London recently took the top spot as the #1 destination in the world in this year’s Travelers’ Choice awards, based on millions of reviews and opinions from you, the travelers! People from all over the world visit the vibrant and fast-paced capital of England, and for good reason. London has something for every type of traveler, from the fashion trendsetter to the adventurous foodie to the history buff. But before visiting, it’s helpful to become familiar with the culture and customs, and that’s where the TripAdvisor traveler community comes in. We’ve gathered the best tips from seasoned Londonphiles on how to enjoy the city to the fullest, and here they are:
You don’t always have to rely on public transportation to explore the city…
- “Walk where you can. Check your route and you may find it’s nearer than you think. This way, you’ll be able to see the sights as you go from [point] A to [point] B.” – TripAdvisor reviewer ClareHM from London
- “A pleasant way to check out London’s East End is to stroll through the popular and incredibly colourful Columbia Road Flower Market. One of London’s longest running street markets, it’s a favourite among locals and visitors alike.” – TripAdvisor reviewer chrisosburn from London
- “London’s South Bank is packed full of family-friendly fun and doesn’t have to cost a penny. Take a summer stroll along the riverbank to see some of the best sights in the city: the London Eye, Big Ben and St Paul’s Cathedral, to name but a few.” – TripAdvisor reviewer ClareHM from London
- “If the weather is nice, don’t hesitate to hire a bike from the bike stands you’ll see around the city. Just remember to cycle on the left and avoid rush hours (8-10 am and 5‐7 pm).” –TripAdvisor reviewer Brice L from London
- TripAdvisor Tip: London is a big city. To get a better sense of the areas you want to visit (or the ones that you’re currently in!) check on the “Neighborhoods” feature on the TripAdvisor app. The feature offers curated content including neighborhood descriptions, photos and maps, along with traveler reviews and opinions on the top places to eat, play and stay within these sections of the city.
…just make sure you’re prepared!
- “Wear comfortable shoes when hitting the streets. Layers of clothing will help with the changeable London weather.” – TripAdvisor chrisosburn from London
- “Carry a map and use it. Don’t worry about looking like a tourist. Pretty much everyone else does, too.” – TripAdvisor reviewer Goannas from Queensland, Australia
- TripAdvisor Tip: The “Near Me Now” feature on the TripAdvisor app helps you find nearby restaurants, attractions and hotels on the go. Once you know where you want to go, the “Point Me There” compass will guide you to your destination using GPS.
- “If you’re visiting from abroad, odds are you’re accustomed to road traffic coming from the opposite side. At any crossing, look down, as it normally says ‘LOOK LEFT’ to remind you!” –TripAdvisor reviewer chrisosburn from London
- “Be aware of your space and aware of those around you. Consult maps on a park bench or ask for help, but do not clog up escalators or streets by standing still in the main thoroughfare. Step to one side and remember courtesy is a two-way street. Ensure you move with light feet through each street—relax in the parks and pubs.” – TripAdvisor reviewer FinnFitz from London
- “There’s an unwritten etiquette for travelling on escalators in London. If you want to ride the escalator, stand to the right and keep the left side free for people who like to walk up.” – TripAdvisor reviewer ChingYHP from London
But when you do take public transportation, here’s what you need to know:
- “The key to getting around London’s transport system (tube, train and bus) is the Oyster card. You can buy it on arrival or in advance, and add credit at any tube station.” –TripAdvisor reviewer itsyourlondon from London
- “Cash is not accepted on buses. You must pay by Oyster card or contactless card.” –TripAdvisor reviewer itsyourlondon from London
- “A lot of the tourist attractions in London are located in zones 1 and 2. Stay in those zones and you’ll be close enough to the action to see everything without wasting too much time traveling between places.” –TripAdvisor reviewer knutey1111 from Minnesota, U.S.
To save money during your trip, keep the following in mind:
- “Children aged under 11 can travel free on buses, trams, the Tube, DLR and London Overground, as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid Oyster card.” –TripAdvisor ClareHM from London, United Kingdom
- “You don’t have to stay in a dorm or a hostel to get cheaper accommodation. Try student accommodation. It’s basic, but affordable and in some great locations.” – TripAdvisor reviewer Goannas from Queensland, Australia
- “Certain attractions have 2-for-1 offers if you show your Travelcard.” – TripAdvisor reviewer ChingYHP from London
- “Almost all the museums are free for general entry. Some have special displays which will have a charge and you may need to book them in advance.” – TripAdvisor reviewer Goannas from Queensland, Australia
- “To cut eating costs further, take a picnic lunch. Many attractions in London allow you to bring and eat your own food on-site.” – TripAdvisor reviewer ClareHM from London
When it comes to dining, don’t forget this.
- “Always check your restaurant bill, as gratuity is often included in the price of a meal with table service. If not, it’s customary to leave a tip of 10 to 12%.” – TripAdvisor reviewer chrisosburn from London, United Kingdom
If you’re ever in need of Wi-Fi when you’re out exploring the city, you’re in luck.
- “There are phone/tablet applications that hunt for and alert you of free Wi-Fi around the city. That way, you can stay in contact and do travel research on the go without having a local phone.” – TripAdvisor reviewer knutey1111 from Minnesota, U.S.
- TripAdvisor Tip: If you can’t find Wi-Fi and don’t want to use data, the TripAdvisor mobile app allows you to download TripAdvisor reviews, photos and city maps before you go, and then access that information during your trip when no data connection is available.
And if you ever get lost or have questions about your surroundings, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
- “Londoners are justly proud of their town and are pleased to help a stranger, since they have experienced being lost at one time in an unfamiliar neighbourhood.” – TripAdvisor reviewer FinnFitz from London