Flights to London: Britain’s cosmopolitan capital

Experience London

Book flights to London to soak up the atmosphere on the South Bank by the River Thames. It’s where everyone comes to chill out – skateboarders flip and spin, kids hide behind curtains of water fountains, and the Tate Modern has contemporary art works to turn your head. All over London you’ll discover old beside new, like the shiny glass Shard standing tall across the river from the 11th-century Tower of London.

Get cultured

London’s long-standing West End musicals still shine; be sure to enjoy one during your London holiday. For cutting-edge dramas by some of Britain’s best writers, buy tickets for the Almeida Theatre in Islington or Covent Garden's Donmar Warehouse. Book summer flights to London to see jesters and jousters at the reconstructed open-air Shakespeare's Globe theatre entertaining the masses as they did in the 16th century.

Eat and drink

Yes, it’s true that you can 'eat the world' in London. But today’s best tastes are local and seasonal, and you’re practically given the name and address of that rare-breed pork belly. The latest trend is for souped-up versions of 'dirty' junkfood - think premium burgers or greasy fried chicken on artisan bread. And one of London’s hottest chefs is a Kiwi; Anna Hansen's sugar-cured prawn and chilli omelette is the signature dish at her Modern Pantry fusion-food restaurant.

Free and cheap

Culture doesn’t have to cost. Many of London’s museums and galleries are free. For Turner's moody watercolours and English landscapes by John Constable, stroll in to the Tate Britain. When it comes time to rest your legs, head away from the throng and join locals on spacious Hampstead Heath for one of the best (free) views over London’s ever-changing skyline.

Fast facts

Population: Around 250 languages are spoken in London, so it's no surprise that almost a third of this multi-cultural capital’s population of 7.5 million was born outside the UK.

Key dates: London was almost burned to the ground in 1666 when a fire started at a baker’s on Pudding Lane. The redevelopment for the 2012 Olympic Games has given London's East End a new lease of life.

Getting about: Give the capital's 'Boris Bike' (nicknamed after the current madcap mayor) cycle hire scheme a spin. You can easily register, then pick up and drop off your blue wheels at bike stations all over London.

Did you know? On the first Thursday of every month, east London’s quirky art galleries stay open until 9pm, so there’s no excuse for not fitting everything in.

London Hotels

Our favourite London hotels promise more than just a bed on which to rest your weary bones. Expect 'floating ceilings' in foodie Farringdon, loudmouth celebrity chefs in sophisticated Mayfair, and baths fit for a king (or queen) in 24-hour Soho.

London Restaurants

Some Londoners still regard jellied eels as the pinnacle of British culinary achievement. Our pick of must-visit London restaurant experiences is a tad more adventurous, from vegetarian-baiting bone marrow salad to traditional tea and cake served in 17th-century gardens.

Shopping in London

Little blue bottles that brim with anti-ageing potions, flamboyant fashions from one of the world's top design icons, and museum shop postcards depicting dog-eared Victorian teddy bears – shopping in London is a wallet-purging disaster just waiting to happen.

London Nightlife

London nightlife has moved on since Jack the Ripper's day, though you'd be forgiven for thinking the décor in some pubs has remained unchanged. Our pick has all you need for a killer night out, from hipper-than-thou East End clubs to old-school blues bars.

London Attractions

Our pick of London attractions reads like the world's best history lesson. Decipher the Rosetta Stone's ancient hieroglyphics, try not to lose your head at Henry VIII's London pile, and bring yourself back to the future with cutting-edge Tate Modern art installations.