There are bookshops galore, ranging from giants like Waterstones to smaller independent shops like Daunt, in the Marylebone neighborhood, which organizes its books by the country in which they are set. You’ll find secondhand shops everywhere, and on the vibrant South Bank lining the river Thames, there’s an open-air book market.
History and literature lessons are brought to life at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the architecturally impressive Natural History Museum, and the Horniman Museum, which focuses more on anthropology. There is free entrance to many art venues dotted across the city, like the contemporary Tate Modern or the smaller Halcyon gallery. You’ll walk the same streets as Virginia Woolf, Charlie Chaplin, and Princess Diana.
The icons that represent London in movies will be at your fingertips. You can hear the chime of Big Ben and see the gothic sprawl of Westminster Palace, climb to the top of the Saint Paul’s Cathedral dome, or watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Take a ride on the London Eye, or be whisked to the top of The Shard, the latest (fabulous) addition to London’s skyline. You can always catch a fantastic performance of the latest stage shows to hit England in the West End theatre district.
When you’ve had enough of the tourist attractions, the real fun begins. Join London’s South Asian community to celebrate Dwali, the Festival of Light, with fireworks in Southall. Dance to Caribbean music at Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival. Visit Chinatown during Chinese New Year, the biggest celebration outside of Asia. Head up to Camden to catch some live music from London’s best emerging indie artists. Explore the outer reaches of the city and take a bus to Eel Pie Island, a small artist community with a big rock-and-roll history.