London Travel Tips for First Timers
Home to some of the world's most interesting architecture, culture, fashion, and history. London is a fast paced city (not as fast as NYC, but definitely up there), and you probably want to avoid looking like a lost tourist when you arrive in town. If you're traveling to London for the first time, I'm going to do you a solid and queue you in on a few tips to make your trip much smoother.
London Travel Guide
This guide covers all aspects of the city. It also contains useful tips on the best day trips from London if you’re in the city long enough to want to explore further afield. I hope it helps you plan your trip to London!
When to Visit London
Best Time to Visit London
There’s no right or wrong time to visit London, but there are a few things to consider when choosing your dates. This being Britain, weather and daylight hours are usually the biggest factors. The best time to visit London is generally in the warmer months, but Christmas is also a great season for visiting.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in London
Gone are the days of bad British food. Today London is one of the world’s leading culinary centers, with creative new restaurants opening all the time.If you’re on the sightseeing trail, there are lots of great places to eat near London’s top attractions, and some lovely museum cafes as well. I’ve reviewed a lot of London restaurants over the years, so you can read about many of the top places in the city in my previous posts.
London Afternoon Teas
Afternoon tea in London is a must, and there’s no shortage of places to have it. Sketch tops my list of the best afternoon teas in London, but there are a lot of others worth trying, too. I love having a cup of tea at Candella Tea Room on Kensington Church Street.
And speaking of watering holes, London’s bar scene is always lively. Given I’m a travel blogger, I love the city’s travel-themed bars. But when I’m in a more local mood, the Connaught Bar in Mayfair is my go-to and I never turn down a trip to the city’s best champagne bars.
Trips from London
Day Trips from London
If you’re visiting for more than a few days, you might want to take a day trip from London. I had to choose a few favorites, they would have to be Brighton, Cambridge, and Oxford.
What is the London Explorer Pass?
The pass gives you free entrance to 3, 5 or 7 attractions in London. You pick from the list of 20 that are included in the pass. The idea is that by buying in “bulk”, you’ll save money. You have 30 days from when you use the pass for your first attraction to use it up.
Best combos for saving money with the London Explorer Pass
Generally speaking, you need to be including at least one of the most expensive ticket prices in your attraction selection in order to make the pass work for you. This includes the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour (£35 at the door), Madame Tussaud’s (£35 at the door), and the London Dungeon (£30 at the door).
HOHO Bus Tour + London Eye + Chelsea Stadium Tour = £83 (savings of £14)
Westminster Abbey + Chelsea Stadium Tour + HOHO Bus = £79 (savings of £10)
5 Attractions London Explorer Pass
HOHO + London Eye + Chelsea Stadium Tour + Westminster Abbey + Hampton Court Palace = £ = £125.90 (savings of £20.90).
Here are 3 of the best spots to include for a first time visit to London.
1. Get an Oyster Card when you arrive
London's subway system, aka "The Tube", is an extremely effective way (both in time and money) to get around town. To take the tube, you're going to need an Oyster Card, which you can purchase at the airport kiosk or any tube station around the city. Put as much money as you think you might need for your stay and "top off" (refill your card) if you run out.
If you're flying into Heathrow, I recommend getting your Oyster Card right at the airport and taking the Piccadilly Line from the airport into the closest station to your hotel.
2. Get acquainted with the city by doing the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Hang with me for a second here... I know I said that the goal of these tips is to help you look less touristy, but honestly the hop-on hop-off bus tours are one of the best ways to get acquainted with any new city you're visiting. Truth be told, I actually do them all the time and I freaking LOVE them. They allow you to get a better understanding of where everything is located, and it's guaranteed transportation around the city. The hop-on hop-off bus tours in London often come with a "free" river cruise, a couple of walking tours, and the ability to use the pass for 2 days.
3. Utilize the bus system
The great thing about getting an Oyster Card when you land in London is that it also covers the cost of those iconic, red, double decker buses that you can use to get around town. The bus system is pretty nice and easy to use, especially if you have Google Maps to help you along the way. My personal favorite thing to do is to sit in the front row on the top level of the bus. It's the best seat in the house and you'll get a great view of the area while you're driving!
Top 5 things to do in London
There are many reasons to visit London, but here's our top 5.
1. You can't fail to be excited by London's amazing attractions. See the city from above on the London Eye.
2. You could also visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
3. You could also visit the The Tower Bridge.
A lot of people get this mixed up, but do not confuse the 2 famous bridges in London. An easy way to remember this is that the TOWER Bridge is near the TOWER of London, and the London Bridge is closer to London's Parliament. Make sure you know the difference because you'll get confused if you ask where the London Bridge is and they point to the plain looking grey one along the River Thames.
4.You could also visit the Science Museum, London.
5. Natural History Museum London.
Have you been to London before? If you have more travel tips you'd like to see on this list, comment below with more advice to help our fellow travelers!