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Planning your London trip of a lifetime? This article is your go-to for top tips to help you make the most of your time here. From when to plan your trip and what tour companies are worth your time to local insider tips and hints. Here’s your go-to list on how to maximise your time when visiting London.

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How to maximise your time when visiting London- Avoid visiting the tourist areas during the peak hours so that you can avoid the crowded streets as seen in the image.

Plan your trip outside of peak times

London is a super popular city, so booking your trip outside the busy periods means everything will be a little less hectic. The city is particularly busy throughout the summer months during school holidays (from early July to early September) and also over the Christmas period.

If you do plan to visit during these times, be prepared for everything to be busier and give yourself more time to do each activity, as things will move a fair bit slower. You should also book tickets for attractions well in advance as things get booked up quickly during the busier spells. Alternatively, you can do all the fun activities that are a little more off the beaten track, steering clear of the busy tourist activities. This is for sure the best way to experience a more local side of London (and exactly what we help you do in our Casual Tourist Guides).

Passengers waiting for the tube at an underground station.

Make the most of the Tube

One glance at the tube map might get your head whirring, but trust us, it’s the best and most convenient way to get about. Unless your route isn’t too far from your start point, in which case walking might be even quicker than transport. If not, then the tube is the fastest way to travel around London, connecting you to neighbourhoods all over the city. If you’re a little nervous about knowing your way around, Citymapper or Google Maps can help plan your route. They even give live updates on any issues with specific lines and will suggest alternative routes.

One thing for sure is you absolutely should not hire a car. It’s the most inconvenient way to get around the city. You’ll spend most of your time stuck in traffic, and it’ll end up being incredibly expensive – it costs £15 each day just to drive your car in central London. Yikes.

How to maximise your time when visiting London- Book your hotels in a place which is well connected to the other parts of the city. The above image shows the view of Central London from a hotel rooftop, showing the attractions that are accessible from this accomodation.

Image Courtesy of The Trafalgar St. James’

Stay somewhere that’s well-connected

London is huge, so randomly picking a hotel without looking into the location is risky. There’s a big difference between staying within easy access to transport networks and staying somewhere central, so choosing a well-connected base ensures that you can maximise your time here. We recommend opting for a place near a tube stop, which will minimise the time you spend travelling and allow you to explore all of London’s diverse neighbourhoods, historic landmarks, and cultural hotspots. Buses are also really well-connected, but the Tube is your best bet. 

Whether you want to be near world-class museums In Kensington, the market stalls in Notting Hill or the top restaurants of Soho, with efficient transport at your doorstep, you can seamlessly navigate London’s bustling streets while keeping travel time at a minimum.

Head to the Accommodation section of our site for all of our top hotel advice and recommendations.

A group of friends in London on a sunny day

Figure out what you want to do (and DON’T want to do) in advance

There’s a never-ending list of things to do and see in London, which is one of the things that makes it so unique. This also means planning in advance is essential if you want to make the most of your trip. Figure out what it is that your group wants to do and what it is they don’t want to do so that when you get here, you can focus on your itinerary instead of wondering what to do next. Plan your days around things you like, not necessarily all the tourist attractions, if that’s not your style. There’s so much cool stuff that’s more off the beaten path that is well worth doing, and knowing what that is before will mean you can crack on and see as much as time allows when you’re here.

How to maximise your time when visiting London- Plan your day by area, like the friends in the image, taking a selfie with the Tower Bridge

Plan your day by area

When making your plan, try to group things by neighbourhood so that you can easily walk between the attractions without spending all your time travelling between places. Don’t be tempted to cram everything into one day; try to spread things out so that you’re not completely exhausted by the end of the day. Try to stick to one area daily so you can walk between everything (you’ll see heaps more this way) and really make the most of your time.

We have literally already done all of this planning for you in our London itineraries, so if you want to save yourself days of trying to work out how to do this yourself, grab an itinerary.

Two men having dinner with a view at The Shard. Pre booking restaurants is how you can maximise your time when visiting London

Image Courtesy of TING

Book restaurants before you arrive

It’s true, London does have one of the most impressive restaurant scenes in any city around the world. We’ve got a whopping 71 Michelin-starred restaurants and more food markets than you can shake a stick at. That’s why, if you’ve got any bucket-list food spots you want to nab a table at, we recommend booking in advance, up to a couple of months in some cases. If you don’t, you might struggle to find available tables at restaurants, especially those within your budget. It also saves you time you might have to spend walking around trying to find a decent recent that has enough walk-in space for your entire party, which on a Saturday evening in central London could take a LONG time.

Theatre production of The Lion King on London's West End.

Image Courtesy of Official London Theatre

Book tickets for attractions in advance

Last on our list of ways to maximise your time when visiting London applies to booking tickets for experiences and attractions. This can sometimes be cheaper if you book in advance and online, and you’ll avoid the risk of turning up somewhere and it being sold out. You can book tickets for many attractions and experiences on GetYourGuide and Viator.

How to maximise your time when visiting London- Pre book your tours, such as the one in the image above, where you can explore the main London landmarks on a bike.

Image Courtesy of Tally Ho

Book tours to make the most of your trip

Booking an organised tour is an excellent way to see a more local side of the city and perhaps go a little off the beaten path. TallyHo and Rebel Tours are smaller businesses we work with that can show you a more unique, local side of the city. The guides use their extensive local knowledge and expertise, giving you a more authentic perspective on the sights you will see. Booking with a smaller business means you’ll probably see lesser-explored areas and see a totally different side of the city than you would on a generic tourist tour. As for day trips, though, if you don’t have that much time in London, avoid travelling to other cities as you’ll spend a big chunk of your time on the train. Use that time to really experience London and use other cities as an excuse to come back another time.

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How to maximise your time when visiting London
Jessica Dellow

Jessica Dellow is an East Londoner who loves to travel the world and eat her way around the city. When she's not eating, cooking or hanging out in the local pub, you’ll probably find her walking one of her BorrowMyDoggy dogs in Victoria Park with a coffee in hand.

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