London Tips And Tricks For A First Timer

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London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, partly because of its incredible array of tourist attractions but also because of its long and fascinating history too. From the restaurants near Finsbury Square to the shops of Oxford Street, there’s always legends and stories about the area hiding beneath the surface. With 32 boroughs and more than 900 square miles within the city limits, you’ll no doubt be strapped for time to explore and learn about everything London has to offer.

And that’s just the problem. First time guests of London city hotel deals may find themselves inundated with deals on drinks, food and nights out as well as overplanning their trip to the point of feeling swamped by it. You may feel lost in a sea of urban buzz and dazzling lights, yet locals and seasoned tourists navigate the streets with ease.

That’s why it’s good to come prepared. There are many tips and tricks to British - and London - culture that you might not get the hang of the first time round. Thankfully, anyone reading this will be ahead of the curve. From travel hacks to reach the hotel Montcalm London city to apps that help you navigate and save money in London, this is a first timer's guide to visiting the city.

Where’s Right For Your Stay?

London’s 32 boroughs all offer something different for the London tourist. From Richmond to Hackney, each borough has a unique personality that adds to the collage of London. It’s worth keeping in mind that if you’re visiting the city for a limited period and have full days of sightseeing planned, staying in boroughs that are further away from the centre might mean more time spent on public transport. 

If you’re visiting London with the intention of sightseeing, it’s worth staying slightly more central so that you can easily reach the main attractions of the city. Equally, if you have specific plans in London, say, business meetings or family engagements, staying in accommodation close to your destination will help you to be more efficient in your travel.

Oyster Cards Save Money

Oyster cards are small blue contactless payment cards that you can top up with money from your debit or credit card. If you’re planning on using the London Underground or bus services a lot during your visit, it’s well worth investing in an Oyster for £5, as you’ll be able to top it up with travelcards for your trip and can link it to your railcard, if you’re eligible for one as a UK citizen. Under 25, Under 30 and senior railcards can be connected to your Oyster card at train station kiosks and will save you a third off peak journeys. 

If you plan on investing in a week or month long travelcard, remember that to save money on transport, you must take at least 3 journeys a day for 6 days, so only purchase it if you intend to do so.

Look Left At Road Crossings!

This one’s especially important for foreign visitors as not many countries in the world drive on the right hand side of the road. When you’re cycling, driving or walking through London, make sure to always look to the left for oncoming traffic.

Download Apps To Help You Navigate

Apps such as Google Maps and CityMapper can help you keep up to date with train cancellations and service disruption, whilst also giving you the freedom to pick and choose the route for your journey. Whether cycling, walking, driving or using public transport, routefinder apps will help you get to grips with London’s scale and size. It will also help you learn how to navigate the vast Underground network, consisting of 11 different underground lines and 

Don’t Visit During School Breaks And Bank Holidays

London is busy on the best of days, but over the school holidays and bank holiday weekends you can expect to see accommodation price hikes, more queues for attractions and generally a lot more tourists. Furthermore, flights and other modes of travel into the city can be more expensive at peak times too. Consider planning your trip to London at times when there is less demand for tourism so that you can enjoy a slightly quieter (although not exactly quiet) stay in the city. 

Try And Avoid Public Transport At Rush Hour

London’s public transport prices increase per journey between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm and 06.30 am and 09.30 am. Trains, tubes, buses and roads will all become busier in these hours, so you’ll essentially be paying more for a less comfortable journey. Though it won’t always be possible during your visit, try and avoid long journeys on public transport between these hours. If your destination is close to your accommodation, consider walking or cycling there. 

Pace Your Trip

Guests of Montcalm hotels in London have the heart of the city right on their doorstep, but that shouldn’t mean you pack your days with activities and events. Pace your trip and make sure you have enough time to relax during your stay. The beauty of London lies not only in its many attractions but in the spontaneity of events and activities. Sitting in a royal park and people watching, exploring that hidden side street or simply kicking back in your hotel room is as important as seeing those landmarks you’ve always wanted to visit. 

Many Museums And Galleries Are Free

Wading through the many attractions in London, one can easily feel like their holiday budget is being drained. Remember though, that the museums of Exhibition Road, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and National Galleries are all free to visit. These are some of the best museums and art galleries in the world and should not be missed.

So Are The Historic Parks

Further to the museums and galleries of London, the royal parks and nature reserves of London require no entry fee. Aside from Kew Gardens and the London Wetlands that do require entry fees, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath are all free to visit, alongside many other beautiful green spaces in and around the city.