Technically part of the City of Westminster, West End has a big reputation all on its own. A place that never sleeps, day and night it’s a hive of activity, from the bustling squares and world-acclaimed stage shows to the many bars hidden down winding walkways. Encompassing popular areas such as Covent Garden, Soho and Chinatown, it offers a kaleidoscope of entertainment, shopping, galleries, dining, nightlife and iconic city sights set amongst architectural grandeur. Key highlights include buzzing Leicester Square, neon-lit Piccadilly Circus and beautiful Trafalgar Square, the largest square in the city and home to a number of iconic monuments. Shopaholics will love Oxford Street, Bond Street, Carnaby Street and Regent Street. As London’s famed entertainment quarter – touting theatres on par with New York’s Broadway – a trip to the theatre is an absolute must in West End.
Outside of the fabulous West End district, Westminster is chock full of things to see and do for travellers. It’s home to many of the iconic sights that every traveller wishes to tick off their list. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace are all here. Other key favourites include the London Zoo, Serpentine Galleries, Haymarket Theatre, Royal Opera House and Admiralty Arch. For a break from all that city rumble, head to the green oasis of St. James’s Park or sprawling Hyde Park, perched not far from each other.
South Bank & Southwark
The city’s cultural heart, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do and see – and hear – around Southwark. The historical home of arts and entertainment, much of the action revolves around South Bank, which sits nestled on the river banks. It’s brimming with museums, galleries and theatres showcasing everything from music and dance to film and festivals. Explore Tate Modern and Florence Nightingale Museum, or catch a performance at Royal Festival Hall, The Old Vic, the National Theatre or the Globe, a circular playhouse built to replicate the Shakespearian-era original. You could also wander the foodie finds of Borough Market, take the kids to SEA LIFE London Aquarium or explore the historical sights of Tower Bridge and London Dungeon. When it’s time to relax, stroll the beautiful green parks and atmospheric plazas lining the river as the city skyline soars across the river.
Also known as the ‘Square Mile’, The City is London’s historical heart, where the very first stirrings of settlement took place. Now the financial district, it poses a fascinating mix of old and new. Buildings such as the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and Mansion house showcase architectural splendour, as does the length of Fleet Street, while modernity prevails in the ever-increasing number of shiny skyscrapers. The main drawcards for tourists include the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the Museum of London and the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral – just one of many centuries-old churches in the area. But you can also discover graceful old pubs, interesting converted warehouses, and plenty of shopping potential in the boutiques and markets of Spitalfields and Brick Lane.
Kensington & Chelsea
Kensington and Chelsea are more than just a borough of London, they’re classed with ‘Royal’ borough status. Home to many expensive residential areas, this is where tourists flock to glimpse Kensington Palace, the former home of late Diana, Princess of Wales, and the beautiful Kensington Gardens. But it’s also home to the lovely cosmopolitan district of Notting Hill, the antique-laden Portobello Road Market, and a number of famous restaurants and shopping areas, including Harrods. If you head to South Kensington you’ll also find a cluster of free museums, such as the Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the fabulous Natural History Museum.