When it comes to “most popular city in Europe” lists, London is usually standing proud at the top.
Of course, we may be a little biased when we say that London takes the crown for the best city, but it seems that many others think this way as well. In 2013, the Office for National Statistics revealed that the capital welcomed a colossal 16.8 million people – its highest figure since the 1960s.
But what makes London stand out from the crowd? After all, there are some pretty sensational cities in Europe with the likes of Rome, Paris and Barcelona being just a few.
Perhaps it’s the unique fusion of British heritage and a multiculturalism that draws people in their millions to London. Maybe it’s the incredible amount of activities and attractions that are on offer in this fair city. Or it could be a combination of two. The point is, there are plenty of reasons why people want visit London; here are a few more that come to mind.
The British Royal Family
No royal family on the planet captures the imagination quite like the British monarchy. From Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard to the exquisite grounds of Kensington Palace and its surrounding gardens, the royal family is one of the biggest draws for tourists coming to England and the UK.
Explore Kensington Park and The Royal Gardens
In fact, VisitBritain estimates that 12.5 per cent of the country’s top tourist attractions are linked, directly or indirectly, to the royal family. Even though it’s only open for eight weeks a year, Buckingham Palace welcomes some 400,000 people every year through its doors.
You only have to look at the global adulation that “new royals” Will and Kate receive to understand that people all over the world love the British monarchy and are fascinated by it.
London’s history is so rich and intriguing that many come to the city just to learn more about it. In the centre, it’s especially easy to do this as there are reminders of the past everywhere. There’s the macabre story of the Tower of London and the cursed souls it contained, the iconic Big Ben and Westminster Palace, the hustle and bustle of Borough Market, which dates back to the 11th century, and that’s not even scratching the surface!
Plague, civil war, terrorism, the great fire, two World Wars; London has seen it all and continues to prosper and grow, and because of the massive events that have helped shape it.
This city’s story is over 2,000 years old with new additions being written everyday. Everyone wants to explore the vast heritage of London and make their own little piece of its future.
Cultural diversity is the norm in London. People come from all over the world to settle here and with them they bring a little piece of their own heritage to weave into the cultural tapestry.
The term Londoner covers so many different creeds, races and peoples that it’s hard not to fit in within this wonderful city.
Much of the amazing food in London owes itself to the multicultural nature of the city, and the sheer diversity of fare available here is testament to this.
One night you could be in Chinatown chowing down on some authentic dim sum, the next you could be down in South Kensington sampling some traditional British grub; the choice is yours!
The high quality of the restaurants in London is another reason why so many flock here to treat their taste buds. There are Michelin Stars, celebrity chefs, alternative eating experiences, gourmet pop-up restaurants; you name it, it’s here in London.
There’s a nightlife scene to quench every thirst in London, from artisan cocktail bars and elegant champagne venues to old-school boozers.
Berry Delicious Cocktail at Shaftesbury Grand Royal
For upmarket drinks there’s the likes of Covent Garden and South Kensington, to experience the increasingly not-so-counter culture, head to trendy East London areas Shoreditch and Hoxton, and for the LGBT scene, look no further than Soho, a friendly, if not raucous, night out.
Theatreland and the West End
You can’t visit London without seeing a show on the West End. Even if you hate theatre and musicals, you must go; it’s against the law not to. Ok, well maybe it isn’t, but the high quality of the theatre and the incredible variety of shows on offer is one of the things that sets London apart from other big cities in Europe.
The West End area is packed with incredible venues with the Young Vic, The Lyceum and the Apollo being just a few examples, and you can pretty much see any type of show you want. From classic films transformed into musicals to old favourites returning for another run, there’s always something on to entertain in London.
For those coming from overseas to visit the city, there are many hotels near London airports which makes it easy to travel to and from the centre.