Get the most out of your trip the Capital City with these nine simple rules
Guest post by Mike James
Visiting London can be an unforgettable experience whether you’re coming from 30 minutes outside the capital or from the other side of the world. But tourists and travellers to London often make the same mistakes, which can a shame for them and frustrating for Londoners. Here are nine things you should not do on your next visit to the capital.
#1 | Drive in
Anyone who tells you to drive in London is not acting in your best interest. London is a road-user’s nightmare – forever congested, the roads are complicated to navigate, have speed cameras seemingly in every other street and suffer from an almost unbelievable shortage of affordable parking spaces. What’s more, you’ll pay for the privilege of these dreadful driving conditions.
Mercifully, London has fantastic public transport options. Getting in by train, bus or plane is very easy. If you are travelling in a large group it is cheap and simple to book a private coach take you in from wherever you are coming from.
#2 | Visit the museums during the school holidays
London’s museums are some of the most incredible attractions that the city has to offer. From the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) to the Science Museum and the Tate Modern, each offers a fascinating insight into their topic and make a brilliant day out in the capital. And there is no entry fee which means it is accessible for children and adults alike.
But it’s worth pointing out that the big name free museums are unsurprisingly extremely popular over the school holidays. Check if your trip to London coincides with when the kids are off school – if it does then they are probably best avoided.
#3 | Stand on the left
One regular source of dismay for Londoners is the sight of a visitor to their city not allowing the rules on Underground escalators. And what’s most frustrating is how easy it is to follow – you walk on the left and you stand on the right. If you stand on the left hand side of the escalator you will at best receive dirty looks and exasperated exhales – at worst you will be asked to move or shoved by an angry commuter.
#4 | Fail to plan their tube journeys
Speaking of the tube, it’s imperative that you should plan your journeys before you begin. This is important for a number of reasons. The tube can be a little complicated to navigate if you’ve not ever had experience of it – there are multiple lines and many stations don’t connect to each other. It’s also worth noting that your phone won’t get signal once you’ve gone down into the Underground, so if you descend without a plan, you’ll probably have to find a member of staff and ask them where you need to go.
You’ll save a serious amount of time and hassle by planning out where you are going first. The Transport for London website is very useful for this.
#5 | Play it by ear
Similarly, London is not the kind of place where you should try to improvise your trip. There is an awful lot to do so you need to make a sensible plan of the things you want to see and do during your time in the capital. It’s rare for attractions to be in walking distance of one another so you’ll need to have a good idea of how you’re going to travel between your activities.
#6 | Shop on Oxford Street
Oxford Street is an iconic shopping destination. It’s also effectively filled entirely with brand names that you can find anywhere else in the world. The real joy of shopping in London is searching out the boutiques and independent stores.
#7 | Pay full price for attractions
If you just turn up to an attraction on the day you are likely to have to pay full price for entry. Typically, however, if you do a bit of searching online first you will be able to find price reductions and savings on tickets. There are even schemes such as The London Pass where offer entry into many of the city’s major attractions such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and London Zoo included in the cost.
#8 | Rush at rush hour
Rush hour is rather inappropriately named. Trying to travel in the city any time between 7 and 10am, and between 4 and 7pm can be a complete nightmare. If you don’t need to be on the tube or bus during these hours, then do yourself a favour and avoid them.
#9 | Eat at famous restaurants
London is a paradise for foodies with some of the most renowned and world famous restaurants based here. But before you book yourself a reservation at a celebrity chef’s eatery or upmarket dining room in Soho where you’ll pay £100 a head, it’s worth remembering that London has a huge range of restaurants that aren’t famous, but not produce world class food at a quarter of the price of the big names. Do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is still building its reputation.