London is comprised of many neighborhoods, each with their own personality and charm. Featured here are the neighborhoods that are of most interest to tourists.
The West End
The West End is the heart of London’s cultural, historic and gastronomic life. Theaters such as the famous Palladium, Strand and Haymarket are flanked by many more of equal or lesser acclaim. When in London, make it a point to see one of the myriad of plays offered on any given day.
Regent’s Park and Hyde Park are located here, as well as many little neighborhood parks, each offering a green oasis of calm in this bustling city. The British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library are here as well
Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London, is busy day and night. Fortnum & Mason, 300 years old in 2007, is an elegant food emporium worth a visit. Elegant Jermyn Street and Regent Street are great for window shopping and elegant dining.
The heart of aristocratic London, the Mayfair district is where you will find refined hotels and great restaurants. First-class shopping can be found along Bond Street and Oxford street. Soho, a drinking and dining area where Londoners from all over congregate, is a colorful mix of trendy and tacky.
Covent Garden Piazza, the 18th century iron and glass former fruit and vegetable market, has evolved to house fashion boutiques and other up-scale stores. You may want to take in a performance at The Royal Opera House.
Westminster and South Bank
The Parliament, Westminster Abbey (my favorite historical sight in London), Big Ben, The Tate, Buckingham Palace , home of the British Monarchy, and obviously so much more are all located in Westminster and the South Bank. These are all must-see sights and are all located within walking distance from one another.
The Thames meanders right through this district offering great views and numerous river -boating opportunities. Numerous parks dot this part of London including Battersea Park, St. James Park, Green Park and parts of Hyde Park.
Take a riverside walk to Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. And don’t miss the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel) near Westminster Bridge. The gigantic Ferris wheel offers dramatic views of London from 450 feet above the Thames.
Notting Hill, Bayswater,and Marlybone
Notting Hill offers designer boutiques, retro shops, delicatessens, and the colorful Portobello Road Market. The world famous Notting Hill Carnival held at the end of August brings a Caribbean flavor to the streets.
Bohemian cafe life, bars and restaurants abound satisfying the most discriminating palate. Near Baker Street is Madame Tussaud‘s and Regent’s Park. Marylebone High Street has become a mecca for the young and hip.
A city within a city, the financial district is contained in this square mile. Modern buildings now outnumber the more ancient edifices such as Lincoln’s Inn, the Bank of England and the Old Bailey. St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Sir. Christopher Wren is here, as well as the Tower of London, Spitalfields Market and Leadenhall Market.
Kensington & Knightsbridge
This part of town is close to the action, but a bit more quiet. It is therefore a great place to to stay while in London. Hotels are plentiful and generally less expensive than those in the up-scale Mayfair area.
Harvey Nichols and world-famous Harrods offer fabulous shopping. Don’t miss Kensington Church Street or Sloane Street and their Chic boutiques and expensive restaurants; here is where trend-setters hang out.
Greenwich and Docklands
Home of Greenwich Mean Time, this is zero degrees longitude. Here you can visit the National Maritime Museum and the National Observatory , the Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark, and the Thames Flood Barrier. Canary Wharf Tower dominates the skyline and the Canary Wharf area is the capital’s second economic powerhouse.