Keep reading to discover my top London travel tips for first time visitors.
You may have a few questions before your trip to London but who do you ask? Lucky for you, you’re in the faithful hands of a local Londoner with 10 years of experience living, working and enjoying the city. Below are a variety of questions you may have before your visit to London. If I haven’t answered something you would like to know please drop me an email and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
Here are my top London travel tips for first time visitors
What’s the best way to travel around London?
There are so many different ways to travel around London depending on your preferences and your budget. For everything you need to know about getting around London check out my ultimate guide to London transport.
What’s an Oyster Card?
An Oyster card is an electronic ticket you use to get around London. It can be bought at any London Underground station. You top up your Oyster card and use it by tapping it on yellow card readers at the gates of each station when entering and leaving. The amount of fare that is deducted from the card depends on where you are travelling from and to. There’s a lot more information about Oyster Cards and other transport terminology on my London transport guide here.
What can I do for free in London?
There is so much you can do in London for free. I have a list of 100 free things you can do in London and you can download it for free right here.
My hotel doesn’t have breakfast, where can I find somewhere good to eat?
I have lots of recommendations for great breakfast spots in London split out by area. Check them out here.
What kind of plug do I need to buy for my electricals?
You will need 3 prong plug just like this one.
I’ve heard the weather isn’t always great in London. What would you recommend I bring?
Yes, the weather in London is a bit temperamental so you’ll want to make sure you are prepared as possible. I have put together a comprehensive guide here where I’ve recommended the perfect shoes, coats, umbrellas, bags and electricals for your trip.
What are the Coronavirus guidelines for travelling to/from London?
The Coronavirus situation here in the UK is changing all the time so it would be silly for me to provide any advice or information. For all Coronavirus updates please check the UK government website here.
Is London Coronavirus safe?
Most places in London are doing their utmost to put the proper guidelines in place. I would recommend that you contact the particular hotel/restaurant/bar/attraction/theatre/shop beforehand if you are concerned or want to know more information on their precautions. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone and every situation you may face in London so the best piece of advice is to always refer to the official government guidelines. Also the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is very pro-active at keeping the people of London safe and informed via his social channels.
London is so big, where do I start?
My comprehensive area guide will give you a good idea of London and the different areas.
What currency do you use?
Great British Pounds.
WHAT’S THE ONE THING I NEED FOR MY TRIP?
You absolutely have to download CityMapper. It will effortlessly navigate you around London like a pro!
Where should I stay?
Comparison sites like Expedia and Hotels.com are excellent for finding places to stay at the best prices and with the best customer ratings. I would always suggest doing a second check of reviews on Trip Advisor. Air B & B is also a great way to experience the city as a real Londoner if you’re looking to rent an entire house.
Should I tip?
Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated. Some restaurants and bars add will automatically add on a 12.5% service charge to your bill however it is your choice to pay it or not. Some restaurants don’t add it on at all and you can add this on top if you choose to.
Can I smoke indoors?
No. Smoking indoors is illegal in the UK and you can be fined if you are caught doing so.
Do you have any general advice about travelling to London?
How do I get from the airport to where I’m staying in London?
Everything you need to know about travelling to and from London airports is on my London transport blog here.
I’m looking for great places to eat, where should I start?
You’re in the right place! I’ve got lots of recommendations and bucket lists of London’s best places to eat here.
What things must I see when I visit London?
To get a good idea of London’s main attractions and landmarks check out my attraction guide here
I’ve heard London is famous for theatre, where should I start looking at tickets?
You’re in the right place. I have 4 great guides explaining everything you need to know about the theatre. Find them all below.
Is London safe?
Like all big cities, there are good parts and bad parts. The Metropolitan Police have some great tips on staying safe in London here.
I’m on a budget, any tips?
Sure. Check out my guides below:
I’m travelling alone, any advice?
London is a great city for solo travellers and there are plenty of things to do by yourself or in meet up groups. I’d highly recommend Air B and B experiences who do fantastic tours of the city ran by real Londoners and you’ll get to meet like-minded people. I’ve also got a great dining solo guide here for all your eating out needs.
We want to see some Harry Potter attractions, where should we go?
I wrote about the must-see Harry Potter attractions in London on my attraction guide here.
I want to buy a London guide book. Any recommendations?
WHATS THE DIFFERENT BETWEEN AN OYSTER CARD AND VISITOR OYSTER CARD?
A Visitor Oyster Card is very similar to a regular Oyster Card. The main difference of the visitor card is that it offers a few discounts to London attractions and you can have it delivered to you before arriving in London. It also gives you a discount on some London attractions. The regular oyster can only be purchased in London. You cannot add travelcards to a visitor oyster which means you will pay per day. If you’re here for more than 6 days you are better off getting a regular Oyster Card with a week travelcard for £36.10 rather than paying £7.20 a day to travel. You can buy yours here.
AM I ABLE TO DRINK FROM THE TAP IN LONDON?
Yes, you can.
I’m on a budget. Can I still have a good time in London?
WHERE SHOULD I BUY MY CURRENCY?
The question really should be where you shouldn’t buy your currency. You shouldn’t buy it last minute at the airport. The rates at the airport are not great. Plus, they usually take a hidden commission.
Is the London pass worth it?
Yes, it is providing you meet the criteria. What’re the criteria you ask? Check out this blog post to find out.
Do I need a visa to visit London?
You may require a visa to visit the UK. To find out see the UK Visas and Immigration website, or check with your local British Embassy before you travel. The rules change regularly, so make sure you check you have the most up-to-date information before you travel.
I’M A VEGAN. DOES LONDON CATER FOR THAT?
Absolutely. I’d recommend checking out The Little London Vegan
WHAT SIDE OF THE ROAD DO YOU DRIVE ON?
We drive on the right side of the road
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR BASIC ESSENTIALS?
If you need things such as milk, bread, toilet paper etc you will find them in most local supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl and Co-Op. You will find these on most high streets. If you need things like tablets, shampoo or toothpaste you can usually find these in most supermarkets too, however, you may want to go to a pharmacy like Boots or Superdrug.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SCAMS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
Unfortunately, there are a few scams you have to look out for in London. Check out this list of thirteen common scams.
WHAT LANGUAGE DO YOU SPEAK IN LONDON?
The majority of Londoners speak English, however, London is incredibly diverse and multicultural with over 100 languages spoken.
I hope my blog on Top London Travel Tips for First Time Visitors has been helpful.