A first time visitor is someone who needs to be well updated with the place he plans to explore, roam and spend quality time in. If you plan to visit London, a place which is on the bucket list of all the travel lovers, then you must prepare, plan and research for it well in advance to make it a worthy journey.
London is an endlessly popular destination full of fun and adventure where one can find travellers and people from around the globe. Yes, the city’s landmarks and iconic sights would drive you crazy and leave you overwhelmed; nevertheless, there are quite a few things that you must consider, especially when it’s your initial visit.
1 Decide when to Visit London
Weather in London can be quite unpredictable, even for the locals, every day is a surprise and they usually carry sunglasses and umbrellas throughout the year. But it’s not so extreme either that you are not able to enjoy your visit to the city and most of the major attractions are also not seasonal.
Usually, a large number of tourists visit London during July and August (hottest time of the year). But if you are looking to avoid the crowd the shoulder season can be a great time for you to plan a visit.
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2 Advance Booking: A Huge Benefit
Visiting London unplanned can be a disaster for your trip. Starting with flights to accommodation and ending with all the activities and attractions – you get more choices with even better prices when you book in advance and the best part is you don’t have to waste your time standing in a queue.
PRO TIP: You can get tickets at much affordable prices for main attractions if you book them in advance. For example, going to Madame Tussaud’s or the London eye can be much cheaper if you book in advance.
If you are planning to see a musical, then it becomes mandatory for you to book in advance as the last minute tickets will do you no good at all.
3 Walk or rent a bike
“One of the best ways to explore London is to do it on foot.”
I know I already mentioned that seeing London on foot is a daunting task, nevertheless, if you take the tube or bus every time, chances are you might be missing a great deal. Another better way to cover bigger distances and view London easily is by renting a bike. And, there are a lot of city bike stands where you can either rent a bike and start exploring yourself or you can join a bike tour as well.
You can book a tour and take a half-day bike tour covering the main highlights of London.
4 Time and Money Savers: Hop-on-Hop-off Buses and River Cruises
There are a lot of ways to see the beautiful sceneries and highlights of London and to enjoy the complete experiences I would recommend you to try different modes of transportation as many you can.
One of the most popular ways to see the busiest city of Europe and all its major attractions is by using the Hop-on hop-off buses. One can explore distinct places in London with the help of the bus passes for easy and comfortable sightseeing.
Furthermore, taking a boat wherever possible is also a great way to enjoy any city. You can choose from several boat trip options available in London, so you can really enjoy your view of London from the Thames.
5 The Free Attractions: An Advantage to Reap
There are a lot of free things to do in London, despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world. Visit sites like Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guards. Visit London’s free Museums and enjoy the gala of weekend street market!
#London’s Shops, Gardens & Parks
Don’t get me wrong over here, ofcourse shopping in London is not at all cheap but visiting the shops is, of course, free and is an attraction in itself. Visit Harrods street and Oxford street!
One of the most desirable free things that must not be missed while your visit in London is changing of the guards. This ceremony takes place at Buckingham Palace at 10:45 A.M. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and is free to watch. It is one of the most popular things to do among tourists, so make sure that you take the best spot with a great view.
6 London’s Free Museums: Enjoy Day-outs Gaining Knowledge
London is known for its free museums. From art galleries to artefacts, the British capital has everything to offer. One of my personal favourites is Tate Britain, It has the most stunning paintings, art pieces dating back from the 1500s. It is an incredible showcase of Britain’s most amazing artists.
Free Museums in London
Although visiting London is not at all cheap, but there are a lot many things to do that are completely free. British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London and many more are some of the examples.
7 Use Travel Cards: Buy an Oyster Card
If you are in London for more than 2 days then I would recommend that you should get a London transit card also known as the Oyster card. You can get it easily from the nearest tube station or an airport, it works with busses and tube lines. Sometimes you will need to buy a different ticket if you are travelling on national train lines.
Usually, an oyster card costs around £5 but the £20 one lasted a whole week for me keeping in mind I took tube twice a week. You can top-up the card easily at self-service kiosks available at every tube station. Also, it will last forever and if you buy one today you can use it again for your next visit to London.
8 Landmarks and Shopping
Spend the day lurking around Covent Garden or you can head over to Oxford street and Soho to experience the ultimate shopper’s paradise. You surely can find a lot of stuff that you wish to have from numerous boutiques, chain stores and markets.
If you haven’t yet experienced fish and chips, now’s the time. This neighbourhood has many classic London Pubs where you can enjoy your evening.
Visit Leicester Square and London’s Theatre district. Keep in mind that there’s going to be a lot of rush there but at the same time, it will be fun to explore these streets.
9 Don’t Go for Seeing Everything, have Ample Time in hand
Probably wondering how much time you need in London? Just understand that London is huge and you can’t see every nook and corner in just a few days of your visit. So, don’t disappoint yourself if you are not able to see everything on your short trip.
I would recommend a 3-4 day trip in London if you are visiting for the first time. This will give you ample time to get known to the city surroundings and visit the main landmarks and locations.
Try to see everything but also save some things for your next trip. As seeing everything in this short amount of time is not at all possible as I already explained. Plan your vacation and visit not more than 2-3 main attractions each day and leave some time to discover something unexpected.
10 The Final Crucial Pointers to Consider
Some last practical tips that you should consider to take care for the first time London visit:
- Credit Cards pretty much work everywhere, but always carry some cash with yourself as well. By cash, I don’t mean dollars or euros I mean real Pound Sterling.
- Never leave a tip in London as the additional 10-15% service charge is included in your bill. Locals don’t usually tip at the bar but seldom do at the restaurants if the service is really good.
- Always carry travel adapters. In the UK they use type G plugs which are not so common in any other European country or US.
- Wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking a lot in London.
- Purchase a local SIM card if you don’t want to be bothered by the extra cost of roaming charges.
- It rains a lot in London so please pack an umbrella.
Hope these Ten Tips for roaming in London acknowledge you well with all the necessary things to keep in mind as a first time visitor to the beautiful and astonishing city of the UK.
Have Great fun in the Great City. Happy Travelling!