Here's your essential guide to getting the best out of a city-break in London.

Location nickname: The Smoke

Don't miss: Soho

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Best avoid: Oxford Street

Don't miss: Full English breakfast

Best avoid: Fried chicken shops

Camden Market:  If you've had it with the global High Street, the shops and stalls around Camden Lock on Regent's Canal are a refreshing change.  From edgy Steam Punk fashion and ethnic foods to antiques and bric-a-brac, there's always something to challenge and intrigue.  The atmosphere is best at the weekend when the market is in full swing.

Emirates Air Line: Much cheaper but less well-known than the London Eye, great vistas over the City of London are offered by cable car from Greenwich Peninsula, close to the O2.  Passengers are dangled 90 metres above the Thames during a ten-minute, one kilometre traverse to Royal Docks, not far from the Excel exhibition hall.

Imperial War Museum:  An entrance guarded by 15 inch naval guns leaves little doubt as to what lies inside.  However, along with the impressive wizz bang mechanics of warfare, displays reflect the personal impact of conflict on soldiers and civilians alike.  The museum's Southwark site officially re-opened in July 2014 with a dedicated WW1 gallery, in time for the Great War's centenary.

Richmond Park: The park was created in 1625 when Charles I kicked off local farmers in order to indulge his deer hunting dalliances.  He may have regretted this later.  Today, 2,500 acres doesn't guarantee tranquillity, jets on final approach to Heathrow occasionally intrude.  However, the semi-wild expanse of woodland avenues and ponds is a restorative place to wander.

Soho:  Dive into the night-time warren of streets behind Piccadilly Circus and you might catch a glimpse of an older London.  Look too long and risk being run down by a black cab.  A few post ironic clip joints still exist, but for the most part Soho's jumble of pubs, bars and restaurants is a chaotic delight.

The Houses of Parliament:  Westminster seems remote and disconnected from everyday life, hidden by an ages-old patina of political mystique.  A tour through the Commons and the Lords sheds some light on the democratic process.  And even if lobby land still appears annoyingly irrelevant, afternoon tea on the Commons Terrace overlooking the Thames is excellent.

The London Eye:  Next to County Hall, on the banks of the Thames, the 135 metre-high ferris wheel of the London Eye was a Millennium project.  Taking 30 minutes per rotation, as your air-conditioned perspex pod gains height views more than compensate for time spent queuing.  Book online or just turn up.

The Thames: For too long London forgot it was a river city.  Save for sporadic barges and party cruises its river, once a life-giving transport artery, was devoid of life.  Slowly, this has been changing.  Thames Clippers' river bus service operates from Putney to North Greenwich, allowing commuters and tourists a bracing alternative to sweaty tube trains.

St Paul's:  The dome of St Paul's Cathedral has graced the city's skyline since 1710, the Great Fire of London bringing about the demise of its predecessor.  Those not fazed by dizzy climbs can ascend the dome to the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the topmost Golden Gallery, a total of 587 steps.

West End Theatre:  Along with New York's Broadway London's theatreland is pre-eminent in the English-speaking world.  Commercial expediency usually precludes cutting edge productions but the West End excels in star-studded casts and breathtaking set design.  Box office tickets are expensive so trawl online resources for discounts and spend the saving on a private box and interval drinks...

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