If you have planned your first trip to London, you will find it an incredibly attractive place to explore on holiday. There is so much to look forward to including vibrant nightlife, historic attractions, modern marvels, great entertainment and the finest in shopping. The city is massive, so if you want to get the most out of your trip you need to plan your visit in advance. It will help to narrow down the options and ensure you have a much more enjoyable and memorable trip.
A few pointers that may come in handy on a first time visit to London are:
Select the right time of year:
Whatever the season or part of the year you visit you can be sure of having a great time. While the best time is between March to May, you need to be prepared for hordes of tourists in town. If you are budget conscious and want to beat the crowds the off season in winter would be a good time. It is when you get the best airfare and hotel discounts, which can help to save considerably on accommodation and travel expenses. Just be prepared to bear the cold.
Choice of accommodation:
The location you plan to stay in the city can make all the difference in having a great trip or just another holiday. When it comes to luxury hotels, London has some of the most iconic accommodation to stay at. They are rather pricey too, so if you are budget conscious and want to stay in comfort without spending a fortune, stay at any of the London boutique hotels instead. They offer the same levels of luxury and comfort at a much more reasonable price.
Enjoy a hearty English breakfast:
The best way to begin the day is to enjoy a wholesome and delicious English breakfast. This includes bacon, baked beans, two eggs, toast and baked tomato. It will leave you satisfied and fuelled till evening, without the need to have lunch at most times. Even if you do develop an appetite in the afternoon, you could enjoy delicious street food that is tasty and inexpensive.
Hand out tips:
While tipping is okay in other parts of the world, it is not very prevalent in the UK. When dining at restaurants check the bill to confirm it has not already been added to the total. If not and you plan to tip cash in the preferred mode, instead of charging it your credit card. Also keep an eye on the menus as some establishments specifically mention that all tips are given to servers. When using a taxi while 10-15% of the amount is okay, you could instead pay an extra pound. Of course if you have luggage which the driver helped with it is only natural to leave a decent tip. At the pub, no need to leave a tip, unless you order table service.
Use public transportation:
Public transportation is London is among the best in Europe. The prices are also reasonable and you can travel to any part of London. The thing to keep in mind is that cash is not accepted for travel on buses. The best way to save money on transport is to get yourself a Visitor Oyster Card by which you can save as much as 50% compared to buying a ticket. The amount is capped for daily travel and you can use the card on different modes of public transport. Another option is to use a Contactless Card for travel on public transport. Avoid peak times of travel when the Tube is crowded on weekdays in the mornings 6:30 – 9:30 am and evenings 4-7pm. It is also more expensive to travel during peak hours. Children below 11 years do not have to pay to travel. Those between ages 11-15 get a travel discount as well.
Get a London Pass:
If you want to save money while visiting the major paid attractions you could get yourself a London Pass. It is an economical way to sightsee, which gets you discounts at more than 60 of the top paid attractions across the city. Another benefit of investing in a London Pass is that it gets you fast track entry at most places, without the need for having to stand in a long queue. Some of the popular attractions to visit include Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Madam Tussauds, St Paul’s Cathedral and Kensington Palace and Gardens to name a few. Another exciting way to catch a new perspective of the city is to take a cruise on the Thames River, which offers stunning views of the numerous attractions of the city.
Make the most of free attractions:
The great thing about London is a number of public attractions including museums, galleries, parks and gardens are free to explore. This is a great way to save on admission tickets and you could just leave a minimal amount as a donation instead. Some of the top places to visit include The British Museum, The Tate Modern, The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum etc.
Keep an eye out for traffic:
When walking around the city keep an eye out for traffic, as it tends to get very busy in the city. Only walk in the pedestrian zones and ensure to look the right way when crossing the street as cars drive on the left side. Preferably avoid driving around London as it gets packed with traffic and traffic jams. If you plan to visit the countryside it is okay to hire a car and drive around outside the city.
Carry adaptors and chargers:
Carry the corresponding chargers to charge all your different gadgets. Carry an adaptor with three pins as they are mostly 3-pin outlets found in the country. Also the standard voltage around here is 230V. If you carry a 4-port wall charger with multiple adaptors it will work well. Alternately you could carry a single universal adaptor instead.