How to Prepare for a Trip to London

If you’re preparing for a trip to London, there’s probably several things that you’re already aware of. London is one of the most popular cities in the world with famous landmarks to match. It is pretty well known as a result. But knowing some things about a city and actually preparing to visit that city are two different things. Here’s nine things that you should know as you prepare for your trip to London.

It’s going to rain

So you’ve heard that it rains a lot in London. Well it’s true. There’s a good chance that you’ll get rained on during your visit. But that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying one of the greatest cities in the world. In fact it kind of adds to the legend and the charm of London. And I’ve heard that your visit doesn’t even really count unless you get rained on, so there’s that.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of amazing things to do indoors throughout the city. London has one of the greatest collections of museums in the world.

So don’t let a little rain stop you or ruin your trip. Just pack a small travel umbrella and venture out and explore London. 

Make sure to use the tube

With one of the best public transit systems in the world, London is an easy city to get around if you don’t have a car. All you have to do is pick up an Oyster Card for your travels and you are on your way. It seems as if there is always another train coming quickly. So you don’t have to worry if you miss one as there’s likely another one right behind it. This is especially true in the center of the city.

If you’re traveling with your family you don’t even have to worry about kids paying (no, not because you’re going to sneak them on) because kids are free!  Even with kids in tow, taking the tube is not a hassle. There are maps that help and the system is laid out really well with plenty of signs to lead you on your way.

London is an international city

London is more than just the capital of Great Britain. In 2019 it was the third most visited city in the world just behind Paris and Bangkok. 

London is also home to quite a diverse population. As a result of the sun never setting on the British Empire, they’ve spread their influence across the globe. They’ve also been influenced by people all over the world. Many of which call London home. Whatever perception London holds, it’s probably quite different from the reality.

As a result of the diverse population, London has a remarkable culinary scene. London is known to have some of the best Asian food outside of Asia. With so many cultures represented, doing a little research ahead of time will help you plan out what you want to try.

The Brits often get a bad rep for their food, but when you visit London, you definitely won’t have to worry about that because the variety of food is amazing.

Not only are there varieties in the culture of food, but the type of ways to find the food. London is full of restaurants where you can spend top dollar and enjoy that experience. But there are also plenty of noodle bars that very well could provide one of the best meals that you’ve ever had.

London is also a city of markets and there are several major ones that provide another avenue to sample London’s legendary food scene. Here are just a few:

Borough Market – 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom

Camden Market – Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF, United Kingdom

Southbank Centre Food Market – Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX, United Kingdom

Maltby Street Market – 37 Maltby St., London SE1 3PA, United Kingdom

Whitecross Street Market – Whitecross St., London EC1Y 8JL, United Kingdom

Brockley Market – Lewisham College Carpark, Lewisham Way, London SE4 1UT, United Kingdom

You can sample a bit of everything in one tasty spectacular location. Everything from burgers to treats. A variety of cultures and more than what you would expect from typical British fare.

The Eye of London is expensive for families

One of the more popular landmarks in London is quite expensive. Especially for families. It can be a nice ride and spectacular view of London if you can fit it into your budget. If, however you feel that 27 pounds per adult and 22 pounds per child is too expensive, don’t worry, you can still enjoy London without seeing it.

It may be one of those things that it’s nice just to take a picture of. Something is going to get left off the itinerary with so many things to do in London. So don’t feel too bad if this is one of those items.

If you’re determined to make the Eye of London a part of your British experience, at least make sure that you find a discount.

One of the best discounts is the 2 for 1 deal for some of the top attractions. The Eye of London is often included in this deal. You have to take the train (not the Underground) into London to qualify. There are several other ways to score discount tickets and you can find them here.

If you want a good view of London, the Sky Garden is the perfect (free) alternative.

You have to try the fish and chips

Fish and chips is perhaps the food that Britain and London are most known for. There are many cities that can give you good fish and chips, but it probably won’t be quite like what you’d get in London, save a very few places. This is the type of food that you can really appreciate in a pub with a pint of London’s finest. It’s one of the things that are on every must do list but actually lives up to the hype. It’s such a common dish that there are many great places to try them so look around and find a nice spot and enjoy.

Paris is close

You obviously came to London to see London. And you probably have a limited amount of time as it is to see one of the most fascinating cities on the planet. That being the case you may wonder why you would spend one of those days somewhere else. Well Paris is just the city to make that exception for. Ideally you’d have more time than just a day but if that’s all that you have then it’s definitely worth it to hop the English Channel and see Paris (the second most visited city in the world).

With direct trains connecting the two cities it’s fairly straightforward to make the trip there and back. And even with just a day, if you plan it right, you can see quite a few awesome things in Paris.

Of course if you have more time to stay, a few days in London and a few days in Paris is a pretty awesome vacation combination.

If you’re looking to combine several cities in Europe for an extended stay, Paris isn’t the only good option. London usually has several great budget airline options that can connect you all across Europe for cheap.

Get great deals flying out of Toronto or NYC

There were two cities that really stood out for us with great flight deals to London. One was Toronto, which we usually use for international travel and the other of course was New York City. Even if you aren’t necessarily close to either of these two major international hubs, you can always check other options that are relatively near you. You may be surprised that if you work a bit with the options you may get a great deal to London even if it’s not the closest option.

There’s lots of great museums to choose from

London is really a city of museums. There are at last count 170 museums in London and many of them are free. You can find a list of some of the best free museums in London here

The British Museum is of course at the top of nearly every list of things to do in London as it’s such a remarkable place to visit. It’s full of wonderful exhibits and pieces that people the world over long to see in person. Many of these museums are also conveniently located near the center of London so they’re easy to fit into your itinerary.

The Natural History Museum, National Gallery and the Tate Modern are also standouts among an impressive collection.

Also since London is known for its rain, you’ll have a variety of places to visit when the rain mixes up your carefully planned itinerary.

Look right before crossing the street

You should always look both ways before you cross the street. It’s a lesson we all learned a long time ago. But if you’re from the United States like we are, you are always particularly looking for cars coming on your left. If you’re in the United Kingdom they’ll often be coming from your right. And despite trying to remember this fact, if you’re only going to be there for a week or so, you’ll probably never completely get used to it.

To help you out, in certain spots there are friendly reminders for us travelers who aren’t used to traffic coming from the “other” direction. It’s just something to keep in mind, because nothing ruins a vacation quite like getting hit by a car.

Preparing for a trip to London

You will never run out of things to do in London, but it helps to be prepared before landing in one of the greatest cities in the world.

If you have some tips in mind for trips to London be sure to share them in the comments below.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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