15 Tips For A First Time Visitor To London

London skyline

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If you’ve never been to London before, visiting can be a little daunting. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 15 tips for a first time visitor to London.

1. Get An Oyster Card

You can get an Oyster Card from most tube stations. You can also buy them online through the TFL website. The price of an Oyster card depends on how long it’s valid: we recommend purchasing a 7-day Travelcard. This covers all your transport needs over the week (including buses, trams, national rail services, and the DLR).

If you’re planning on using public transport during your visit to London—which we highly recommend because it’s cheap and efficient—you’ll need to get an Oyster Card or contactless payment card. This will enable you to use our extensive network of underground trains, tramways, and buses without worrying about exact change or waiting in line at ticket machines each time you want to board a train or bus.

2. Use Google Maps

Google Maps is your best friend when visiting London for the first time. It can help you plan your route, estimate journey times and find out which tube line or bus you need to take. It’s also useful for finding nearby restaurants, pubs, and attractions.

Google Maps is free to download and use on your smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can access Google Maps on any internet-connected device by visiting maps.google.com.

3. Visit Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the London residence of His Majesty The King. As well as housing the Royal Family, it’s also open to visitors. You can tour the State Rooms and visit the Royal Mews, but if you want to see His Majesty himself, your best bet is to catch one of his appearances at garden parties or other special events.

Large crowds of tourists outside Buckingham Palace
Tourists gather outside Buckingham Palace

4. See Big Ben And The Houses Of Parliament

The clock tower is located in Westminster and was completed in 1858. Its nickname refers to the largest bell inside the clock tower – the Great Bell of Westminster, or “Big Ben.” This bell weighs 13.5 tons and chimes every hour on the hour, as well as alternating with two other bells throughout the day.

5. Stroll Around Hyde Park

Hyde Park is one of the most popular places to visit in London. It’s a beautiful park, with a lake that you can take a boat out on. There is also a memorial to Princess Diana and concerts are held there in summer – you can hear great music while sitting on the grass, enjoying the sunshine and feeding some squirrels!

6. Walk Across Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges globally, and it’s free to cross! It’s located right next to the Tower of London, so if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to visit both while you’re there.

The Tower of London, a large medieval castle with towers and turrets
Tower Bridge leads to the magnificent Tower of London

Because it was built over 100 years ago (and opened in 1894), the bridge has some fantastic architecture that will make for great photos. Plus, this bridge is so cool because you can see how it opens up and lifts up to allow boats through (don’t worry—it doesn’t open while people are on it).

7. Check Out The London Eye

The London Eye is a large Ferris wheel in London that offers views of the City of Westminster and beyond. At 135 m (443 ft) tall, it is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and has become one of the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist attractions.

The London Eye was built between 1998 and 2000 by Sir Peter Hall’s company British Airways i360 Limited, which spent an estimated £18 million making it happen. It opened to the public on 31 December 1999, with an official opening ceremony hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair on 10 January 2000.

Large ferris wheel beside the River Thames, with large buildings behind it
The London Eye

8. Shop On Oxford Street

The shopping experience on Oxford Street is a great one. It has become the mecca for all things retail. Department stores and high street shops have all set up shop there, so you can find everything from books to electronics to food and clothing.

There are many other streets with great shopping experiences that you should check out while in London. For example, Carnaby Street is known as the birthplace of British youth culture and fashion. In contrast, Regent Street has been a top destination for many US tourists since the 1960s and 1970s.

9. Eat Traditional Fish And Chips

If you like traditional fish and chips, there is no better place to eat it than London. Fish and chips are often served with mushy peas, which are more of a side dish than an accompaniment but make for a nice combination.

If you want to try them but aren’t sure if they’re for you, ask for one piece of fish instead of two so that if it doesn’t work out for you, you won’t be left hungry or regretful about wasting your meal on something that wasn’t your taste.

10. Visit A Museum Or Two

Visiting a museum is a great way to spend a day in London, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating. Many museums are free, such as the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum.

There are also some great art museums to visit, such as the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery. If you’re interested in history, you can’t miss the Churchill War Rooms, which are located underground and used to be the secret headquarters for Winston Churchill during World War II.

11. Store Your Suitcases In A Luggage Storage

If you’re staying in London for a few days, it’d be silly not to store your suitcases. This way, you can hit the ground running in the morning without worrying about lugging around cumbersome bags. Luggage storage kings cross is an excellent option because they’re easily accessible, affordable, and secure.

12. Use The Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus To See The Main Sights

The hop-on, hop-off bus tour is a great way to see the main sights of London. You can get on and off as many times as you like at any of their stops, including Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (a must-see), Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the Houses of Parliament. This is also a great way to get your bearings if you’re new to London: it allows you to orient yourself quickly before heading out into the city on foot.

The tour takes about two hours in total, but there are plenty of stops along the way so that people can explore where they want or sit down for some lunch! It makes getting around London simple – perfect for first-time visitors who don’t have much experience using public transport yet.

13. Take A Day Trip By Train

If you want to explore more of the country, there are lots of easy day trips from London by train. You could spend a day in the cities of Oxford or Cambridge, enjoy a trip to the coast or visit a historic house, all within a couple of hours from the capital.

14. Attend A show In The West End

The West End is home to some of the most famous musicals and plays, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running The Phantom of the Opera. You can get tickets in advance or buy them on the day at the theatre box office, but if you don’t want to miss out on a hot ticket show, book in advance!

Standing room tickets are often available for a fraction of the price of other tickets and sometimes even cheaper than an entrance fee into a local pub.

15. Soak Up The Atmosphere In Covent Garden

London is a city filled with history, and Covent Garden is no exception. The area has been a place of commerce since at least medieval times, and it’s still one of London’s most popular spots for shopping and dining today.

What makes Covent Garden so special? First off, it’s home to an active street performers program that enlivens the area with music, dance, comedy acts, and more throughout the day. There are also plenty of shops selling everything from fashion apparel to fine art prints. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can get something to eat or drink (or both).

So, if you’re looking for an afternoon out on your own in London without too many crowds or tourist traps – and don’t mind splurging on dinner – Covent Garden might be just what you need.

Enjoy Your Stay In London And Make Sure To Have Some Fun

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in London, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveller. Remember to have fun – after all, that’s what vacations are for!


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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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