Los Angeles is a city that lives up to its stereotype: pretentious, brash and glitzy. Yet if you scratch its superficial surface you'll discover a culturally diverse metropolis politely sitting beneath.
First-time travellers coming off their flights to Los Angeles will be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city, making hiring a car a necessity. The easiest way to get to know LA is by exploring its famous neighbourhoods including Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Santa Monica. Home of the omnipresent Hollywood sign, Hollywood and West Hollywood exude a certain old Hollywood glamour with Frank Gehry-designed homes overlooking the city and convertible 1960s Comets parked in the driveways. Down the road is Beverly Hills where the most famous street in the world resides: Rodeo Drive. Here celebrities, tourists and the paparazzi stroll along the designer shops and cafes.
The relaxed beach towns of Los Angeles draw thousands of tourists each year to its chilly Pacific shores. Santa Monica’s Pier and the Third Street Promenade shops have become even more famous than the actual beach, while Venice Beach remains a firm favourite for people-watching. Although LA residents are fitness fanatics they never walk around the city, instead they’ll drive to the beach and bike along the coastline or hike the trails of Topanga State Park. Outdoor enthusiasts who book flights to Los Angeles should definitely pack some comfortable shoes and of course a camera – you never know when or where you’ll spot a celebrity.