9 Reasons to Love London

When it comes to travel, I have a bit of a split personality. For example, I love being both in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of a very big city. One of my favorite big cities is London, and though I haven’t been there in years, I can clearly remember many reasons to love London.

I was fortunate to spend several weeks in London split up over 3 visits because my father lived there. As the Olympics begin, these are the reasons I am remembering why this megacity of more than 8 million is a wonderful place to visit.

1) The vibe

To me London is the perfect mix. It is a huge city but doesn’t feel too hectic. It has a history of more than 2000 years but feels totally modern in many ways. It is very British but also very cosmopolitan. Like many great cities, it is one of contrasts that create an exciting, contagious big city vibe.

Marylebone

The old-style architecture of the Marylebone area, where my father lived

2) The museums

As a recent art history graduate, I spent a month in London with the plan to visit a different museum every day. After a while, I got burned out and ended up making it to less than 15, but I can tell you that London is one of the best cities in the world for museums, partly because many museums are free.

Don’t miss the British Museum, which fortunately is free but unfortunately is so huge that you need to narrow down what interests you or go more than once. Other not-to-miss art museums are the Tate galleries and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Besides great art, London offers world-class exhibits at the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London, Design Museum, and London Transport Museum.

Natural History Museum London

The Natural History Museum

3) The restaurants and pubs

The ethnic diversity in London results in an amazing array of food, including the delicious flavors of India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Some of my first journeys into ethnic food were in London, but I also loved trying traditional British food at places like Rules, the oldest restaurant in London, and the street corner pubs.

4) The parks

London is one of the greenest capitals because of the number of  parks, gardens, and open green spaces. When I was staying in London, I walked a lot and never got tired of it because of all the beautiful parks I passed through. One of my favorites was St. James’s Park, the oldest of the city’s Royal Parks, because of the flowers.

Reasons to Love London. Photo credit: Herry Lawford on Flickr

5) The sights

The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge, St. James’s Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral…these places may be crowded with tourists but for good reason. London has many excellent historical attractions that are well-maintained and definitely worth visiting. I first visited the Tower of London at age 16 and again at 23 and loved it because the tour was fun and very interesting.

Photo credit: Andrea Anastasakis

6) The public transportation

The world’s oldest subway system is also one of its best. It’s efficient, fast, and clean, and sometimes you can get a feeling of its age in the old brick Tube stations. Having such a great subway system means travelers needn’t worry about getting around the city, but the famous red buses and black taxis are additional options.

London Underground

The Westminster tube station

7) The shopping

Shopping is not my favorite thing to do while traveling, but the shopping in London is something that any traveler could love. Harrods, where you can get high tea after shopping, is the most famous place to shop, but all the small shops and boutiques make for great window shopping as you walk through London’s streets.

The second oldest store in London is Selfridges, which was also voted the best department store in the world. I was fortunate to be able to shop there for all kinds of things, including food, because it was very close to my father’s apartment. Beautiful old buildings and great selections of items make London a shopping experience that even I would rave about.

Oxford Street

Selfridges on Oxford Street

8) The theatre

London is often considered home of the best theatre productions in the world. The selection of shows is large, so choose one that is interesting to you and enjoy watching some of the best singers and performers put on a show you likely won’t forget.

Reasons to visit London

9) The location

London is close to so many great day-trip options, like Salisbury, Cambridge, and Leeds, as well as an easy train ride from Paris, Brussels, and other cities via the Eurostar. One could spend a very long time in the city and not tire of all that there is to do nearby.

Reasons to visit London

The Eurostar makes it easy to get to Paris from London.

Have you been to London? What were your impressions? What are your favorite big cities?

All photos are from Wikipedia Commons except St. James’s Park, photo credit: Herry Lawford on Flickr, and Big Ben, photo credit:Andrea Anastasakis

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18 Comments

  • I have only been to London once, but it quickly became one of my favorite big cities for all of the reasons you mentioned 🙂
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  • I totally agree with you. London is one of my all time favourite big cities too. And a lot of it is down to the people and the music.

    • Jenna says:

      I haven’t experienced much music in London, but I agree about the people. I like the British!

  • In terms of museums, I would mention here the Museum of London, which is a very unique museum and offers the opportunity to learn more about the city, since its very founding. Also quite interactive, including live explanations of life in the village of London, long time ago.

  • Dawn says:

    I go to London every year. It’s my favorite city for all the reasons you mention.

    • Jenna says:

      Every year? How lucky are you! With so much to do there, I can imagine that you never get bored going there!

  • Waegook Tom says:

    Ahhhh I LOVE London, too! I’m a sucker for the museums and galleries there (especially the Tate Modern and the National History Museum) and could spend all day in the parks (well, on a rare, sunny day). The inner kid in me loves Hamley’s, and I always try and act classy in Harrod’s but give myself away by audibly gasping over the price tags…
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    • Jenna says:

      Ha ha about Harrods. When my friend and I spent some time in London together, we went to Harrods and had a blast trying on fancy hats and gawking over the items and prices. I haven’t been to Hamley’s but it must be fun.

  • I haven’t spent much time there, but I love London. It’s a goal of mine to live there for some time, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. A truly great city!
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  • Ayngelina says:

    I am not a fan of London at all. I think it’s because it’s so expensive.
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    • Jenna says:

      You are right–it is terribly expensive and that is a big downside. I would love to take my kids there soon but won’t be able to in the next couple of years at least because of the expense.

  • London’s fun! We used to go a lot but this year was the first time in about three years. It was great to be back. The city is buzzing and there’s so much to do as you mention.
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  • monique says:

    I have really enjoyed my visits to London, I like the British and the city has a bit of everything. some of my favorites – Hampstead high street area and the Heath (park)- which are great. and Indian food!! Ryanair which flies out of stanstead is a great low cost option to get around europe from the london area. I also love a day trip we took once to cambridge. the feel there just oozes the great writers and poets you think of when in london….
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    • Jenna says:

      Oh, I loved Cambridge and have special memories of that beautiful place. All this thinking about England makes me want to go back soon!

  • London is really an awesome city to visit to for travelers!

    Even though I haven’t been to London, by your way of describing it I can see that the city is really beautiful and very clean. It has state-of-the art architectural infrastructures and spectacular wonders of nature. I bet you had fun while you were in London. How I wish I could go there but I think it’ll be too expensive. 🙂

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