When to Visit London
London is UK’s topmost destination for tourists and the city can be pretty much crowded all year round. The best time to visit the city is during spring when the weather is just average but it’s good enough to tolerate and there will be fewer crowds than in the peak summer season. Bring an umbrella because it’s always raining it seems. Winter season during the months of December to February, can truly be cold and the city is a little bit less crowded. If you’re ok with that kind of weather then, this it is a good time for the city because it will be lit up and sparkling.
Where to Stay in London
Mayfair and Covent Garden – Probably, the best for first timers that are wanting to see all the Westminster area attractions, the Tower of London, etc. These two neighborhoods are centrally located between all of that. The prices here of course can be expensive due to the great location.
St. James’s – Here you will be close to the National Gallery, many excellent parks, and the King himself! You’ll basically be neighbors. It is on the pricey end of hotels but you can’t beat the location.
Saint Pancras – This is more of a convenient spot to stay. Especially, if it’s a short trip or you are leaving or coming in by train because both the St. Pancras and Kings Crossing stations are right there. Also, the hotel prices in the area are reasonable. It is a bit far for the main tourist attractions though.
Shoreditch – If you are looking for nightlife and the parties then stay in this area. It’s very hipster and has some great bars and restaurants.
Chelsea – If you are looking for a local vibe this is the spot. You won’t find as many tourist in this area but you will find it to be quite posh and you’ll find a lot of high end boutiques.
How to Reach London
There are six international airports in London. The biggest is Heathrow Airport, also dubbed one of the busiest airports in the world. It is located in the Greater London area and the airport offers buses and trains to central London and to other destinations in the UK. Some of the other airports such as Stansted and Luton offer budget airline carriers.
London is the central hub of the British railway and almost all the trains in the UK stop in the city. If you are coming from a European country, the Euro trail also offers train services from Europe (most notably from Paris) to London. Just a heads up, this requires a reservation.
Traveling by bus, whether you are coming from Europe or from other parts of the UK, is surprisingly easy. Most coach services have stations around Buckingham Palace Road in Westminister. Around the UK, the largest bus network is the National Express. Eurolines also have busses that come to and from London from some European countries.
Getting around London: Transportation Tips
The Underground aka “The Tube”
The easiest and most affordable method. The London underground is great and can get you anywhere in the city quickly. If you are planning on riding it a lot and looking to save money get the Oyster card.
A similar concept as the underground, although a lot newer it is zoned out and operates above ground. It’s another alternative option to the tube when needed.
The bus system in London has massive coverage and can get you a lot closer to where you are going than the tube a lot of times. The Oyster card also works for the buses.
The taxi drivers in London are legendary. They literally have every location and spot memorized. They go through rigorous training to become drivers and the cars are super spacious and fun to ride in. They are a bit expensive but everyone should ride in a London taxi at least once.
If you didn’t know the Thames River runs directly through the middle of the city making it convenient and fun to ride the Thames Clipper which has stops up and down the river.
Top London Travel tips
Do join a free walking tour. You can do your research first on the net on groups that do free walking tours. There are actually a lot in London and joining one, along with other tourists is one of the best free things to do in the city. These tours are very informative and fun.
Do treat yourself to a rewarding afternoon tea. This may sound a little extravagant but it’s a must. The afternoon tea experience is pretty much calming and relaxing. The snacks that go along with it are usually pretty good too! Almost all hotels and cafes in London serve afternoon tea and snacks and even river cruise tours at the Thames. It’s also a good idea to make a reservation when visiting some of the more popular hotels for afternoon tea.
Do try authentic London fish and chips. You can have fish and chips anywhere in the world but in London, it’s a traditional dish, it’s guaranteed to be delicious, and it is served in different variations. You can find it in restaurants, bars, and even in the streets.
Don’t forget to say you’re courtesies. English people, if you would notice, always say “Please”, “Thank You” and even simple everyday greetings like “Good morning”. It’s common and most people would think you are rude if you forget about it.
Get the London Pass – If you are planning on hitting all the main attractions around London this could save you a ton of money. It is valid for entry into 90+ attractions including the Tower of London, A Thames River Cruise, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Buy an Oyster Card. This prepaid transit card saves you around 50% on each ride. If you planning on using the tube as your main means of transportation then buy this card. Also, if you don’t use it you don’t lose it. They will refund unused balances.
Don’t just stop at busy places. London is bustling with people. You can’t just stop on the sidewalk or in a busy underground to check your phone, take pictures, and scan your app for maps. Step aside and make way for the people on the go.
Typical Costs in London
Budget: Hostels and budget hotels can range from £20 – £60 per night depending on the location. For instance, a dorm bed in a centrally located hostel might be around £30, whereas accommodations in more peripheral areas could be cheaper.
Mid-Range: Comfortable, well-located hotels and serviced apartments typically cost between £80 – £200 per night. This range includes many 3-star to 4-star establishments offering good amenities and services.
Luxury: High-end hotels and luxury apartments in prime locations range from £250 to £600+ per night. In places like Mayfair or Knightsbridge, staying in a 5-star hotel such as The Ritz or The Savoy could cost £1000 per night or more.
Budget: For those on a budget, expect to spend around £10 – £20 per day on food. This would cover items like a sandwich or salad from a high-street chain for lunch, and takeaway fish and chips or a dish from a budget pub for dinner.
Mid-Range: Mid-range dining can cost anywhere between £20 – £50 per meal. This might include dining at a nice gastro pub or a casual restaurant where a main course would be around £15-£25.
Luxury: High-end, gourmet restaurants will cost £70+ per person. For instance, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant in central London, such as Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, where a three-course dinner without wine can easily exceed £100.
Budget: Budget travelers can rely on public transportation. A single journey on the Tube costs £2.40 with an Oyster card or contactless payment card in Zone 1. Buses cost £1.55 per ride.
Mid-Range: For more convenience, consider using taxis or rideshare services like Uber. A taxi ride in central London can cost £10-£20 depending on the distance.
Luxury: Luxury transportation options include private car services or black cabs for city journeys, which typically start from £50 for short rides, and can easily exceed £100 for longer trips or luxury vehicles.