I found a note on my phone this week where I’d listed 9 tips for traveling in London during our stay and realized that was a must-share post (with an extra tip of course). We absolutely loved our time in London. We did, however, go in with a few helpful tips. And then we picked up a few tricks along the way to make our stay even better. These tips still let you wander and roam as you please but with a bit of direction and less unknown!
10 Tips for Traveling in London
- AN OYSTER CARD | This is a tip I read on a blog post before our trip though we would have seen it when we arrived. Oyster cards are for the Tube. We bought a 7-Day pass for zones 1-3, which covered everywhere we wanted. It was £38 and so easy. You pay a deposit to get the card which you can get refunded (as well as any stored value if added extra) before you leave at any ticket machine (up to £10)!
- HEATHROW EXPRESS IN A JIFFY | Another great tip from a blog post before our trip was to buy tickets for the Heathrow Express. Taking the tube from Heathrow Airport can be a headache. If you have to transfer trains, it’s especially irritating mostly because of all the stairs and walking in the stations. That’s no fun with all your luggage. You can buy round trip tickets online for £37 which will take you from the airport to/from Paddington Station. Trains leave every 10-15 minutes and the trip takes less than 20 minutes. From Paddington you can catch a cab, call an Uber, or get on the Tube.
- EASY DOES IT AT WESTMINSTER | Westminster is one of the most popular tourist destinations and a must for a visit to London. The line can get long, however. You can buy your tickets online ahead of time and skip the line. They scan the code off your phone. The prices are the same no matter, but you can go straight in!
- BUCKINGHAM PALACE | The changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace is probably the most popular thing for tourists to do. Unfortunately, it can also be the most overwhelming. Plan to arrive at least an hour before the guard change and stake your place along the gate or road. You’ll be shooting photos over (many) people’s heads if you aren’t right in front.
- RESERVATIONS | A few friends warned us about reservations. Some restaurants don’t take reservations (you can decide if you want to wait). Check for reservations before you head out. Most have online reservation systems, so it’s super easy and worth it!
- LAYER UP | London fog is a thing – as is rain, wind, and sunshine (at least during our trip). London is also great at keeping their stores and buildings quite warm. You’ll want to have good layers to transition through all the elements. A scarf, beanie, and gloves as well as a top notch coat are all mandatory.
- SUNNIES | This sounds silly after that tip about all the layers, but I found my sunnies to be a lifesaver. When the sun shines, they are great, but they are also good when it’s cloudy because the light is very reflective and quite bright. I may have turned a few heads, but at least I wasn’t squinting through London Town!
- EARLY TO RISE AT THE MARKETS | The markets in London were so fun and an absolute must in my book. They do get crowded rather quickly, however. Borough Market opens at 10 and is crowded by 11. I highly recommend arriving when it opens so you get a chance to really walk the market without all the bustle!
- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONS | We discovered that many restaurants and coffee shops had multiple locations. This was great since we usually discovered the location in the busy part of the city. Heading to the other locations was worth the few extra minutes to enjoy the food/coffee experience!
- TAKE A TOUR | A walking tour that is! London is a big city with lots of history and a bit of mystery. Our Authentic Walking Tour really got us to slow down and appreciate all the fun we were otherwise walking on by!