10 things you need to know before visiting London for the first time

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London is such an amazing city and I’m sure you can’t wait to arrive and start exploring around. Why don’t you first take a minute and check out the useful information below about traveling to London for the first time?

These tips will help you plan your trip to London and guarantee you a smooth stay.

visiting London for the first time


1. London is huge

Before my first visit to London, I didn’t actually realize how big the city is. Of course, I knew that it’s a megapolis and I did my homework making some plans and reviewing my routes. Hopefully, plenty of attractions in London are located in the city center. Apart from being not that far one from another, keep in mind that in some cases you may have to take a bus or the tube to get to your destination. Anyway, a good planning will save your time and your feet. Priceless info when you are traveling to London for the first time


2. Map your route before traveling to London for the first time

Speaking of planning, wherever I go I always check some potential routes before leaving. I agree that nowadays you can easily download a city guide, turn on the GPS and “poof” – you are all settled. Unfortunately, some mobile devices (like my old phone) are doomed to freeze or even die in very significant moments. Nevertheless, there are some really good apps you may find very useful like London Official City Guide and Citymapper. In any case, check your route in advance.


3. Transport in London

The London Underground (the Tube) is the world’s oldest underground railway. It’s the fastest public transport and some of the lines are usually crowded. If you are a tourist traveling to London for the first time I’d recommend taking a ride on a bus. It’s a bit cheaper than the Tube and it’s so exciting to cross London comfortably seated on a double-decker bus. No matter which option you go for, the best way to pay for public transport is to purchase an Oyster card.

London bus


4. The Cabs

As much as I like them I must say that they are too expensive. If you need a long ride you better take a bus or the tube. Otherwise, be prepared to pay a good penny for a cab.


5. Some of the top museums in London are free

Ok, this is something I really like about London. Besides the fact that the city is pretty expensive, some of the top museums are free of charge. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. You can spend your day in the British Museum or in Tate Modern and it costs you nothing. It’s perfect for budget traveling.

I should mention that some of the museums host temporary exhibitions and you have to pay if you want to visit them but still, there’s a lot to see free of charge. Go ahead and explore London.

London museum


6. Look right when you cross a street

That’s really important when traveling to London for the first time (or the UK in general), especially if you are not used to the traffic. Obviously, drivers think that the huge painted signs “Look Right” on the ground are enough for non-oriented tourists. It’s common to witness how a bus driver doesn’t make the slightest effort to kill the speed no matter there’s a confused tourist looking left and trying to cross the street. I’d say that after 2-3 days spent in London you finally get used to it. It’s kinda strange when you return to your country with “normal” traffic, though.



7. The Breakfast

The full English breakfast is a classic but honestly, I don’t think it fits every taste or it’s just me. I know that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the English breakfast definitely looks proper enough but I found it too heavy.

English breakfast


8. The service charge

Tipping in London is not obligatory but practically everybody does it. The service cost is around 12% and is usually included in your bill. Ka-ching!


9. London doesn’t sleep

London is a magnificent city during the day and when the night falls down it’s still incredible. The nightlife in London is crazy. There are lots of clubs, bars and local pubs and most of them are crowded. As far as I understood, Thursday is the best day for a night out in London.


10. Purchase a British power adapter

One of the most important things when traveling to London for the first time is to buy a power adapter. I got a cool international power plug adapter and I used it in the UK (and not only). This is one of the most important things in my luggage. It comes really handy because the hotels usually don’t provide adapters.


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visiting London for the first time

Have you been in London? Share with me how was your first visit to London? Do you have some other useful tips for first-timers?

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Blogger and passionate traveler. Expat recently relocated to Barcelona. Digital nomad wandering around Europe and beyond. Loves to see new places, experience different cultures and try new things.

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