10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting London

 

This video is forย the London newbies! If you’re visiting soon or plan to in the future, I’ve compiled ten important things to know before you visit, like how to order a beer, what a “quid” is, and more.

If you’re notย planning on visiting London any time soon, share this with someone you know who is so they can be a pro Londoner before they even arrive.

Mentioned in this video:

Get your first London Uber ride free with code jessd418 (obviously I’ll get a credit too!)

Which Oyster card should I get?

CityMapper app

Find a nearby Post Office

For more London videos check out my London Tips and Things to Do playlist, and subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss my weekly travel advice videos.

Free London 101 Guide

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7 Food Spots to Check Out in London
5 Areas in London to Visit for Some Serious Shopping
10 Adorable Things on Etsy Every London Lover Should Get

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41 Comments

  1. October 9, 2015 / 8:51 am

    great tips Jess, totally agree about using the bus as much as possible – an afternoon spent on the top deck of a bus is an afternoon well spent ๐Ÿ™‚ BUT enough of this wet London already! Did you know that it is only the 33rd wettest capital city in Europe!!! Only if you are measuring square tourist rain inches ie the numer of tourists experiencing the rain over the widest area of roads does it make the top of any list… and yes “square tourist rain inches” exist – I created them! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • October 12, 2015 / 10:46 am

      HAHAH! I love love LOVE your enthusiasm. Ok so maybe I’m a bit dramatic, but it definitely rains more than any place I’ve ever lived… although Antwerp, Belgium comes close.

      • October 12, 2015 / 10:55 am

        I guess that is why it has so many free museums to dash into mid shower.

        • October 12, 2015 / 2:56 pm

          EXACTLY ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Evelyne
    February 1, 2016 / 11:26 am

    Hello! My sister and I are traveling not to London this weekend. I have a couple questions:
    Best (party) hostel to stay to visit sites and go out?
    Is it better to get an Oyster card to pay for a hop on hop off tour bus for a 3 day trip?
    Any fun sites we wouldn’t think of going?

    • February 3, 2016 / 6:39 pm

      Hi Evelyne, thanks for commenting! So, to be honest I don’t know much about the hostels here. I stayed at Generator once but I don’t know if I’d call it a party hostel, although it has a great bar. It’s also a little out of the way, in Kings Cross (although great transport links). So, you can’t use an Oyster Card for a Hop on Hop off tour, you can only use it on public transportation buses, but I would still recommend getting it if you want to use public transport and the Underground. In terms of sites– depends on what you’re looking for/what you like!

  3. February 4, 2016 / 3:40 pm

    Hi! This video was really helpful, thanks! We will be visiting London in May for 5 days! We will be traveling with our 18 month old son. We would like to stay somewhere close the the tourist areas so that we don’t have to travel 30 + minutes every night and morning. What is a good neighborhood to stay in? Also, how often do you need cash on hand? Can you use a credit card for most everything?

    • March 2, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      Hi there, so glad you found it helpful! So the hotels in this post are in good areas, however travel time will differ depending on what you’re hoping to do and see– it’s a big ole city here! http://loveandlondon.com/8-stylish-hotels-in-london-that-cost-less-than-150-per-night/ Personally, I think staying in West London is probably better than East London if you have a child, but it really depends– if you’re looking for quirky, unique spots, East London might be better for you. You can use a card for almost everything, except some black taxis don’t take them (so annoying– that’s why I use Uber, as I mentioned in my video!) I hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. February 13, 2016 / 1:33 pm

    This is awesome. My husband just surprised me with a trip to London this summer. I’m so excited but I’ve never been before, so this is super helpful.

    • March 2, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      What a GREAT husband! You will love it here in the summer. I’m so glad you found this helpful, do look at my other London videos and blog posts for more tips and tricks ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Kat
    February 24, 2016 / 7:47 am

    Hi Jess, I’ll be visiting London for 3 days this Oct. 29-Nov. 1 so these tips will surely come in handy. Anything special that happens Halloween season? How cold will it be then? Will be sure to read all your guides and tips. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • March 2, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      Hi Kat! Halloween isn’t MASSIVE here like I’ve experienced in the states but there’s still lots to do, check Timeout London before you come and see what you might want to do! It will be fairly chilly so I’d bring warm clothes — sweaters, heavy jacket… although sometimes we get freakishly nice weather, so do check a couple of days before you come. Thanks for taking the time to comment Kat, let me know if you have any more questions!

  6. Anna Marie
    March 5, 2016 / 9:41 pm

    Hi Jess. Thanks for your video. My husband and I will be spending two weeks in August in London. We will be going to Bath and also taking a ferry to France. The front and end of the trip will be in London. Any places (not touristy) you would recommend? Also, any advice on driving in England? We will use public transportation while in London.

    • March 16, 2016 / 8:49 pm

      Hi Anna Marie, thanks so much for watching my video! You should have some nice weather when you visit in August, hopefully! It’s hard to give suggestions since there’s so much to do and see, and everyone’s travel style is different, but if you head to my Youtube channel, take a look at the London tips and advice playlist. Watch my videos with AWOL which will give you some great suggestions to start with. I hope that helps, and be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel because I’ll be creating new London videos over the next few weeks/months. Youtube.com/loveandlondon

  7. Megan
    March 13, 2016 / 12:16 am

    Loved the video! My husband and I will be visiting London (our first ever overseas, period!) for the first time this fall! We are flying into Gatwick but plan on staying in central London near the Charing Cross station. How should we get from the airport to that area? I plan on getting the visitor Oyster card or the 7 day travel card (still a bit confused about those!) Also, we will be there 10 days, and would love to see as much as possible but I am concerned about lagging our luggage all around. Should we stay put (hotel wise) in London and do day trips (Bath and Cambridge for sure, other suggestions?) or should we use train/rental/other and spend nights elsewhere? As you can see, I’m totally clueless about all of this! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!!!

    • March 16, 2016 / 8:47 pm

      Hi Megan, thanks for watching my video ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll want to take the Gatwick Express to Victoria (http://www.gatwickexpress.com/) then take the tube to Charing Cross station (won’t take long at all!) There’s TONS to do in London so it depends on what kind of trip you want to do. There are lots of places nearby that you might want to spend more than a day at (Bath and Cambridge could be on that list!) so it just depends on if you want to always head back to London. You could also try staying a few days in West London, then a few days in East London, to switch it up (I have a post suggestion stylish hotels on the blog, just have a look for it!) For other places you can go, Brighton is lovely but only when the weather is nice (not sure when in the fall you’re visiting). Phew, I hope that helps just a bit…?

  8. March 31, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much for the awesome video, Jess! We’re going to London this September (1st timers)! What should we expect the weather to be like that time of year? Pretty rainy?
    Also, do you have any restaurant or pub suggestions that are a must?
    Thanks again so much for your advise! –Maddie

    • April 4, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Hi Maddie,

      Thanks for watching! The weather will be a bit chillier but you never really know about rain/temp until a few days before but I’d definitely expect to be wearing trousers and light jackets. Some of my favourite food spots are in this post: http://loveandlondon.com/7-food-spots-in-london-worth-visiting/ Have a lovely trip and be sure to check out the rest of my London posts/ Youtube videos for more London tips ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Maddie Hughes
        April 4, 2016 / 8:44 pm

        YAY! Thanks so much Jess!

  9. Lyra
    April 13, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    Hi Jess!
    Thank you so much for these tips. They’re super helpful.
    I’m going to be studying abroad in London for the Fall semester and I wanted to know more about accessing money abroad and using a phone in another country. I’m considering setting up an account with Citibank so I can access my money there, and I was going to talk to my phone provider about using my phone abroad. It will be my first time living in another country so if you have any advice on that please let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

    • May 3, 2016 / 4:49 pm

      Hi Lyra, thanks for your comment! You’ll love studying abroad here. I wouldn’t bother with using your phone on an international plan because it will cost you an arm and a leg. Will your school be providing you with a pay-as-you-go phone? There’s wifi all over the place here so you’d be find without paying the hefty international feed. In my experience the best way to get money here is to get a debit card for your bank account that allows you to withdraw cash internationally without flat ATM fees or international fees. There are a couple of options here: http://theabroadguide.com/how-to-calculate-the-cost-of-your-study-abroad-semester/ Hope that helps!

  10. April 22, 2016 / 3:37 pm

    Hi Jess! I am so happy I found your videos.. they are helpful and make me so excited for my first trip to London! I am from the U.S. but will be studying abroad at the London School of Economics for 6 weeks this summer. I will be living within walking distance from campus but want to use transportation on the weekends. Do you think I should purchase an Oyster card or what’s my best option for weekend travels? (Also planning to go to Paris one weekend!)
    Any advice is appreciated- thanks!!

    • May 3, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      Hi Sarah, congrats on your study abroad trip, you’ll have such a great time! I would definitely get an Oyster card, the regular ones only cost a ยฃ5 refundable deposit (although your program might supply you with one). If you want to go to Paris, I’d look into booking the Eurostar ASAP, as the prices will get quite high for the summertime! Hope that helps.

  11. Morgan Garrett
    May 22, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    Hey Jess! Your blog is a life saver! My roomie and I are coming to visit May 26-June 9th. I want to fit in as much as we can while we are there. We’re going to rent Airbnbs to stay – what neighborhoods should we look into? I want to take the bus and tube, so the longer lasting Oyster card will be the way we go.

    We were looking for a couple of days on a beach somewhere and also a trip to Shakespeare land (Stratford upon Avon?). Do you have an suggestions?

    Also, I have an amazon fire phone. When I was in Taiwan, I bought a sim card with a data plan and used it as a wifi-hotspot so I could access the internet and maps and converters at all times. What store should I pop in to get one of these?

    • May 24, 2016 / 2:49 pm

      Hi Morgan! Oh I’m so glad I can help ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve got a couple new videos about London going live this week on my Youtube channel so be sure to be subscribed, I know you’ll find them useful. There are LOTS of great neighborhoods to stay in in London, I wouldn’t worry TOO much about where you’re staying as long as it has good transportation options– mainly, near a tube stop, preferably that has more than one line. This post: http://loveandlondon.com/8-stylish-hotels-in-london-that-cost-less-than-150-per-night/ is hotels not Airbnbs but all of the hotels listed are in decent areas to stay in, or are just really connected! Beach-wise– are you looking to stay in England? The beaches here aren’t terribly nice (they’re ok but I have high standards for beaches!), but you can take the train from London to Brighton, which is a seaside city, and it also has some nice shops and restaurants. And finally, you can get SIM cards from most grocery and convenience stores– you can probably grab one at the airport too!

  12. cate nat
    May 23, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    Hi Jess, thanks for this information, it is very helpful! I’m traveling to London (1st time) in June. What is the weather like? Is it easy to get to the different sites if we are driving? We rented a car.

    • May 24, 2016 / 2:44 pm

      Hi Cate, thanks so much for watching! The weather can vary between cool and quite warm, so you’ll need to check the forecast before you come so you can pack accordingly. Will you be driving the rental car to places other than London? I highly recommend NOT having a rental car in London. It’s terribly expensive to park, there are congestion charges to drive around Monday-Friday (I think it’s ยฃ11/day), and you’ll hit tons of traffic and won’t find anywhere to park if you’re trying to drive between sites– is that what you were planning? Just go with public transportation– way easier! Hope that helps.

  13. July 2, 2016 / 9:40 pm

    Hi Jess ~ your thoughts please ~ adults visiting London for 2 days before British Isles Cruise ~ list of musts: parliament, war rooms, Westminster (day 1). St. Paul’s, Tower of London & Buckingham palace tour (day 2), this is on a Sunday. Question 1 – is Sunday a good day for this grouping? Question 2 – should we pay for these individually before we come or try something like the London Pass 2 day? We are staying outside of London & coming in on the train ~ thanks for your ideas

    • July 4, 2016 / 10:06 am

      Hi Cindy! So I’m not a huge “tourist attraction” person so I don’t have a ton of knowledge in this, but I’ll try to help. I’m sure seeing those places on any day is fine, just keep in mind that Sundays will be very crowded in the summer. As for the London Pass, you’ll need to compare the price of each attraction with what the cost of the pass is– if many of the things you want to see is on the pass then it’s probably worth getting it, plus it comes with lots of other discounts too.

  14. Lainie Burton
    July 31, 2016 / 6:06 pm

    Hi Jess,
    We are traveling to London over the Christmas Holiday this year with a friend who is native to the UK. Is it cheaper for us to purchase an oyster card, or would it be cheaper for her to purchase it with her UK resident account?

    • August 1, 2016 / 6:31 pm

      Hi Lainie! This week’s video will actually answer that exact question for you— look out for it on Thursday! youtube.com/loveandlondon

  15. carla
    September 16, 2016 / 12:41 am

    Love this video and want to subscribe but where?

    • October 18, 2016 / 11:59 am

      Hi Carla! You can click the red Subscribe button on my channel: Youtube.com/loveandlondon

  16. Carolina
    January 10, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    The Uber code doesn’t work.

    • January 11, 2017 / 11:35 am

      Hi Carolina, just checked the code and that’s the right one and should work if you’ve never used Uber before. If it’s still not working, just contact customer service and they’ll be able to help! They have very good customer service.

  17. April
    March 9, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    We are experiencing a very warm winter here in the Midwest. How about you all? We are coming to London at the end of this month so we were wondering what we should pack.

    • May 4, 2017 / 10:47 am

      Hi April, I hope you were able to watch my videos about weather in London and packing in London? I hope they helped!

  18. Donna Simmons
    April 15, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    Retired Grandma planning Solo trip to London

    Planning a trip to London in 2018, I have two questions:
    1 – how much cash would you suggest for a 15 – 20 day trip – planning on using credit cards for large purchases ยฃ10 or more ( or do I need to increase this to ยฃ20)
    2 – I have noticed that sightseeing places that charge offer discounts if purchased online’ I plan on staying at an airbnb and will have my laptop but no printer, will send receipts sent to my phone but will this be an accept receipt; or is there any places to print email receipts?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    Love your you tube videos and blogs

    • May 4, 2017 / 10:41 am

      Hi Donna! Don’t worry too much about the cash. Have maybe ยฃ40 on you every day for random bits. Then you can take out more cash as needed. You’ll have to check with each site on the printed thing, as they’ll differ. On your phone should be fine for most.

  19. Debbie
    July 15, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    Hi Jess,
    Boy am I glad I found you! I’m taking my daughter to London next week for her 16th birthday. I plan on spending lots of time watching your videos before we leave. I’m thinking of doing a day trip to Paris. Do you have any expert advise on that?
    Thanks so much.

    • July 18, 2017 / 9:44 am

      Hi Debbie! ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t recommend a day trip to Paris. It’s too far and Paris is very big so you’ll be exhausted if you only spend a few hours there before catching your train back. Make it at least a couple of days or leave it for another trip.

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