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If it’s your first time visiting, London’s public transport can be a little confusing – but don’t be discouraged by the rather intimidating map of different coloured lines. Once you’ve got your head around the London Underground network (referred to by basically everyone as ‘the tube’), it’s by far the easiest way to get around quickly in the city.
After years of living here, I’m a big fan of how convenient and simple London is to get around. These are the things you need to know about getting around the city on your London visit:
London is a huge, vibrant city which attracts millions of visitors every year. Much of London’s general customs and ways of life are similar to those of other European capital cities, with good technology and infrastructure. If you’re planning on visiting London, here are a few things to know before you go.
The currency used in London is Pound Sterling (GBP). Unless there’s a ‘cash only’ sign displayed in the window, you can pretty much guarantee a restaurant or shop will take card payments. However, some smaller newsagents may charge a fee of around 50 pence for paying by card.
Quite a lot of London’s street food stalls also accept credit cards nowadays – but if you’re shopping at a market, it’s usually best to carry some cash just in case. ATM cash points are easy to find – most streets will have multiple banks, and many shops and venues have them too. However, some of these may charge a fee of £1.50 or more to use them.
In outlets that accept card payment, all major credit and debit cards (e.g VISA, AMEX, Mastercard) are usually accepted. Many shops and restaurants will display signage in the window, on a restaurant menu or by the pay point with the cards they accept clearly marked. If you’re not sure – just ask!
Whilst not enforced in the UK as it is in the USA and some other countries, tipping is a pretty common practice in London for certain services. However, if you choose not to tip, you’re unlikely to face any problems from staff as you would in America, for example. The main places Londoners are likely to tip are in:
Londoners have a bit of a reputation for being unfriendly – something I actually think is pretty unwarranted, especially if you’re in the pub with them on a Friday night! However, the one thing that’s definitely going to put a local’s back up pretty quickly is people who don’t observe basic Tube etiquette. There are some obvious rules to travel by, like giving up a ‘priority’ seat (they’re clearly marked) for those less able to stand – but here are a few that are more London Underground specific…
The cardinal rule of the Underground is that you stand on the right and walk on the left. If you do stand on the left, you’ll soon know about it when you’re met with tuts and ‘excuse me’s…
Basic manners is letting people get off the tube carriage before you get on. And also, don’t stop as soon as you get on or off a tube, as you’ll block people behind you and cause a fair bit of annoyance.
Obviously, you need to travel with your belongings! However, if you’re travelling with lots of gear, try to avoid ‘rush hours’ (7am-9am and 5pm-7pm weekdays) where possible, as the tube gets VERY busy at these times. If you are on a busy train with a backpack, taking it off and putting it between your legs is the ‘done’ thing.
London is one of the most loved cities in the world and is packed full of culture, history, and exploration. It can however be a pretty expensive city to visit, so it’s well worth turning your pennies into pounds by exploring the free places to visit in London to save money on your trip. Here are some of the best things you can do for free in London.
This museum is a hidden gem out of all the free London museums. Tucked away on Lincoln Fields Square near Holborn station in the centre of town (Central line on the Underground), this fantastic museum is pretty much preserved at Sir John Soane left it when he died. It was in fact the house the famous neo-Classical architect and collector lived in and designed himself. Whilst he was still alive, he filled this house with a fascinating collection of artifacts from the Ancient civilisations. You can see a sarcophagus, countless sculptures, and many fine paintings, and the beauty of the house is something to behold in itself. It’s a really interesting insight into a famous London character, and a chance to explore the personal effects left behind by a dedicated collector of art and ancient treasures.
Newly open to the public and located at the top of a skyscraper Londoners call the ‘Walkie Talkie’, you can get the most spectacular vantage point across London from the three floors of restaurants on the top three floors. The building is known formally as 20 Fenchurch Street (nearest station Monument). You could even take a walk across London Bridge towards Borough Market after your trip to the top if you wanted to make the most out of being in the area.
I hope you found this article intesting and enjoy your trip in London!
London is a city you could explore your entire life – and even the people who live there are constantly finding something new and exciting. However, sometimes getting out of the city is just what’s needed, and luckily there are many places close to the capital that can be easily reached by public transport.
If you’re travelling by train or bus, you can book your entire day trip from London with Omio; it makes getting out of London and seeing more of the UK as easy as possible. There are so many amazing cultural centres very close to London just waiting to be explored, so make the most of your time in London by taking a short trip out of it.
East London is considered by many to be one of the most diverse and cultural parts of London and is packed with fun and interesting things to do. To properly explore this part of London, you will need more than 24 hours but here are some must-do local activities if you find yourself in this part of town.