London is one of my favorite destinations I’ve been to. It was such a fun trip! I had fun planning it and obviously traveling there as well.
But, I did my research first, and I wrote down all of the things I should know before the trip and while visiting London.
Here’s a list of 25 travel tips you must know before visiting London!
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#1 Purchase an Oyster Card
London is a pretty expensive city, and especially it’s transportation.
An Oyster Card is a preloaded “pay as you go” card. It is like a credit card that you use to travel in London.
The London Oyster Card can be used at any type of transportation in the city; the London Underground, London Overground, trains, buses, and more!
The reason you would want to purchase an Oyster Card is that it’s cheaper than paying for single rides anywhere you decide to go.
To use your Oyster Card, you just touch the card to the yellow card reader and that’s it! At Underground/Overground/trains/any stations, you will have to touch the yellow reader both when going in and out of the station, so your journey can be calculated based on how, when & where you went to.
Also, I must mention that there is a 5-pound charge for purchasing the Oyster Card, so keep your card at the end of the trip, you’ll never know when you’ll be there again 😉
Running out of money on your Oyster Card
If you run out of money on your card, there is no reason to be worried. You can easily refill it at most transportation stations and shop throughout London!
What happens if there’s money left on your card at the end of your trip?
In this situation as well, there is no reason to be worried! You can get up to 10 pounds refund, as long as you do it before you leave London (you can do it at the same machines in the transportation stations).
If you have more than 10 pounds left, you can give it to a family member or a friend who is visiting London, or keep it for your next visit!
I personally had less than 10 pounds, so I did get my money back from the machine.
If you don’t want to waste your time when arriving in London, I highly recommend purchasing your Oyster Card at home.
Time is expensive these days, and on your trip, you don’t want to waste even more time at the airport/in the city by searching around for purchasing an Oyster Card.
#2 Purchase a local sim card
At least for me, it was the best decision. International mobile internet plans are pretty expensive in Israel (where I live), so I found that purchasing a local sim card is usually much cheaper and also much worth it.
I got a pretty good deal, a local sim card (if I’m correct) for only 9.99 pounds (which I don’t know how it’s for you, but if I am comparing it to prices in Israel it’s amazing), it also had a lot of GB, but I can’t remember the exact number.
Anyways, the point is that you should consider purchasing a local sim card if it’s the cheaper option for you.
#3 Find a hotel that is close to everything
It is important to stay somewhere central, which is pretty close to everything you are planning to.
In fact, I first planned a general plan for the trip, and then according to that general plan I booked the hotel.
Also, you must know that the more central the hotel is, it is most likely will be pricer (again, not all hotels.
But from my research, nice hotels at the center of the city are pretty expensive for traveling on a budget).
At first, I was looking for hotels in the Hyde Park area, which had amazing hotels, some pricier and some are very affordable.
But my boyfriend and I decided we want a nicer hotel which is more spoiling, and we booked our stay at the Moxy London Stratford hotel which is right next to the Underground station and takes the same time to arrive in the center of London as staying somewhere in our budget at the Hyde Park area.
So, calculate the time it takes from your hotel to the attractions and places you are planning on visiting, and stay where you want!
#4 Arrive early at the Buckingham Palace
Wow, guys, it’s a shame I didn’t take this tip seriously before visiting the Buckingham Palace.
It was written everywhere!! and I knew it! But I was still not early enough to the Changing Of The Guards, I didn’t have a good viewpoint, I bearly saw anything and it was pretty sad.
So, don’t be me and arrive even 30-40 minutes early to find a good spot!
#5 Keep your belongings close to you
For some reason, I was very surprised to discover that there is a thieves problem in London as well.
I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. Anyways, I highly recommend keeping your bag close to you, even using an under-your-shirt pouch for your passport/money/phone/etc (I can’t travel anywhere without this pouch).
I don’t recommend using backpacks when traveling in a busy city. It’s on your back and you won’t know whats going on back there.
So, keep your eyes on your stuff, and close to you, and avoid hectic crowds.
And if you do get into one, keep your hands on your bag and close to the front side of your body.
#6 Transportation pricing changes
Another thing you should know before visiting London is that during rush hour, transportation prices increase.
Now I don’t know if you are familiar with this, because I live in Israel and our transportation pricing doesn’t depend on rush hours or so.
I was pretty surprised, so be prepared for that and plan your days according to the perfect time to use public transportation (before-around 7:00 am or around 9:30-10:00 am).
#7 Sunset time is early in London
This depends on when you are visiting London, but for example, I visited London in December, and sunset time was around 4:00 pm which is soooo early!
I am writing this post in February, and from what I can see online, sunset time during February is at 5:00 pm.
The point is, that there aren’t too many hours of light, so plan well your day according to the sunset’s time.
#8 Book everything you can online
One of the best things I done myself on my trip to London was to book everything I was able to online. That means booking attractions, tours, The London Pass, etc.
If you are looking for discounted attractions/tours/entertainment in London, I highly recommend checking out this website.
#9 Follow the side walk’s instructions
When crossing the street, look on the sidewalk for instructions where to look. Usually, it is written as “look right”/”look left”. By following the instruction you’ll know where the traffic comes from.
#10 Save money and time with the London Pass
A huge lifesaver on my trip to London was purchasing an attraction card, or if to be exact – The London Pass.
The London Pass is a sightseeing pass that includes free admission to multiple attractions and tours in London!
The best thing about the London Pass, and the reason people decide to purchase it, is the fact that it can save you up to 70% on what it would cost to purchase each ticket to these attractions individually.
What I also love about this pass, is that with the pass you also get skip-the-line tickets to many attractions.
And, you get free bus rides all around London, including a cruise ride tour! (which is one of my favorite things to do when exploring a city that has a river. Such a different way and viewpoint of the city. So much fun!)
You can purchase the London Pass for how many days you need, we personally decided to use the London Pass for only 3 days.
#11 Always stay at the right in escalators
This was actually one of the things I was most impressed with in London.
On escalators, they always stand on the right and leave the left side free for people to go up!
Now again, I don’t know where you are from, but there is nothing like this in Israel and I was so excited by this polite act!
#12 Don’t miss a hop on hop off bus ride!
London is THE CITY for hop on hop off bus rides!
It’s such a fun way to view the city! Also, if you purchase the London Pass you get unlimited access to these buses and you can go on multiple tours (day tour, sunset tour, and even a night tour of the city!).
#13 Tipping isn’t required
Unlike most places I’ve visited, tipping in restaurants isn’t always required. Usually, the tip is already calculated in the bill, so just read the little words and see if it is included or not.
#14 Wear layers
If you are visiting London during the fall/winter, wear layered clothing! Yes, it’s freezing inside, but indoors it is SO HOT.
I personally wore a short shirt and then a jacket and on top of a big coat. It worked perfectly for me, and every time we entered a restaurant/store I just took of the big coat.
#15 A lot of museums are free!
If you didn’t know, most museums in London are actually free at all times!
The most common ones are; the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern, and more!
#16 DON’T skip London’s markets!
WOW, honestly, the best food I ate in London was in the markets! The food there isn’t expensive, and it’s also the best I have eaten in the city.
My favorite one is Camden Market, which has so many delicious food options – meat, Italian, Arab food, delicious desserts, and so many options!
Also, the Brick Lane market had some amazing and cheap food as well.
#17 You CAN go inside the Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is open for visitors during the summer months, which is so cool!
Sadly I visited in December, and it was closed for visitors.
But if you are visiting London during the summer, you can’t miss it! It is definitely a one time chance!
#18 You should visit the SkyGarden
The Skygarden is a panoramic viewpoint of London that is completely FREE!
I had so much fun there, took some great pictures and had a lot of fun there. You do need to book your visit, but it’s completely free, you just choose your date and time.
I highly recommend booking your visit as soon as possible, because tickets to sell out pretty fast because this is a very popular attraction.
#19 Take an umbrella with you
London is a pretty rainy destination, you just never know when it will rain! Luckily for us, in 5 days in the city, it didn’t rain at all, but obviously, it isn’t always like that.
#20 Walk more
I always say here on my blog how I believe that walking is the best way to get to know a destination.
You just suck in all the local vibes and really get to know the place. London is a gorgeous city, and nothing can be compared to walking around and exploring the city.
Get lost! explore the city and discover new places along your way!
#21 Changing of the Guards isn’t a must
I know that I said earlier that if you want a good spot at the Changing of the Guards you should make an effort and come early and everything.
But, with that being said, Changing of the Guards isn’t a must.
It is nice to watch (even though you won’t see much of it unless you are at the perfect spot right near the palace), and it is interesting to “be a part” of royal activity, but that’s it. It isn’t life-changing, and it isn’t the end of the world if you will skip it.
#22 Don’t miss London’s unique bars!
There are so many cool bars in London, and sadly I didn’t get the chance to visit all of them.
I highly recommend going out in the evening to a cool themed bar. For example, on my trip, we went to London’s Ice Bar which was such a cool experience!
Everything is made out of ice – I mean, literally, everything! The walls, the bar itself, the cups, to tables, the chairs, unique ice statues – EVERYTHING.
Also, we went to the Ballie Ballerson bar which is a cool bar that has big ball pits inside. I had higher expectations (I thought the whole bar was inside a ball pit), but the bar was cool and we had a very good time there!
Anyways, I highly recommend doing your research and looking for some cools bars to hang at.
#23 Harry Potter Studios tour
If you are a Harry Potter fan, a tour of the Harry Potter studios is a must! But, I really do recommend purchasing your tickets in advance and as soon as possible.
I wanted to surprise my boyfriend (who is a Harry Potter fan) with a studio tour, but there were no dates left.
Also, a nice pro’s tip is to purchase your entry ticket from this website, which offers discount tickets to multiple attractions.
This way, you can have more dates available, and you also get a discount! YAY!
#24 Don’t rent a car in London
There is no reason to rent a car while visiting London.
Traffic is tough in the city, parking is expensive and there is literally no point when you have Underground/Overground stations in every corner of the city.
#25 You can drink tap water
Even though a lot of European countries have a problem with tap water, London’s water is perfectly fine and good to drink from.
Of course, it won’t taste perfect like a bottle of water you buy at the store, but it is good and has no problem.
My extra bonus tip will honestly get lost in the city. Just walk around, view the beautiful streets of London, discover new places.
London definitely has a place in my heart after my trip. And it has a big part of it after walking so much and discovering beautiful places, streets, meeting new and nice people and trying delicious food.
Have fun on your trip!
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