London has reinvented itself as the most 'happening' city in Europe. The River Thames is alive with sleek new pleasure-boats serving smart new piers; and the South Bank in particular has developed itself as a welcoming focus for sightseers, the 'millennium mile'.  

The Official Internet Guide to London
The Dome in Greenwich and 'London Eye' observation wheel have become icons recognised the world over; while cafés and brasseries spill outdoors on to bright piazzas.The first new underground line in 25 years, the £3.2 billion Jubilee, is fully operational.

Now it is the turn of the art and culture lover to be courted, with a wide range of new and revitalised museums and galleries opening. More than £400 million has been invested in these cultural centres.

It is not just new galleries. The first bridge to be built across the Thames for a century-the Millennium Bridge-provides an artistic pedestrian route from the old to the new. It links St Pauls Cathedral with Tate Modern, the country's most important new building for the arts for decades. On the north bank of the river, the magnificent courtyard of Somerset House-decorated with granite paving and 55 dancing water jets-opens up to the public as a place for meeting, entertainment and relaxation.

Opened in July 2001, the courtyard beside Waterloo Bridge will host evening concerts and theatrical events for up to 3,500 people, while a cafe and restaurant are part of the River Terrace.

Also new at Somerset House are galleries in the South Building for the Gilbert Collection of decorative arts. This cornucopia of gold, silver and mosaic objects compliments the Cortauld Institute's famed impressionist galleries. Somerset House line-up is now enhanced further with the opening of a London outpost for the State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg. There are plans for a changing selection of exhibits from this world class Russian collection.

Back at the river, a cathedral like power-station designed in the 1940's by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who has the red telephone box as another claim to fame) has been tranformed into a new gallery that will be an icon of 21st Century London. This is Tate Modern, home to the Tate's collection of international 20th century art including works by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Dali, Bacon and Warhol. Next door and somewhat dwarfed by it's neighbour, is the reconstruction of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, housing a newly opened permanent exhibition about the playwright-"All The World's a Stage"-the world's largest.

Busy Trafalgar Square is expected to be partly pedestrianised, cutting much of the traffic and connecting the square, with its fountains, Nelson’s Column and statues, to the National Gallery on its northern side. A few minutes away, the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly is holding its annual Summer Exhibition which is the largest and oldest open contemporary art exhibition in the world with around 1,000 works on show.

The exhibition brings together previously unseen paintings, sculptures, drawings and models by many of Britain's most distinguished artists and architects.

"Ingres to Matisse: Masterpieces
of French
at the Royal Academy of Arts"

At last, but by no means least, the most popular of all museums, the British Museum, has now opened a whole new space: its hidden inner courtyard. The Great Court, as it is called, is the space at the centre of the museum, formerly home to the British Library, transformed into the largest covered square in Europe.

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There are various facilities at London's airports(Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) brought to you by Airport Express.
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The Original Tour offers the perfect introduction to London utilising open top 'double-decker' buses that offer a fully 'hop-on, hop-off' service with over ninety stops and guided commentary in several languages.
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See London's most famous buildings from a different perspective with this one day ticket offering unlimited travel on City Cruises scheduled sightseeing services on the River Thames.
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