A few decades ago, there was a special aura around just a handful of cities in the world. These cities were known for their arts, culture, and financial muscle. London stood alongside a few other cities as a truly great capital.
Among these select cities were Tokyo, celebrated for its unique culture and technological wonders. Paris was idealised as the city of romance. Hollywood made New York and Times Square known to everyone. London was home to history, music, and the most prestigious royal family on Earth. But times have changed, and diversity and undiscovered gems are what the world is looking for now.
When it comes to The Global Finance’s top 10 cities to live in, none of these cities make the top 5; only Tokyo makes the top 10, coming in at number 7.
Is London Still a Great City?
Absolutely. The world has a less myopic view of what makes a city great. Places such as Helsinki, Singapore, and Sydney get the recognition they deserve. But this doesn’t mean that the cities like London are no longer great, they’re just great alongside those other cities.
When we talk about culture, London is hard to top. We’re not even talking about Buckingham Palace and the Queen; many Londoners don’t seem to hold Royalty in as high regard as other places in the world. In this sense, the branding of the British Royal Family has been more an international success more than a domestic one.
What’s to See and Do
Once you’ve ticked Buckingham Palace off your to see list, London’s other delights await.
- Free world-class museums. There are many museums and galleries in London, many of them free. The British Museum does not charge but does ask you to make a donation of £5.
- The nightlife is fantastic, with pubs and bars almost everywhere. Whatever type of music or crowd you’re into, you can bet you’ll find it in London.
- All the world’s a stage. The West End is matched only by Broadway for plays and musicals. But get out of the West End, and you’ll find many other great places to watch shows and plays such as the Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames or the Barbican.
- A city full of green. There are over 300,00 gardens in London and some of the finest parks in the world. Go to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park and watch members of the public standing on boxes debate and discuss anything. The deliveries and exchanges often get animate. It’s a great scene of public interaction and engagement. If you’re moved to do so, have a go yourself.
This is just the tip of a very big iceberg of what you can do in London.
Just for a holiday?
London is an expensive city to live in, but not as expensive as cities such as Singapore, Paris, and Tokyo. If you’re looking to visit or even have an extended stay for work or education purposes, there are cheap hostels in London. Some of these hostels and lodgings can be found right at the heart of the city in zone 1 and 2. If you are looking outside the city centre, you’ll be close to public transport that will get you to the centre or anywhere else quickly.
London is a great city. The recent pandemic and Brexit have made the world uncertain about migration, travel, and work. But maybe London’s greatest attribute is the character of its people. Vibrant, welcoming, and resilient: they’ll find a way to keep London a great place to visit, work, and live in.