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I love a travel guide as much as the next girl. You know the ones – ‘top things to in somewhere or other’. In fact, I’ve written a number of similar posts myself.
But the blogposts I always end up finding the most useful are the ones that tell me what NOT to do. They’re always filled with lots of local knowledge that make your trip plain sailing. Often they’ll also save you a lot of time and money!
Living in London for a few years meant I became really good at spotting a tourist. There are just certain things a traveler would do that a Londoner would never dream of!
So, for today’s post, I’ve put together the Top 10 Mistakes Tourists Make when Visiting London. Read on to learn how to navigate the city like a pro!
1. Riding the Tube
Now don’t get me wrong, the tube is great. I love the tube. It’s an amazing way to zip around the city.
However, often tourists take the tube more than is really necessary. Stops aren’t as far away from one another as you might think, especially in central London. Sometimes you’ll be surprised to find that walking is a much quicker option!
Tourists also tend to neglect the bus. Bus rides are always only £1.50, so generally much cheaper than the tube. Riding above ground will also give you a better idea of how the city is connected!
2. Trying to Buy a Ticket on the Bus
Now, fair play to those tourists who do try to use the buses, instead of plumping for the tube. Unfortunately, they often fall at the first hurdle – buying a ticket.
It’s not actually possible to buy a ticket on the bus. Instead you have to purchase one before you board. You’ll need to go to the nearest tube station or corner shop and purchase an Oyster card (more on that later!). Alternatively you can just use a contactless debit/credit card!
3. Paying for a Rooftop View
One of the most popular activities in any city is to get a rooftop view (sunset is a particular winner!). And there are plenty of places where you could pay an arm and a leg for the privilege in London – the view from the Shard being perhaps the most obvious one!
Whilst it’s great to enjoy a luxury experience on your travels every once in a while, it’s definitely not a necessity. You can find some amazing rooftop views of London without paying a penny!
4. Not Taking Advantage of Free Stuff
That leads me on to my fourth point. The majority of tourists don’t make the most of all the free activities on offer in London. Often we assume that because something is free, it’s not likely to be any good. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some of the best museums in the world can be found in London at zero cost!
Some of my favourite free spots are:
- The Barbican Conservatory
- Natural History Museum
- The Changing of the Guard
- St Dunstan in the East
- The Science Museum
5. Standing on the Wrong Side of the Escalator
If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to annoy a Londoner, standing on the wrong side of the escalator is the way to go. On entrance and exit to the tube, you’ll likely have to take an escalator. The rule here is to stand on the right hand side of the escalator.
This means that those who are in a rush (or are really trying to get their 10k steps in for the day) can walk past you on the left.
This might sound silly but Londoners take it very seriously, so make sure to stick to the right!
6. Walking Slowly
Another quick method of irritating a Londoner is to walk slowly. Like most big cities, everyone here is in a rush. Seriously, you could be forgiven for believing that you’d accidentally stumbled into the Olympic race walking finals.
Now, obviously in more touristy areas, you’ll be much more able to take your time and walk slowly. But in working districts, moving at a very slow pace or, dare I say it, stopping in the middle of the pavement, won’t go down too well.
Try to just be aware of others around you. Move over for people and you shouldn’t have any problems!
7. Boarding the Middle of the Tube
The platform for the tube is a long one and most people can’t be bothered to walk down to the end. As a result, the middle of the tube is always pretty packed with people.
If you take a minute to walk down to either end of the platform, you’ll likely be rewarded with a seat on the tube once you board. At the very least, you won’t feel like you’re playing a game of sardines!
8. Only Staying in Central London
Lots of tourists make the mistake of spending all of their time in Central London. Don’t get me wrong, central is great, and I too have spent many a weekend there. However, I’d highly recommend checking out some of the other neighbourhoods to get a real taste of the variety on offer in London.
Some of my favourite areas of London:
- Hampstead – a quaint village nestled in the city with the most beautiful homes
- Shoreditch – hipster central with plenty of street art and vintage shops
- Notting Hill – rainbow houses and a great street market
- Greenwich – a cute area with lots of museums
9. Buying Single Journey Tickets
Do not under any circumstance make the mistake of purchasing a single journey ticket! They work out to be much more expensive than the alternative: an Oyster card. This is an electronic card that you can top up. You simply tap it on the yellow circle at the tube gates (or on the bus) and you’re good to go!
You can purchase these at most tube stations, either at the kiosk or at a machine.
Alternatively, you can simply use your contactless debit card in the exact same way. You’ll be charged the same amount as if it were an Oyster card.
10. Not Downloading City Mapper
The City Mapper app was a lifesaver when I first moved to London. It makes planning your route really easy. You simply enter your destination and it’ll show you all possible routes, plus how much it’ll cost you, plus how long it’ll take.
It makes the tube really easy to navigate by telling you exactly where to get on and off and which direction to travel in. If you’re at all nervous about using the underground, you need this app!
This is also a great way to see whether it would be quicker for you to just walk, as City Mapper provides a walking time too!
P.S. This isn’t sponsored! I just genuinely adore this app and sing its praises to everyone and anyone.
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