Destination: London
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Viewing London
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Seeing London
If you want to see London, as opposed to just 'doing' its sights, then put on your walking shoes. The bus and the tube have their uses but you can cover a surprising amount of the central area quite comfortably on foot. It is rarely worth taking the tube for fewer than three stops. The best bits of buildings are often at first-floor level, so keep glancing upwards.

Big Ben, Westminster Museum

London may be the oldest of the modern world's great cities, with an exceptionally high proportion of ancient buildings, but it is also changing and evolving into a fresher, more vibrant destination for visitors. Some 40 years on from London's Swinging Sixties, the national and international press are telling us that once again this is the place to be.

Leading the world in fashion, music and the arts, London is now also rated as the restaurant capital of the world. Hyperbole or reality? Just look around. Ten years ago, when I wrote my first guide to London, the vast majority of visitor attractions were 'look but don't touch', you couldn't get a decent meal without paying the earth, a cappuccino was still an exotic novelty, beer or wine was off limits for much of the day, and the only way to get into Buckingham Palace was to scale its walls.

Today, London is more European, more worldly, more open in its outlook. The great London institutions of the British Museum, the Tower of London, the museums of South Kensington and the Royal Opera House have all recently undergone (or are currently in the process of) major improvements, and London's developing South Bank and Docklands are also springing to life. Meanwhile, visitors returning to the capital can rest assured that the unsung heroes of London life - the quiet leafy squares, the parks and its myriad tiny unspoilt churches, pubs and shops - soldier timelessly on.


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