2005 Punchstock
The Great Clock - aka: Big Ben - is one of London's most enduring and endearing landmarks.
updated 9/22/2005 3:42:10 PM ET 2005-09-22T19:42:10

No city in the world is quite like London. At once historic and cutting edge, stately and scandalous, hoity-toity and low-brow, gritty and manicured, the teeming British capital has such a complex (some might say split) personality that it almost defies description. Indeed, as Henry James once said, “It is difficult to speak adequately, or justly, of London. It is not a pleasant place; it is not agreeable, or easy, or exempt from reproach. It is only magnificent.”

Part of London’s undeniable magnificence stems from its megawatt royal, arts, and nightlife pedigree. After all, this sprawling city by the Thames is home to the world’s most-watched monarchy, some of the globe’s finest cultural institutions, and many of the planet’s oldest pubs and best DJs. And that’s before tipping our hat to its celebrated theater scene and role as international arbiter of all things deemed to be of proper good taste.

In any other city, these qualities alone would justify a visit, but London ups the ante by offering visitors the opportunity to experience a multitude of unique local customs as well – from posh high tea to fire-engine-red double-decker buses – that always manage to captivate even the most jaded of world travelers, never mind the city’s many repeat visitors.

Indeed, more people return to London than to other cities of its class, in part because it’s next to impossible to see and experience everything this metropolis has to offer in one single foray. London only fully unveils itself to newcomers over time, making each subsequent trip one of new discoveries and familiar places.

A whirlwind three-day visit will give you a quick shot of city life, while a weeklong stay will provide some insight into what makes this iconic city tick. No matter which option you choose, rest assured that no visit to London is likely to be your last.

London is a wonderful city to explore and discover. Don’t miss the main sights, like Big Ben (pictured) and the Tower of London, or the manifold museums and galleries for which London is famous. You’ll also find idyllic parks and gardens, superb theater and shopping, and must-do local customs like high tea.

Make it happen by booking air and hotel independently or together, as part of a package; great hotels abound in the city, as do excellent restaurants in all price ranges. At the end of each day, you can also enjoy fantastic nightlife, from pubs to clubs.

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