Peace & Quiet
London is such a varied and cosmopolitan city that there is a bewildering choice of things to do and see. Perhaps inevitably, visitors feel compelled to tick off its major sights at breakneck speed, but this is no way to get the flavour of the city. The key is not to rush, not to feel you have to see it all (you never will) and not to overlook the simple indigenous pleasures of London. Just for a day or two, forget the museums, the historical attractions, and especially the crowded West End stores. Instead, rummage through a street market stall, stroll in the parks, enjoy a pint in a theme-free pub - in short, be a local.
The 10 Essentials
If you have only a short time to visit London, or would like to get a real flavour of the city, here are the essentials:
Ride on the top deck of a London bus - still a great way to see the capital. The Big Bus Company operates excellent tours, or take the regular service (No 11) from Chelsea to Bank.
Cruise on the Thames - London's most under-utilised highway is the perfect route to Greenwich, and the journey is accompanied by a lively commentary.
Relax in the park when the traffic noise grates and your feet ache; escape to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James's Park or Regent's Park.
Join a walking tour and let a professional guide take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London. It is the best and most enjoyable way to learn about the capital - and cheap too. Pick up a flyer from a tourist information office or see Time Out for details.
Take afternoon tea - the quintessential British afternoon pastime.
Attend a church concert - even the least God-fearing of folk will find this an uplifting experience.
Enjoy the view from Waterloo Bridge to see St Paul's and the London skyline at their very best.
Visit a traditional London pub, although it's hard to tell the phoneys from the real thing these days.
Visit a street market - two of the best are Brick Lane and Portobello Road, held on Sundays. All London life is there!
Visit the Inns of Court - not a 'sight' as such, but an astonishing oasis in the heart of the city and a glimpse of 'olde London' that few locals (let alone visitors) ever see.