Kew Gardens A spectacular site laid out over acres in a pleasant and wealthy London suburb, it''s a great place for a sunny afternoon - it doesn''t work so well in bad weather as the various hothouses and exhibits are somewhat spread out over the site. Kew house, the smallest of the London Royal Palaces, is currently closed for refurbishment, but the ''English'' garden and the herb garden are excellent. The Physic garden in Chelsea is also worth a visit, if you don''t have the time or inclination to leave the centre of London. If it''s wet the Barbican has a large hothouse conservatory on its roof (see our City Walks section). Kew can be combined with a visit to Marble Hill and Ham Houses - see our trips page for details
Tower Bridge experience We like Tower Bridge, it''s a real achievement of Victorian engineering, and looks great, especially at night when it''s well illuminated. We don''t think it''s necessary to go inside to appreciate it, though the engines that lift the two drawbridges are a miracle. The bridge is opened on average once a week - it''s timetabled and you can find out when in advance - which is quite spectacular. If there''s a large yacht moored next to HMS Belfast then it''s probable that it''ll have to go out through the raised bridge soon - check at the ticket office or on their website.
Shakespeare''s globe exhibition. The bard, who ''reposes'' in Westminster Abbey, would probably approve of Sam Wannamaker''s efforts to reconstruct his stomping ground, next to Southwark Bridge, using original techniques and materials. Theatregoing in the 17thC was quite a different experience to today''s, sometimes more bleak, requiring the audience''s imagination as sets were either minimal as at the Globe, or infinitely more grand with theatres competing for the most lavish stage machinery - with effects to rival ''Miss Saigon''. Tickets for the shows sell out in advance as it's a very coach party thing to do, but day tickets as groundlings (standing - often there are a few free seats you can creep into) are usually available. The standard of the productions improved markedly in 2001 from a low base and now are among the best in London, especially if Mark Rylance is playing.
The British Library Competes with its Parisian rival for ugliness - before this monstrosity was born the collection was housed in the British Museum, and the reading room where Marx wrote Das Kapital was a hushed place where you could actually read without being disturbed by tourists.
However the new site has brought convenience and more of its wonderful collection to the public gaze. They''ve got everything you could want to see manuscript-wise (from the Magna Carta to handwritten Beatles lyrics) - several people tell us it was a highlight of their visit, but we are too phased by the architecture. Our advice is to close your eyes until you''re well inside - or feast your fill on the wonderful St Pancras Station (right) with its wonderful Pre-Raphaelite interiors - as seen in the film Richard III (which you can visit Mon-Fri 11.30-15.30 tel: 0207 304 3900 to book a tour) which is right next door and do the visual equivalent of holding your breath. Open 09:30 - about 18:00 (11:00-17:00 Sundays)
Albert Memorial This, the largest gilded statue in the world, is a memorial from Queen Victoria to her beloved Albert, who brought christmas to Britain, and gave Victoria 11 children. In our opinion it''s a monstrosity of overworked Victorian decoration. However Victoria was very cut up when Albert died, much more so than Charles when Diana died, and retired to the Isle of Wight mourn him, before falling into the hands of her ghillie. Her grief gave Britain many monuments to their love. It must have been a very happy marriage : contemporary medical records (bizarrely made public) suggest that after taking advice from the top doctors Albert''s ''bedroom manners'' were exactly what today''s women''s magazines would approve of. On Kensington Gore, at the top of Exhibition Road.