London, a city that seamlessly blends rich history with vibrant modernity, is one of the world’s top travel destinations. Every year, millions of people dream of visiting this iconic metropolis. From its stunning historical landmarks and world-class museums to its bustling markets and charming neighbourhoods, London offers an array of attractions that captivate and inspire. And let’s not forget the allure of the British accent, which adds an extra touch of charm to every interaction. Here is my guide if you are planning a trip to London soon. 

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Planning Your Journey 

Booking your flight

London is one of the largest European air service hubs with five airports for the city. Being so well connected, if you’re travelling from overseas, flying is often the best and the cheapest option. Use flight comparison websites like Hopper, Kiwi, Omio  to find the best deals

You can also travel to London by bus or train from mainland Europe but the journey can be pretty long so be prepared. 

Check if you need visa 

Travelling to London may require a visa depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and several other countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, can typically visit the UK for tourism or short-term business without a visa for up to six months. However, visitors from many other countries will need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa before travelling. It’s important  to check the latest UK government guidelines and visa requirements well in advance of your trip, as regulations can change

Book your accommodation – Where to stay in London

Finding the perfect place to stay in London can feel overwhelming. From the posh districts of Chelsea and Mayfair to the trendy vibes of Camden and Shoreditch, every neighbourhood has its own unique flavour. Think about what you want to experience and choose a location that offers easy access to those attractions. London’s excellent public transport system makes it easy to get around, so even if you stay outside the central areas, you’ll still be well-connected to everything the city has to offer. Personally, I prefer using booking.com or Expedia for accommodation, and they have always been reliable.

Check out few of my favourite hotels in London:

LUXURY HOTEL IN LONDON

AFFORDABLE HOTEL IN LONDON

HOTEL IN LONDON WITH A VIEW 

FAMILY FRIENDLY HOTEL IN LONDON 

Travel insurance 

Even though the risk of getting sick might be lower in London compared to destinations like Thailand or Bali, accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. That’s why it’s crucial to have travel insurance before your trip to London. Consider checking out Visitors Coverage – their policies cover everything from trip cancellations and medical emergencies to lost luggage. It’s a convenient way to ensure you’re protected against any unforeseen circumstances during your travels.

Upon Arrival 

Getting a Sim Card 

Once you land, staying connected is key. The best and simplest way to do this is by using an e-SIM from Airalo. Forget about the hassle of searching for physical SIM cards at the airport, which can be pricey, or dealing with high fees from your home provider. With Airalo, you can easily purchase an e-SIM before your trip and have it ready to go as soon as you arrive. They offer a variety of plans to fit your needs and budget, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for staying connected throughout your trip. 

Getting to your hotel from the airport 

Arriving in a city from the airport can be daunting, especially after a long flight with lots of luggage. Fortunately, London has excellent connections to every airport. 

Check out this blog post that explains how to get to London from each airport.

Navigating the City

To pay for public transportation, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless debit/credit card.

  • Oyster Card: This is a smart card you can top up with credit. It offers discounted fares compared to cash tickets and can be used on the Tube, buses, Overground, and DLR.
  • Contactless Payment: You can simply tap your contactless debit or credit card at the ticket gates. The fares are the same as Oyster card rates, and there’s no need to top up.
Public Transportation

London’s public transportation system is extensive and efficient, making it easy to navigate the city. The main modes of transport include:

  • The Tube: London’s underground subway system is one of the most popular ways to get around. 
  • Buses: London’s iconic red buses are a great way to see the city while travelling. They cover all areas and are an affordable option.
  • Overground: The Overground is a suburban rail network that connects many parts of London not covered by the Tube.
  • DLR (Docklands Light Railway): This automated light metro system serves the Docklands area of East London and connects to the Tube network.
  • Santander Cyclespublic bikes are available for hire at docking stations across the city. It’s a convenient and affordable way to explore London.
  • Uber Boat by Thames Clippers: Offers river boat services along the River Thames with multiple stops, including popular destinations like Greenwich and The O2. To pay, just tap your debit/credit or oyster card 

For navigating the city and finding the best routes, I highly recommend using the Citymapper app. It’s user-friendly and provides real-time information on public transport options, including the quickest routes and the cost of your journey.

Must-See Attractions and Hidden Gems

Exploring London presents a mix of world-famous landmarks and lesser-known gems. From the historic Tower Bridge to the lush expanse of Hyde Park, there’s an abundance of must-see attractions. However, London also offers hidden treasures, such as the colourful Neal’s Yard and the creative energy of Shoreditch.

For a thorough list of 20 top attractions and landmarks in London, CLICK HERE to read my detailed post. This guide encompasses a diverse range of destinations, ensuring you capture the essence of London in all its glory.

To make the most of your visit, consider booking tours and experiences. Websites like GoCity offer great deals on city passes, and GetYourGuide and Viator provide a variety of guided tours, giving you special access and insights into the city’s famous sites. For easy ticket bookings to different attractions, Tiqets.com is very useful. If you enjoy audio tours, WeGoTrip.com offers ones you can listen to at your own pace.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Shopping 

London offers a variety of shopping experiences catering to different tastes and budgets. If you’re in the mood for luxury shopping, don’t miss iconic destinations like Harrods, Selfridges, or Bond Street. For those with a tighter budget looking for luxury, a day trip to Bicester Village is also a great option.

If you prefer exploring markets, London has some amazing options. At Portobello Road Market, Camden Market, and Spitalfields Market, you can find vintage clothing, art, crafts, and more. These markets offer a vibrant atmosphere with unique finds.

For the latest fashion trends and a wide selection of stores, a visit to Westfield shopping centre or Oxford Street is a must. These areas are bustling with shops ranging from high street brands to luxury boutiques, offering something for every fashion enthusiast.

Eating Like a Local

Here are some of my favourite places to eat in London

  • Pubs – The Harp, The Churchill Arms, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, The Spaniards Inn, The French House, The Ten Bells,, The Grenadier
  • Breakfast – The Breakfast Club, Granger & Co., Duck & Waffle, Farm Girl, The Wolseley, Caravan 
  • Grab & Go – Greggs, Pret a Manger, Wasabi, Leon, Itsu
  • Sunday roast – The Old Queens Head, Hawksmoor, Blacklock, The Harwood Arms, The Jugged Hare,  The Marksman, The Albion, The Bull & Last 
  • Fancy dinner – The Ledbury, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Sketch, Le Gavroche, Gordon Ramsay Restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, The Ritz Restaurant
  • Affordable family dinner – Byron, Pizza Express, Wagamama, GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen), Nando’s, Bella Italia
  • Afternoon Tea – Sketch, Claridge’s
  • International Kitchen – Hakkasan ( Chinese), Gymkhana ( Indian ), Corazon ( Mexican ), The Blues Kitchen ( American ), Gokyuzu ( Turkish ), Autograf ( Polish ) 
  • Rooftop Bars – Skylight Rooftop Bar, The Rooftop St. James, Madison Rooftop Terrace, Queen of Hoxton Rooftop, Savage Garden

Safety

London is generally a safe city, but it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings. Recently, there has been an increase in incidents of phone theft, so be cautious when taking photos or using your phone in public areas.

Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers like 999 (police, fire, ambulance) and 101 (non-emergency police).

Useful tips:

  • Many of London’s top museums, such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum, and Tate Modern, offer free admission. Take advantage of these cultural treasures without spending a penny.
  • Tipping is not mandatory in the UK, but it is appreciated for good service in restaurants and taxis.
  • British people value queuing (standing in line) and expect others to do so too, so always respect the queue.
  • Be prepared for unpredictable weather by dressing in layers and carrying an umbrella.

I hope you found this guide helpful! If you’re planning a trip to London and have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m here to help make your visit unforgettable!

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