london for the first time

Essential Tips For Travelling to London

Are you visiting London for the first time and don't know what to expect? In this guide, we will provide all the advice for travelling to London whether you are a solo traveller, as a couple, a family, or a group. These essential tips for travelling to London will get you ready to immerse in a world of captivating history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks.

Sit back relax and take a look at our in-depth guide.

Hotels in London England UK.
The skyline of Westminster Borough from Southbank.London For The First Time - Big Ben and Westminster Bridge

queries for visiting london for the first time

The following are the most popular questions or queries people ask before going to London for the first time. Each question has its corresponding answer and some of them have links to a more detailed page.

what is london like?

London is a marvellous blend of history, culture, and modernity! It is a destination for those looking for adventure, shopping and tranquillity. The city is known for its majestic landmarks and superb nightlife.

  • Well-known landmarks include Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace amongst many others.
  • The city is large, but in comparison, it is twice as large as New York City.

is london worth visiting?

This is most probably one of the most popular questions people ask anytime they travel somewhere new. We are happy to tell you that London is a must-visit and must be on your bucket list. The city is full of amazing opportunities for everyone.

See our in-depth guide to whether London is worth visiting!

how long should i stay in london?

The amount of days all depends on your, interest, budget and to-do list. London is so big that you can easily spend two weeks and not see everything. Each holiday has to be crafted to your needs, but technically, tourists spend around [1]7 days in London.

how many days in london?

There is so much to discover in London and its endless wonders can make getting to know it a challenge! Are you unsure how many days you will need? To ensure you make the most of your time exploring this dynamic city, we've developed multiple itineraries for your planning.

1 Day | 2 Days | 3 Days | 4 Days | 5 Days | 6 Days | 7 Days | 10 Days | 4 Day Christmas Itinerary | Trip To London in December

where is london and how big?

London is situated in the south-eastern part of England, United Kingdom. It is also the capital city of the UK. The city is also located in Europe although not part of the European Union. The entire city which is sectioned into multiple boroughs covers approximately 607 square miles (1,572 square kilometres).

Find out where London is and how big it is in our detailed guide.

how much should i expect to spend on my visit? | London Budget Friendly

It is tough to say if London is a budget-friendly destination or not as there are a lot of costs in staying and visiting its landmarks. However, you have full control of what you want to spend and how much. One key objective is to book as early as you can in order to find the best prices for flights and hotels. Eating out can differ between having a meal at a restaurant or grabbing a quick snack from a shop or an eatery van. Sightseeing can be done either by paying for a tour, using a sightseeing bus or simply just walking around London at your own pace without spending anything.

The spending of your visit all comes down to the choices you make. London can both be a budget-friendly or an expensive luxury holiday.

Regent Street, one of London's main streets.Regent Street London

which time of year is best to visit?

London is gorgeous all year round as each season brings out something different!

The question often arises: "When is the best time to visit London?" Finding the right answer is not straightforward, as it depends on your expectations and schedule. London boasts year-round vibrancy, offering something for everyone. It is vital to book early during peak seasons such as summer and Christmas, while spring and autumn offer more cost-effective travel options.

Have a peek at what each month of the year offers or see a month-by-month analysis all on one page.

how safe is london?

London is generally considered a safe city for visitors. Just like in other cities around the world, crowded places tend to have the highest rate of pickpocketing and theft so it is advisable to keep belongings secure. As a general rule of thumb, when roaming the city ensure that all your belongings are placed in safe pockets which cannot be accessed easily.

If you are a solo traveller always be aware of your surroundings especially if you plan to travel at night. The transport in London runs 24 hours a day, so even if you stay out late, you will not have a problem reaching your accommodation. Also, taxis are found everywhere and they are only a phone call.

Best place to stay in london?

When looking for a place to stay in London consider staying in central areas such as Westminster, Paddington and even Kensington. Try being close to the main attractions and close to at least one underground station. The underground will help you get everywhere in London so having one just a couple minutes away will be a blessing.

We have a dedicated guide just focusing on the most popular areas to stay in London.

Check out our variety of pages about London hotels located in different areas to choose the right hotel for you.

The beauty of Regent Street in London.The Gorgeous Streets In London - Hamley's Store On Regent Street

is london a solo or a family destination?

Whether you are travelling solo, with your partner, with friends, with children or even with the elderly, London is fit for all ages. There are so many things to do that there is something for everyone.

If you plan to visit London with friends, it will be a blast. There are all the activities you can think of such as adventure sports, indoor activities, taking a tour outside the city, wandering the streets, and shopping. These are just the tip of the iceberg. It is important to note that group bookings should be done in advance to ensure availability.

essential things to know as a first time visitor

accommodate in central london

While tempting to save on some cash, finding accommodation outside the city centre can create its issues such as spending money to commute to the centre and back every day and the amount of time wasted on transportation. Yes, accommodation inside the centre of London is fairly expensive but there are plenty of choices with different price ranges. If you consider all these facts, the amount of money and time saved from travelling to and forth, will gain more time in exploring London.

peak season and holidays tend to be more crowded

With the city being so popular as it is, bank holidays and school breaks tend to increase the popularity and hence it will be busier. If you are planning to visit during these times, it is wise to plan and try as much as possible to avoid the queues.

don't expect to see everything in one visit

There are a lot of things to do in London so do not try and cram everything in one visit especially if your visit will last a couple of days.

London is a large city with a long list of things to do. Cramming them in one visit is just impossible especially if your holiday is around three to four days. Your main goal is to see the main attractions of the city, then move from there. Having time to visit a few places outside the city will make your trip more special. Also, expect to see something different on every corner.

book early and book tickets in advance

One of the most important things we love to point out is that booking ahead will save you money and time.

Flights and accommodation are usually the most that eat out of your budget. Booking these in advance can help you save quite a bit. Also, booking your holiday in advance gives you more time to research into finding the perfect place to stay.

In regard to attractions, prices online are typically cheaper than when buying at the door. Apart from that, most attractions offer skip-the-line tickets which will make you save time and visit the attraction faster.

There are combo tickets which give you a chance to see a wide array of attractions at a cheap price.

oyster card and travel pass

For convenience, cost-effective, flexibility and time-saving, take the opportunity to purchase an Oyster Card or a Travel pass. These passes help you see London on a budget as you can use this card on transport, and landmarks at any time. All you have to do is purchase one of these cards and use it in the period you purchase it.

book your london pass

tipping is not mandatory but appreciative

Both in restaurants and when riding a taxi, a customary tip is appreciated, although not mandatory. In the case of restaurants, they add a service charge instead which will be marked on your bill. Tipping for their assistance and service shows your appreciation to them.

Houses lining the street in South Kensington.South Kensington London

look right when crossing the street

Although this can be a pretty easy one, it is also a challenge to get used to. In the UK, people drive on the opposite side (left side) so your intentions are always to look left instead of right. Many streets have signs painted indicating to look RIGHT before crossing.

comfortable shoes are necessary

Walking is the best way to see London as everything is so close to each other. Although you find good transport that can take you from point A to point B quickly, you cannot lose the opportunity to see the beauty of the city. Bring a comfortable pair of shoes! In one day you can clock around 20,000 to 30,000 steps, so a good pair of shoes is extremely necessary.

get ready for london's change in weather

The weather in London can change from hour to hour so expect sudden changes. It can be clear skies one moment and cloudy weather the next. No matter when you visit, take a travel umbrella or a raincoat.

Find below comprehensive guides detailing the weather in London for each month of the year.

take advantage of london's fREE attractions

While London is not a cheap city to visit, there are ample places where to visit in London that will not cost you a penny.

Apart from the famous landmarks that require tickets to enter, below are recommended places to visit in London that are free. This is another side of London that you might not consider while planning. So, here it is!

  • Free Museums in London: A majority of the museums in London are free to visit such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and many more.
  • Parks and Gardens: All open spaces in London are free to visit and leisure at your own pace. It is also a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • Markets in London: The city is scattered with markets that sell unique and quirky items and food. Although you need to pay for any purchases you make, you can spend hours on end wandering through these markets without paying anything.
  • Shops: While it's not free and cheap to shop in London, it is free to roam and have a glimpse at what the shops have to offer. Certain stores like Harrods, M&M's Store, and Lego Store are incredible shops that both adults and children alike would love to explore.

have a glimpse at london's main attractions

No matter if you are spending two, three or even ten days, the following landmarks are a must-visit even if you do not book entry tickets. Many landmarks can be witnessed from the outside.

  • London Eye: A Ferris Wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames covering 360-degree views
  • Tower of London: A fortress offering rich history and housing the Crown Jewels.
  • Tower Bridge: A suspension bridge offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Buckingham Palace: The official residence of the British Monarch.
  • Westminster Abbey: Explore the site of coronations and royal weddings.
  • Big Ben: A clock that is considered one of London's most recognisable landmarks.
Victoria Memorial fountain with a backdrop of Buckingham Palace.Buckingham Palace in London

cash, credit card & currency

The official currency in London is the 'British Pound'. When it comes to financially getting ready for your holiday, these are what you should carry with you.

  • Cash: A handful of cash is always recommended to carry around with you. It can be useful when you make small purchases in places where cards are not accepted. Having emergency cash is always useful.
  • Credit Cards: The majority of purchases today are made through credit cards. London being a financial district means that the majority of places around the city offer credit cards. Today, carrying your smartphone is already enough to make purchases using the contactless feature.

how to travel to and in london

The city is enormous so at some point in time you will get some form of transport. There are great transportation options such as the underground, public buses, trams, trains, Docklands Light Railway and taxis. Each transportation has its price so make sure you check the prices.

Getting to London from other countries has multiple airports that serve the city, making it well-connected to cities around the globe. Among the major airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City Airport. The most popular airport, Heathrow, has around 224 destinations served by 82 airlines.

Several platforms at King's Cross Station in London.Train Platforms at King's Cross Station

the number one language spoken is english

London is in the United Kingdom, the number one language spoken is English. Although several accents and dialects are often noticed. English is also the number one language spoken worldwide so communicating with the British shouldn't be an issue. If you are struggling to understand, do feel free to ask for clarification.

don't forget your travel documents

To get into London or the United Kingdom in general you will need some form of identification. Since the UK is out of the European Union, a valid passport is required and any necessary visas depending on where you are visiting. An identity card is also handy to carry around with you at all times. For more information about entering the UK click here.

travel insurance is handy

Purchasing travel insurance before going on holiday is handy for many reasons. No matter if you are a first-time traveller or if you travel frequently.

The many reasons to have travel insurance are as follows; Medical Emergencies, Cancellation of trips, lost or delayed luggage, travel delays, and personal liability. You must check with your insurance provider what you are covered and how much. Here we are just indicating what travel insurance should cover. This is a highly required document that we urge you to have a good look into before travelling.

london has a long history of royalty

An exploration of the country's rich history of monarchy offers a fascinating glimpse into the country's past and present. Following Queen Elizabeth II's death and King Charles III's coronation, there was a sense of transition and continuity for the monarchy. The period between September 2022 and May 2023 marked significant moments in the nation's collective memory, highlighting the monarchy's enduring significance to British culture and identity.

time difference

London operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Summer Time (BST), depending on the season. Since this is your first time travelling to London be aware to check the time difference with your home country when planning your flights especially if you have a layover. Check the time difference between London and your home country to adjust your schedule accordingly.

the UK 3-Pin Plug system

The use of a 3-pin plug is used for the entire United Kingdom. It is a G-type plug which has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. The voltage is around 230V - 240V and 50 Hertz.

We have come to the end of our guide to 'Visiting London for the First Time". We hope this guide has given you a great perspective of what to know before visiting London. London awaits with open arms, ready to welcome you back for an unforgettable experience!

questions about visiting london for the first time

What should I bring with me to London?

Be prepared for London's variable weather by bringing clothing appropriate for the season, cosy walking shoes, and an umbrella for overcast days. A reusable water bottle and a daypack are essentials for touring the city's sights and for bringing along the necessities that you will need.

How can I get around London if I have never been there before?

To travel seamlessly throughout London, use an Oyster card and the Tube map. Consider taking shorter strolls through the city if you want to fully experience its allure. It may be easier for newcomers to find their way around with the help of mobile applications, such as Citymapper, which offer real-time updates and comprehensive route suggestions.

Are there any safety precautions I should take into consideration before visiting London?

Keep an eye on your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Don't go alone in poorly lit or lonely areas at night, and make sure you protect your belongings. Whenever you need transportation, choose reliable ridesharing services or licensed taxis. Putting your safety first and following your instincts are your best bets at all times.

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Visiting London For The First Time.

Photo sources & Resources - london for the first time

  • View of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge from Southbank - Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
  • Regent Street in London - Photo by Ashleigh Joy Photography on Unsplash


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