London's neighbourhoods - a quick tour

london collageLondon is a large town made up of many villages. Each borough has its own identity. Here's a quick tour

Central London

Most tourists visit places within Westminster which is best known for Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and prominent attractions such as Madame Tussauds' or famous shopping centres such as Oxford, Bond & Regent Street.

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is one of London's smartest boroughs, perhaps best known for Kensington Palace, Notting Hill, King's Road and its beautiful garden squares.

Camden is also at the heart of London, and stretches from Covent Garden to Hampstead and Highgate, through Lincoln's Inn, Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Camden Town. It's crammed with famous museums, unusual specialist collections, historic houses and contemporary art galleries.

There are far fewer inhabitants in the City of London (often known as the "Square Mile") but this is where London began, the financial centre of London and an area full of quirky ancient traditions. A good place to start exploring is the Museum of London at the Barbican.

Southwark is one of London's tourism success stories. A few years ago it was almost unknown and is now at the centre of London life with Shakespeare's Globe, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and Millennium Mile.

North London

The borough of Brent is home to the most famous stadium in the world, Wembley. Currently being re-built, when Wembley re-opens in 2006, it will be as the new English National Stadium. Brent is also one of London's most culturally diverse boroughs.

Enfield in north London is best known for its heritage properties such as Middleton House and the open expanse of Lee Valley Park with its many outdoor pursuits, as well as several shopping centres.

Haringey is home to the famous Alexandra Palace, venue for fashion shows, impressive firework displays and a haven for sun bathers. Every June, in Finsbury Park over 30,000 revellers gather for the annual ‘Ò the Fleadh’ – pronounced "flah" as in star – with major Irish and other international performances and artists.

One of the most vibrant boroughs has to be Islington, with an amazing selection of clubs, pubs, restaurants, and theatre. It's where you'll find the Estorick Collection, Canal Museum and many other cultural venues.

7 prime ministers attended the famous public school in Harrow on the Hill. Grimsdyke was the birthplace of W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame and is now a country house hotel - much of Harrow is rural.

East London

Hackney in East London is home to the creative industries which you can discover during Hidden Art, Sutton House, the Geffrye Museum and Hackney Empire.

Tower Hamlets must have one of the most eclectic mixes in the entire city, ranging from the World Heritage Site at Tower Hill, to the new city in Docklands, Brick Lane, and many vibrant street markets.

Just next door, Newham seems to be re-born with new buildings such as the ExCeL exhibition centre, London City Airport, nine new hotels and the fabulous Asian fashion, fabric and jewellery shops of Green Street.

Heading further east, the borough of Redbridge is one of the newest, being formed in 1964. It's had it's share of famous residents, including Sylvia Pankhurst the suffragette and pacifist campaigner, Clement Atlee, Britain’s first post war Prime Minister and of course Sir Winston Churchill who was the local MP for 40 years.

The Lee Valley stretches through much of the borough of Waltham Forest, with extensive cycle routes and places to camp. On the edge of Epping Forest, is the hunting lodge of Queen Elizabeth 1, which is open to the public.

Barking and Dagenham’s heritage stretches back to the 7th century with the founding of Barking Abbey. This Abbey enjoyed a rich history, with many links to central London, including owning lands and a place of worship on Tower Hill.

The borough of Havering has some of the largest urban centres, including Hornchurch, Romford and Upminster to the east of the city. Historic links date back to Saxon times when local kings made this area their home.

South London

Lambeth is just South of the River and where you'll find the Oval (cricket), South Bank Centre, Lambeth Palace and lively Brixton with its bars and clubs as well as London’s most popular tourist attraction – the British Airways London Eye.

Bexley also has links with the City of London as Hall Place; the Grade l listed house was built for a previous Lord Mayor of London in 1540.

Bordering Bexley is Greenwich, home to some of the most beautiful maritime heritage products in London, including the National Maritime Museum (now free). Greenwich also boasts some of the more unusual museums like Eltham Palace, Firepower and the Fan Museum.

Down House and Chislehurst Caves are just two of Bromley's most interesting attractions. The borough is also a major shopping centre.

In Lewisham you'll find some of the most progressive creative industries, not least the Laban Centre and Deptford X. Lewisham also has very popular local theatres, with comedy and stage acts from the Caribbean.

Wandsworth is home to many dogs (and cats) at the Battersea Dogs Home and Young's Brewery, both of which can be visited, as can be Battersea Park with its open spaces, the Pump House Gallery and children's zoo.

Sutton is quite literally London's greenest borough with many green spaces and plenty of trees. Not surprisingly, here is where you'll find the Ecology Centre and lots of country pubs.

Croydon is a major retail and leisure centre, with lots of pubs, clubs, restaurants and venues such as Fairfield Halls.

Wimbledon is the best known area of Merton with its annual Lawn Tennis Championships, Village atmosphere and Wimbledon Common where you are certain to see the windmill and perhaps a few Wombles.

Nearby, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is where several kings were reputedly crowned (you can see the coronation stone) and now an attractive market town with the old Market Place, Bentall Centre and riverside bars and cafes.

West London

Hammersmith & Fulham has some great shopping areas as well as the BBC Centre, riverside walks and Fulham Palace.

Nearby Ealing is of course famous for the Ealing Studios. It's also where you'll find Pitshanger Manor Museum, Walpole Park and many summer events.

Hounslow has numerous historic properties to visit including Syon House, Osterley Park, Hogarth's House, and Chiswick House.

Richmond upon Thames is equally rich in history with its many beautiful houses by the Thames, Marble Hill House, Hampton Court Palace and the Wetland Centre near the pretty village of Barnes.