glittering West End, gazing across to the Houses of Parliament from Waterloo Bridge, marvelling at Bank and Moorgate’s glossy towers or strolling the fashionable streets of Shoreditch, there can be no doubt you’re in one of the greatest cities on earth.