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London has held on to its reputation as one of Europe's hippest capitals with new landmarks and trendy hotels, restaurants and clubs opening up all the time.
The hotel scene is ever expanding with recent openings including boutique hotels in the pretty neighbourhoods of Notting Hill and Chelsea as well as more centrally in Bloomsbury and Mayfair.
Steeped in history and architecture, with prominent sights at every turn, from Big Ben to the London Eye, the National Gallery to the Tate Modern, London is a timeless city offering a fascinating mix of old and new.
The recent renovation of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece - the third largest dome cathedral in the world - has restored the building to former glory.
The glittering mosaics and intricate stone carving are breathtaking, and those who dare can venture up to the top of the dome for brilliant views over London.
The crypt offers effigies and fragments of stone that pre-date the Cathedral, plus monuments or graves over the great and good - including Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and Florence Nightingale. Open Mon-Sat, worship only on Sun.
This beautiful cathedral is not the biggest in London, but it has more history than almost any other church site in the city.
The main structure of the church was built between 1220 and 1420, but it rests on foundations going back to the 9th-century, and it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. Situated on the South Bank not far from London Bridge and Southwark stations, it's an ideal stop when visiting Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe or Borough Market.
Built in 1185 by the Knights Templar, the whole building was damaged during the Blitz. The original round church still stands and holds marble effigies of knights and tortured grotesques. The church is also known for its music - especially its organ recitals. Open Wed-Sun.
An architectural masterpiece of the 13th to 16th centuries, Westminster Abbey holds several key artifacts in the history of England, including the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials.
Every Coronation since 1066 has been held here. Dedicated to regular worship, it is neither a cathedral nor a parish church but a "Royal Peculiar" - the Queen's own church. Open Mon-Sat, worship only on Sun.
The name is misleading - this great Catholic cathedral is closer to Victoria than Westminster. Built in the late 19th-century by John Francis Bentley's, the cathedral is unique. Prototypes include Santa Sophia in Constantinople and St Mark's in Venice. The interior, although incomplete, contains fine marble work and mosaics and the world-renowned fourteen Stations of the Cross by sculptor Eric Gill.
A small theatre with 325 seats, but still one of the most daring in London. The Almeida stages both international and British productions, opera and theatre. The building used to serve as a music hall and a Salvation Army Hall, until it was turned into a theatre by Pierre Audi in 1980. It is now under Michael Attenborough's creative control.
A ground-breaking theatre and dance venue with strong historic links back to the 17th-century. Sadler's Wells offers modern ballet from touring companies, including some of Matthew Bourne's masterpieces and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The surrounding area in Farringdon is full of sweet little restaurants and bars for pre- and post-performance entertainment.
A modern reconstruction of William Shakespeare's The Globe, masterminded by Sam Wanamaker and opened in 1997. Shakespeare's Globe offers Elizabethan-styled open-air theatre every summer in its location on the South Bank. During winter, the Globe is open for educational tours.
What can be better than combining an evening in a splendid English pub with a bit of culture?
At The King's Head on Islington's Upper Street, you can do this without even leaving the pub.
Contemporary theatre is offered in the intimate back room, and many famous names have graced the stage, including Ben Kingsley and Joanna Lumley.
Located by Waterloo on the South Bank, the Old Vic was founded in 1818 and is today run by Kevin Spacey. As a result, British and American actor-celebrities often tread the boards here.
London's first and foremost opera house has a spectacular setting right on the Covent Garden piazza. The first theatre was built here in 1732, but the current one opened in 1858. It is the home of the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet and performances are spectacular. Tickets can normally be bought for same-evening performances.
Name a musical, and it's likely to be running in London's West End - traditionally defined by The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Kingsway to the east and Regent's Street to the west. The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, The Lion King, Chicago and many more offer entertainment to thousands every evening. Each theatre sells its own tickets, but discount booths can also be found on Leicester Square. Be aware of long queues for the most popular ones.
Visiting the Cenotaph can be a humbling experience, as the great memorial is in honour of the people killed in war and buried elsewhere. The Cenotaph is the centre of attention each Remembrance Sunday, and is always saluted by uniformed service personnel as they pass.
Members of the public do have access to the Houses of Parliament; you can watch laws being made, attend debates and committee meetings, or climb the Clock Tower - also known as Big Ben. Paid-for tours are a good idea for anyone interested in the fascinating history of this majestic building and the country that is ruled from it.
The London part of the national Imperial War Museum is a must for anyone interested in 20th-century history. It tells the story of the people who fought and the people who lived the wars of the past century very convincingly. The permanent exhibitions are very educational and the temporary ones are equally great. Don't miss the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall (SW1), the bunker where Britain's cabinet stayed during the Second World War.
This exciting museum charts scientific, technological and medical changes from the 18th-century, with brilliantly up-to-date collections. The section recording the Industrial Revolution is the best in the world.
One of London's most important historical monuments, opened to the public in May 2000, with new galleries, The Admiralty restaurant and a 3,700 square metre courtyard area that will be used for open-air theatre, opera, film and other creative events.
Tate Britain is home to the Turner prize and exhibits British art from 1500 to the present day. It holds the largest collection of British art including major works by Blake, Constable, Epstein, Gainsborough, Gilbert and George, Hatoum, Hirst, Hockney, Hodgkin, Hogarth, Moore, Rossetti, Sickert, Spencer, Stubbs and Turner.
Tate Britain has a programme of free guided tours, gallery talks, lectures and films, every day of the week. There are also study days, courses and conferences designed for anyone who has an interest in the history of modern or contemporary art. Admission to Tate Britain is free.
Younger sister to the Tate Gallery (Tate Britain). A former power station on the south bank of the Thames, it houses the Tate's existing collection of 20th-century modern art. There is also a restaurant offering a Modern British menu and a great view. Admission to Tate Modern is free. Check the website for special exhibitions and opening times.
Housed in one of Britain's architectural landmarks, the museum holds a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures, spanning two million years of human history. Various renovation projects were recently completed to mark the museum's 250th anniversary in 2003.
One such project is Sir Norman Foster's Great Court, the largest covered square in London. The two-acre site houses the domed Reading Room, formerly home to the British Library and now occupied by the museum's library, as well as shops, a café and a restaurant. Access to the collections is free.
The huge, unmissable Millennium Wheel towers above the embankment offering superb views of London. The ride lasts half an hour. It is possible to book a private pod.
Along with the National Portrait Gallery next door, offers a spectacular permanent collection of paintings, photographs and sculptures from Constable to Terence Donovan.
The scene for many dramatic events during this country's history, including the execution of three queens and the imprisonment of Elizabeth I, The Tower of London has been a royal palace and fortress, prison, arsenal, mint, menagerie and jewel house during the last 900 years.
The Tower is one of the world's largest tourist attractions with over 2.5 million visitors a year. 150 people, most of them Beefeaters and their families, still live within its walls.
A museum of decorative arts, the V&A allows you to discover 3,000 years worth of artifacts including ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass and sculptures. The vast size of this museum means that you will probably need to spend more than a couple of hours here. Bring a notepad and a pencil - inspiration is in every corner.
The traditional London park that billions of tourists want to visit. Hyde Park covers 142 hectares, hosts several music events during the summer and is home to the Albert Memorial in the south part of the park.
The Serpentine offers pedal-boating during the summer and the Serpentine Gallery hosts modern art exhibitions.
A short train ride away from central London is this gem among botanical gardens. Kew Gardens houses a largest collection of plants, specialises in horticulture, scientific research, conservation and wildlife.
Designed in 1811, Regent's Park in the northwest corner of central London is made up of 166 hectares and has a rose garden with more than 400 varieties of roses. Stroll here on a beautiful day, and you will most likely come across dog walkers, squirrels, cricket players and football players.
The largest park in London (1,000 hectares, no less), Richmond Park still offers sightings of roaming deer. With its hills, ponds, woodland and gardens, it is also considered the most beautiful park. It closes as dusk all year round and is reached by District Line or mainline rail services to Richmond Station.
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