London Guide

London is an enormous city. It is divided into thirty-two boroughs, although information on this page is divided between districts, inner boroughs and outer boroughs of the city. 


Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of both England and of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million. However, London's urban area stretched to 9,787,426 in 2011, while the figure of 14 million for the city's wider metropolitan area more accurately reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade.

 

Districts


The name London originally referred only to the once-walled "Square Mile" of the original Roman (and later medieval) city (confusingly called the "City of London" or just "The City"). Today, London has taken on a much larger meaning to include all of the vast central parts of the modern metropolis, with the city having absorbed numerous surrounding towns and villages over the centuries, including large portions of the surrounding "home counties", one of which - Middlesex - being completely consumed by the growing metropolis. The term "Central London" is widely used on both signs and by the media to describe the central core of the city, which encompasses The City, most of the City of Westminster, and some of the surrounding boroughs. The term "Greater London" embraces Central London together with all the outlying suburbs that lie in one continuous urban sprawl within the lower Thames valley. Though densely populated by New World standards, London retains large swathes of green parkland and open space, even within the city center.

Greater London consists of 32 London boroughs and the City of London that, together with the office of the Mayor of London, form the basis for London's local government. The Mayor of London is elected by London residents and should not be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London. The names of several boroughs, such as Westminster or Camden, are well-known, others less so, such as Wandsworth or Lewisham. This traveller's guide to London recognises cultural, functional and social districts of varying type and size:

 

Central London and Inner Boroughs

City of London

The City is where London originally developed within the Roman city walls and is a city in its own right, separate from the rest of London. One of the most important financial centers in the world with modern skyscrapers standing next to medieval churches on ancient street layouts.

Covent Garden 

One of the main shopping and entertainment districts. Incorporates some of London's theatreland. Part of the City of Westminster and Borough of Camden.

Holborn-Clerkenwell 

Buffer zone between London's West End and the City of London financial district, home to the Inns of Court

Leicester Square 

West End district comprising Leicester Square, Chinatown, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus and the center of London's cinema and theater land.

Mayfair-Marylebone

Some extremely well-heeled districts of west central London and most of the city's premier shopping street

Notting Hill-North Kensington 

Lively market, interesting history, the world famous carnival and diverse population.

 

Paddington-Maida Vale 

Largely residential district of northwest central London with lots of mid-range accommodation

Soho 

Dense concentration of highly fashionable restaurants, cafés, clubs and jazz bars, as well as London's gay village

South Bank 

South side of the river Thames with good views of the city, several theatres and the London Eye

South Kensington-Chelsea 

An extremely well-heeled inner London district with famous department stores, Hyde Park, many museums and the King's Road

Westminster 
A city in its own right, the seat of government and an almost endless list of historical and cultural sights, such as Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey

 

Inner London Areas

Camden 
a diverse area of inner north London which includes eclectic Camden Town
East End 
a traditional working class heartland of inner London to the east of The City made famous by countless movies and TV shows, and home to trendy bars, art galleries and parks, especially in the Shoreditch, Hoxton, Old Street area. Now redeveloped and world famous as the setting for London 2012 Olympic Games.
Greenwich 
on the pretty southern banks of the Thames, home of the Greenwich Meridian, Observatory and the National Maritime Museum.
Hackney 
Hackney has risen the ranks and become fashionable in recent decades and is home to a thriving arts scene as well as many trendy, cafés bars and pubs.
Hammersmith and Fulham 
Borough in west London with a diverse population and the home of the BBC, plus a hotbed for professional football.
Hampstead 
Bohemian and literary north London and the wonderful open spaces of Hampstead Heath.
Islington 
Area to the north of Clerkenwell which has undergone huge gentrification since 1990
Lambeth 
a diverse Caribbean-flavoured district to the south of the Thames which includes the buzzing, bright-lights of Brixton
Southwark-Lewisham 
inner southern districts of London, traditionally residential, with a large melting pot of communities. The area retains some leftfield, quirky attractions. You can just about find a restaurant from any ethnic group in the world too.
Wandsworth 
grand Thames-side areas and open green parks in the north and dense housing in south