London’s size and the sheer amount of things to do and places to see can make it somewhat daunting for first time visitors. Consequently, there are a few mistakes which many tourists make who are new to London, which can make your stay go that little bit less smoothly. Follow our tips for avoiding these mistakes, and you’ll go some way to ensuring you make the most of your time in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Get an Oyster card: We can’t stress this enough. So many visitors think that owning an Oyster card – the cheapest, quickest and most efficient way to pay for and get around on Transport for London services – is the preserve of Londoners, or at least of people who are likely to regularly return to the city. But even if your trip to London is likely to be both your first and last, it may well be that an Oyster card will prove the cheapest way to get around. You’ll have various options: a Visitor Oyster card costs £3 and can be delivered to you before you arrive – this is best suited for those who already live elsewhere in the UK. Alternatively, a standard Oyster card is available for a £5 refundable deposit, and has the additional advantage of being able to add 7-day travelcards – a measure which is definitely likely to save you money if you’re in London for a whole week. Monthly options are also available. Wherever you’re planning to visit during your stay in London, London City Suites’ central location is perfect for exploring the capital, and offers a range of city tour packages and city break offers.
Use apps: As with Oyster cards, many people seem resistant to downloading apps just for the purposes of one city break or holiday, but there is a wealth of free ones which can help you get around London far more easily. One of the most simple, which you’ll find on the smartphone of ever self-respecting Londoner, is Tube Map – a simple application which does exactly what it says on the tin. Citymapper, which visitors may already use given its rapid expanse to cover tens of cities across the world, is another favourite, telling you the quickest, cheapest forms of transport to get you from A to B. Perennial favourite Google Maps, useful pretty much anywhere in the world, is also handy for getting around London.
Packing: Britain’s drab, grey weather is notorious across the world, so there’s no excuse for not packing a raincoat. What many visitors fail to take into account, though, is the sheer unpredictability of London’s weather. Yes, it can rain at more or less any time year round, but temperatures are also difficult to judge in advance and it’s not uncommon to dress up for a cold winter’s day only to find yourself uncomfortably hot once the sun breaks through in the afternoon. With this in mind, the key thing to think about when packing for London is layers. That way, you can go out suitably prepared for a chilly day to turn into a warm one, or a wet one, without a moment’s notice.
Don’t stick to chain restaurants: Bit of a general one, this – no matter where you’re going in the world, you should really avoid the temptation of eating in the same old chain restaurants you’ve got back home. We’re all guilty of it: touching down, tired, in a new city and dragging yourself to the nearest Burger King or McDonald’s, just because it’s easy and you know where you stand. But London really is one of the culinary capitals of the world, making this mistake even less forgivable than doing it elsewhere. British cuisine may be (unfairly) lambasted the world over, but that shouldn’t matter in a city full to the brim with restaurants, where any international cuisine you can think of is never far away.