Whenever you visit a new place it’s always good to get tips from a local of things you need to know. Especially if you want to have as less ‘touristy’ experience as possible. Well, you’re in good hands because I’ve lived here 8 years and have built up a lot of knowledge about the city. Here are 20 Things You Absolutely Need To Know Before Visiting London.
1. Don’t stand in the middle of the escalator!
There’s a rule in London that when you go on an escalator you stand on the right and walk on the left. If you don’t, people are not afraid to let you know and you’ll hear a loud ‘EXCUSE ME’ behind you.
2. You can get cheap theatre tickets with this trick
Some theatres in London offer a great day seat scheme where they offer tickets at a reduced rate if you queue at the venue on the day of the performance. See which theatres offer day seats here.
3. Travel during commuter hours gets very busy
Travel between 7:30am – 9:30am and 5pm – 7pm gets very busy. Avoid travel between these hours if you can.
4. There is so much free stuff to take advantage of
Do your research before hand and you can find loads of free stuff to do in London including museums, galleries and parks. Find out more on my Landmark and Attraction guide.
5. Central London is totally walkable
While public transport is good, Central London is very walkable and you’ll get to see loads of things on your route rather than wasting it on the tube.
6. … and whatever you do, don’t get the tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden!
I made this mistake once. It takes about 4 minutes to walk or a stuffy and pointless 5 minute tube ride. There is a map on my London transport guide that shows you which stations are easier to walk between.
7. Avoid Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus for restaurants
Its touristy, crowded and overpriced. Walk a few minutes down the side streets or to surrounding areas for a better less touristy experience.
8. Don’t wait until you get to the gate to find your ticket
Sorry but there is nothing more frustrating than people fumbling at the gate to get there ticket out and delaying the people behind them. Us Londoners get very frustrated by that.
9. Don’t drive in Central London & if you do, we drive on the left.
There really is no point driving in Central London because you’ll spend more time in traffic than actually getting anywhere. If you do, remember we drive on the left.
10. Go to Camden Market and Borough Market during the week not the weekend if you can.
Camden and Borough Market are two of the busiest markets in London so if you can, go in the weekday not the weekend. They are so much less crowded and completely different places Monday to Friday.
11. Don’t take cabs.
I’ve got nothing against cabs but London traffic is insane and you’ll end up racking up a lot of time getting nowhere.
12. Book everything in advance.
You will thank me for this tip when you’re not stuck waiting in queues rather than enjoying yourself. Book as much as you can in advance and that includes attraction tickets, travel tickets and restaurant bookings.
13. When the weather is nice, London is a totally different place.
The sunshine makes London sparkle even more than it already does. You’ll notice people seem happier, stay out later and eat & drink alfresco.
14. Public transport is actually really good.
London has a lot of transport options and it’s usually very frequent and easy to navigate. Check out my guide to public transport.
15. It can be expensive
If you’re visiting from other parts of England you’ll notice London is more expensive than most other parts of the UK. Especially alcohol which can be double the price to what you’re used to. Budget accordingly.
16. Don’t go on a rickshaw.
A rickshaw is one of those bikes that you pay someone to cycle around with you in the back. It’s a tourist trap that could cost you a lot of money and it’s not worth it.
17. There’s a pretend Downing Street to trick your friends.
Taking a picture of you knocking the door of the Prime Minister’s house would be very funny to take back home. Well you can, but not the real one of course. Head to 10 Adam Street, a short walk from Covent Garden that looks just like the famous front door!
18. Avoid school holidays if you can.
School holidays are hellish and everywhere is busy x 10000000. Avoid if possible or do everything as early in the morning as you can.
19. Don’t just ask for ‘tea’
If you ask for ‘tea’ you’ll get the answer ‘which one?’ because London has so many different types available. If you want a good old cup of tea ask for an ‘English Breakfast’.
20. We’re not rude … just not that talkative!
You’ll notice on public transport we keep ourselves to ourselves … probably because we’re on our way to or from the office. Don’t be offended if we don’t chat much, that’s just us.
Wait! Before you go…
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