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.
Some of the links below are affiliated which helps support all of the free content and advice we produce every day, at no extra cost to you. Thank you ❤️
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.