Did you say London? Discover the British capital in all its splendor. Cosmopolitan and cultural, it's also a commercial and financial center. Unusual and intoxicating, it has many surprises in store for you. 

Great Britain

Britain conjures up images of a European island, green landscapes, contrasting cities, tea time, English breakfast, famous soccer teams and a dry sense of humor. If the rolling countryside of Kent, the Cotswolds, the Lake District and Cornwall has inspired poets, the island is best discovered through its cities: Oxford and Cambridge for their prestigious universities, Bath for its hot springs and thermal baths, Liverpool for the Beatles and soccer clubs, Canterbury for its Cathedral or Nottingham for Robin Hood. And London, of course. In Wales, where Celtic tradition is reflected even in the lakes, you can explore King Arthur's kingdom in the footsteps of Merlin the Enchanter and the dragons. Scotland, too, is a land of exceptional legends, inhabited by the Loch Ness monster, the ghosts of manor houses and the castles of the Highlands. The ancient roots of the island's first inhabitants can be found at Stonehenge, where megaliths have been looking skyward since prehistoric times. This timeless atmosphere can be felt in Jersey and the Channel Islands, with their happy mix of green countryside and coastline: perhaps the very opposite of London, a sprawling capital whose cosmopolitan spirit is conducive to an intense cultural life. From Buckingham Palace to the London Eye and from the flea markets of Camden Market to the City, it's a whole world to discover, full of archaisms and yet an icon of the avant-garde.

London for a weekend

To find out more about London, see our special report on the city's various districts.

London's must-visit districts

  • The City, Europe's most important financial center, bustling with businessmen by day and virtually deserted outside office hours.
  • Soho and Covent Garden, the district for antique lovers and night owls.
  • Greenwich, a veritable village within the city, with its parks and markets.
  • Docklands, the old port of London and its new architecture.
  • Notting Hill, a chic island ideal for bargain hunting.
  • South Kensington and Bloomsbury, the museum district.
  • Westminster, a historic district featuring the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Little Venice.
  • Camdem, with its huge covered market.
  • East End, a perfect example of the population mix that makes it possible to discover the other side of the metropolis.
  • West End and its theaters.
  • Brixton, the Afro-Caribbean district.
  • Hampstead, one of the "greenest" districts.
  • Waterloo and South Bank, for their panoramic views of the Thames.
  • SouthWark, the heart of London in the year 1000.
  • Regent's Park, almost a district in itself for its sheer size.
  • St-James and its mansions.
  • Chelsea, the artists' quarter.

Things to do in London

  • Attend the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of Buckingham
  • Stroll through London's different districts, according to your tastes
  • Learn in museums (most are free)
  • Visit art galleries
  • Attend a concert, whether rock, alternative or classical
  • Enjoy a Roast dinner with a beer in a pub, or a curry in one of the thousands of Indian restaurants.
  • Traditional mid-afternoon tea, or the famous English breakfast
  • Eating fish and chips on the banks of the Thames
  • Canoeing on park waterways
  • Find wonders at flea markets, such as those in Notting Hill or on Porto Bello Road
  • Window-shopping at Harrod's and shopping in Piccadilly or on Oxford Street
  • Attend a match at one of London's 5 soccer clubs, or a rugby match or cricket tournament.

Emblematic monuments

  • Buckingham Palace, the royal residence
  • Kensington Palace, Lady Di's home palace
  • The Tower of London, once a fortress, prison, mint, palace...
  • Saint Paul's Cathedral, rebuilt after the great fire of 1666
  • Tower Bridger, whose drawbridge is still in operation
  • The Millennium Bridge, a beautiful footbridge linking the City to Southwark
  • The London Eye, a gigantic Ferris wheel offering an incomparable view of London
  • Trafalgar Square, home to the statue of Admiral Nelson
  • Big Ben, the clock with the world-famous chimes
  • The Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare's plays are still performed
  • Knightsbridge, home to the world's largest department stores

The museums

  • The British Museum, exhibiting unique testimonies to the history of mankind
  • The National Gallery, with its different wings offering an overview of all the different pictorial trends.
  • Victoria Albert Museum and its remarkable collections of decorative and fine arts
  • Madame Tussaud's wax museum, where you can rub shoulders with statues of stars from all eras
  • The Tate Modern, in the former premises of a power station, dedicated to modern art
  • Tate Britain, dedicated to English figurative art
  • Sir John Soane's Museum of British eccentricities
  • More contemporary museums, such as the Design Museum and the White Cube Gallery