LONDON BEST THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS)
London attracts over 16 million international visitors per year, making it Europe's most visited city. London attracts 27 million overnight-stay visitors every year. Many of London's attractions are free, making them affordable places to soak up some culture.
London is a popular centre for tourism, one of its prime industries, employing the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers, while annual expenditure by tourists is around £15 billion.
The World Heritage Sites of London are: The Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory, Greenwich marks the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and GMT).
Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard.
London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world.
- Tower Bridge: (Built 1886–1894) is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London.
Tower Bridge is one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. It is the only one of the Trust's bridges not to connect the City of London directly to the Southwark bank, the northern landfall being in Tower Hamlets.
The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers.
The bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue colour.
The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whilst the bridge's twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for which an admission charge is made.
The nearest London Underground tube stations are Tower Hill on the Circle and District lines, London Bridge on the Jubilee and Northern lines and Bermondsey on the Jubilee line, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway. The nearest National Rail stations are at Fenchurch Street and London Bridge.
- Tower of London: Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill.
It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite.
The castle was used as a prison from 1100 (Ranulf Flambard) until 1952 (Kray twins), although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat.
There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.
The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England.
From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period.
In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.
- Kew Gardens: Is the world's largest collection of living plants. Founded in 1840 from the exotic garden at Kew Park in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, UK, its living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens.
The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. It is one of London's top tourist attractions. In 2003, the gardens were put on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
- Palace of Westminster: The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the northern bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London.
Its name, which derives from the neighbouring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement, the New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence and is the property of the Crown.
The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of the Parliament of England, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and also as the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall.
In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only medieval structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, and the Jewel Tower.
The remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were incorporated into its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organised symmetrically around two series of courtyards.
Part of the New Palace's area of 3.24 hectares (8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal 266-metre (873 ft) façade, called the River Front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decorations and furnishings of the Palace.
Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century.
Major conservation work has been carried out since, to reverse the effects of London's air pollution, and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941.
The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it.
- Westminster Abbey: Formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs.
Between 1540 and 1556 the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, however, the building is no longer an abbey nor a cathedral, having instead the status of a "Royal Peculiar" a church responsible directly to the sovereign. The building itself is the original abbey church.
According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site (then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island)) in the 7th century, at the time of Mellitus, a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III.
Since 1066, when Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror were crowned, the coronations of English and British monarchs have been held here. There have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100. Two were of reigning monarchs (Henry I and Richard II), although, before 1919, there had been none for some 500 years.
- Greenwich: Is an early established district of today's London, England, centred 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east south-east of Charing Cross. The town lends its name to the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Greenwich is generally described as being part of South-east London and sometimes as being part of East London. It is also one of the five boroughs of the London Docklands, connected to areas with docks of London historically by river and today to Canary Wharf and other buildings by the East London Line.
Greenwich is notable for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. The town became the site of a royal palace, the Palace of Placentia from the 15th century, and was the birthplace of many Tudors, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was rebuilt as the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors by Sir Christopher Wren and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor.
These buildings became the Royal Naval College in 1873, and they remained an establishment for military education until 1998 when they passed into the hands of the Greenwich Foundation. The historic rooms within these buildings remain open to the public; other buildings are used by University of Greenwich and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
The town became a popular resort in the 18th century and many grand houses were built there, such as Vanbrugh Castle (1717) established on Maze Hill, next to the park. From the Georgian period estates of houses were constructed above the town centre.
The maritime connections of Greenwich were celebrated in the 20th century, with the siting of the Cutty Sark and Gipsy Moth IV next to the river front, and the National Maritime Museum in the former buildings of the Royal Hospital School in 1934. Greenwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created.
- Buckingham Palace: Is the London residence and principal workplace of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focus for the British people at times of national rejoicing.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and was known as "The Queen's House".
During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, who formed three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet crowds outside.
However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb during World War II; the Queen's Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.
The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola and blue and pink lapis, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle Époque cream and gold colour scheme.
Many smaller reception rooms are furnished in the Chinese regency style with furniture and fittings brought from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and from Carlton House. The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London.
The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.
- London Eye: Is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. Also known as the Millennium Wheel, its official name was originally published as the British Airways London Eye, then the Merlin Entertainments London Eye, then the EDF Energy London Eye. Since mid-January 2015, it has been known in branding as the Coca-Cola London Eye, following an agreement signed in September 2014.
The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft). When erected in 1999 it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel. Its height was surpassed by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006, the 165 m (541 ft) Singapore Flyer in 2008, and the 167.6 m (550 ft) High Roller (Las Vegas) in 2014. Supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel".
It is currently Europe's tallest Ferris wheel, and offered the highest public viewing point in London until it was superseded by the 245-metre (804 ft) observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard, which opened to the public on 1 February 2013. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually, and has made many appearances in popular culture.
The London Eye adjoins the western end of Jubilee Gardens (previously the site of the former Dome of Discovery), on the South Bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth.
- Piccadilly Circus: Is a road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. In this context, a circus, from the Latin word meaning "circle", is a round open space at a street junction.
Piccadilly now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square), and Glasshouse Street. The Circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End. Its status as a major traffic junction has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction in its own right.
The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue of Eros. It is surrounded by several notable buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. Directly underneath the plaza is Piccadilly Circus tube station, part of the London Underground system.
- St Paul's Cathedral: Is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604.
The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London.
The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, dominated the skyline for 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962. The dome is among the highest in the world. St Paul's is the second largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.
St Paul's Cathedral occupies a significant place in the national identity. It is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as of images of the dome surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz. Services held at St Paul's have included the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Golden Jubilee, the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
- Trafalgar Square: Is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. It is situated in the City of Westminster. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of commemorative statues and sculptures in the square, while one plinth, left empty since it was built in 1840, The Fourth Plinth, has been host to contemporary art since 1999. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year's Eve.
The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain which took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. The original name was to have been "King William the Fourth's Square", but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name "Trafalgar Square".
In the 1820s George IV engaged the architect John Nash to redevelop the area. Nash cleared the square as part of his Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. The present architecture of the square is due to Sir Charles Barry and was completed in 1845.
Trafalgar Square is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown and managed by the Greater London Authority, while Westminster City Council owns the roads around the square, including the pedestrianised area of the North Terrace. It forms part of the Northbank business improvement district.
- The Shard: Also referred to as the Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge and formerly London Bridge Tower, is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London, that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development.
The Shard's construction began in March 2009. It was topped out on 30 March 2012 and inaugurated on 6 July 2012. Practical completion was achieved in November 2012. The tower's privately operated observation deck, the View from the Shard, was opened to the public on 1 February 2013.
Standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, the Shard is currently the joint 92nd tallest building in the world and the fourth tallest building in Europe and the tallest building in the European Union. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.
The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres (802 ft). It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in 1975. The Shard was developed by Sellar Property Group on behalf of LBQ Ltd, and is jointly owned by Sellar Property and the State of Qatar.
- West End Theatre: Is a common term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of "Theatreland" in and near the West End of London. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.
Total attendances first surpassed 12 million in 2002 and then 13 million in 2007, setting a new record for the West End. In 2013, ticket sales reached a record 14.5 million. Famous screen actors regularly appear on the London stage.
- London Underground: Is a public rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and parts of the home counties of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex. The network is considered the oldest rapid transit system, incorporating the world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, which opened in 1863 and is now part of the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines; and the first line to operate underground electric traction trains, the City & South London Railway in 1890, now part of the Northern line. The network has expanded to 11 lines, and in 2013/14 carried 1.265 billion passengers, making the Underground the world's 11th busiest metro system.
MOST VISITED MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERIES
London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The first of these to be established was the British Museum in Bloomsbury, in 1753. Originally containing antiquities, natural history specimens and the national library, the museum now has 7 million artefacts from around the globe. In 1824 the National Gallery was founded to house the British national collection of Western paintings. This now occupies a prominent position in Trafalgar Square.
In the latter half of the 19th century the locale of South Kensington was developed as "Albertopolis", a cultural and scientific quarter. Three major national museums are there: the Victoria and Albert Museum (for the applied arts), the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 to house depictions of figures from British history.
Its holdings now comprise the world's most extensive collection of portraits. The national gallery of British art is at Tate Britain, originally established as an annexe of the National Gallery in 1897. The Tate Gallery, as it was formerly known, also became a major centre for modern art. In 2000 this collection moved to Tate Modern, a new gallery housed in the former Bankside Power Station.
1. British Museum: The British Museum is a museum dedicated to human history, art, and culture, located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
2. Tate Modern: It is Britain's national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group (together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online). It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark. Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art.
3. National Gallery: Is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.[a] The Gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Musée du Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
4. Natural History Museum: Is a museum exhibiting a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology.
The museum is a world-renowned centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin.
The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture (sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature) both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast which dominates the vaulted central hall.
The Natural History Museum Library contains extensive books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments; access to the library is by appointment only. The museum is recognised as the pre-eminent centre of natural history and research of related fields in the world.
5. Imperial War Museum: Is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. Founded as the Imperial War Museum in 1917, the museum was intended to record the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire during the First World War.
The museum's remit has since expanded to include all conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since 1914. As of 2012, the museum aims 'to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and "wartime experience"'.
6. Science Museum: Is a major museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London. It was founded in 1857 and today is one of the city's major tourist attractions, attracting 3.3 million visitors annually. Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Science Museum does not charge visitors for admission. Temporary exhibitions, however, may incur an admission fee. It is part of the Science Museum Group, having merged with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in 2012.
7. Victoria and Albert Museum: Is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A covers 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) and 145 galleries.
Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world.
The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world. Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme, which has seen a major overhaul of the departments, including the introduction of newer galleries, gardens, shops and visitor facilities.
8. Madame Tussauds: Is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as "Madame Tussaud's", the apostrophe is no longer used.
9. National Maritime Museum: In Greenwich, London, is the leading maritime museum of the United Kingdom and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. The historic buildings form part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, and it also incorporates the Royal Observatory, and 17th-century Queen's House.
In 2012, Her Majesty The Queen formally approved Royal Museums Greenwich as the new overall title for the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the National Maritime Museum does not levy an admission charge although most temporary exhibitions do incur admission charges.
In London youw will find something to please every purchaser, whether you’re looking for a handsome department store or an eccentric little independent, a high street stalwart or something a little more‘specialist’. From luxury shops such as Harrods, quirky retail outlets like Dover Street Market, to bargain fashions at London's markets, or big London shopping centres such as Westfield and more.
- Antiques, Vintage & Second-Hand: Who doesn't love to spend hours rambling the day away scouring through wonderful little antique shops? The smell of old books, the warmth of rooms full of vintage gems, there's simply nothing to dislike. As the chill of winter approaches, there's no better time to be in the cosy enclosures of the vintage shops.
Style is how you make it. You pick your clothes, you buy them, and you put out there the image that you want everyone to have of you. But some times the problem some people face, in a city like London, is that it is hard to find cheap clothes that not everyone has.
Imagine yourself walking down the street, feeling really confident and cool, only to stumble across someone else sporting the exact same thing. Then you are not feeling as cool or individual, you are just feeling part of the same corporate machine. Vintage / second-hand fashion is fun, and anc set you out from the crowd a bit more.
- Clothes and Fashion Shops: London has thousands of clothes shops, so it's the perfect destination if you're looking to update your wardrobe. From high street fashion, to British designers and vintage treasures, you'll find something to suit your style and budget.
LONDON SHOPPING DISTRICTS
- Bond Street: One of the best concentrations of designer shops in the world. Oxford Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2YF. Tube: Oxford Circus Station. For serious fashionistas, Bond Street is the place to be seen in and to shop. Bond Street, formed of New and Old Bond Street, boasts one of the biggest and best concentrations of designer shops in the world, including Donna Karan, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Nicole Fahri, Armani, Versace and Ralph Lauren.
Quintessentially English style can be found at Mulberry and Burberry's flagship stores. Bond Street also plays host to Sotheby's auction house and a number of antique stores and markets have popped up in the area. If you or your other half has a thing for diamonds, you should know that Cartier, Tiffany and Asprey are among the many very exclusive (ie expensive) jewellers on this exclusive, expensive street. New Bond Street is a few minutes walk from Bond Street Station and is linked up by the pedestrian-only South Molton Street. Old Bond Street is the short section at the southern end which joins Piccadilly.
- Carnaby Street: One of the most stylish streets in London. Carnaby Street, Soho, London, W1F 7DN. Tube: Oxford Circus Station. The name Carnaby Street is synonymous with 1960s "Swinging London" a phrase coined by Time magazine.
Nowadays the area has gone through something of a revival and is once again boasting cutting edge designer talents and trendy street ware. With over 140 shops, bars and restaurants to choose from in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. Shoppers will find rich pickings at urban streetwear shops like Replay, Diesel, Howies, American Apparel and Puma.
There are also a number of streets in the immediate area around Carnaby Street - notably Newburgh Street which runs parallel, Foubert's Place, and Kingly Court which has three floors of one-off 'concept' shops, cafes and restaurants set around an open courtyard.
Carnaby Street is a fantastic place to buy sports, urban and footwear, but there's also a number of fine cosmetics shops - seek out the Cowshed and MAC Cosmetics - as well as a few boutiques selling vintage mod clothing. Altogether very stylish.
- The King's Road: Famous faces are regularly seen along this fashionable road. The King's Road, Chelsea, London, SW10 0DJ. Tube: Fulham Broadway Station. King's Road takes its name from the seventeenth-century when it was King Charles II's private thoroughfare between Whitehall and Hampton Court Palace.
The area was made famous by a lively local scene during the 'swinging '60s' and punk fuelled seventies. The doyenne of punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood, still runs her first ever store at the so-called 'World's End' end of the King's Road.
Although the area has none of the character of that time, it is still full of famous faces and one of the best and most varied places to shop and eat in London. For fashion, the King's Road offers High Street regulars such as Jigsaw, French Connection and Benetton. Plus, American Classics still sell vintage Levis and tuxedos while Johnsons stocks 50s and 60s inspired velvet suits and bowling shirts.
A number of one-off boutiques and designer stores exude sartorial elegance, such as Ben de Lisi's store in Sloane Square which offers the ultimate evening wear in simple, but luxurious fabrics and his near neighbour Philip Treacy, who's millinery work has adorned the heads of the rich and famous for over a decade.
Lulu Guinness's highly collectible and novel handbags can be purchased on Ellis Street, Emma Hope designs exquisite women's footwear and for those in the know, there's Jo Malone (Sloane Street), where you can splash out on chic skincare and scents.
- Covent Garden: Home to many high street stores, a market and an impressive Apple store. Covent Garden, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RF. Tube: Covent Garden Station, Leicester Square Station, Charing Cross Station.
A visit to Covent Garden is a must, whether you intend to shop, sightsee or soak in the carnival atmosphere. The focal point of Covent Garden, the market, has dominated the area ever since the Middle Ages when monks tended their market garden here.
Since the 19th century the market has expanded. Watch out for mime artists - harmless but irritating. The Garden is a mecca for shop-hoppers because of the variety available here. High Street outlets include Oasis, French Connection, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Hobbs, Marks & Spencer and Mango.
Menswear is available at Diesel, Replay, Ted Baker and for the smarter guy, Paul Smith. There are a huge number of women's fashion stores and Neal Street, which runs out of the Piazza, is probably the best shoe shopping street in the capital, with numerous trendy outlets including Office, Foot Locker and Size.
Further options include Neal's Yard, a quaint and colourful courtyard that's worth a stroll through and Seven Dials, which is home to yet more high street stores. If (perish the thought!) you tire of clothes shopping there are scores of excellent spots for a coffee.
If you're still keen to shop remember to pay a visit to the beautiful Apple Store which, located in a carefully restored 1876 building, is spread across numerous floors and makes shopping a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
- Knightsbridge: This attractive area of London boasts plenty of shopping opportunities. Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1ED. Tube: Knightsbridge Station. Knightsbrige is one of the most unchanged, attractive areas of central London, with little in the way of offices nearby but plenty of shops and restaurants to serve the needs of local residents.
There are plenty of ways to spend money in this beguiling corner of the capital. Harrods is the most famous of the local shops, a huge tourist attraction employing over 3000 staff in more than 300 departments. However, locals turn their nose up at this garish overcrowded place and much prefer Harvey Nichols, a chic alternative with three floors of designer wear, a huge beauty department and delectable delicacies on the fifth floor, all at extremely high prices.
If you have the money to spend and want some designer clothes, look no further than Sloane Street. Christian Dior, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Alberta Ferretti, Nicole Fahri and Katharine Hamnett are just some of the designers with shops on Sloane Street, all within a stiletto heeled walk of each other. There are also a number of exquisite specialist lingerie stores including Rigby & Peller on Hans Road and La Perla on Sloane Street itself.
- Oxford Street: London's busiest street is home to many flagship stores. Oxford Street, Marylebone, London, W1C 1JN. Tube: Bond Street Station. With over 200 million visitors a year, more than 300 shops and 5 million square feet of retail space, Oxford Street lays claim to being London's busiest street.
The opening of Debenhams and Selfridges in 1909 marked the beginning of the street's dominance as a shopping centre. Amongst the chaos and bustle, retail therapists will find an oasis of calm in the area's unrivalled collection of department stores.
Debenhams has a great line in designer garments at more affordable prices. Look for Jasper Conran and Lulu Guinness. Who doesn't love John Lewis? From fabric to feather boas, children's toys to cutlery this store stocks the lot.
They have a 'lowest price' guarantee so you can buy with confidence and the simple lay out means you won't spend hours searching for it either! Less intimidating than Harvey Nicks and more down to earth than Harrods, Selfridges is the department store of Londoners.
There's an incredible selection of British and International designers available and plenty of great restaurants and cafes to chill out in if you get a bit tired. Oxford Street also offers some of the best choice in terms of High Street fashion, if you can fight your way through the crowds.
Among the best shops are inexpensive but stylish Spanish favourites Zara and Mango, up to the minute trends at Topshop's flagship store and its male counterpart Topman, Benetton and French Connection or cheap and chic Swedish store Hennes (H & M).
Hot on their heels is Niketown, several floors dedicated to sports wear in every conceivable guise and colour. The street is also bookended by two Primark stores, one at Marble Arch and the other Tottenham Court Road, so shoppers have two opportunities to pick up some serious bargains, providing you're willing to fight amongst the crowds and embark on the challenge of finding your size. Oxford Street is one and a half miles end to end. Most shops open from 10am to 6 or 7pm. Many also open on Sundays from 11am or 12 noon to 6pm with late nights on Thursdays.
- Regent Street: This elegant street features a number of large outlets. Regent Street, Soho, London, W1B 5SJ. Tube: Oxford Circus Station. Don't be put off by the fact that Nash's sweeping design for Regent Street was inspired as a means of separating the riff-raff (Soho) from the well to do (Mayfair) back in the 1800s.
Home to a number of large outlets offering everything from toys and trench coats to fabrics and food, Regent Street is a great place to window shop if nothing else. Strict building regulations mean that all the shops must blend in with the elegant architecture of the street.
Perhaps the street's most famous resident is Liberty. Founded in 1875 the owner was so inspired by the musical The Mikado that he sought to bring Oriental goods to the capital. Beyond the store's mock Tudor façade, this influence can still be felt.
Nearby is The Apple Store and flagship clothing stores including Banana Republic, Ted Baker and (further down) Aquascutum. Many of the shops along Regent Street (and especially Saville Row running parallel) are extremely expensive and suitable only for a very special occasion.
However, if you have children, the world's best toy shop should give them something to remember! Hamleys (on Regent Street) is a London institution, a huge, well-run emporium stacked from floor to ceiling with excellent toys. It is a wonderful place to take a child, and fun for adults as well. The main shopping section of the street lies between Oxford Circus to the north, and Piccadilly Circus to the south - a distance of about 3/4 of a mile.
- London Markets: Find vintage clothes, tempting street food and unique antiques at London's bustling markets. Aside from the major department stores and high street giants, London is renowned for its diverse range of street markets.
Ideal for thrifty shoppers, these markets are not only great for picking up a bargain but also sourcing stylish vintage items that will ensure you stand out from the crowd. Fashion lovers should head to Camden where several markets are wrapped into one canalside shopping experience and offers both vintage and new clothes, quirky jewellery, and a range of crafts and accessories.
World-famous Sunday market Petticoat Lane is a further option with its designer goods that are left over from the high street. London's markets are also a mecca for high quality street food, organic produce and locally sourced meat with the likes of Borough Market, Leadenhall Market, Berwick Street and Brick Lane among the many options. In fact, some of the food is so popular that it has become quite the norm for stalls to expand into fully functioning restaurants, Pitt Cu Co. and Meatliquor are prime examples of this success. Shoppers can also find fresh flowers, rare antiques, unique gifts and plenty more besides as London's bustling market scene.
- Westfield Shopping Centres: These two monster malls house hundreds of high street shops and designer boutiques. Ariel Way, Shepherd's Bush, London, W12 7DS Tube: Wood Lane Station, Shepherd's Bush Station (Central), Shepherd's Bush Market Station (Hammersmith and City Line).
In order to find a vast range of high street shops and a number of designer boutiques all under one roof, there are two London options: The Westfield Shopping Centres. The original Westfield, located in White City, houses 265 high end shops and 50 restaurants, supplemented by a luxury spa and 14-screen cinema. The huge space includes a 18,580 square metre Marks & Spencer (bigger than its Marble Arch store) and a 6,500 square metre House of Fraser store split over three levels above a Waitrose.
There's also The Balcony, home to 13 fully licensed culinary counters; The Loft, where a number of family friendly eateries can be found; and The Village, the luxury quarter with 40 high fashion labels such as Louis Vitton, Tiffany and Mulberry. The second monster mall opened in Stratford in late 2011 and was considered a significant part of the East London development during the lead up to the Olympics. This mall also houses hundreds of shops and a 14-screen cinema, plus the UK's largest casino, a bowling alley, offices, residential apartments and three hotels.
- Department Stores: Department stores are a London speciality. From Harrods to Harvey Nichols, Selfridges to Liberty, they are located across the city, stocking everything from footwear to furnishing and clothes to caviar.
Most London department stores also have cafés, restaurants or bars – perfect when you need to recharge your batteries after an extended shopping session. Some even offer you the chance to unwind with a luxurious spa or beauty treatment. You'll also find extensive cosmetics departments as well as bridal wear in the majority of larger stores.
Personal shopper services are becoming ever more common for both women and men, and they're not just for clothes either. Simply contact the store directly and make an appointment if you'd like some expert help finding that perfect purchase.
- Debenhams: Oxford Street flagship stocks affordable ranges from a number of British designers, including Jasper Conran and H! by Henry Holland. The seven-floor store has a gorgeous beauty hall, a hip homeware department and a stylish menswear floor.
- Fenwick of Bond Street: Established in 1891 as a hair accessories boutique, Fenwick is now home to five floors of luxury retail on one of London's chicest streets. Choose from designer clothing, homewares, bags, shoes, fashion, jewellery and more. The cosmetic department is an oasis of exclusive products and Carluccio's café is the ideal place to relax.
- Fortnum & Mason: The quintessential English store, Fortnum & Mason has been selling food, luggage, homewares and clothes to London's finest since 1707. The official grocer to The Queen, the beautiful store has four restaurants and sells the most indulgent foodstuffs. If you want specialist teas or exquisite hampers, this is the place to go.
- Harrods: Established in 1849 as a humble grocery store, today Harrods has seven floors and 330 departments dedicated to the finest products in food, fashion, homeware, technology and more, plus 20 restaurants and specialist services. Make sure you check out the Egyptian Hall, Salon du Parfums and the Pet Department. At night, the store is illuminated by 11,500 light bulbs.
- Harvey Nichols: A must for any fashionista, Harvey Nichols brings together an impressive range of designers from around the world and supplies an elite clientele with fine clothes, accessories, cosmetics, food and shoes. D&G, Space NK, Burberry and Jimmy Choo are just a few of the high-end labels you can find here.
- House of Fraser: One of the best-known names on Oxford Street, House of Fraser is renowned for its designer brands and exclusive collections – it's the place to go for a little bit of luxury, whatever your budget. Browse through top brands including DKNY, Max Mara and Ted Baker then indulge in various beauty treatments. And don't miss the Tea Terrace.
- John Lewis: A much-loved chain of department stores, John Lewis has a large branch on Oxford Street, stocking nearly half a million products from buttons to beds and cushions to cufflinks. The store boasts seven floors of fashion, beauty and technology products, as well as a new interractive home section and three restaurants.
- Liberty: Opened in 1875, Liberty is one of London's most traditional stores, but venture inside and you'll find a whole host of cutting-edge ranges. Designers include Vivienne Westwood, Chloé and Tod's, plus there's an impressive beauty hall and haberdashery. Celebrating fine design and craftsmanship, Liberty is a shoppers' paradise.
- Marks & Spencer: At Marble Arch boasts an impressive range of affordable buys. Staples like lingerie and clothing are joined by flowers, furniture and fabrics. There's also the M&S Café and the mouth-watering aisles of the food hall – enough to keep even the most intrepid shopper occupied.
- Selfridges: Whatever you're after bags, shoes, cosmetics, soft furnishings, books, a speciality food hall or cafés, you'll find it in Selfridges, London's amazing one-stop department store. There's a budget-busting designer clothing section and The Wonder Room, home to the world's most desirable brands, from Cartier and Chopard to Bulgari and more.