So you are looking forward to your first trip to London – what do you need to know so you can make the most of your time in the UK capital?
Take the tube
The London Underground is the perfect way to travel around the city. Dating back to the Victorian age, the subway system links up all to London and makes it easy to get from A to B.
Although the map of numerous coloured lines intersecting all over the place can be very confusing at first look, it does make total sense once you get your head around it.
There are a few tube etiquette rules you need to remember to follow:-
Stand on the right on the escalators to allow people who are in a hurry to get past.
Don’t obstruct the barriers – make sure you have your ticket or Oyster Card at the ready so you can move through quickly without holding your fellow travellers up.
Try not to make eye contact with other passengers – Londoners travelling on the tube prefer to not make small talk and opt to stare at the advertisements rather than interact.
Finally, if you plan to travel a lot on the Tube during your stay, then it may be worth getting an Oyster card as it can save money on fares. They can be purchased at most stations.
Many museums are free
One of the most amazing things about London is that many of the top museums are free. While some cities have reputations for charging outrageous fees for entry into popular tourist attractions, London offers much better value for money.
Museums that do not currently charge for general admission include the Science Museum, which is a great place for kids to have fun and be educated.
Nearby is the Natural History Museum, where the main attraction is a giant dinosaur skeleton, as well as lots of exhibits that are fascinating and unique. The attraction is close to South Kensington London Underground station on the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines. One of the yearly highlights is the temporary ice staking rink installed in its grounds to encourage the festive spirit.
Other museums with zero entry costs include the extensive and large British Museum, Tate Gallery and the Victoria & Albert – the latter is close to South Kensington London Underground station on the Piccadilly, Circle and District Lines and the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Catch a show
London’s West End is famous for its great productions featuring some of the world’s top actors. Over the years, award winning shows on offer to London visitors include classics such as The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.
If you have time then it is really worth catching a show and there are plenty of great productions with tickets available at the moment. Children may love to see the stage version of The Lion King, while Wicked is also proving very popular.
Of course, tickets can be quite pricey, but there are a few ways to get to see a hit without having to pay over the odds.
Opt for a week day show, as ticket prices for Monday to Thursday performances tend to be less in demand and therefore cheaper.
Avoid ticket touts and head to the TKTs booth in Leicester Square, which can sell heavily discounted tickets. It is also worth contacting the theatre box offices directly and asking if they have special deals or offers running.
If you don’t need to plan in advance then considering booking on the day – in many cases if tickets haven’t sold you can get them last minute at a cut price. Remember, this won’t work for the most popular shows as tickets often sell well in advance.
London has plenty of great eateries and there is a wide choice of cuisine to choose from ranging from the traditional pie and mash to Michelin star restaurants.
If you fancy afternoon tea then consider heading to the Savoy or Claridges’ to enjoy some tea, delicate sandwiches and mini cakes.
Just enjoy it
Finally, don’t over plan – just enjoy being in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. London has some amazing architecture, so just spend some time walking around and looking at the fabulous buildings that can be found throughout the city.
There are plenty of green spaces in London so it could be worth just getting some nice food from one of the many delis around to have a picnic and indulge in some people watching.