Travelling to a new city comes with all sorts of problems, for example, finding your way around, coming to grips with public transport and knowing simple conversational phrases in the language to ensure that you get by. In London, just like in any city, there are unspoken rules and etiquette to follow which you won’t find these in any tour guides or maps but they can make all the difference to make sure that you thoroughly enjoy your time in the city. So, just to get your adventure off to a flying start, here are some tips to ensure that your time in the Big Smoke is easy, safe and fun.
Accommodation: Choose Wisely
Whether you are looking for a hostel or for 5 star hotels in London, it is important to be aware of where you will be laying your head for the duration of your trip. Is it close to a convenient store so you can quickly nip to the shop for any essentials that you might have missed while packing? Is it near a tube station so it cuts down commuting time to the sights you want to see or places you want to go? Is it in an area where you feel safe, especially when the sun goes down and the city comes to life? Are you breaking the bank with this choice-is it within your budget? These are just some of the questions that you need to think of for you to confidently pick the best accommodation for your stay.
Be Comfortable, you will be Walking a lot.
London’s famous monuments can appear to be closer than they are, it is very deceptive and you will find that, even though you look great in your shoes or high heels, the reality of walking from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament will take a toll on your feet. Using public transport is great if you want to get from one place to another very quickly or it is all the way across the city, however, when you can, walk between your destinations as London is filled with hidden spots and historical places that will be missed if you jump on the bus or tube. Invest in a very comfortable pair of walking shoes and get out into the city and explore the good, old-fashioned way.
Public Transport: What you Need to Know
The first thing to do as soon as you get to London is buy an Oyster card. These little blue cards will get you from A to B a lot quicker, can be used on most forms of transport, such as buses, overground trains, tubes and DLR, and can even save you money. If you aren’t used to city life, using the tube and buses in London is an experience as the rules about personal space do not apply during rush hour and weekends so be prepared to be nose to nose or sometimes butt to nose for the duration of your tube travel. However, huffing, tutting, pushing, shoving or talking are permitted throughout the journey; Londoners like their quiet time and, if you attempt to start a conversation during a tube ride, be prepared to get an icy glare in return.
Take to the Shops during your Stay
When first arriving in London, shopping iconic London streets such as Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street are simply dreams come true, but pair that with world famous department stores such as Harrods, Hamleys, Liberty and Selfridges and you are in shopping heaven. However, there are an incredible number of boutiques and shops scattered all around the city, so once you have experienced the above places, get yourself out there to explore. Carnaby Street and Covent Gardens are great places to shop, but you will find some adorable boutiques down alleyways all around the city, so you’re guaranteed to find a hidden gem and maybe even some bargains along the way.
London is a bustling city so it comes as no surprise that every weekend it has something going on. You can check online for any events happening such as markets, vintage and antique fayres, boot sales and fetes happening all around the city and are always exciting to experience as you are always guaranteed to find a bargain or be able to pick up a piece from a new, up and coming designer. You will be very surprised at what you can find if you simply have a rummage around.
Enjoy the Tourist Lifestyle
This may be obvious to you as a tourist but the number of people who get swept up in the hustle and bustle of London life and forget to visit the tourist spots is unbelievable. London has so much to offer and there is a reason why millions of people visit it each year, so if you don’t take a bus tour or go to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London or the Houses of Parliament, then you are seriously missing out on what makes London, well, London. Plan your day and decide what you are going to see and do; you could take in the sights at Westminster or take a trip on the River Thames, or even experience the free side of London by walking around the Natural History, Science and British museums and the world famous art galleries or take a stroll through its Royal parks to see the deer and be prepared to fall in love with London.