For those who don’t know where to start (and anyone up for a challenge), here’s the full list. They are in no particular order – we couldn’t possibly rank them – but if you are looking for extra guidance, flick through our category pages.
In galleries lined with the prized possessions of kings and the everyday trinkets of peasants, the British Museum reveals stories of life, death and glory. Get a picture of how Native American cultures lived centuries ago, seek out the sport of a lion hunt in carvings circa 645BC and explore rituals of death and remembrance reflected in the decorated casket of the ancient Egyptian mummy of Katebet.
The IWM’s brand new First World War Galleries examine the politics and legacy of the 1914-1918 conflict, but also day-to-day life in the trenches. In photographs, artefacts like tins of food, and a collection of letters (many from fighters who never came back), the museum tells a powerful and moving story.
The Victoria and Albert Museum’s ceramics collection is the most extensive in the world. Grayson Perry might have revived an appreciation of the artform (see his handiwork here, alongside ornate pieces of the Medici age) but the collection shows how greatly valued ceramics have always been, from figurines crafted in Paris to soup tureens made in Chelsea.
For everyone from T-Rex-obsessed toddlers to budding paleontologists, the Natural History Museum remains the ultimate destination for matters pre-historic. A walk around the dinosaurs gallery, with its life-size models and skeletons, allows you to appreciate the sheer scale of these creatures, while the four animatronic displays reveal more about how they lived.
The Science Museum’s stunning new second floor gallery provides a chance to explore the imagination and creativity of invention as captured in photography and art. See a visiting exhibition or installation then kick back and discuss it over a coffee in the café.
Because it’s free to visit, even if you have just ten minutes you can nip into the National Gallery and see one great masterpiece on your way to somewhere else. Try Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’. Laden with symbolism, the painting also features the ‘anamorphic perspective’ technique popular in Early Renaissance art; the seemingly smudged image in the foreground becomes a human skull when viewed sideways on.
Can’t decide between the Picassos at Tate Modern and the Constables at Tate Britain? Do both! The Tate Boat (decorated with Damien Hirst dots) runs along the Thames between Tate Britain by Vauxhall Bridge and the Tate Modern on Bankside every 40 minutes during gallery opening hours, seven days a week (except Dec 24-26).
The Peter Harrison Planetarium in Greenwich Park is the only place in London where you can take your eyes on a tour of the universe. In these days of HD and 3D TV, the Planetarium has raised its game, with state-of-the-art projection technology and spectacular films revealing the latest scientific discoveries. Shows include Space Safari, which is suitable for children under eight.
Children can be seen and heard at this lively Covent Garden temple of travel. There are hands-on exhibits and visitors can clamber on board a tube train or experience what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a bus. Sadly you can’t take one for a spin, but standing still certainly evokes the experience of London traffic.
The Magna Carta, works of Shakespeare and Dickens, copies of The Beano – they all have a home at the British Library. However, you can also see original manuscripts handwritten by some of the world’s greatest musical talents. See early drafts by John Lennon of ‘In My Life’, ‘She Said She Said’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ written on a piece of Lufthansa-headed paper.
Venue says: From Thursday 8 – Sunday 11 October, we're donning our lederhosen in the spirit of Bavarian brews at our Okto-beer-fest. Entry is free!
Typical of the ETM chain, the Gun is an attractively spruced-up pub, with attentive staff and stiff prices. The focus is on making both diners and drinkers feel at home. The restaurant menu is available throughout – not just in the smartly dressed dining space – and there’s a standalone bar menu too. The handsome bar counter is lined with real ales (Adnams bitter is a regular, and there’s always a guest ale), but also offers cocktails and a global wine list. Cooking is assured, if not quite good enough to justify the prices: slow-cooked Middle White pork belly with battered skate knobs, carrot purée, sprout tops and ginger and port jus cost £19 for a small portion – making sides such as chips or dauphinoise potatoes a neccessity. Also, £9 seemed a lot for a (not very) devilled chicken liver starter. Better value is to be found on the bar menu, where £7.50 buys a substantial ‘fish finger sandwich’ (more like goujons in toast) served with plenty of tartare sauce, and a decent steak sandwich with caramelised onions and horseradish cream is £9.50. Lightly themed (prints and a few antique pistols), with wooden floors, white walls and an open fire, the Gun is a fine spot in any weather, but its USP is the terrace. Refurbished in spring 2013 with fold-back glass panels, this is right on the river, looking out over the O2. Neophytes, beware – the pub can be tricky to find first time around. For more ETM pubs, go to their website.