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Heathrow Aiport Guide - 10 Things to Know Before Visiting London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport Guide: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips 5 Comments

If you’re flying in or out of Heathrow airport when visiting London, this Heathrow Airport Guide will tell you some smart things to know before you get there so you have a nice smooth visit.

There are four terminals at London Heathrow Airport

They’re labeled as terminals 2-5, there’s no longer a terminal 1.

When you’re leaving London, you’ll need to know which one you’re departing from, as you’ll go there to do everything from checking in, to going through security, etc.

You can also check which terminal you’re arriving into, usually your airline will tell you at various points in your journey and on your email confirmation when you buy your ticket. If you struggle to find which Heathrow terminal your airline will fly into or out of, use Heathrow’s Which Terminal tool.

Get to Heathrow Airport 2-3 hours early

As a rule of thumb, plan to get to the airport about three hours early for an intercontinental flight, and at least two hours early for a flight to somewhere in Europe.

Now, I must admit that I don’t always follow this. If I don’t have a bag to check, and I’ve already checked in online, I often give myself less time. Security at Heathrow Airport is SO efficient, I don’t think I’ve waited longer than 10 minutes to get through, even at the height of Christmas season.

However, giving yourself all of that extra time will account for any craziness that might happen, like delayed trains, long lines for bag drop (this is common), or whatever else might happen in the crazy world of travel. The good thing is that there’s loads to do with all of that extra time at Heathrow, which I will talk about a little later.

There are many transportation options for getting to/from Heathrow from Central London

If you’re on a budget, the National Express bus is a good option, or if you want to get to central London fast, there’s the Heathrow Express, plus a few other options in between. For the sake of the length of this article, I won’t go through them all, but they’re all clearly listed, including prices and other helpful info, in my free London 101 Guide.

Have a pen with you for your landing card

If you’re not an EU/EEA national, then you’ll need to fill out a landing card when you arrive to the UK. You’ll give this, along with your passport, to the immigration officer at Border Control. The line for immigration can get very long, so in order to hop on the line as quickly as possible, make sure you bring a pen with you on your flight so that you can fill out the landing card while still on the plane, and you won’t get delayed waiting for a pen to free up at the counter.

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London Heathrow Airport Guide - Important Things to Know Before Visiting London Heathrow Airport

Border Control at Heathrow Airport can take a while

Assume it will take at least an hour to get through Border Control and to get your checked bags. It could be a lot less, and it could be more, there’s really no way to say. Keep this in mind when booking transfers or asking someone to pick you up.

There’s free wifi at Heathrow Airport

You get 45 minutes of free wifi, and you get faster speeds if you sign up to the free Heathrow Rewards program. Use the free wifi to connect with family and friends while you’re waiting for your bags, or if you’re leaving London, pass the time before your flight.

Read next: How to Use Your Phone While Traveling in Europe

There are lots of food options at Heathrow

In every terminal, there are really good food options once you’re past security, so wait to eat until you’re through, just in case there are any hold ups at security. You’ll find budget options, like Pret a Manger and Starbucks, plus more high-end restaurants and places in between. A personal favourite of mine is Giraffe, it’s affordable and yummy.

Honestly, there’s tons of choice at Heathrow Airport, so you’ll find something that works for you. Expect prices to of course be a bit higher than normal because, well, you’re in an airport.

The shopping’s great at Heathrow

There are so many shops across Heathrow Airport, most of which are mid-range to high-end when it comes to price, but there are also a few affordable options, as well as duty free shops and places to get souvenirs. Terminal 5 is the biggest of the terminals, and it has the most shopping and food selection, and if you have time, you can transfer to other terminals to check out their shopping and food options.

If you want to see what food and shopping options your terminal will have, have a look at Heathrow’s terminal guides.

Read next: 5 Areas in London to Visit for Some Serious Shopping

It takes a long time to get to the gate

A lot of the gates at Heathrow Airport take quite a while to get to from the main food and shopping area. You’ll see signs around the terminal telling you how long to give yourself to get to your gate once it’s been announced, for some, this could be up to twenty minutes. Keep that in mind so you don’t miss your flight.

Heathrow is family-friendly

If you’ve got little ones you need to keep entertained, each terminal has at least one or two play areas for them to have some fun at. Also, most restaurants will have children’s menus, and you can even order baby milk for your flight.

I hope this Heathrow Airport Guide helps you have a great visit to the airport and to London. For help with getting to and from Heathrow and Central London, download my free London 101 guide.

More London tips:

How to Prepare for your First 3 Days in London

10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting London

5 Great Photo-Taking Spots in London

Things to Do in London in March. Experience the best of London beers at London Beer Week, one of the top five Things to Do in London in March.

Five Things to Do in London in March

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips No Comments

Both London visitors and locals usually need help with things to do in London in March. The weather is still fairly chilly and often rainy, but there are a few special events happening in London in March that are worth checking out and celebrating for a fun, local experience.

What to do in london in March -- St. Patricks DaySt. Patrick’s Day in London

Americans, don’t get your hopes up– St. Patrick’s Day isn’t celebrated QUITE as much in London as in the US, but it’s still a pretty big deal, especially with our proximity to Ireland and large Irish population here. Expect parties, a parade through Central London, and tons of Guinness. There are also family-friendly things to do if you’ve got kids in town.

St. Patrick’s Day is always on 17th March, but there is usually a weekend’s worth of fun for it in London.

Things to Do in London in March -- The Boat RaceThe Boat Races

“The Boat Races” takes places in southwest London, along the River Thames (obviously). A few hundred thousand people hit the banks of the river (and the pubs) to watch Cambridge University and Oxford University row it out in the 180+ year rivalry. Both the men’s and women’s team compete within an hour of each other.

For a day out among proper Londoners having a great time, check out The Boat Races. Warning– it can get a TAD rowdy, as it’s definitely a drink-filled event, but it’s all in good fun, especially if the weather is nice. I’d recommend taking the kids home after the race has passed you by.

For this year’s race date, plus more information about how to have a great day out for The Boat Races, check out the official website. This is definitely one of my favourite things to do in London in March, so if you’re here for it, I really think you should check it out.

What to do in March in London - Easter WeekendEaster Weekend in London

Of course, Easter often falls in March, and Easter Sunday always arrives to London with two bank holidays– the Friday and Monday surrounding– so you can bet there’s LOADS to do on Easter weekend, both religious, and not. We’re talking egg hunts, Sunday raves, Easter lunch at the pub, and much more. Plus, on Good Friday, you can watch a full-scale re-enactment of The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square, which is completely free.

For a collection of things to do and see on Easter weekend in London, check out TimeOut London’s comprehensive list that populates more events closer to the date.

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What to do in London in March. Five special events to experience in London, like the London Boat Races, Easter Weekend, and more.

Mother’s Day in London

In the UK, Mother’s Day, or what they sometimes call Mothering Day, falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is on March 11th in 2018. If you’re from the US, Mother’s Day here is pretty similar to back at home, with lots of shops having deals on gifts, and some restaurants having special menus or offerings for the celebration. Common gifts for mums include flowers, cards…the usual.

If you plan to eat out that day, book at least a few days ahead, even if you’re not actually celebrating mother’s day, as of course, the good restaurants will book up. For my top restaurant recommendations that are local-approved, get The Local Guide to London.

Things to Do in London in March. Experience the best of London beers at London Beer Week, one of the top five Things to Do in London in March.London Beer Week

For the last few years, London has hosted Beer Week in March, so if you’re a beer enthusiast, I’d grab a ticket. It will get you £5 beer flights in over 100 bars across the city, plus access to some pop ups and special events. It’s a great way to experience pubs and bars around London, and one of the more unique things to do in London in March. In 2018, Beer week is 12th-18th March.

More London tips:

How to Prepare for your First 3 Days in London

5 Great Photo-Taking Spots in London

5 Day Trips to Take While Visiting London

Image credits: Ben, Pixabay, The Boat Races, DrinkUp London

Where to get Christmas afternoon tea in London

Festive Afternoon Teas to Try in London

By London Food and Drink, London Travel Tips, Winter in London No Comments

Where to get Christmas afternoon tea in London. Try these three beautiful, festive afternoon teas while visiting London.When it turns cold in London, lots of restaurants and hotels put on a festive, Christmas-inspired afternoon tea. If you’re in London in November or December, one of these teas is a must-do to get you in the festive mood. I’m going to tell you about three of my favourite festive teas in the city.

Oh by the way, I’ve got a special festive freebie for you at the end of this article, be sure to read through to find out how to get it.

Prefer to watch instead of read?

Best winter afternoon teas in London

The Soho Hotel

This year, the Soho Hotel, who usually does a really nice traditional tea the rest of the year, has a Christmas G&Tea that they’ve put together with Monkey 47 Gin.

Each food item in the tea uses flavours from the 47 ingredients that make up the handcrafted gin, but with a Christmas-y twist. One of the hotel’s expert bartenders also comes to your table with a bar cart and makes you a bespoke gin cocktail.

The Soho Hotel’s restaurant Refuel is mentioned in The Local Guide to London.

Book the Monkey 47 G&Tea

Where to get Christmas afternoon tea in London

One Aldwych hotel

One Aldwych hotel has a famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea all year round, but during the Christmas season, it gets a festive twist.

Everything in the tea is inspired by Roald Dahl’s story, down to the golden egg and candy floss (aka cotton candy).

This tea is great for children, but adults can also add champagne or the magical Charlie Cocktail to their serving.

Book afternoon tea at One Aldwych

Read next: Where to see Christmas lights in London

Good christmas afternoon teas in London

Chesterfield Mayfair hotel

The Winter Wonderland afternoon tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair hotel is a very classic festive tea. It starts off with a glass of mulled wine to warm you up, then you choose from the hotel’s eighteen varieties of teas, including a special Christmas blend and the Dancing Dragon, a unique tea that flowers open in front of you. Of course, you can add bubbles if you’d prefer.

This is another festive afternoon tea in London that is very child-friendly, and the staff welcome them with open arms. They’ll love the lovely little sweets!

Book afternoon tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair

If you’re visiting London during the festive season, I’ve got a free Festive London guide that you can download, it includes lots of great things to do around the city around Christmas time. Just pop your info in below to get it sent to you.

More Christmas in London articles:

What to do in London during the Christmas season
Where to see Christmas lights in London
What to do on Christmas Day in London

*Some of the links in this article will earn a very small commission if you click them and then purchase something.

What to do in London on Christmas day

What to Do in London on Christmas Day

By London Travel Tips, Winter in London 4 Comments

What to do in London on Christmas dayVisiting London on Christmas Day? This guide will help you figure out how to have a lovely 25th of December, despite closures and empty streets (which actually sounds amazing to me!)

*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking. 

London transportation options on Christmas Day

It’s very important to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day. I recommend walking as much as you can, as you’ll enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Also consider going to one of London’s parks, or just walk around admiring the city’s architecture, outdoor artwork, and Christmas lights.

Traffic is also super light, so rent a Santander Cycle (Boris Bike) and cycle around the city in a way you’d never be able to do the rest of the year!

You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number.

Big Bus Tours has a Christmas Day Bus Tour that would be so lovely. Book a ticket here.

Where to get a Christmas meal in London

Select restaurants and pubs will be open for Christmas lunch and/or dinner. Most places will have a set Christmas menu, and the offering on that menu, as well as price, will vary. Book early!

Here are some restaurants and pubs serving up Christmas meals:

Chiltern Firehouse

Grazing Goat

Hubbard & Bell

Cinnamon Bazaar  (vegan meals available)   

Gilbert Scott (veggie and vegan meals available)

Dean Street Townhouse

Duck and Waffle (veggie menu available)

Ham Yard Hotel Restaurant  (gluten-free, veggie and vegan meals available)

City Cruises will also be doing a Christmas river cruise. You can do just the sightseeing tour or have a four course Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request)

Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day

A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.

Try:

The Sanderson Hotel’s Mad Hatter’s Festive Tea (mentioned on the 3-Day Itinerary)
The Savoy
The Dorchester

Click for more afternoon teas that are available to book on Christmas day.

London attractions and activities open on Christmas Day

Unfortunately, not much is open beyond some restaurants and pubs. However, here are some options for things to do and see.

Go swimming in Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool is heated, and on Christmas Day they’re welcoming brave souls to go for a dip. Make sure you book tickets in advance!

Watch the Peter Pan Cup

If you’d rather watch some swimmers from the comfort of your down jacket and thick mittens, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. The Serpentine Swimming Club holds an annual swimming race (every year since 1864) in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Show up at 9am to see these brave souls do their thing.

Visit one of the Royal Parks

All royal parks (which covers most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. I recommend the Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens combo but any green space you can get to will suffice.

Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour

As mentioned above, Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.

Go for a Christmas boat ride along the Thames

Even if you don’t want to go for the City Cruises’ Christmas lunch cruise you can still book yourself in for a classic Thames river sightseeing tour. Christmas Day on the River Thames… what a treat!

Go ice skating at JW3

The Jewish Community Centre in London has an ice rink that’s open on Christmas Day. What a fun thing to do! It’s pretty popular so book your tickets as far in advance as you can.

Where to see Christmas lights in London

Where to See Christmas Lights in London

By London Travel Tips, Winter in London No Comments

If you’re in London around Christmastime, you’ll get to see so many beautiful Christmas lights all around the city. Here are some of the best places to spot beautiful Christmas lights and decorations.

There’s a special festive freebie you can grab, keep reading to find out how to get it.

Carnaby Street

Carnaby’s lights and decorations are usually my favourite each year. This year the theme for the decor is Carnival.

This is also a great area for shopping. Check out some of the shops along Carnaby Street, as well as their Christmas-y window decorations.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street has one of the biggest light displays in London. It’s also one of the most Instagrammed. I recommend visiting just as the sun sets to try to avoid the crowds as much as you can, as the street can get SUPER crowded in December, and sometimes the Oxford Street tube station gets shut!

A post shared by Laku Londoner (@lakudavies) on

Regent Street

Regent Street was the first to introduce Christmas lights to London’s West End back in 1954, and they still look incredible.

Bond Street

Bond street is a very swanky, posh shopping area, and their Christmas lights aren’t any different. They’re glamorous and extravagant, and the shops on this street have beautiful festive window displays too.

Seven Dials

A lovely area right by Covent Garden with beautiful lights and lots of great options for eating and boutique shopping.

Covent Garden

Don’t miss the city’s biggest tree, which sits here. Then head inside the market building to see the mistletoe chandeliers that are decked out with over 700 glistening berries, plus about 100,000 pea lights that are lighting up the building every evening.

For more suggestions for festive things to do, see and eat while in London, get my free Festive London Guide sent straight to your inbox. Just put your information below.

5 Great Photo-Taking Spots in London

By London Travel Tips No Comments

You’ve got to get some great photos while you’re visiting London, they make for the best souvenirs that you’ll look at for decades into the future. Lots of people get the same, boring photos while in London, here are some hidden spots to get gorgeous, London-y captures while you’re here.

Need some help getting good photos of you and your travel buddies while you’re in London? Keep reading for some help.

Take incredible photos and Instagrams in these top photo spots in London. Get local tips for where to get unique, interesting shots in London, and all of the spots are within walking distance. Get some amazing photos while visiting London.

Victoria Tower Gardens

Just past the Houses of Parliament is Victoria Tower Gardens. So many people don’t know this beautiful place exists! Not only is this park a lovely place to visit and relax for a bit, but it makes for absolutely beautiful photo opportunities too. Head to the river bank and get some shots of the London Eye and Westminster Bridge. Hold out until there are some red buses in the background.

Where to take good photos in London. If you want very London-y photos while you're visiting, here are some great hidden spots to get lovely photos of London icons.

Find these hidden photo spots in London to get great photos of some of London's most famous icons while you're visiting. Where to take nice Instagram shots while visiting London. This park is a hidden secret in London, right near Houses of Parliament.

Houses of Parliament

Take some photos in front of the Houses of Parliament for an interesting, textured background, not to mention all of the history you’ll be stood in front of! Try to get a shot with a black taxi or red bus in it too.

Where to take photos while visiting London.

Where to get some vacation photography in London.

 

Great spots to take photos in London. Take them yourself or go for our London Photo Sessions.

Red Telephone Boxes

A classic! There are a bunch of boxes you can take a photo with in the Westminster area, right by the two spots I’ve already mentioned. I don’t recommend going too far inside them though, they’re usually pretty smelly… yeck.

Where to take pictures of red phone boxes in London

Where to take pictures of red phone boxes in London

The London Eye

The best place to take photos of and with the London Eye is across the river and on Victoria Embankment. It’s also a much quieter spot that anywhere near the London Eye where you might try to take a photo, including on Westminster Bridge. Plus, the straight-on photo looks incredible.

Best places to take beautiful photographs while in London. Get great Instagrams while visiting London.

Where are the best Instagram spots in London? Take great photos of London in these top photography spots.

Do you like the photos you’ve seen so far? 

Whitehall Gardens

Navigate to this beautiful little part of the city for pictures with incredible architecture and greenery in the background. It’s not usually too crowded in here, so you’ll be able to get some great photos without crowds of people in the background.

Where to take good photos in London

Top london photo spots for photography and Instagram

Areas to take photos in London

 

Happy photo-taking!

Is the London Pass Worth it? Pros and cons

Is the London Pass worth it?

By London Travel Tips, Money-Saving Tips No Comments

If you’re planning to see a lot of major tourist attractions while you’re in London, then purchasing the London Pass may save you some money as well as a bit of time too. But for some people, it’s not worth getting, and in fact could end up costing more money than it’s worth.

Here’s how to figure out if you should get the London Pass for your visit.

Types of people that should get the London Pass

Depending on your travel style and interests, the pass might be good for you. You should get the London Pass if:

You love popular tourist attractions

The London Pass saves you the most money when you use it for entrance to some of London’s most popular attractions. That’s because these attractions usually have pretty steep ticket prices, so using the pass for entrance to expensive attractions means you’ll get your money’s worth more quickly and easily.

You don’t mind having little down time

If you’ve purchased a 1 day, 2 day, or 3 day pass, to make it worth the money you’ve spent, you usually will have to see 2-3 attractions a day. If you account for travel time plus meals, you won’t have much leisure time in between it all. There’s more wiggle room for this when you get the 6 day or 10 day pass because the per-day price decreases quite a bit. For example, the per-day cost of the 10 day pass is £16.90, which more than covers the ticket price for many attractions in London, so even if you only do one attraction each day, the pass will save you money.

You don’t want to deal with money and tickets

If you think you’ll pass on attractions because of the individual ticket costs, maybe the London Pass will make you feel like you can do it all because it’s technically “free” on the day. It can also be easier to have passes for you and your travel companions than to have to worry about converting currency, figuring out where to buy tickets, etc. It’s the convenience factor.

You’re traveling as a family

Many families like the London Pass because not only does it save them money but it can also make visiting attractions much easier. Everyone gets and manages their own pass, and if family members want to split up, you don’t have to fuss with giving the kids enough money to purchase their own attraction tickets, as they’ll just flash their pass at the entrance.

Who shouldn’t get the London Pass

If you fall into one of the follow categories, the London Pass probably isn’t worth your money.

You like to experience things at a leisurely pace

As mentioned before, if you’re getting a 1, 2, or 3 day pass, for the cost to be worth it, you need to be seeing 2-3 attractions a day. If that sounds like a lot for you, either go for a 6 or 10 day pass, or just don’t get the pass.

You’re not into the popular attractions

There are quite a few lesser-known attractions that are a part of the London Pass, but the real value usually comes from seeing the city’s most popular sights, like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. If you’re not into that kind of stuff, the pass isn’t for you.

You want to have a local experience

The majority of the sights listed on the London Pass are super touristy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to check them out but if you want to hang out with the locals and experience life like a Londoner, the pass isn’t going to help, in fact for the most part it will steer you in the opposite direction.

If you want a ton of local, authentic things to do, see and eat, check out The Local Guide to London.

Pros of using the London Pass

The positives you can expect when getting a London Pass include:

Saving money

You really can save yourself a lot of money on sightseeing in London with the pass if you plan well. For example, if in one day you see the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe and then do a Thames River Cruise, you’ll pay £69.10 if you buy tickets on the day. On a one-day pass, you’ll save yourself about £7, and even more with the longer passes if you think about how much they cost per-day– you’d save about £30 on the 6-day pass.

The London Pass website has two itineraries that will help you save money– check out their suggestions for the 3-day and 6-day pass. 

Free hop on hop off tour

With your pass you get one free ticket for a day on a “hop on hop off” bus tour. This can be good to pair with your sightseeing and also adds to the savings of the pass, especially if you don’t end up using any other transportation besides the bus tour that day. Find out more about the pros and cons of HOHO tours.

Fast track entry

Included in the pass is fast track entry for the following attractions:

  • Tower Bridge Exhibition
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • London Zoo
  • London Bridge Experience
  • Kew Gardens

This will be helpful if you visit in the summer or during school holidays, but a couple of people from the community have told me that sometimes even the fast track line can get long.

You can see attractions you wouldn’t have normally chosen

There are lots of little lesser-known attractions involved with the London Pass that you might get to discover because it’s free, so why not? Explore things you wouldn’t have normally paid the entry fee for.

Here’s a video on underrated sights to visit with the London Pass.

There are little “hidden extras” included

There are quite a few little extras you get with the London Pass that aren’t heavily advertised. This includes free entry to paid exhibitions at some of London’s museums, discounts at gift shops and cafes, and more. For example, you get a 30% discount on The Shard’s champagne experience, and 15% off helicopter tours.

For a full list of special offers included, visit the London Pass attractions page and scroll down to the “Special Offers” and “Attractions Where Entry is Free” sections, and click each attraction to get details about the special offers.

The London Pass gets you free entry to over 60 attractions in London, but is it really worth buying for your trip to London? Find out the pros and cons of the London pass, what types of people will like and which won't, and how to make sure you get your money's worth when using your London Pass

Cons of using the London Pass

It’s important to consider that…

Not all attractions in London are included

If you have a specific list of attractions that you want to visit while in London, you’ll need to carefully check the list of included attractions with the pass. If many of them aren’t included with the pass, then you could end up spending a lot of extra money on attraction tickets

Some of the included attractions aren’t centrally located

Examples are Kew Gardens, the Wimbledon Tennis Museum, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace. You can still totally do them, but you’ll likely struggle to fit in one or two other attractions that day. Just keep that in mind, and if you’re keen to visit some of these farther-out attractions, only do so if you purchase the 6 or 10-day pass.

How to determine if you should get the London Pass

Use all of the information I’ve given you above, and then ask yourself…

Are the included attractions ones that I actually want to visit?

This is the most important thing to consider when thinking about getting the London Pass.

Tips for best utilising the London Pass

As mentioned before, the London Pass has great sample itineraries for the 3-day and 6-day passes that cover attractions that are close to each other and also ensure you’re getting value with your pass.

Also be sure to download the London Pass app, it’s got tons of great information about each attraction. This is also where you can find information about all of those hidden extras.

Check opening and closing times for attractions when planning your days. Some attractions are closed certain days, and many close around 5pm, so you may have to start your day earlier than anticipated to make sure you have time for everything you want to do. This information is on the London Pass site and the app.

I personally recommend waiting until one of the last days of your pass to use the hop on hop off tour ticket. You will most likely be a little tired from all of your sightseeing and will appreciate an easy breezy bus ride past some of the city’s most famous sights and icons.

Should you get the Oyster Card add-on?

If you already have an Oyster Card, then no.

They advertise the Oyster Card add on as “unlimited travel”, but it’s not quite true. The card will be loaded up with enough credit to give you “unlimited travel” each day if you stay within zones 1 and 2 when using the tube. If you venture farther outside the center of London, to say, Hampton Court, then your credit will run out much faster as you’ll be traveling across more zones, and you’ll need to top up your Oyster Card with more credit before you pass runs out.

Here’s some more information on Oyster Cards and transportation in London:

Which Oyster Card Should You Get While Visiting London?

How to Get Around London: 8 Transportation Options

How do London’s zones work?

How to buy a London Pass

Head to the London Pass website to purchase your pass. You can buy it up to a year in advance, and they have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The passes often go on sale, and I can send you an email alert when it does go on sale so you can get it cheaper. Just pop your email in the box below to sign up for the alerts. You’ll also be signed up to my email newsletter.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful in determining if the London Pass is worth it for you to buy. In the end, everyone’s situation is different, so I’ve now given you the tools to figure out what works best for you.

You can help support all of the free information on Love and London by buying your London Pass after clicking one of the links in this article. I’ll get a very small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you SO much for your support, and for being a part of this crazy cool community of future London visitors!

If the London Pass isn’t for you, the London Explorer Pass may be a good alternative. Read more about it here.

What to do in London in three days

Cool Things to Do When Visiting London in the Fall

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips No Comments

London’s so lovely in the fall, so if you’re visiting during the autumn season, these are some things you can do while you’re here.

Visit London’s parks

London’s green spaces look oh-so-pretty when the fall rolls around, as the leaves change and fall to the ground. You might even have decent enough weather to have a little bubbly or a picnic in the park. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, many parks in London have a few activities you can do like cycling, horse riding and more.

Museums and galleries

A visit to one of London’s 278 museums and art galleries is a great idea in the autumn because it doesn’t require any type of decent weather. Many of these art galleries and museums are completely free to visit too– great for all budgets.

Annual autumn events in London

There are a couple of big annual events that you should take advantage of if you’re here when they’re on.

Halloween (31st October)

If you’re in town for Halloween, you’ll be able to find tons of fun Halloween-y things to do. Some are family friendly, but there are many “adult celebrations” at bars and clubs around the city. This article from Time Out London populates some of the top things to do for Halloween in London as it gets closer to the 31st of October.

Bonfire Night (5th November)

Bonfire night is also referred to as Guy Fawkes night. It’s a “tribute” to the night in 1605 when Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I. Ever since then, around the UK, Brits create massive bonfires on the 5th of November, with a straw version of Guy Fawkes at the top that goes up in flames too! You probably won’t come across a bonfire while in London but you should definitely go watch one of the many fireworks displays around the city.

Cool Things to do in London in the fall season. If you're visiting London during the fall, these are some lovely fall things to do and experience while you're in London.

Fall and winter-themed food and drinks

Some of London’s bars and restaurants bring out fall and winter-inspired menus and decor starting in October, but even if you don’t get involved with that, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good drink or a nice dinner in a cosy bar or restaurant. I personally love enjoying some red wine at an intimate wine bar like The 10 Cases, a dark, sexy little spot in Covent Garden that only has 10 tables and only gets 10 cases of each wine they serve so that they’re always changing it up and offering new wines to try.

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If you’re a whiskey lover you could warm up with some proper whiskey at Milroy’s in Soho. Oh, and here’s a little secret– in the evenings, if you push back the bookcase in the back of the bar, you’ll get to their secret underground cocktail bar called The Vault.

Finally, don’t be afraid to continue to eat and drink al fresco when you’re in London in the fall. Many places are set up to help you enjoy the outdoors for as long as possible, giving you blankets to sit with and heaters to put on so you stay toasty warm.

Read next: Top Romantic Things to Do in London

When will you be in London? Let me know in the comments, and for more London tips read these articles next.

10 Cool Things to Do in Camden, London
How to Experience Afternoon Tea in London
8 Great Areas to Stay in While Visiting London

Day trips to take when visiting London. Oxford is a popular day trip to take when you're in London.

5 Day Trips to Take While Visiting London

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips One Comment

Day trips to take when visiting London. Oxford is a popular day trip to take when you're in London.If you’ve got more than a week in London and you’re thinking of heading out of the city for the day, all of the following places have journey times of 90 minutes or less from London.

Good day trips from London. Go to Bath or one of these other interesting cities for a lovely day trip from London.

Bath

Named after the Roman Baths in the city, which are the most popular tourist attraction (I give you permission to skip if you’re not into that kind of stuff), this city in its entirety is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a little luxury, book yourself into the Thermae Bath Spa, which is where you can dip into Britain’s only naturally heated, mineral-rich waters (plus the rooftop pool is pretty cool.)

Bath is pretty walkable, so have a wander to find some decent shopping, lovely food spots (go to The Circus for dinner and Same Same But Different for breakfast), and more.

How to get to Bath from London:

Take the train from Paddington station. Booking tickets earlier means better availability and prices. Book your tickets here.

Day trips to the beach from London. When you're visiting London and you've got some nice weather, head to the seaside and visit Brighton, just an hour away from London by train.

Brighton

If you’re visiting in the warmer months then this city on the beach could be worth a visit. Most famous for its pier and as the gay capital of the UK, you’ll also find decent restaurants, cute shops along the city’s “lanes”, and a fairly laid back vibe. If you can make it for the Gay Pride Parade, make sure you take advantage. And take a dip in the water if you are lucky enough to visit during one of the UK’s rare heat waves!

How to get to Brighton from London:

Take the train from Victoria, Blackfriars or London Bridge stations. No need to book tickets online, just buy them at the station, but check train times on TheTrainLine.

Day trips to take when visiting London. Oxford is a popular day trip to take when you're in London.

Oxford

Oxford is of course home to world-famous Oxford University, as well as Bodleian Library and Oxford Castle. If you’re a Harry Potter fan there are some things to see here, and the city is also the birthplace of Alice in Wonderland, as it’s where Lewis Carroll met the 10-year-old Alice that inspired the story. Punting on the river Cherwell is popular here, which you can hire by the day or hour.

How to get to Oxford from London:

Take the train from Paddington or Marylebone station. Booking tickets earlier means better availability and prices. Book your tickets here.

Day trips to take from london while visiting

Cambridge

Another famous university city, again here you can go punting, visit the world-class Fitzwilliam Museum or Kettle’s Yard gallery, or enjoy the city’s green spaces via cycling or walking. Cambridge is great for theatre lovers if you’re able to stay into the evening.

How to get to Cambridge from London:

Take the train from Liverpool Street or Kings Cross station. Booking tickets earlier means better availability and prices. Book your tickets here.

Trips to take from London -- day trip to Windsor to see Windsor Castle and other royal parks and icons in the UK.

Windsor

Home to the Queen’s weekend home, Windsor Castle, this city is very easy to get to from London and is popular to visit because of it. Changing of the Guards happens here, with a band and all, find out when it’s happening when you’re visiting.

If the weather is decent when you visit (which in England just means it’s not raining!) then you can walk to your heart’s content, with many lovely walking trails and of course The Long Walk in Great Windsor Park.

Besides all the royal-ness and walking, you’ll find some nice shopping and food spots in Windsor too. I’ve stayed overnight in Windsor at The St. Christopher Wren, where I had a lovely dinner and also spa treatments.

How to get to Windsor from London:

Take the train from Waterloo or Paddington station. No need to book tickets online, just buy them at the station, but check train times on TheTrainLine.

Ok, where are you planning to go? Let me know in the comments.

*Some of the links included in this post are affiliated. Your purchase supports Love and London at no additional cost to you.
10 Things to Know Before Your First Visit to London - Love and London

10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting London

By London Planning Tips, London Travel Tips 45 Comments

Visiting London for the first time? These are 10 important things you should know before you get here.

You can watch the video above for all of this information, but this post also has some updates made September 2017.

1. They drive on the left

Drivers and cars are on the left side of the road here, which is the opposite of most countries around the world. It can be a little confusing sometimes, so to be safe, make sure you check both ways before crossing the street, or look for the “Look Left” or “Look Right” indicators written on the crosswalks  so you know where to look.

2. Some words are pronounced differently

As you can imagine, even if you’re a native English speaker, there are quite a few words and phrases that are pronounced differently than you would expect. Here are some examples:

Greenwich = Gren-ITCH

Leicester Square = LESS-ter Square

Westminster = Wes-min-ster NOT West-mini-ster

River Thames = River temz

10 Things to Know Before Visiting London. First time in London? These are the important things to know before you visit London.

3. Order beer and cider by the pint

When you go up to the bar at a pub and want to order yourself a beer or a cider from the tap, you’d usually say “I’d like a pint of [brand]” or “a half-pint of [brand]”. The British pint, at 20 fluid oz, is bigger than the American, which is 16 oz. If you’re ordering something in a bottle, just say “a bottle of [brand]”.

Not only are pints bigger here, British beers tend to have more alcohol in them than in the US, so if you’re used to cheap American beer, keep that in mind before you down a few!

4. Tipping in London restaurants

If you’re in a restaurant in London and the bill comes with a service charge, you don’t need to tip on top of that. If it doesn’t, 10% tip is just fine if the service was ok. If you had terrible service, the service charge already added to the bill is optional (no matter what they try to say) so just pay the amount on the check before the service charge was added. If you’re American, remember that service in the UK is not to the standard that we’re used to in the US, so try to be patient. Even though I’ve had many times in restaurants where I’ve been frustrated with service, I’ve only not paid service/tip a handful of times.

Read next: How to Experience Afternoon Tea in London

5. Figure out public transportation with CityMapper

CityMapper is a great app that will tell you all of your options for getting from point A to point B on London’s public transportation, including taxis and bike. Google Maps is also a good alternative, but the one thing that CityMapper does better than Maps is that it tells you how much each journey option will cost, so if you’re pinching pounds, it’s pretty helpful. It also has a “rain safe” option for when you’re trying to avoid getting soaked.

6. The UK uses £££

In London and the rest of the UK, the currency is the pound (£). 100 pence = 1 pound. Pence are also sometimes called “p”, as in, the total is 5 pounds and 50 p (said “pee”). If you hear someone say “quid”, it’s slang for pound. A “fiver” is a five pound note/bill (or just, 5 pounds in general), and a “tenner” is 10 pounds.

The smallest paper note is five pounds, and there are £2 and £1 coins, plus coins for £.50, £.20, £.05, £.02, and £.01.

7. Use an Oyster Card on public transporation

Cash tickets are expensive in London, so you’ll need a card to use public transportation.

Many Londoners and visitors to London use an Oyster Card, which you add credit to in order to pay for your transportation rides. You can also use a debit or credit card with the contactless payment feature, or Apple Pay/Google Pay.

Learn more about Oyster Cards in London.

When using the public transportation system, there’s a daily cap, which means, depending on how many zones you’ve traveled through, you will only pay a certain amount per day, and once you’ve reached that amount, the rest of your travel for the day is free.

Learn more about London’s zones.

If you’re in London for 7 days, it might make more sense for you to get a 7-day travel card. Find out if that’s the best option for you to save some money.

8. Take a double-decker bus when you can

If CityMapper is telling you that taking a bus is an option that won’t slow you down too much to get to your destination, then do it! Hop on and grab a seat at the top of the bus, at the front if you can. You might see some major London landmarks.

When you get on a bus, get on at the front and tap your Oyster card on the card reader next to the driver. You don’t need to tap again when you get off.

Read next: 10 Things to Know Before Taking a London Bus

9. Change currency at the Post Office

I have a whole video about what to do about getting and spending pounds when in London, and in it I tell you that I encourage you to not have too much cash on you, and to bring cash in pounds and not your native currency. But if you do find you need to exchange cash into pounds, I usually recommend doing it at the Post Office for a decent rate. Find a nearby Post Office branch.

10. Use Uber when you need a car

London’s black taxis are an institution, and an icon for the city, however they are very behind the times when it comes to cost, environmental impact, safety and convenience. Therefore, I usually use Ubers when I need to call a car. They are cheaper, accept credit cards without charging a fee, are much more environmentally friendly (especially when you take an Uber Pool) and as a woman, I personally feel safe knowing that the car and my phone are being tracked in case something happens.

That being said, many people are upset that Uber has hurt the black taxi industry, and I can understand. Please do whatever you feel is right for you!

If you’d like to try Uber for the first time, you can use code jessd418 for a discount on your free ride. I’ll also get a credit for a discounted ride.

Free London 101 Guide

More London tips:

8 Great Areas to Stay in While Visiting London

9 Cool Things to Do in Shoreditch, London

7 Things to Do in London’s Covent Garden