One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history and culture to fine food and good times.
A Tale of Two Cities
London is as much about wide-open spaces and leafy escapes as it is high-density, sight-packed exploration. Central London is where you will find the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights, but visit Hampstead Heath or the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to escape the crowds and view the city’s greener hues up close. Or venture even further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for excellent panoramas of riverside London.
London is immersed in history, with more than its share of mind-blowing antiquity and historic splendour. London’s buildings are eye-catching milestones in the city’s unique and compelling biography, and a great many of them – the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben – are familiar landmarks. There’s more than enough innovation (the Shard, theLondon Eye, the planned Garden Bridge) to put a crackle in the air, but it never drowns out London’s well-preserved, centuries-old narrative. Architectural grandeur rises up all around you in the West End, ancient remains dot the City and charming pubs punctuate the banks of the Thames. Take your pick.
Art & Culture
A tireless innovator of art and culture, London is a city of ideas and the imagination. Londoners have always been fiercely independent thinkers (and critics), but until not so long ago people were inherently suspicious of anything they considered avant-garde. That’s all in the past now, and the city’s creative milieu is streaked with left-field attitude, from theatrical innovation to contemporary art, pioneering music, writing and design. Food in all its permutations has become almost an obsession in certain circles.
This city is very multicultural, with a third of all Londoners foreign born, representing 270 different nationalities. What unites them and visitors alike is the English language, for this is both our tongue’s birthplace and its epicentre. These cultures season the culinary aromas on London’s streets, the often exotic clothing people wear and the music they listen to. London’s diverse cultural dynamism makes it among the world’s most international cities. And diversity reaches intrinsically British institutions too; the British and Victoria & Albert Museums have collections as varied as they are magnificent, while flavours at centuries-old Borough Market now run the full gourmet and cosmopolitan spectrum.
Why I love London
By Steve Fallon, Writer
Like most Londoners, I revel in all our familiar landmarks – Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the murky Thames, the London Eye. I still thank the former government that made some of the greatest museums and art galleries in the world free to one and all. The choice of restaurants, bars and clubs is legion, and what’s not to love about a city with more lush parkland than any other world capital? But the one thing that sets my adopted city apart from any other is its amazing tolerance. ‘As long as you don’t scare the horses, mate, you’ll be all right here,’ I was told when I arrived here more than 20 years ago. Guess what… It still hasn’t happened.
Read More: Lonely Planet
Despite its small size, Scotland has many treasures crammed into its compact territory – big skies, lonely landscapes, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood and hospitable, down-to-earth people.
A Taste of Scotland
An increasing number of visitors have discovered that Scotland’s restaurants have shaken off their old reputation for deep-fried food and unsmiling service and can now compete with the best in Europe. A new-found respect for top-quality local produce means that you can feast on fresh seafood mere hours after it was caught, beef and venison that was raised just a few miles away from your table, and vegetables that were grown in your hotel’s own organic garden. And top it all off with a dram of single malt whisky – rich, evocative and complex, the true taste of Scotland.
Scotland is a land with a rich, multilayered history, a place where every corner of the landscape is steeped in the past – a deserted croft on an island shore, a moor that was once a battlefield, a cave that once sheltered Bonnie Prince Charlie. Hundreds of castles, from the plain but forbidding tower houses of Hermitage and Smailholm to the elaborate machicolated fortresses of Caerlaverock and Craigmillar, testify to the country’s often turbulent past. And battles that played a pivotal part in the building of a nation are remembered and brought to life at sites such as Bannockburn and Culloden.
Scotland harbours some of the largest areas of wilderness left in Western Europe, a wildlife haven where you can see golden eagles soar above the lochs and mountains of the northern Highlands, spot otters tumbling in the kelp along the shores of the Outer Hebrides, and watch minke whales breach through shoals of mackerel off the coast of Mull. It’s also an adventure playground where you can tramp the tundra plateaus of the Cairngorms, balance along tightrope ridges strung between the rocky peaks of the Cuillin, sea-kayak among the seal-haunted isles of the Outer Hebrides, and take a speed-boat ride into the surging white water of the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
Why I Love Scotland
By Neil Wilson, Writer
It’s the weather. Yes, seriously. We get four proper seasons here (sometimes all of them in one day) and that means that you get to enjoy the same landscapes over and over again in a range of different garbs – August hills clad in purple heather, native woodlands gilded with autumn colours, snowpatched winter mountains, and Hebridean machair sprinkled with a confetti of spring wildflowers. And the unpredictability of the weather means that even the wettest day can be suddenly transformed by parting clouds and slanting shafts of golden light. Sheer magic.
Be it the poetry of Robert Burns, the crime fiction of Ian Rankin or the songs of Emeli Sandé, Scotland’s cultural exports are appreciated around the world every bit as much as whisky, tweed and tartan. But you can’t beat reading Burns’ poems in the village where he was born, enjoying an Inspector Rebus novel in Rankin’s own Edinburgh, or catching the latest Scottish bands at the T in the Park festival. And museums such as Glasgow’s Kelvingrove, Dundee’s Discovery Point and Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum recall the influence of Scottish artists, engineers, explorers, writers and inventors in shaping the modern world.
Read More: Lonely Planet