A lot has been said about London over the years – some good, some bad, and some that’s a little bit of both. I have always loved reading about London and seeing London quotes from famous and notable people who have an opinion on my favorite city.
In this post, I’ve collected some of my favorite London quotes to share. I think these are the least cheesy, least negative, and most inspirational London quotes; I didn’t want to share any that make you not want to visit!
Without further ado, here are 21 inspirational London quotes that will sell you on visiting far better than I ever could.
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson’s succinct but inspiring line is attributed to him in 1777 – so London has been a great place for a long while now, and will continue to be!
“London has the trick of making its past, its long indelible past, always a part of its present. And for that reason it will always have meaning for the future, because of all it can teach about disaster, survival, and redemption. It is all there in the streets.”Anna Quindlen
Speaking of London’s past, present, and future, I love this quote from American author Anna Quindlen. One of the things I love most about London is its past, but also that it seems to survive it all – war, threat, the passage of time itself…
If you love living history, there’s no city like London!
“I’ve been walking about London for the last 30 years, and I find something fresh in it everyday.”Walter Besant
This quote from English novelist Walter Besant (1836-1901) ties in nicely; it is a reminder that London never ceases to have wonders to explore. It’s the one city I can live in (and never travel from again) and think. I am confident there is a lifetime of adventure in London.
(Besant also lived in a very interesting time, as he was alive for the entirety of Queen Victoria’s reign and the Victorian era!)
“I travel continuously, and I see many cities, but there is nowhere like London.”Norman Foster
I feel like this is one of those London quotes that is a good follow-on as it notes how unique London is (and always has been). Normal Foster is a British architect, so his commentary likely applies mostly to London’s distinct architectural style; I think you’ll agree once you visit that it makes sense for many other aspects of London too – the style, the culinary scene, the seamless melding of history and modernity.
“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.”Vivienne Westwood
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood says the same thing in her quote. If you don’t believe me that London is a unique place you’ll never forget, hopefully these more accomplished people have convinced you!
“The interesting thing about London is that there are always stylish surprises around every corner.”Natalie Massenet
Okay here’s one more highly-accomplished person to drive the point home. Natalie Massenet is the founder of Net-A-Porter, a popular online shopping website, and she is definitely an expert in what defines stylish – and what constitutes a stylish surprise!
Sidebar: if you’re uncertain what to wear in London, be sure to check out my London packing list!
“Aesthetically, London is just beautiful; it’s a gorgeous city. The architecture, monuments, the parks, the small streets – it’s an incredible place to be.”Sara Bareilles
I love singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, and I love that she loves London! I agree that all of these things make London an incredible place, along with the people, the food, the pub culture, and so much more.
“London is like a smoky pearl set in a circle of emeralds.”William Henry Rideing
It should come as no surprise that authors have some of the most poignant ways to describe London. This short quote by American author William Henry Rideing (who spent several years living in and writing about England) paints a beautiful picture of the mysterious beauty that London had through the centuries.
It’s worth noting that smoky pearl is likely a literal description; Rideing likely visited London during the 1880s when some of the worst London fogs (smog) occurred.
“The English mist is always at work like a subtle painter, and London is a vast canvas prepared for the mist to work on.”Arthur Symons
Arthur Symons was another literarily-inclined person who had beautiful words to describe London. Specifically, Symons was a British poet, so it’s not surprise that his words have an ethereal quality when discussing London’s famous weather.
Symons called London home in the Victorian era and experienced London in her glory (and grime) during that time.
“London is a cluster of communities, great and small, famous and unsung; a city of contrasts, a congregation of diversity.”Roy Porter
Moving on from raving about just how beautiful London is, I wanted to highlight a few London quotes that talked about another of my favorite things about the city: its diversity.
This quote from British historian Roy Porter captures my feelings about London’s incredible diversity. Each area, each neighborhood, has something special and is home to a different group – many of whom came from somewhere other than London initially. It makes London feel welcoming and yet continually educational in other cultures and ways of life.
“In London, everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in.”Paddington Bear
This short quote from the British iconic character Paddington Bear is a fan favorite – in part because the astute observation but naivete of a children’s character rings true in London. It truly is a city where anyone can find their place, whether for a short trip or a lifetime.
“London is a roost for every bird.”Benjamin Disraeli
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli has several famous quotes attributed to him – including a popular travel quote, “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”
He also had astute observations about London, including this one that echoes Paddington Bear’s sentiment. If a PM and Paddington can agree, it’s surely true!
“London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed… It is Infinite London.”Peter Ackroyd
Because of its diversity and the fact that anyone can find a place here, I find this quote from British biographer Peter Ackroyd reassuring rather than concerning. I love that London is a place that’s hard to categorize, that contains multitudes, and that means everyone will discover something special for themselves (even if that means you determine it isn’t your favorite city, as it is mine!).
“When exploring London, you will come across lots of excitement by chance, so try to take everything in rather than just rushing around to all of the major tourist haunts.”Richard Branson
British serial entrepreneur Richard Branson is one of the favorite inspirations in our home, we love his approach to life and advice – so why not take this tip from him on visiting London too? While the top London sights are certainly interesting, there’s lots to discover off the beaten track too.
“There is always a romance that we leave behind in London, and always London enlocks that flower for us, and keeps it fresh, so that when we come back we have our romance again.”Stella Benson
Any woman you describe as a “English feminist, novelist, poet, and travel writer” is a good person in my books; Stella Benson was one such woman who called London home in her short life from 1892 to 1933. Though she passed away in Vietnam far from London, I like to think that she knew that London’s romance would live on long after her time.
London is a friend whom I can leave knowing without doubt that she will be the same to me when I return, to-morrow or forty years hence, and that, if I do not return, she will sing the same song to inheritors of my happy lot in future generations.Stella Benson
As I’m clearly a Stella Benson stan, I couldn’t help but include this second quote from her. She has such a poignant way of describing the feelings I have about London each time I visit and leave – and then each additional time I’m able to return again.
“London is like a dream come true. As I ramble through it I am haunted by the curious feeling of something half-forgotten, but still dimly remembered, like a reminiscence of some previous state of existence. It is at once familiar and strange.”Joseph Fort Newton
If you want a literal example of how London welcomes everyone, take this romantic quote by Baptist preacher Joseph Fort Newtown, who was born in Texas and served four years at the pulpit in City Temple. If even someone from such a different background can find magic on the city’s streets, you will too!
“A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.”Unknown
I don’t love those London quotes where I can’t attribute who said it, but I thought this one was worth including as it’s short and captures how I feel about the city. For me, there’s no place I’d rather be on a bad day than wandering London’s streets – even if it’s raining and grey!
“And there is London!–England’s heart and soul.Robert Montgomery
By the proud flowing of her famous Thames,
She circulates through countless lands and isles
Her greatness; gloriously she rules,
At once the awe and sceptre of the world.”
This line of poetry from Robert Montgomery, which I was able to trace back to 1835, is one of my favorite lines of verse about what makes London such an indelible city on the global landscape. While London is no longer the “sceptre” of the world since the fall of the British Empire, it still remains one of the places people look up to and hope to visit (or move!).
“If you’re curious, London’s an amazing place.”David Bailey
With one more short quote, I thought this one from English photographer David Bailey was one to stick in your memory. While many London quotes on this list espouse the city’s merits and beauty, this one is a reminder that the curiosity of the traveler (you) is as important as the place – and that London rewards that curiosity!
“This was the hour when he found London most lovable; the working day over, her pub windows were warm and jewel-like, her streets thrummed with life, and the indefatigable permanence of her aged buildings, softened by the street lights, seemed strangely reassuring.”Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
My final London quote is my absolute favorite; when I first read this quote in The Cuckoo’s Calling I felt it perfectly captured the magic I fell in love with when I visited. So if you find yourself out around sunset, looking for a pub to tuck into, remember the timeless, ageless beauty around you and be grateful you finally booked that London trip!
Do you have a favorite London quote? I’d love to hear it in the comments!