Cable car across the Thames
The most scenic means of crossing from one Docklands riverbank to the other is a 10-minute cable car link unveiled for the first time in 2012. It reaches a height of 90 metres – far higher than the nearby O2 Arena – and while technically part of the public transport network, it’s become a tourist draw in its own right.
Mini Cooper tour
Guided tours in this classic British car take in the big sights of the UK capital, with the driving tour guide offering stories and information along the way. A special Royal Tour focuses on the landmarks associated with the British Royal Family.
For those with the leg power, cycling is one of the best ways of travelling around London – largely thanks to the ‘Boris bike’ cycle scheme that was launched in 2010. More and more bike-docking stations continue to pop up throughout the city, and designated cycle paths help navigate around the inner city traffic.
Enjoy far-reaching views of this vast city from the Thames-side London Eye. This 135-metre wheel takes passengers far up above the skyline, giving a sweeping cityscape. From the top, pick out landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, the Olympic Stadium, Battersea Power station, London’s many big parks and the towering Shard.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – located some 30 kilometres north of the city – gives fans of Hagrid, Hermione, Hedwig et al the chance to immerse themselves in the endlessly creative wizarding world of the Harry Potter films. You’ll find sets, costumes, props and special effects. Tickets need to be booked in advance.
London Fashion Week
Cutting-edge trends from the world’s finest designers take the spotlight at this twice-yearly event. Catwalk shows teem with the who’s-who of fashion and celebrity, while exclusive after-show parties keep cool crowds entertained until the small hours.
Date: February and September
Venue: Somerset House and other venues
Chelsea Flower Show
England’s premier horticultural celebration is always awash with innovative designs, prize blooms and new plant unveilings.
Venue: London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea
Tennis greats battle it out at Wimbledon’s All England Club during the world’s oldest tennis tournament. Spectators cheer on the likes of Murray and Djokovic while tucking into Wimbledon’s famous strawberries and cream.
Venue: All England Club
Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill in West London is taken over by a huge and flamboyant street party that dominates pavements, pubs and parks. A colourful procession leads through the streets, complemented by a rainbow collage of Caribbean food stalls, calypso and samba bands, DJ sets and general revelry.
Date: August Bank Holiday weekend
Venue: Notting Hill
The BFI London Film Festival
Showcasing the cream of British and international film, the BFI Film Festival is London’s most extensive celebration of the big screen. Cinemas across the city put on a rich selection of documentaries, feature films and shorts.
Venue: Cinemas across London
Top 5 sights for first-timers
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The UK's magnificent centre of government remains one of London's most photographed landmarks. The neo-Gothic Palace of Westminster, soaring upwards beside the Thames, has seen the birth of countless laws and heard the rallying address of many great leaders. Hear the hour marked by the deep chimes of Big Ben and the 13-ton bell inside the clock tower.
London's not short on inspirational gallery spaces, but none are quite as striking as the Tate Modern. Occupying a converted power station and using its vast Turbine Hall as a cavernous centrepiece, the gallery houses a truly world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. There are special exhibitions on a rolling basis.
London's historic Westminster Abbey is one of the world's most distinguished sacred spaces. As well as being a truly beautiful and ornate spectacle, the abbey also has strong royal ties, having seen the coronation of kings and queens for centuries, and more recently providing the setting for the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton.
Stately Buckingham Palace is the Queen's official London residence, and from late July to late September visitors can explore the gloriously opulent state rooms at the heart of the building. Outside, the Changing of the Guard draws crowds throughout the year - daily between April and July (except Sundays), and every other day between August and March.
Tower of London
A dark history is revealed at this ancient castle beside London's River Thames. Once a notorious prison and place of execution and torture, today it houses the exquisite Crown Jewels collection. Tours by the Yeoman Warders (aka Beefeaters) bring the Tower's history to life with gruesome and fascinating tales.
Top 5 sights for old hands
Founded way back in 1857 and still very much keeping pace with the times, this excellent seven-floor museum traces scientific breakthroughs from the sepia days of the Industrial Revolution through to the whistles and bells of the digital age. It's interactive, informative and enormous. Serious educational fun for all ages.
St Paul's Cathedral
The silver dome of St Paul's Cathedral still maintains a grand presence on London's eclectic skyline. Climb up into the dome itself to experience the Whispering Gallery, then head down to the ancient crypt, the final resting place for historical figures such as Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.
The quality of London's food scene has never been in better nick, and Borough Market showcases the fact more enjoyably than almost anywhere else in town. Historically (and still) a pre-dawn wholesale market, it really comes alive on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with corridors of artisan stalls serving up everything from gourmet sausages to Punjabi pickles.
This animated East London street is a thriving hub of activity, with a youthful crowd enjoying trendy bars, live music, vintage clothing stores and an array of curry houses. Weekends are particularly lively, when market stalls fill the area and bars spill out onto the streets. Pick up one of Brick Lane's bagels and explore.
Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets
Tropical flowers and classic English greenery populate this leafy UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest London, home to the globe’s largest collection of living plants. Visitors can walk ancient treetops on an 18-metre-high walkway, looking out across Kew's sweeping landscaped grounds - all 121 hectares of them - and enjoying the seasonal blooms of the gardens and glasshouses.