London is one of the world’s most visited cities – home to the likes of Big Ben, The Queen, and the famous red phone box. But with so much to see and the internet virtually throwing ideas and advice from every angle, it can certainly be overwhelming. Here’s a few tips and tricks for visiting London to make your stay easier and more enjoyable…
Tips and Tricks for your visit to London
Go Big at Breakfast
The Brits get a bad wrap for their fairly mediocre cuisine, but it’s no longer the case. If there’s one thing they know how to do (ridiculously well) it’s the ol’ English Breakfast! If you walk into a restaurant and order the full English breakfast, you can rest assured you’ll be full until the afternoon hits – when, of course, it’s time for a spot of afternoon tea. There are many variations (including the newly popular brunch which is all the rage), but the traditional English breakfast will consist of two eggs, bacon, toast, baked beans and a baked tomato. All of this should of course be consumed with English breakfast tea – what else!?
Start with a Free Walking Tour
If it’s your first visit to London and you want to kick things off on the right foot, a great way to start is by joining a free city walking tour. Sandemans New Europe Tour are a popular choice with witty and characteristically British guides (what we all come to London for, right!?). These tours will take you to the major hot spots like Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
The Red Double Decker Bus Tours are a great way to get around
Despite what you might read on other blogs (each to their own opinion!), I think the ‘hop on hop off’ tourist buses are actually a great way to be introduced to a city. They’re a bunch of fun, have free guided information as you go along, and make visiting the top tourist attractions ridiculously easy. This is also a great way to see the city without putting in the miles of exercise (but that’s good too!), as London is absolutely HUGE.
Or you can choose to buy an Oyster Card to take the Underground
The Oyster Card is valid not only on the underground, but also for the red double decker buses (an icon in themselves) and even regional trains. The best part is the money you will save – Oyster cards have a daily maximum of £8.50 meaning you can visit all the sites in one day for a relatively good price.
Most of the Museums are Free and are some of the best in the world
Most of London’s museum are 100% free to enter and provide ample entertainment for an entire day. Be sure not to miss the British Museum and the Natural History Museum – two of the best. Just beware that these are also two of London’s most popular (and for good reason) so expect crowds and lines.
Save money and grab a quick lunch to go at Marks & Spencer or Tesco
There’s no denying that London is one of the world’s most expensive cities to visit – this is nothing new. Every cost adds up and soon enough you’ve blown your budget within the first 24 hours – you wouldn’t be the first to let that happen! A great way to save money (and time) is to grab a quick lunch on the go at M&S, Tesco or Sainsbury’s. Surprisingly they have some fantastic food for a ridiculously good price – just a couple of pounds for a gourmet sandwich to eat on the go.
Changing of the guards can be skipped
Of course it depends on the individual, but unless you REALLY want to see the changing of the guards, this activity can (and in my opinion) should be missed. There’s thousands of tourists every day all nudging one another for a peek and it has become almost impossible to see any of the action.
Explore at least one of London’s neighbourhoods outside of the tourist zone
It took me a couple of visits to London before I really started to see, experience and explore the city as a whole. I was with my friend Dave from @London on Instagram when we ventured out into unknown territory for me to visit the Globemaker’s artist studio. It was truly fascinating to see how much London changed when you start to explore the neighbourhoods – a highlight for the day was hipster-lovers paradise Shoreditch.
Visit the South Bank of the Thames
So you want to take the iconic London snap – Big Ben, the Thames and a magical sunset after a long day exploring London? You’ll find it just across the bridge, over on the Southbank of the Thames. Besides, any photo you attempt to take over near Westminster will inevitably be photo-bombed by one of the many passing tourists.
The best views are The Shard and the old and faithful London Eye
While they’re both not such a small investment (£29.95 for the Shard and £19.10 for the Eye), there’s still no denying these are two of London’s best birds eye views. While it might be a tad more expensive, the Shard appears to win as the best view simply based on the fact that it HAS the London Eye in the frame.
Pick and Choose your Activities – It’s too much to try and do everything!
There’s so much to see and do in London – The London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, The Tate Museum, Buckingham Palace…. This is just the beginning. Be sure to do your research, find out what is on offer, what you think you simply cannot miss, and go from there in order of preference. London IS HUGE so it might take a little longer than expected to get from one attraction to the next – prioritise.
Get out! There are some great day tours from London
There are many great nearby cities to visit just a short 1-2 hour journey from London. You can choose to take the train or bus to the likes of Cambridge, Oxford, and Bath among others. The latter is a great choice for history buffs in search of a Victorian experience and the other two are college towns through and through – but all are filled with character and charm.