London is one of those cities that is constantly changing with new and exciting things sprouting up almost every day! This is all well and good but it sure can make a visit to our capital city pretty hectic, especially if you’re trying to plan, book and see all the things you want in a short period of time.
1.) London is a big ol’ place!
The city of London is huge! With millions of people and tons of foxes (which I’m sure outnumber us Londoners), the city and metropolitan area are ginormous, to say the least! If you’ve only got a few short days in the city, try to stay in the area you want to explore (or at least close by). This will save you a whole lotta time traveling across the city every day… especially as traveling in London can add up to several hours per day in transport time.
2.) Get an Oyster Card
An Oyster Card will save you time and money when it comes to those pesky travel related costs that seem to gobble up our cash. Grab an Oyster Card (which is FREE, with a small refundable deposit) from a Tube Station and preload a given amount onto the card. When using an Oyster Card, your journey is not only discounted but you’ll also have a maximum daily capped amount that you can spend in one day. This means that after doing 3 or 4 journeys, the rest of the day’s travel will be totally free around the whole of London!
3.) Fly into low-cost airports
If you’re looking to keep costs low when it comes to getting yourself to London, then grab a low-cost flight with the likes of Ryan Air or Easy Jet. These carriers tend to prioritize the cheaper landing fee in airports like the Stansted airport- with fares ultimately being lower than their rival carriers landing at Heathrow or London City.
Stansted is around 45 minutes by train or 1 hour by bus into the city center. Usually, this still works out more economical than landing at Heathrow, even after paying train fares.
4.) Museums and art galleries are FREE
Speaking of free stuff, don’t forget that the likes of the Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, The British Museum and much more are free for anyone to visit. Spend a day wandering through the many historical artifacts and enjoy the rich heritage the city has to offer. Obviously, donations are welcome, though in no way obligatory.
5.) Tipping isn’t essential
Tipping isn’t as big a deal as it is in the United States or other countries but that doesn’t mean it isn’t appreciated. Usually, a small 10-15 percent tip is more than fine for a restaurant whilst there is no need to tip at any bar or for drinks (again, it’s appreciated but never essential, in fact, most Londoners don’t – especially on a night out where you’re getting several drinks in). There’s also no need to tip when hailing a cab, though it often makes sense to round up the amount to the nearest pound.
6.) Avoid Oxford Street on Saturday
A weekend shopping on Oxford Street can be something of a stressful ordeal as these streets are heaving on Saturdays and Sundays. There can sometimes be literally no space on the pavements and even the tube closes due to crowd control. If you’re geared up to shop, think about heading over to Oxford Street around mid-morning, and preferably on a weekday. Crowds are much lower and you can easily peruse the shops at your own pace.
7.) Grab a local sim card
Free wifi service can be pretty bad in London… unless you fancy spending lots of time in Starbucks, McDonalds or Apple. If your phone is unlocked, grab yourself a local sim card to make calls and internet allowance at a fraction of roaming costs. One of the best providers for cheap sim cards when it comes to value for money is Giff Gaff, followed by Three.
8.) Take an umbrella
London weather is notoriously unpredictable. Don’t forget to pack an umbrella (or a raincoat) and stay dry when those infamous showers begin to fall! At the very least, check the weather forecast on the BBC before you leave the house every day.
Honestly, Londoners might look a little cold or quiet whilst squished against you on a packed tube but I guarantee that Londoners are absolutely amazing people! I’ve no doubt you’ll make lots of friends and meet loads of new people that will have a good old natter with you at almost any London bar so don’t let anything stop you from making new friends when you’re in London town.