Everyone should visit London at least once in their lives. This, after all, is one of the world’s great cities — in fact, depending on your perspective, it may be the best city in the world. Most people that visit London end up returning again and again. Those who make it a one-time thing perhaps genuinely didn’t like the city, or they just didn’t have the right kind of London experience.
While the UK capital is tourist-friendly — it’s one of the most visited destinations in the world — it’s not designed with tourists exclusively in mind. You have to carve out a great trip to London; it won’t be put on a plate for you. In this post, we’ll look at some handy tips that’ll help you to get the most from your first trip to London.
Visit During a Good Time of the Year
There’s not a single version of London. There are multiple. Your experience of the city will depend in large part on the time of the year that you visit. You won’t have the same experience in February as you would in August, for instance. London is very much a year-round destination, and that’s thanks to its consistent climate (unfortunately, that large means ‘overcast and grey’). No one goes to London for the weather. Still, there are some times of the year that are better than others. You’ll be much more likely to see London in full swing if you visit during June and July when there’s an increased chance of sunshine and there are plenty of fun outdoor events.
It’s best not to plan your first trip to the city for January and February when things are pretty dark and miserable. You could go then to save money on your subsequent trips to the city, but for the first time, you’ll want to see the best that the city has to offer.
You’ll find accommodation options in all corners of the city. But it’s usually best not to look at places that are too far away from central London unless you’re specifically travelling to the city for an event in that area. Staying in zone 1 (or 2) will allow you to explore the city’s highlights without constantly thinking about how you’re going to get there. Staying far out of town can be appealing because those hotels are cheaper, but you’ll only end up spending more on travel anyway — and you’ll lose a lot of time, too, which counts for a lot on any trip to London, but especially the first, when you’ll want to soak up as much as possible.
Minimise the Stressful Points
There’s no avoiding the fact that London can be stressful. There’s a lot of people, noise, and all-around chaos. There’s not much you can do about those things — they’re not going anywhere. What you can do, however, is avoid making things additionally stressful. You often see tourists trying to explore the city while dragging their heavy suitcases around, and they all look miserable. If you’ve checked out of your hotel but still have a day to explore, ask them to keep your bags until you depart or use a left luggage Charing Cross service. You’ll find it much easier — and more fun — to explore the city when you don’t have a 20kg suitcase by your side.
Don’t Overpack Your Schedule
There’s a lot to see and do in London. That’s a good thing because it means you can visit again and again and still have new things to do. It’s tempting to cram as much stuff as possible into your itinerary when you visit for the first time, but there’s a lot of value in being a bit selective. Your trip will be less stressful if you’re not continuously moving from one place to the next because you feel obliged to see everything the city has to offer. Commit to seeing the big attractions and ones that hold special interest to you, and leave the rest until you can make it back to the city. It’s not going anywhere.
Be OK With Splurging (A Little)
We know that London is expensive, and you’ll want to broadly keep costs down. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly if you’re not careful. However, it’s also recommended to be OK with splurging a little. Unless you really need to keep costs to an absolute minimum, you’ll find that spending a little extra to make your trip special isn’t something that you regret.