London, like any other major city around the world, has so many incredible and unique things to see and do. When I was there in September 2018, I’d say we had just as many swings-and-misses as we did cherish-able experiences. To help you make the most of your time in London, check out this list of things to do and NOT to do when in London!
DO Try All the Yummy Food
When I used to think of England, I used to think of beans and toast and tea — you’re traditional English breakfast. Now, I reminisce on some of the best Asian food I’ve ever had. Yeah, you read that correctly. London is a hotbed for all kinds of Asian food — in the short five days that we were there, we had Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Indian food. Try it ALL.
PRO TIP: Go to Dishoom. Any one of their locations will blow your socks right off with their curry, garlic naan, and house black daal.
DON’T Stay Too Far Out of the City
As a recent graduate with a literal ton of student loan debt, I know how easy it can be to want to sacrifice quality when it comes to sleeping arrangements to save a buck. Please take it from me, though — it is not worth it.
When we were in London, we opted for a cheap hotel above a pub in London’s West Ham neighborhood. Each day, we spent roughly two hours on the tube commuting back in forth that should’ve been spent sightseeing. Not only was it far, it was dangerous. We ended up switching hotels halfway through the trip to a wonderful hotel in Monument called the Premier Inn — HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
DO Take Advantage of the Free Museums
Not to throw shade at America, but England does a way better job of educating the masses with free resources like the many free museums you’ll find around London. Most of the days we spent in London were spent inside these unbelievably fascinating places like the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, and the Tate Modern Art Museum. These are just a few that we went to — you can find a more complete list of the free museums in London here.
DON’T Go into Anything Blind
I am all for spontaneity — I think it’s wonderful when it works out. But let me be the first to tell you that not everything works out like that. When you only have so much precious time somewhere, you can’t waste it. That’s exactly what we did when we took a train the whole way across London to see Big Ben… only to find that Big Ben was under construction and covered head to toe in scaffolding. Double check that places in London are open before you head there.
DO Venture Out of the City Itself
There are SO many incredible things to see and do inside the city of London. But the United Kingdom is one of the most beautiful countries in the world — you should try to see more of it than just the biggest city in it. There are lots of bus tours that you can take from the city — we took one that went to Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle, and it was a long but incredible day. Not to mention, it was very reasonably priced and our tour guide was a hoot — we booked through TripAdvisor.
DON’T Rely Solely on a Credit Card
Credit cards are great to have while traveling abroad especially ones that don’t have a foreign transaction fees. When you’re in London, though, you can’t rely solely on a credit card. For one, most pubs don’t accept credit cards for drinks — you’re usually expected to pay in cash. If you end up taking a traditional taxi, that’ll also need to be in cash.
Paying for things in cash while you’re in London can also help you keep tabs on how much your spending. The currency conversations are tricky as all get out and your spending can really get away from you when you just whip out your credit card without fully understanding how much something costs.
DO Walk and Use Public Transportation
One of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to get around by walking and taking public transportation. On the day we arrived in London, we bought what’s called an Oyster card and loaded it up with a week’s worth of credits to make getting on and off the tube as easy as possible. We were there for five days taking upwards of ten tube rides a day, and we never had to worry about putting more money onto the card.
Enjoy your trip to the Big Smoke!