So as a UK citizen myself, I thought it would be a useful idea to provide some helpful “do” and “don’t” tips for others when visiting London, UK.
1)DO get pound sterling. Even though we are part of Europe we are one of the few countries who do not use or accept Euros so make sure you’ve got some sterling ready at hand.
2)DO tip waiters in restaurants. It’s pretty much a standard here that you tip 10% but it is not compulsory.
3)DO pack some warm clothes. Britain as whole has pretty shitty weather (soz guys). Having said that we do have some beautiful weather in the spring/summer and early autumn but it really is pot luck! I would definitely advise whatever season you come packing a jumper/brollie and waterproof so you’re set for all conditions!
4)DON’T drive or taxi around London unless you really have to. London is a busy place and you’ll end up either sitting in your car for ages or getting a hefty cab bill. Get the tube or a bus, much cheaper and much faster in most cases.
5)DON’T be rude. Sounds pretty simple but it’s amazing how patient English people are. You will have to queue and you should stand to the right of an escalator so people can pass if they wish. Also it’s important to say “Please” and “Thank you” you’ll hear British people say “Thank you” a lot.
6)DO visit the museums and typical tourist attractions even if you don’t go inside! London is jam packed with things to do. If you want to save some money then there are quite a few free museums such as the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Other must see spots to get snap happy are Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and The Shard.
7)DO be prepared to pay out. As the UK’s capital city London isn’t going to be cheap so do expect to pay more for drinks and food. However, a trip is only as expensive as you want to make it!
8)DO go see a show in the West End if you can afford to. Every show I have watched has been amazing and there is nothing better than watching it in the capital.
9)DO have a walk around Hyde Park. Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. There is usually lots going on in the summer and the winter you will see the infamous “Winter Wonderland” during the Christmas period.
10)DON’T walk around on your phone when in busy streets. As the capital city London is pick-pocket galore and it has often been known for people to snatch a phone out of your hands. Now, please do not be scared or alarmed to get your phone out, I have many a times and have never had any problems but it’s like any busy city just be street wise, don’t make yourself an easy target.
11)DO go ice skating during the winter. I actually love London in the Winter the Christmas lights are on and there’s lots to do specifically ice skating! You’re really spoilt for choice with an array of ice rinks to choose from in different locations all over London. I especially love Somerset house, The Natural History Museum and the Tower Bridge ones.
12)DO go shopping! As the capital city you will be in shopping galore when you come to London. Oxford Street is the infamous strip of high street chains with Westfield Stratford also being a great option for lots of choice. Want something a bit more high end? Then make your way down to Bond Street and really splurge the cash.
13)DO roam the markets of Camden and try the street food. Camden is one of my favourite places in London. I love browsing through all the market stalls – from clothing to antiques there is something for everyone at Camden. PLUS they do some of the best street food at super cheap prices so make sure you fill your stomach up while you’re here!
14)DO visit Covent Garden. Full of British pubs, trendy boutiques and street markets Covent Garden is another ‘must do’ area in London. You’ll often find many street performers here too doing anything weird and wonderful so definitely worth a visit.
15)DON’T wait until the barrier to pull out your ticket when travelling on the underground. The London Undergound is always busy, always crowded, and always fast-moving and if you’re standing by the barrier trying to find your ticket you’re definitely going to get a few stern looks. Always make sure you have your ticket ready before you reach the barrier this avoids back logs and angry people!
16)DO shake hands when meeting people. Traditionally in the UK when we meet someone new we shake hands. We would only kiss if we were close friends or relatives usually.
17)DON’T go out in Leicester Square. Now this is not to say you shouldn’t visit Leicester Square because of course you definitely should. However, get a few photos maybe one drink at the most then move on. As the heart of London’s West End prices are even dearer and as everything is aimed at tourists it’s a common area for pickpockets. A short walk you’ll be in Chinatown, Soho or Covent Garden where you’ll be able to find some local hidden gems with much better food and drink.
18)DON’T stop walking in the middle of the pavement. Oh god do you know how unbelievably annoying this is and trust me most busy Londoners would agree. If you need to stop to take a photograph, look at your map or speak to a friend then please for god sake move out the way of the path!
19)DON’T speak loudly in public specifically public transport. Visitors to London may notice that even though the London Underground can be extremely busy it is not extremely loud. It is not a done thing for people travelling on public transport in the UK to generally speak loud (you’ll get the odd few) – so always keep your voice low.
20)DO drink tea. British people love tea – celebrations, commiserations, rainy days, sunny days whatever the occasion we always make time for a good old cuppa. If you have the money definitely try out a posh “afternoon tea” somewhere you’ll get loose tea and cakes and sandwich galore.
21)DO place your knife and fork together when you have finished eating. When you have finished your meal always make sure you put your knife and fork together vertically (knife on right, fork on left), us British take table manners pretty seriously (unless you’re with close mates then we don’t really give a shit).
22)DON’T get off the underground at Covent Garden. Just trust me on this one you’ll thank me later for it. So Covent Garden station SUCKS it’s either wait for a massive lift that takes forever or go up a fuck load of steps. Sure if you think you’re Mr Macho be my guest but when you’re in a little dress and heels you’ll thank me for telling you to get off at the next stop Leicester Square (which is less than a 5 min walk from Covent Garden).
23)DO wear comfortable shoes. A lot of London is explored best via foot and you’ll be grateful for a comfortable pair of shoes by the end of the day!
24)DON’T travel during peak times. Avoid travelling on public transport specifically the underground during peak times (before 9.30am and between 4pm and 7pm weekdays). This not only means crowds but it means a higher priced ticket for yourself so if you’re not on a time schedule then avoid.
25)DON’T be late. Punctuality is imperative to British people and being late for tours or restaurant reservations (specifically in the Capital) is a big no-no. Also, if you can’t make your reservation then make sure you cancel out of politeness.
26)DON’T wait for a waiter when in a pub. If you do you’ll be waiting a long time! If you’re just after a drink go to the bar to order and pay and then sit down. Same principle if you want food but remember your table number if they have them.
27)DO ask for directions if you need to. Generally most British people are super friendly and more than happy to help strangers if they are lost just make sure you say ‘Thank You’ after!
28)DO book tickets in advance. To avoid long queues and potentially missing out always pre-book your tickets. If you book online you may even be lucky and get a discount. Popular attractions are the London Eye, London Dungeons, Madame Tussauds, London Theatre Shows and Sea Life aquarium to name a few.
29)DON’T confuse London Bridge with Tower Bridge. It’s crazy how many people get these confused but I guess it’s easy as they have very similar names and are very close to one another. They are both worth a visit and a photo but Tower Bridge is probably the one you’ll envision in your head. Tower Bridge is used as symbol of London and is recognisable to visitors from all over the world – even if the majority confuse it with London Bridge!
30)DO HAVE FUN! London is an exciting city packed with SO much to do so during your visit really make sure you make the most of it. Grab a map and make a rough plan of everything you want to do so you won’t be disappointed.
I hope these tips come in handy for you and please note I do not own any of these photos! I have been meaning to get up to London and take some photos of my own but still haven’t got round to doing this. I think a trip to London is on the horizon! Do you have any tips when visiting London or the UK? Have you visited from another country? What was different for you?
Featured image by: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/incredible-sunset-from-london/