Top 10 Vital Things to Know Before Traveling to London

Top 10 Vital Things to Know Before Traveling to London

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Planning a trip to London can be quite intimidating, considering it’s one of the biggest cities worldwide. As a first-time visitor, here are some of the main things to know before setting foot in one of Europe’s most popular cities. Read along! 

The UK Currency is Pound Sterling

In London and other parts of the United Kingdom, the official currency is Pound Sterling (£), with £1 equaling 100 Pence. Like in any other place, the locals have their own slang for the currency, depending on the amount. For instance, someone can say “quid” instead of Pound and “tenner” instead of 10 Pounds.

Don’t forget that the GBP has recently lost a lot of ground against the USD, making it a good time for US residents to visit. The exchange rate when preparing this guide was $1.21 for £1. If the rate drops even further, a trip to the UK should be high on your holiday list.

London’s Free Attractions

London is definitely not a cheap place to visit. But not everything you do here will have a service charge on it. You can have lots of fun without paying £1. Before visiting the city, draw up a list of some fun places to visit for free. And you’ll be glad to hear that there are plenty of those.

For example, there are several museums to visit for free in England’s capital city. Visit the British Museum, Museum of London, Science Museum, and more. London also has many playgrounds, parks, and gardens to spend quality time for free.

Keep Left When Driving

If you’re planning to drive around London, there are several things to learn to avoid getting in trouble with the law. You must know where to hire a car, get a license, car insurance, and other essentials that will make you a qualified London driver.

That said, all cars drive on the left in London, as is the case in the entire United Kingdom. Also, parking spaces in the city are limited. But the good news is that London has various car-parking companies, including the National Car Parks, which operates several car parks in the country.

Slot Machines Are Legal

If you’re from Vegas, Monaco, and other big cities, playing slot machines is one of the most entertaining experiences in London. You can easily all your favourite slot titles at venues such as Heathrow Airport, Palm Beach, The Hippodrome, and Grosvenor Casino.

It’s also interesting to note that online gaming is legal and regulated in the UK. Popular slot games like  Lucky Lady Charm, Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest and Divine Fortune are available for play from the comforts of your hotel room or anywhere else without having to set foot inside a physical venue.

Board a Double Decker Bus

London is a busy town with traffic everywhere. This means you might be hesitant to embrace the idea of driving yourself around town. It’s also best to avoid getting into unnecessary risks if you’re uncomfortable with left-hand drive vehicles.

Thankfully, you can hop on one of the double-decker buses and grab a seat on top to reach your destination much quicker. Whether sitting at the front or back, these legendary buses give you an excellent view of the city’s major landmarks.

Rent a Bike or Walk

Sitting in the traffic in London could be a painful experience. But although touring the city on foot may sound energy-supping, it’s one of the best ways to get around town quickly and avoid traffic jams. Walking around is also the best way to know what’s inside the city and discover new restaurants, shops, casinos, etc.

Riding a bike is an excellent alternative if you’re in a hurry or want to cover longer distances. The city has many self-service bike stands where you can rent one for as little as £2 for unlimited daily rides. This is also an effective exercise method as you enjoy the London trip.

Eating Like Londoners

Eating like the natives is important when visiting London, although you’re not compelled to do so. Any born-and-bred Londoner will tell you some English cuisines are worth trying on your visit. The trick is to find the right versions of these foods and where to eat them.

For instance, you can try a full English breakfast consisting of sausages, bacon, fried eggs, baked beans, tomato, and black pudding. Another traditional food in London is pie and mash, essentially meat pie and mashed potato.

Embrace Cashless Payments

Just about every business in London will be happy to take your cash. Most businesses also accept cashless transactions like payment apps and credit cards. In fact, some leading brands like Burger King and Starbucks embraced cashless-only transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While you can use all major credit cards in London, Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted options. Only a few businesses accept American Express, and Diner’s Club is almost useless in the city. Debit card payments are also standard in London.

Always Book in Advance

One major mistake that London visitors make is not booking in advance. From flights and accommodation to restaurants and attractions, booking in advance is vital. This ensures you enjoy more choices, better prices, and less time queuing.

If you book a ticket to London’s main attractions a day earlier, you will get better prices than paying for a ticket at the gate. Places like the London Eye and Madame Tussauds provide cheaper tickets for prior booking. 

Be Polite

Last but definitely not least, Londoners are keen on manners. Those with a shortage of it will quickly get into trouble with the locals. For instance, if you bump into someone, always apologise quickly. Don’t stand at the door when alighting from a bus or coming out of a boutique. And yes, observe the queue and wait for your turn.

Final Words

You’re certainly in for a treat in London by applying the tips above. But most importantly, set yourself free and have as much fun as possible in the English capital. Londoners are polite people who won’t hesitate to show you around if you get lost and teach you the local culture. Enjoy!

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