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Tourists, I love ya. I really do. However, if you only experience London by going to the big attractions, you’re not getting the full experience. Your trip might feel like you are at an amusement park wading through crowds or standing in lines to see the major attractions. I’m here to help you add more of that London charm to your visit. To do so, I suggest you do London like a local, here’s how Londoners experience the city differently than tourists.

Londoners listen to other Londoners

Londoners love hearing about new restaurants, things to do, drinking spots, and more from other Londoners. Some of the best recommendations I’ve received are from people I’ve met all around the city. (Also– if you’d like to “meet” some of these people, check out my podcast “Londoners I’ve Met” on Apple podcast, Google Play, or Spotify).

Honestly, if you have a friend who lives in London, you will probably get some good recommendations from them. And if you don’t, no problem, I’ll be that friend!

Londoners don’t overplan

Particularly on the weekends, Londoners typically choose one thing to do at the beginning of the day, and then leave the rest of the day to be figured out. Days when there isn’t a plan can be some of the best time you spend in London, because you can literally do whatever is making you happy at the moment without having to worry about other plans you’ve already made. You can spend the entire day at the one pub, check out a one-day-only pop up market that you stumbled upon, or do literally anything you discover throughout the day.

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How to Experience London Like a Local - tips from a proper local Londoner on how to experience the city like you live there.

Londoners check out one-off events

London always has some kind of special event or pop-ups going on, pretty much any day of the year. Londoners are really good at getting involved in things like that because they’re always looking for something new to do.

If you want to see what you might be able to do when you’re in London, I have a whole playlist of videos about special events happening each month. You can also check sites like TimeOut London and The Nudge to see what’s popping up in the next few days or weeks while you’re in London. It’s a great way to experience London like a local (and maybe you’ll make some London friends too!)

Londoners hang out in the less-touristy areas

Because the majority of Londoners live outside of central London, where the most touristy areas are, they can be really good at exploring the quieter, more local neighborhoods around the city. Some examples include Hampstead, Chelsea, Maida Vale, and Hoxton, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When you take a break from the touristy areas and explore London like a local, you will see some of the more eclectic neighborhoods. My video about the 5 Less-Touristy Areas in London describes the character of five of these lesser-known neighborhoods so you can decide which ones you’d like to visit.

I hope these suggestions help you experience London like a local. If you follow these tips, you could find yourself with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and maybe some new London friends!

My 3-Day London Itinerary

If planning your first trip to London is stressing you out, definitely consider getting my 3-Day London itinerary. It’s a flexible guide that uses my expertise to make it super easy for you to explore London like a local and still hit all the big attractions without feeling exhausted afterwards.

Jessica Dante

Jess is the founder of Love and London, an online travel guide that helps London tourists to visit London like they live there. She's been featured in Refinery29, Forbes, BBC Radio 2, HuffPost, and more. Jess is also a sustainable and ethical travel advocate.

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