The sprawling metropolis of London can be a heady sight, bursting at the seams with all walks of life, thousands of years of history and a unique culture that’s known the world over.
However, making the trip to visit can at first seem costly, confusing and potentially scary, when in fact it can be quite the opposite! As long as you plan in advance and get to know the city a little before you set off, you can feel confident in navigating the highways and byways, and by the end of it all you may even feel like a Londoner yourself.
Plan where you’re staying
As London is so huge, where you stay can really dictate what you end up seeing and doing. As public transport is so accessible and convenient, your budget should lead you on your quest for the optimum accommodation.
Do bear in mind that as London is such a huge place, some hotels which are advertised in London might actually be in the suburbs, meaning you may have a trek into the centre of town on journeys of up to an hour. So be wise, and look up your hotel on the map before you book.
Consider alternative options to hotels too – many can be expensive, especially if they are in the heart of London, and you may find that hostels such as YHA London have cable compare and a better variety of places that suit your budget.
Plan your transport in advance
Travelling in London can be an overwhelming but exhilarating experience, with a range of options that include the bus, tram, train, tube, boat and even cable car.
Thankfully, the TfL has set up a useful page
to help first-time visitors to the city which explains the travel options you have available.
Essentially you could invest in a contactless Oyster Card, which you can top up with money and pay as you go for travel, or you can purchase a pre-paid Travelcard, which covers your travel across most forms of transport, and is especially useful if you anticipate you’ll be making lots of journeys across the city.
Look up where you want to visit on the map too. Many underground stations can easily be walked between, especially in the centre of the city. For instance, Embankment is 100m from Charing Cross, but looks much farther on the Tube Map, and similarly, the popular stop off of Covent Garden can be comfortably walked from Holborn, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road.
Utilise the free attractions
If you’re on a tight budget or have blown your money on a big night out, then don’t worry – there’s loads of free stuff in London. Most of the publicly funded museums are free, as well as massive parks, historic homes and art galleries. See Visit London’s extensive list for the best free attractions or Overseas Attractions for other London attractions.