Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of both the United Kingdom and of England, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million — although the figure of 14 million for the city's metropolitan area more accurately reflects its size and importance. Considered one of two of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade.
Winter in London is mild compared to nearby continental European cities, due to both the presence of the Gulf Stream and urban heat effect. Average daily maximum is 8°C (46°F) in December and January. Snow does occur, usually a few times a year but rarely heavy (a few years being exceptions such as the winters of 2009 and 2010, with temperatures dipping down to sub-zeros regularly). Snow in London can be crippling, as seen at the end of 2010. Just 7 cm (3 in) of snow will cause trains to stop running, airports to see significant delays, and mail service will halt. London is a city which does not cope well with snow; walkways, stairs, and streets will not be cleared by shovels or plows. The streets will be salted/gritted, but will remain slick and snow/slush covered until the sun melts it away. Daylight hours are short with darkness filling up the sky by 4pm in December.
Summer is perhaps the best season for tourists as it has long daylight hours as well as mild temperatures. The average daily high temperatures in July and August are around 24°C (75°F) The highest temperature since 2000 was recorded once in August at 38°C (100°F). This means London can feel hot and humid for several days in the summer months. Also, because of urban heat effect, during night time it could feel muggy.
London hosts an outstanding collection of world-class museums. Even better, it is the only one of the traditional "alpha world cities" (London, Tokyo, New York City and Paris) in which the majority of the museums have no entrance charges, thus allowing visitors to make multiple visits with ease. Although London can be expensive, many of the best museums and galleries are free.