Whether you travel to please your palate, test your limits, or expand your horizons, this urban escape is a swinging city for all. Here’s how to see and do it right, for four different types of visitors.
BY JACKIE CARADONIO
Where to begin? London has long been the culinary epicenter of Great Britain, but now more than ever, the city is brimming with dining creativity. Timing your travels to one of its many food festivals—from the Taste of London (June and November), which features signature dishes from the city’s best restaurants and Michelin-starred chefs, to VegFest (October), one of the biggest food festivals for vegans in the world—is the best way to squeeze a taste of everything into a short amount of time. And no matter when you come, there are more than a few quintessential staples to fit into your schedule, from afternoon tea (the most famous is served at the elegant Palm Court at the Ritz®London) to pub fare (the best of which can be found at longstanding institutions like Churchill Arms and Ye Old Mitre Tavern).
London may be the sophisticated center of Great Britain, but it’s a fabulous jumping-off point for adventure, too. Within a 100-mile radius, you’ll find several national parks, including South Downs, a spread of rolling hills, wooded valleys, and peaceful rivers that covers more than 6,000 square miles and has as much activity (with roughly 100 miles of mountain biking trails) as it does history (Jane Austen spent most of her life here). You can also find spectacular hiking at Box Hill, just 25 miles outside of London, and outdoors aplenty at the National Pinetum in Kent Downs, where the towering trees and forestland make for a magnificent immersion in nature year-round. And back in the city, you can get an adrenaline rush just as easily—via a sightseeing kayak tour on the River Thames.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES
There’s royalty. There’s history. There’s unrivaled art and architecture. The options for culture in London are plenty—the real challenge is finding a way to see it all in one visit. Of course, there’s a museum for every type, whether you’re an art lover (take your pick between the Tate, the National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, and more), a history buff (don’t miss the Churchill War Rooms), or a science nerd (the Royal Air Force Museum isn’t nerdy at all). There’s so much more beyond the walls of a museum though, from a viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London to a quintessential stop by the guards of Buckingham Palace to a casual stroll past the centuries-old landmarks of Mayfair. You can’t do anything in this city without getting a much-appreciated dose of culture.
FOR LGBTQ+ TRAVELERS
London has Pride. The English capital is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world, with multiple Pride festivals every year (including the not-to-be-missed Fringe! Queer Art & Film Fest, which takes place every November) and plenty of proud experiences continually taking place. Everybody under the rainbow gravitates to Soho, where some of the best gay clubs have been partying for decades. The scene in Vauxhall and East End is equally enticing, with a serious after-hours scene at the former, and favorites like the Queen Adelaide and the Glory located in the latter. And while all of London’s hotels are welcoming, there’s a host of overnight stays that prioritize LGBTQ+ travelers, including the Rosewood London and The Beaumont Hotel.
Of course, London is one of the safest big cities in Europe, but with overseas travel often comes uncertainty—especially with constantly shifting alerts issued by the Department of State. GeoSure’s mobile app gives travelers greater peace of mind with its rating system measuring the safety of more than 40,000 worldwide cities and neighborhoods. The app analyzes comprehensive data from dozens of official and trustworthy sources, including Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—to give travelers more accurate and up-to-date information on their vacation destinations. Filter options for women, LGBTQ+, and political freedom, as well as overall safety, also make it easy to customize the most relevant data for your next holiday getaway, whether it’s São Paulo or Shoreditch.
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