Guest post by Giorgos
With over 8 million residents and millions more tourists each year, London is one of Europe’s most exciting megacities. But it’s not just London’s dynamism and diversity that makes it such a hotspot with new tourists. Few cities are as jam-packed with historic attractions, world-class restaurants, and live entertainment opportunities.
Travel Tips For First-Time Visitors In London
Although London is a dream vacation destination for many tourists, visiting this city can be a nightmare if you’re unprepared. London’s massive size and fast pace can easily bewilder first-time tourists. Anyone visiting London should review a few key strategies to hit the ground running at Heathrow.
Fill Your Phone With London Tourist Apps
Even if you’re traveling to Soho solo, you’ll probably have a smartphone wherever you go. Thankfully, you can use your phone to your advantage on a first-time trip to the UK. Since London is such a hot tourist destination, there are dozens of apps to make your travel experience as smooth as possible. Most notably, it’s a good idea to download the free official Visit London app to discover info on significant attractions, live events, and city maps.
Transport For London (TfL) also offers a free TfL Oyster app which is extremely handy for navigating the city’s metro system (aka The Tube). Not only could you use the TfL app to figure out which Tube station to hop on, you can add funds to an Oyster account and use your phone to pay for transit costs. Citymapper also offers a convenient app that many London visitors use to find their best transit options.
Bonus tip: London’s Heathrow Airport has a handy mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Since Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, this app will certainly be helpful when navigating these hectic terminals.
Find Your Dream London District
London has 32 boroughs, each with a distinct vibe and access to unique amenities. Honestly, the “best borough” for your London vacation depends on what you’re most interested in and your budget. For instance, those who want convenient access to sightseeing often focus on areas like South Bank and Covent Garden, while nightlife fans love staying in SoHo. Although Kensington and Paddington are further from the center of London, they’re also popular destinations with tourists thanks to their dozens of attractions and easy access to transit.
Take a few moments to look at a map of London and find all of the “must-do” attractions on your itinerary. After figuring out where you want to go in London, you should know the best area to start exploring hotel or hostel options. If you can’t find anything that meets your budget in your location, consider looking for hotels near a Tube station that links to wherever you want to spend most of your time. Visit London has dozens of free and interactive maps to help new visitors determine where their “best” homebase is.
Don’t Drag Your Luggage Around
If London’s not enough for you and you’re planning a day trip to a nearby location, you don’t have to carry your luggage with you! Using one of the local luggage storage services can help lighten your load and make your trip more enjoyable.
Stasher is a luggage storage service that provides a convenient solution for visitors to enjoy a day in London without the burden of carrying their bags. By utilising Stasher, tourists can explore the city hassle-free, making the most of their time in the British capital.
When and How Long Should People Visit London?
Like choosing the best place to stay in London, the ideal time to travel to the UK depends on many personal factors. However, the most popular time to travel to London is in summer due to the city’s warmer and sunnier climate. The tradeoff with visiting during summer is that it’s the busiest and most expensive, so most tourist experts recommend looking into a fall or spring vacation to enjoy “mildish” temps and lower prices.
As for how long to stay in London, first-timers should at least schedule three full days if they want to hit all of the bucket list “touristy” attractions (think Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and Trafalgar Square). However, for a “full” London experience, it’s best to stay at least one week, especially if you want to take in an excursion to the mysterious Stonehenge or Watford’s popular Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Final Tip: Look Both Ways When Crossing The Street!
Unless you’re traveling to London from a former British colony, chances are you always look left when crossing the street. Please remember UK’s driving rules are the opposite of most nations, so you’ll need to reverse your normal habits at crosswalks.
Actually, it’s probably safer if you look both ways every time you cross a road in London. Data suggests, 61% of emergency helicopters for injured pedestrians in London were foreigners, so it’s OK to be a little extra paranoid before stepping on the street.