Your first trip to London is guaranteed to be fun and unforgettable, but it’s also sure to be overwhelming. This is to be expected, seeing how London is a multicultural city with a population of nearly nine million. You also shouldn’t forget that it’s visited by over 300 million people every year. It’s imperative that you come here prepared, otherwise you’ll get swamped and lost on the busy streets of one of the world’s foremost capitals.
5 Basic Tips for First Time London Visitors
1. Use Transport for London
Transport for London is a website that you need to study through and through. This is where you’ll find detailed guidelines on the most efficient and cheapest methods of getting around London.
The city’s infrastructure is extremely complex and public transportation is a maze that’s hard to navigate no matter how often you visit. The fact that public transport here is among the most expensive in the world also doesn’t help matters. Therefore, take your time researching the best routes for your trip and be sure to buy an Oyster card for the duration of your visit.
2. Explore the city’s attractions through walking tours
Norman Foster, a famous architect, said that there is no place like London and he was definitely right. The city is such a mix of beautifully versatile architecture and attractions that it’s impossible to categorize it. This means that you need to “glimpse all the brightest jewels that this city has to offer”, as says Steven Johnson from Strawberry Tours. There truly is no better way to study London than taking a few themed walking tours through the city. Walking down the city streets will allow you to not only see the most famous attractions but to also “meet the uncharted passions of London”, as Virginia Woolf called them.
Walking tours are the best method of city exploration for first time London visitors. They allow you to see many of the best attractions fast and learn a bit about each. This quick glimpse will help you decide which places you want to explore more in-depth when you have the time.
3. Stay in the centre of the city
Central London is expensive, but getting there to enjoy the attractions while staying in cheaper places at the city’s fringes will also be expensive. Therefore, a money-savvy traveler should stay in the central part of the capital right from the start.
Remember that there are hundreds of millions people who visit London every year. Therefore, you have to book a room or even a bed in a hostel well in advance. This isn’t a place where you can find good accommodation on arrival.
4. Avoid the city during holidays
Check out what the public holidays in Britain (school holidays included) are and be sure to stay out of the capital during this time. Many millions of London’s yearly visitors are Brits, so the city gets incredibly crowded by domestic tourists during those times.
Note that prices jump up during those periods as well. Therefore, even if crowds don’t scare you off, you should consider how much tougher this trip will be on your budget.
5. Get the London Pass
If you want to take a closer look at the city’s top attractions, you need to buy the London Pass. This will not only help you save a lot of money on tickets but, most importantly, give you priority in the lines, which are always there.
Considering how busy some of the attractions are, using the Pass might be your only chance to explore them comfortably. It will also provide you access to popular tours, like sailing down the River Thames.