For snap-happy tourists
Right in the heart of London is Westminster, the tourist hub of the city. Here, you’ll find all the iconic London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and a plethora of museums and galleries. For London first-timers, Westminster is the ideal spot if you want to see the sights.
South Bank is just over the Thames and offers a unique view across the rest of the city. Walk the banks of the river, cross the historic bridges and even go for a ride on the London Eye. South Bank is also home to many of London’s cultural institutions, including the National Theatre, the Old Vic, the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. If you stay in South Bank, you’ll also be within walking distance of the must-see Borough Market and all its delicious food trucks. The riverside walk is particularly popular in summer, where locals and tourists alike gather at the outdoor pop-up bars to soak up the sun and people-watch.
While the world-famous Harrods department store is found further west in Knightsbridge, Soho and Mayfair are far better shopping destinations (especially if you don’t have a designer budget!). Branching out from Oxford Circus, you’ll find streets upon streets of cool shops, international chain stores and vintage boutiques. Soho is also an excellent place to stay if you’re looking to party after dark – there’s plenty of pubs, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, while the West End is just a stone’s throw away with its historic theatres and concert venues.
For a regal London experience, stay around Kensington, a neighbourhood fit for a princess. Despite its swanky reputation, many of the Kensington attractions are free, including Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National History Museum. From Kensington, you can also wander over to the candy-coloured houses of Notting Hill and its popular Portobello Road market, as well as upmarket Knightsbridge.
Night owls and party animals will want to head north, towards King’s Cross and Camden Town. An alternative oasis that’s home to much-loved pubs and clubs, Camden has a rock ‘n’ roll-slash-grunge vibe that’s full of life 24 hours a day, rain, hail or shine. Don’t miss Camden Lock and its markets either, and, of course, legendary live music venues such as Koko, Electric Ballroom and the Roundhouse.
To live like a real Londoner, venture a little further out to Shoreditch. Here, there’s street art on every wall, trendy cafes serving cold brew coffees, concept stores with up-and-coming labels and renovated warehouses turned into bars and clubs. It’s a young and creative area with an international flavour – anything and everything goes in the hip East End of town.