London is a bustling, never-ending city that can be exciting, engaging and wow you at every, and any, given moment. It can also be confusing, frustrating and making you want to throw up in the nearest bin – but good luck finding a bin on the underground or at any train station! I digress.
1. Currency – The UK use the Great British Pound and very few shops accept anything other than the Pound or card payments. Money can be withdrawn from any ATM but to avoid transaction charges, head to a ATM outside a chain supermarket or a bank. Some hotels and larger stores in London may accept the Euro.
2. Weather – The weather in London is hit or miss. November through to March is fairly cold and windy, June to August is (most of the time) warm and sunny but incredibly crowded. April, May, September and October gives temperatures around 14-20 degrees and is my favourite time to head into the city. Regardless of when you visit, bring an umbrella – it will randomly rain at any given point! London is a great place to visit at Christmas but don’t bank on snow!
3. When to go – London gets very busy during the British school holidays. Through the months of July and August the queues are unbearable, as our the Christmas events during the week leading up to Christmas. London is one of those cities that are always busy, but to get the best weather and least crowds, September or June are great times to explore.
4. The Underground – Slightly daunting when you first use, but the underground is by far the best way to get around the city. Taxis are too expensive, buses are too slow and the city is far too big to spend all day walking around. Instead, pick up an oyster card, use the machines to top it up and download the London underground map onto your phone to help you. The TFL website also gives you specific directions from one attraction to another and tells you exactly where you need to change or get off.
5. Costs – London is expensive. Unfortunately, it just one of those cities that is very pricey – but for locals like us, it does make everywhere else look ridiculously cheap! Expect to pay around £100 a night for a decent private room, at least £4 for a pint of beer, £7+ for a lunch at a café and upwards of £25 per person for a meal.
6. Save Money – Yes London is expensive but there are a few ways you can save money. For a cheaper pint, head to the Wetherspoon chain pubs, which are also a great place to have a cheaper meal too. Visit the free attractions to save some money too.
7. Food – The UK has a few must eats when you visit the UK and London offers them all. Book yourself an Afternoon Tea at one of the fancy hotels (The Ritz or The Kensington Hotel are popular choices), go to a small local café for a Full English Breakfast and don’t forget to try some fish ’n’ chips.
8. Attractions – Of course, there is so much to see and do in London. The most popular attractions include seeing the Big Ben, watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, exploring the Tower of London or shop ‘till you drop on Oxford Street. But don’t miss some of the other amazing attractions in London; take a canal boat up the river at Little Venice, sample the flavours of London Borough Market and get an amazing view of the city from the Sky Gardens.
9. Accommodation – Book your hotel or hostel in advance. London is not the type of place you show up and walk in – unless you want to be charged triple the prices on booking.com.