The delight of every first-time visitor, Central London is where the majority of the capital city's iconic attractions are located, including the famous sights that have graced television screens for decades. Situated either side of the River Thames, this is London's busiest and most popular area.
Central London is home to a variety of areas, almost all of which are crowded and often chaotic. The City of London refers to London's original medieval boundaries and is the financial centre of Britain.
The West End is London's entertainment and commercial hub, as well as being home to the world-famous landmarks of Westminster, such as Westminster Palace, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. This makes it the home of British politics and the monarchy. Soho is London's offbeat party hub while Covent Garden is a major shopping district. Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus are also found in this West End area.
Directly north of the West End is the luxury borough of Mayfair, where many designer shops and famous shopping streets are located. Paddington and Notting Hill lie to the northwest and feature attractive Victorian townhouses and quiet garden squares. In the west of Central London are the boroughs of South Kennington and Chelsea, home to a variety of free museums and boutique shopping streets.
Much of Central London can be seen on foot and it's surprising how the attractions are crowded within a short distance of each other. A walkway lines the southern bank of the River Thames and provides an inspiring view over the majestic architecture. Dozens of London Underground stops service this area and all Underground lines pass through Central London. Note that these stops are often just a few hundred metres apart, so it's often quicker to walk above the ground rather than change lines and then only travel for one more stop.
Parking is almost non-existent in Central London and everyone (locals and visitors) are discouraged from bringing their cars. A congestion charge is in operation for Central London and this cost normally exceeds that of using public transport. Taxis are readily available and bus services are quite handy for tourists in this area.
Central London could fill a whole camera memory card in a single day. Other unmissable photo opportunities include St Paul's Cathedral, Oxford Street, and the West End theatres. On the Thames's southern bank is the revolving London Eye, which provides the enigmatic views over the city.