Southampton, England, is a surprisingly happening city (don’t miss the Pig in the Wall deli bar and hotel within its medieval walls), but few places can contend with London and its sights for sheer energy, atmosphere and variety. London’s vibrancy—in art, in music, in architecture—is inimitable. It’s a city made up of not just multiple attractions, grand structures and great cultural institutions (though there are plenty of those), but also scenic parks, walkable villages and striking modern additions.
Culinary pioneers are reviving traditional techniques and introducing food that can be found at the forefront of the world’s premier restaurant experiences. Leg-powered sightseeing exploration (by bike or on foot) around London maximizes opportunities for stumbling across tiny old pubs serving fresh British ales, secret alleys and courtyards housing quirky art galleries or fantastic shops—from famous retail emporiums known the world over to diminutive boutiques stocking unique souvenirs to take home.