If you're only in London for a short time, why not pick one of these cultural gems and enjoy some of the best attractions in London in one smaller area.
Between Westminster and Waterloo Bridges on the south bank of the river Thames is an explosion of cultural venues and attractions. Above the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and next to the Coca-Cola London Eye, County Hall is home to the London Film Museum, which features an exhibition on Charlie Chaplin. A stone's throw away, in the Southbank Centre is the Hayward Gallery, where you'll find an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions.
Also part of the Southbank Centre are the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Royal Festival Hall. These performance venues showcase work by world-class dancers, musicians and orchestras. There are also three theatres in this same small stretch of riverbank: the National Theatre, the Old Vic (where Kevin Spacey is Artistic Director) and the Young Vic.
If you prefer film, the BFI London Imax Cinema gives you a high-tech 3D cinema experience, while by Waterloo Bridge you'll find the BFI Southbank, which screens art-house, international and classic films.
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Trafalgar Square is one of London's finest pedestrianised piazzas, with the vast National Gallery as its crowning glory. Just around the corner is the National Portrait Gallery, with its fantastic roof-top restaurant that gives you a bird's-eye view of Nelson's Column.
If you get your timing right, you can enjoy a classical lunchtime or evening concert at St Martin's in the Fields Church. And just north of Trafalgar Square is Leicester Square; the gateway to London's Theatreland. Visit the tkts booth in Leicester Square for half-price tickets to top West End shows. The booth offers discounted theatre tickets on the day of the show, and advance tickets for theatre, rock, pop, sport and other events.
More about the area around Trafalgar Square
It's also where you'll find the Cutty Sark and Royal Museums Greenwich: a suite of four major museums, including the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Catch a performance at the Greenwich Theatre or Laban and take the time to enjoy the local delicacy of whitebait at the Trafalgar Tavern. This historic pub was one of Charles Dickens' regular haunts.
Just a few decades ago, Bankside was home to a disused power station (now Tate Modern) and derelict Victorian wharf buildings (now Pickfords Wharf, which is packed with restaurants and eateries).
Today the area is a cultural hotspot, with most visitors making a pilgrimage to Tate Modern, London's cathedral to modern art. While you're in the area, don't miss Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Vinopolis (where you can taste wines from around the world), Clink Prison (London's oldest jail) and everyone's favourite horror attraction, London Dungeon.
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London is a big city and getting around all its attractions can take some time. But not so when visiting three of London's big museums. The Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Natural History Museum are all within easy reach of one another and are all free to enter, which makes for a very convenient day out.
Just north of the museums lies the Royal Albert Hall, the ultimate London concert venue. Cross over the road and you're in Hyde Park, where you can see the Victorian splendour of the Albert Memorial. A short walk in the park takes you to one of London's most popular contemporary art spaces, the Serpentine Gallery.