Most people have a well-defined idea of “London”—staid tradition, afternoon tea, heavy ales, and cultured accents in tweed. People with this notion of London can easily complete their vacation in 3min. by making their way to the banks of the Thames and staring pointedly at the gilded heights of Big Ben, but this would be to miss the true charm of this expansive, diverse place.
Despite its weighty history, the city today is not all ghost tours, beefeaters, and double-decker buses. Beyond Buckingham Palace and the blinding lights of Piccadilly Circus, London is a living, breathing metropolis, home to more people than any other city in the European Union. Comprised of 32 boroughs along with the City, London can seem at times more like a conglomerate of villages than a unified city, but each part’s unique heritage and character contributes to the big picture. Thanks to the feisty independence and diversity of each area, the London “buzz” is continually on the move—every few years a previously disregarded neighborhood explodes into cultural prominence. Wander between immigrant neighborhoods in East London, take part in a political rally in Trafalgar Square, and watch the Olympics return to the city for a third time. Each day in London brings something new, so finish up your pint and Let’s Go!