It lacks the edginess of New York City and is friendly, albeit a little aloof.
London covers 607 square miles. It is composed of two cities, London and Westminster, and 31 other boroughs.
Britons love their tea, consuming 60 billion cups a year. They also consume 27 million pints of beer daily. Pubs are disappearing at the rate of one or two a year, according to some estimates.
British food is known for fish and chips with mushy peas and pub grub, but many say that London is becoming a restaurant hot spot.
Immigration has shaped London's cuisine. Chicken tikka masala, an Anglo-Indian curry hybrid, is often called the national dish.
London has no central downtown. But the city is slowly shifting toward the east, with the Olympic development and hipsters moving into the once-industrial areas in East London.
Shoppers love Oxford Street and Harrod's department store, where you can buy just about anything. St. James, Mayfair, Chelsea and Notting Hill on the city's west side are known for shops and boutiques.
We began our London visit with a 2 1/2-hour tour on a red double-decker bus. It was a great way to get our bearings and an overview of the city. That's where we learned that London lost one-third of its buildings to German air raids in World War II.
We also took the train 20 miles north to theWarner Bros.Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter.
The 150,000-square-foot studio is where the eight Potter movies were filmed, and it has been converted into a self-guided playground of all things Potter, from sets and props to costume and special effects. Reservations are a must: http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk.
You can explore the Great Hall at Hogwarts, Dumbledore's office and Diagon Alley. It is heaven for Potter lovers.
Back in London, we explored the British Museum, one of the top museums in the world. It is home to the Rosetta Stone, the Magna Carta and other artifacts from around the world. It is one of 300 London museums, big and small.
We walked through lovely 90-acre St. James Park, especially appealing with its pond and three nearby castles, and now-quiet Carnaby Street. Hyde Park covers 630 acres and is known for its soapboxes for free speech.
Big Ben is actually the bell in the 320-foot-high clock tower, not the clock itself. It was cast in 1859 and rings every hour. Other bells ring on the quarter hour.
The tower looms over the Houses of Parliament that are housed where a royal palace once stood. The face of the clock is big: 24 feet in diameter.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. We missed the changing of the guard, but did see the legendary redcoats.
We traveled to Trafalgar Square with the tower monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish in 1805, and Piccadilly Circus, a sort of New York Times Square.
St. Paul's Anglican Church is a major London landmark with its dome. It took 35 years to build it after the Great London Fire of 1666 wiped out 80 percent of the city. Poet John Donne preached there on Ludgate Hill. The views from atop the church are spectacular. St. Paul's was designed by Christopher Wren (1632-1723).
Some of the longest lines will greet tourists at the Tower of London. It is an 18-acre complex of royal buildings where 100 Britons, including Henry VIII's queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were executed.