Visiting a new city like London can be daunting for anyone, however, by reading my 10 things to know before visiting London, you’ll be ahead of the curve and have a better travel experience in London.
As a travel blogger living in one of the most popular city-break destinations in Europe, I thought I may as well impart a little local knowledge on travellers visiting this beautiful city.
These 10 travel tips are written from the perspective of a local to a tourist. To Londoners, these tips are just a part of everyday life, but this post is to prepare travellers to be London street-savvy and rush hour ready.
These tips are here to help, inform, and aid you in navigating around a city like London without feeling the rage and steely stares of the locals. Here are my 10 things to know before visiting London….
Here are 10 Things to Know Before Visiting London
Download Citymapper App
I love Citymapper and there is not a day that goes by without me using this app. It’s one of the best apps for utilising public transportation in London. Citymapper is used in over 30 countries and gives the most detailed journey planner information, in comparison to other travel apps. The app provides real-time departure and disruption updates and connects to cycle routes and Uber.
The app even tells you the quickest route for your journey and can be used offline. You can set the app to alert you when to get off the bus or train at a specific stop. I find this handy when I’m taking the public transport for the first time in a new city and you will too when using it to get around London. You can also get to know your way around London by taking a walking tour in London.
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London Public Transportation
Londoners will complain about London transport (especially the Central Line during rush hour). But London still has one of the best public transport in the world.
When visiting London, an Oyster Card is your best friend and could save you up to 50% when compared to a single ticket. The daily cost is usually £4.50 per day if you’re only using the same card for payment each time for buses and trams. You can also use a contactless debit or credit card, but do read the guidelines from your card provider to ensure that your card qualifies. Peak times are Monday to Friday from 6:30 am to 9:30 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm. If you use public transport to travel outside of these times, that’s considered as off-peak and off-peak rates apply and will be cheaper.
Stand on the Right
I love tourists in London I really do, but one of my pet peeves are tourists with huge suitcases not standing on the right of the escalator, blocking everyone else behind them. Please people for the love of God, stand to the right or you will feel the annoyance of Londoners as they push past you to get to their trains, especially during rush hour.
Londoners like to say ‘Sorry’ a lot!!
The word ‘sorry’ has many meanings in London. It is used in the usual way to apologise to somebody, but it is also used if someone is barging past and wants you to get out of their way, or when someone hasn’t heard what you said and would like you to repeat your sentence.
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Nando’s is Your Best Friend
Londoners all round love a bit of Nando’s, it’s like how Americans like ‘Chipotle’. It's a place you can go with friends and have half of peri-peri chicken and chips for under £11 (for those on a shoestring budget). It’s also cheaper to eat at Nando’s than most restaurants around more touristy spots in London.
Pronouncing the names of places can be tricky and funny
I have lived in London half my life and I still find it hard pronouncing the name of places like
‘Worcestershire’ and ‘Marylebone’ and they always seem to confuse tourist too. As they are not pronounced as you would think. Train stops like ‘Cockfosters’ and ‘Crouch End’, always seem to make me smile.
Londoners Hate Queue Jumpers
This is a plea to all tourists, do not try to queue jump in London. You’ll be passively aggressively told off by everyone in the queue and then be glared at for your duration in the queue. If you happen to see people queueing up but you’re unsure what they are waiting around for, just ask why they are queuing. Someone will be more than happy to tell you what’s happening and where the end of the queue is.
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Service Charge 12.5%
Most London restaurants add a 12.5% service charge to your final bill. The charge is, of course, optional, but it’s expected to be paid unless you had a really appalling service. Do check out a restaurant’s menu before ordering to see if service charge will be included in the bill.
For emergency, dial 112 or 999.
With the recent attacks in central London, it’s good to know numbers 112 or 999 for the emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance) in London. It’s also important to know where the local hospitals are in case you have an emergency in London.
Know the Language
Every country has their own way of speaking or slang and the day-to-day things that they refer to and that is no different in London.
Come close and let me break down all the terms you’ll hear around London and what they mean.
You will hear Londoner say, “pee” rather than pence, as in 25p or 50p (25 pee or 50 pee).
You will also hear a pound referred to as a “quid”, a five-pound note as a “fiver” & a ten-pound note as a “tenner”.
Translation of the Following Terms:
Loo = bathroom (ladies or gents is also acceptable)
Cheers = thanks
Lift = elevator
Trainers = tennis shoes
Zebra Crossing = Pedestrian Crossing
Chemist = Drug Store
Ground floor = first floor
Petrol = Gas
Queue = line
Bin = trash
Fag = cigarette
Cashpoint = ATM
Biscuit = cookie
Chips = French fries
Crisps = chips
What Are Your Tips For Travelling In London?
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