Five Reasons to Visit London in 2012

Guest post and photography by Matthew Long from Land Lopers (bio below).

London is at the top of most travel expert’s ‘must-visit’ lists this year because of the confluence of two major events: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

While these events are great and will undoubtedly do a lot for British tourism, they’re not the reasons why I think you should visit London this summer.

Forgot about the parties and the sports and instead take a look at five other reasons why London should be on your 2012 travel agenda.

1. Modern but with style – London is different from many other European capitals. Instead of ancient plazas, cobblestone paths and lazy cafes, the city is modern, fast paced and very much forward looking. In fact, that tends to be an initial criticism of many first-time visitors, but that shouldn’t detract from its charm.

While London has opted for the modern aesthetic, that doesn’t mean it has forgotten its rich history. Quite the contrary, the casual visitor can find clues linking to the past throughout the city in some unusual ways.

The best example is one of the top tourist spots, the famous Tower of London and Tower Bridge. While these spots are uber-touristy, they’re also well worth a peek.

Other, less ostentatious places to learn about the history of London are the Borough Market and the Bloomsbury neighborhood. The Borough Market is a fabulous food market that has been operating for around 1,000

The Bloomsbury neighborhood was home to the eponymous group of writers and intellectuals that together helped bring England out of the Victorian era and into the 20th century. So while the skyscrapers and well-dressed crowds may deter some, don’t miss the opportunity to delve deeper into the history of London.


2. The food – That’s right, I said the food. British food has long been the butt of jokes around the world, I think unjustly.

Traditional British food may be a bit heavy, but it’s representative of the needs of the people at the time. I don’t see anything wrong with hearty stews or meat pies, although I do have to question deep fried Mars bars.

But within the last couple of decades, British cuisine has seen a renaissance and can now claim with great pride some of the best restaurants in the world. Hereford Road, Momo and L’Autre Pied are just a few of the many world-class restaurants now found in London.

As a side note, if you love Indian food as much as I do, there’s no better place in the world to enjoy it than in London. Thanks to a steady and dynamic influx of Indian immigrants, not only is Indian food done well in London, it’s now the most popular food in the entire United Kingdom.


3. The Museums – Whether your interest is in fine art, history or the avant-garde, London is truly one of the great museum towns of the world.

While many laud the Tate and the National Gallery, I prefer the historical side with a visit to the British Museum. On display is everything from the Elgin Marbles to the Rosetta Stone, with the Lindow Man thrown in for good measure.

If that’s not your proverbial cup of British tea, there are collections from every corner of the planet, detailing just about every major culture that has ever existed. It truly is one stop shopping for world history and I always make sure to stop for at least a few hours whenever I visit London.


4. Lots to see nearby – London is great, but so are the many nearby locales that are perfect for a day trip. Bath, the Cotswolds, Oxford and Stonehenge are all prefect for an easy escape, but one of my favorites is Cambridge.

Home to the famous university, Cambridge is a high-end village that knows how great it is. A perfect day there is spent touring the many colleges that comprise the university, careful not to traipse over the well-groomed lawns.

A quick bite in a local pub for lunch should be followed by a punting adventure on the River Cam. Akin to the Italian gondola, punting is the action of driving a flat-bottomed boat down the river with a large pole. You can select the self-guided or guided tours, but be forewarned, punting is not as easy as it looks. I failed miserably at my attempt to navigate the river with only a large pole, but I still had a great time in the process.

No matter where you chose to go, the area surrounding London is rich in possible quick escapes.

5. Because it’s London – Sometimes a city is great through no one, single reason, it just is. London, like Paris and Rome, has an indefinable quality to it that attracts people from around the world and quickly makes the city a favorite for millions.

I’ve tried to identify what it is exactly about London that resonates so deeply, but I’ve been unsuccessful. At first I thought it was the history, but I was wrong. I was also wrong about the appeal found in its modern, fast-paced

Instead, I think it’s a very unique combination of all its greatest strengths that together make it a remarkable place to visit again and again.

Have you been to London? What are some of your favorite things to do there?

Matthew Long, travel blogger, writer and photographer isn’t your average travel blogger. As Editor-in-Chief and creator of, Matt shows people that it’s possible to have a job and family and still see the best the world has to offer. Matt shares his travel tips and expertise so that you can get out and explore the world – one adventure at a time. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger as well as a contributor to many other travel sites and publications. Matt’s site is listed as a top travel blog by many companies including Viator Travel, easyJet and Washington Flyer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  Original article link:


4 Responses to “Five Reasons to Visit London in 2012”
  1. @wftristan says:

    We are getting a lot of Londoners booking trips away whilst the Olympics are on – seems there will be quite an Exodus over that period.


    • David Porter says:

      I suspect it will be very busy during the Olympics. That’s one of the reasons that we’re here, and also one of the reasons we’re not here DURING the Olympics. Thanks for your loyal readership and comments! Smile

  2. I know a lot of Londoners don’t want to be around for the Olympics because of all the tourists coming in. However, seems like this would be a great time to rent apartments or homes or even do a home exchange. I’ve always been interested in doing one of these but I love the idea of apartments that allow people to connect with locals. I’ve never done a home stay or exchange before but while people are looking for places to stay in London, this may not be a bad option.

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