Yay! Finally you’ve made up your mind to go on that much awaited London holiday. You must be now looking at various London holiday packages and the UK visa process to get the ball rolling. But as a first time visitor to the UK, aren’t you a bit nervous? What to keep in mind when planning your trip, the transport system, London travel tips, do’s and don’ts, the list is unlimited. There are all types of questions and various scenarios coming up in mind which doesn’t exactly provides us with the confidence boost we are looking for. We know that feeling!
But why worry, when you have us!
So to boost your confidence and to make your visit to the one of the most fascinating cities in the world memorable and stress free we are here to share our London travel tips, which you can bookmark and save for later references.
Our travel tips will certainly ease your mind and help you calm your nerves! Let’s have a look at them –
Know the difference between The UK, Great Britain and England
Consider this the most important London travel tips for first time travellers and world explorers – these 3 terms may seem interchangeable, but they are not! The UK is a collective term for the countries of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, whereas Great Britain is used for Wales, Scotland and England and it doesn’t includes Northern Ireland and England is a separate country where the city of London is situated.
Know the Visa Requirements
Before travelling to The UK you need to have a valid UK visa to enter the country. The application process for UK visa for Indians is completely online; you need to fill your UK visa application form online, pay the visa fees and schedule an appointment to visit the Visa Application Centre – VAC for submitting your biometrics, and digital photograph along with your documents. The UK visa is normally issued for 6 months, 2, 5 or 10 years which allows the visa holder to enter the country multiple times. Irrespective of the visa validity, one can stay for only 6 months on each visit.
It goes without saying that the London weather is unpredictable, so this is not exactly our top London travel tip but more of a reminder of London’s temperamental weather. One moment it will be sunny and perfect for a picnic in the park and in the next minute, there will be clouds and rains spoiling your picnic. While we can’t do much about the ruined picnic, we can always be prepared for the unpredictable weather. Carry a strong and sturdy umbrella, bring along your sunglasses, pack comfortable clothes along with warm jackets – you never know when you might need them, comfy and versatile pair of shoes that will come in handy no matter rain or shine.
Get your Oyster Card
Oyster Card or Travelers Oyster Card is a blessing when it comes to travelling about in London. It is a, ‘pay as you go electronic Smart Card’ which is a favoured and also the cheapest mode of payment in major public transports in London, making it one of the most convenient London travel tips out there. However, note that the fares depend upon your mode of transport, number of zones travelled or zones travelled to and from, and also the day and the time of travel. Simply pre-pay and get your Oyster Card before leaving for London and travel without worrying about having proper change or cash as soon as you land in the city. Apart from this, owning an Oyster Card will help you get special visitors discount at several restaurants, pubs, entertainment venues, shops, etc. so flaunt it at every chance you get.
Explore the Free Attractions
Not every tourist attraction in London requires you to buy a ticket or a pass or pay an entry fee. UK tourist attractions such as the Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Hampton Court Palace, Changing of the Guards at the Buckingham Palace and 23 of the top class museums and galleries in London like the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, The National Gallery, etc. are among the free to access and open to all attractions in London. One can easily learn about the history of the city without having to loosen the strings on their purse. If this isn’t one of the most pocket friendly London travel tips, then what is?
Free WiFi everywhere
If you are someone who is constantly on Instagram, love uploading photos, status or simply like to keep your loved ones updated about your whereabouts then this London travel tip will definitely come in very handy to you. Forget getting a local sim card to stay connected with your loved ones while roaming around the cobblestoned streets of London, many businesses and tourist places in the city offer free WiFi for visitors to connect. Be it shopping, dining, sightseeing or simply having tea – you are never away from your family and friends with free public WiFi in London. However, make sure to use a VPN when accessing these public networks for added safety and security.
Explore the London Food Scene
Don’t let the common notion about British food deter you from trying local food in London; it may be an unpopular London travel tips but London has a lot more food options other than the famous “Fish & Chips”. Try The English Breakfast – toasts served along eggs, bacons, tomatoes, black pudding, sausages, baked beans and mushrooms, or Sunday Roast or the Afternoon Tea – where you can have your fill of cakes, biscuits, bread, jam, pastries, sandwiches and of course tea, or Yorkshire Pudding or Bangers and Mash – flavoured sausages served along mashed potatoes, onion gravy and topped with peas and fried onions, or Pie Mash – a savoury pie filled with minced meat, creamy mashed potatoes and topped with liquor sauce which is actually made of parsley, or simply ask your server what they would recommend, we assure you it will be delicious and you won’t be disappointed.
Tipping Culture in London
Unlike in the USA, the tipping culture of London is voluntary somewhat confusing. Some restaurants add an extra “service charge” that is considered to be a tip in some places so ask around about this, but if it is not you can pay between 10-15% of your total bill as a tip, whereas pubs and bars don’t expect you to tip at all.
Watch out for pickpocketers and scammers in the crowded touristy spots. A popular scam that takes place is known as “Lucky Heather” where kids or senior citizens will offer you heather flowers and demand a donation in return from you. Simply do not acknowledge them or refuse taking anything from anyone you don’t know.
And that completes our London travel tips for first time travellers.
Although the British are known to have a stiff upper lip, they are kind and friendly people and are always ready to help; you simply need to overlook the prejudice and ask them politely. Don’t forget the usual etiquettes of not making fun of the locals or their politicians and the Royals as well in this case, be mindful of the people do not invade their private space or talk loudly on public transport, do not discuss race or religion and most importantly – do not forget to explore and have fun! And that’s it! You are all set for a stress free London holiday!
We hope our London travel tips will help you overcome any nervousness you have about visiting London for the first time and you have a great time on your trip. Write to us in comments if you have any queries and we will gladly help.
- The Different Types Of UK Visas: Visit, Work, Study Or Live In The United Kingdom
- UK Visa Application Process: A Step-By-Step Guide
- UK Visa Extension: How To Extend Your UK Visa In The UK
- Tips To Get UK Visa For Indians
- Get UK Visa In 5 Easy Steps
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