London is easily one of the most exciting destinations in the world, but there are several things you should know and prepare for before visiting London if you want to get the most out of your trip.
Get an Oyster Card
As the saying goes, the world is your oyster, in this case grabbing an Oyster Card unlocks public transport for you and makes it cheaper. The moment you arrive in London you should grab one from your nearest tube station and top up its balance.
Traveling with the London Underground (also known as The Tube) is an easy, affordable and fast method for getting around. The Tube is one of the most extensive metros in the world and will get you to almost any destination you would want to go to.
The London Bus route is even more impressive than the tube, but they are more complicated to navigate so make sure you know what you’re doing before using the bus network. Good to know is that when traveling by bus, you only need to tap on with your Oyster Card, you don’t need to tap off as there is a flat rate.
Affordable Accommodation Lies Outside of the City
London is expensive and accommodation is no exception. The convenience of staying in the city centre is amazing, but it can quickly become very costly. For more affordable and in some cases nicer options look for something a little further out. The key is to find accommodation that is close to a tube station as it will quickly and easily get you into the city.
Pack for All Weather
London weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adapt. I particularly recommend bringing a raincoat and umbrella as there’s a high chance you will need it at least once. Also, have a few rain-safe attractions up your sleeve in case you need to spend a few hours indoors when you least expect it.
Book a Show Before You Go
One of the best aspects of London is the vast variety of shows, musicals and plays running all year round. London has one of the best theatre scenes in the world and grabbing some tickets will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip.
It’s worth noting that during peak season shows can quickly book out. So, if there’s a specific show you want to see make sure to get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Having said that, if you aren’t sure what you want to see then head to West End and buy your tickets on the day as they are often sold at a discount price, sometimes as much as 50% off!
Restaurants Add a ‘Voluntary Surcharge’
It’s common that restaurants and sometimes bars add a 12.5% surcharge to your bill. This is considered a service fee and may catch you by surprise. It is voluntary and in some cases when the service has been terrible I have asked them to remove it, which usually turns into a long argument however it’s important to note that this added charge is not compulsory, it’s more like a tip that the restaurant has taken the liberty of adding for you.
Plan Your Trip
London is a huge city and has a vast variety of attractions. I recommend having a play with this London Trip Planner to help you find the attractions that appeal to you and turn them into a personalized itinerary. Another bonus about using this tool is that it compares your selected attractions to the London City Pass and lets you know whether you could save money.
You want to avoid getting to London without having done any research and then missing out on the many hidden gems that the city has to offer. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a holiday with the feeling of having missed out.
It’s also worth noting that your itinerary should always have at least one free day so you have time to explore areas or visit things you may have discovered during your holiday. It’s also a smart thing to do in case something changes during your trip that you couldn’t anticipate, like the weather.