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Quirky Camden is just one of many 'villages' that make up London

Parade

Parade

Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall is one of London's many tourist attractions

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The River Thames snakes through the centre of the city

Notting Hill Carnival is guaranteed to be a bright and colourful event

Leicester Square, in the heart of the West End, is the theatre and cinema centre

Black cabs are a common sight on London's streets

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London: a city of villages

 


 

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Step into one of the ubiquitous black cabs and you'll know you've arrived in Great Britain. London is the first stop for almost every international visitor, and it definitely won't disappoint: from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, this is a city overflowing with iconic sites; it holds some of the world's best museums and galleries, many of which are free; the shopping is first-class; and the city's numerous parks are impressive. Uncovering it all will keep you busy for days.

As you tick off the big sights, don't forget to enjoy the bustling atmosphere and explore London's great variety. The city's multi-cultural inhabitants have created a patchwork of villages packed into one great capital. Londoners have a reputation for being too busy to smile, but head away from the tourist attractions centred around the snaking River Thames, to discover this isn't true. The soul of this fascinating city is found by venturing away from its heart and into the diverse boroughs, from Camden's bohemian markets and Clapham's trendy student vibe, to the West End's theatres and Greenwich Village's historical beauty.

There are so many events in London that it's hard to keep track of them all. But from Notting Hill Carnival to the iconic O2 arena AKA the Millennium Dome, there's always a reason to get excited here. Of course after 2011's Royal Wedding, London is used to being in the limelight, and 2012 will see attention turn once again to this famous city. While the Olympic Park is gearing up for the big one in July, the Royal Family are getting ready for their next celebration. Her Royal Highness' Diamond Jubilee - that's 60 years on the throne! - falls on June 2, 2012. Expect street parties, Union Jack flags and high spirits nationwide.

With so much to do, it's worth thinking about how to get around this great city. A trip to the London Transport Museum introduces visitors to some of London's moving icons: the red double decker bus, the black cab and the world's first underground rail network. With fantastic transport options, getting around London couldn't be easier, but an open-top bus tour is a good place to start. Alternatively take a boat along the Thames, try to make sense of the tube map or, even better, travel like the locals and discover the city on bike or foot.