Many thanks to Katty for sharing her expertise on what to do in the great city of London
Whether you are a first time visitor or if you can’t wait to go back, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time in busy, cultured London.
Look out for the free museums
Everyone says that London is expensive and it is true, it can be! But the high costs can be avoided. Many of London’s leading museums can be enjoyed for free, including the British Museum, The Tate Modern and the National Gallery.
Enjoy an afternoon in the park
With a population of 8.3 million and as one of the leading financial and business centers in the world, you may be surprised to hear that London has many large green open spaces. All of London´s main parks are well-maintained, well-facilitated and reasonably safe.
Spend an afternoon in Hyde, Regent´s or Richmond Park to enjoy another side of London.
Avoid London traffic
London is a very busy city, formed by a maze of narrow Roman streets, which often, especially during rush hour, can experience extremely high traffic congestion. This means that taking a taxi can be a very timely and expensive experience.
The London underground is the easiest way to get around, walking is evening better… if it’s not too far!
Seek the cheap West End theater tickets
It is possible to line up at the theaters themselves on the day for stand-by tickets. These are heavily discounted returned and unsold tickets for that evening’s performance. Of course you may be disappointed and have to run to another theater.
If grabbing a stand by ticket sounds a little hectic for your taste, then head to the ticket booth in Leicester Square on the day for tickets discounted up to 50% off.
Catch some live sports
Many iconic sports teams and venues call London home and you could enjoy the live action. The home of Cricket Lord’s Cricket Ground, the home of Football Wembley Stadium and the home of English Rugby Twickenham, all host events year round. London also has 13 professional football teams, more than any other city in the world, including Chelsea and Arsenal.
Explore London’s markets
Markets are at the heart of London’s culture and way of life.
Whether you are looking to buy or not, a peruse around one of London´s markets, combined with a cup of tea and a slice of cake in a nearby café will give you a sense of local life. Check out Brick Lane for vintage gems, Portobello Road for antiques and Columbia Road for flowers.
Don’t miss the traditional attractions
Just because Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Circus are some of the best known, most touristy attractions in London, does not mean that they should be avoided. Brave the crowds and don’t miss out. In no time you’ll be muttering “that’s where that historical event took place” or “that’s where that great scene in that movie was shot!” They are famous for a reason.
Don’t rush your trip
London is a huge city which cannot be seen in a single weekend. It is likely that you will return home feeling like you have only scratched the surface. If possible try to stay for more than a few days. You could even study for a semester at one of the many reputable universities or attend a London school of English to improve your language skills. The city is one of the most multicultural in the world and is very international student friendly.
Shop till you drop
London has some great shopping areas to suit all budgets. Check out iconic Oxford Street for high street flagship stores, Bond Street for high end fashion and Knightsbridge for prestigious brands and famous department stores such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols or Westfield, Europe´s largest urban shopping center.
Escape the city
If you are staying for more than a few days, you may want to get away from the noise and bright lights and explore some of London’s outer boroughs. Only a short train ride away are some of England’s most beautiful areas, like Oxford, Richmond and Henley-on-Themes are leafy, historic towns with many sites and musings.
Plan for the weather
In London you need to plan for all eventualities, whenever the time of your visit. Despite being situated in one of the mildest areas in the UK, the weather can be unpredictable, so pack an umbrella and sun glasses at all times! Rain fall is consistent throughout the year with between 11 and 15 rainy days every month.
Watch out for pickpockets
In comparison to other major cities, London is not particularly rife for pickpockets. However, as in all busy areas, you need to be vigilant, especially when on the tube, which is a target area for criminals during rush hour.
Sample the cuisine
The UK in general is not famous for food. But it would be wrong to think that you will not enjoy a great meal during your stay. London is said to be the world in one city, due to its cultural diversity and this reflects in its food. There are more than 6,000 restaurants covering every popular cuisine, with 55 Michelin star restaurants and the home of many celebrity chefs.