The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Your First Trip to London

Everything you wished to know before visiting London. A Complete guide for your first trip to London on reducing the cost and time in London. So let's find out.

It can be daunting to travel anywhere for the first time. Travelling to London is no exception. London is an expensive city for sure but there are many tips and tricks that can help you plan the perfect first trip to London. You can have queries regarding your first time in London also, wondering about the best time to travel to London.
With so many attractions, tourist spots, activities, you must be thinking about what to do for the first time in London and where to stay in London for the first time.  All of your questions will be answered in this guide through our expert eyes. Starting from the best places, what to avoid and what things to do in London. 

What to Pack for Visiting London 

When it comes to preparing for a first trip to London, it’s only understandable that you would want some assistance.

First Trip to London bagging

London has seasons such as spring, summer, autumn. As a result, items you took for granted, such as having rainproof shoes and an umbrella on hand, ready to put on if it seemed that the day might be rainy, were something you had to remember to carry. With a strict restriction on the amount of luggage you may bring.

We can all agree that there is nothing that concentrates the mind like having to a) tote a suitcase that is heavier than a body or b) face the risk of being charged an overweight baggage tax.

Here are suggestions on what to bring on a trip to London, as well as a season-by-season breakdown of extra things.

Getting Prepared for London: Luggage

The first choice you must make is which baggage to purchase.

Think of packing solely carry-on items for vacations lasting less than a week and using luggage that is appropriately sized. Not only does this save you the hassle of checking your bags in, but it also reduces the likelihood of your luggage being misplaced by the airline after it has been placed in the holding area.

Because so many people these days fly with just their carry-on luggage, there’s a risk that you’ll have to put your bag in the hold nonetheless, but it’s worth a go.

Packing List for a Trip to London: Clothes and Accessories 

In terms of clothing, everything goes in London. Our city is known for having a relaxed dress code – yet some of the more exclusive pubs and restaurants may refuse to allow you in if you seem to be wearing too casual clothing.

No one will bat an eyelid whether you dress as eccentrically or as conservatively as you choose in this city.

Having said that, the weather isn’t exactly forgiving. As a general rule of thumb, adopt the adage “layers are your friend.” Even the most pleasant of summer days may quickly transform into a very chilly evening as soon as the sun goes down.

Having layers with you ensures that you will not be caught out in the rain, but that you will also not be roasting like an over-trussed turkey because you have worn something that is too hot.

You’ll also want to consider what you’d want to accomplish while you’re in London to make the most of your time. If you plan on taking lengthy excursions between the city’s most important attractions, dress in loose-fitting clothing and shoes that won’t irritate.

Dress in something a touch more formal if you plan on bar-hopping amongst the city’s upscale underground establishments. You make your own decisions, boo.

Footwear for a trip to London

Footwear for a trip to London

Sandals or shoes for walking are recommended. During the summer months, you’ll want a pair of walking sandals that are both stylish and comfy — a pair of black Birkenstock Arizonas are ideal for wearing from day to night.

In the winter, a great pair of shoes or a pair of cool trainers would suffice. 

Shoes for a Formal Occasion (Optional)

A great pair of shoes may completely change the look of a gorgeous yet functional dress, taking it from day to night. Is it worth the extra room in your suitcase? It’s all up to you.

Packing List for London: Gadgets and Electronics

We are firm believers in the need of bringing a separate camera with you on vacation. Depending on how swanky you want to be, the options are endless. 

Battery as a backup

Aside from running out of camera batteries in the middle of the day, there are few things that are more inconvenient.

Memory Card (as a Backup)

If you want to save time, insert memory instead of a battery instead of the battery. Finding a location to acquire a new memory card isn’t always as simple as you’d expect (ps – get large so you don’t have to change them as often).

Headphones With Noise-cancelling Technology

Headphones in travel

When traveling, noise cancelling earbuds like these are ideal for flights, but they’re also useful if your hotel room is a little loud or if you want to block out some of the city’s hustle and bustle while in transit.

Phone That Has Been Unlocked

Unlocking your phone before you fly is an excellent way to prevent paying exorbitant roaming fees while abroad (particularly on data). If you have a dual-sim phone or a second phone that you can use, this is quite convenient.

It is possible to purchase a SIM card at the airport. Even better, pre-order from one of the three major networks: O2, Vodafone, and Three.

Adapters That May Be Used Universally

The 3-pin plug used in the United Kingdom is quite uncommon. Overall, universal adapters are the best option since they operate in almost every country and eliminate the hassle of having to purchase separate adapters for each new trip.

Because the voltage in the United Kingdom is quite high, you will need to carry a voltage regulator for some of your electronics.

Reader of Electronic Books

As much as we like reading a physical book, they are cumbersome to transport, and an e-book reader such as a Kindle is far more convenient.

Power Supply External Power Supply

If you’re like us and feel like you’re in a never-ending race to the next plug outlet as gadget after device consumes your battery life, you can spare yourself a world of aggravation by investing in a good battery pack that will last you for years.

Rather than one of those terrible devices that only partially charges your phone before giving up, which can charge your phone numerous times before needing to be recharged again. 

London- The city of Attractions 

London city

This cosmopolitan metropolis is constantly popular with tourists from all over the globe. With its famed buildings and iconic attractions, the plethora of things to see and do in London may easily thrill and overwhelm first-time visitors.

What to See and Do on your First Trip to London

This information is split up in distinct parts to assist you plan a trip to London. The initial portions help you gain ideas about how to schedule your days in London with monuments, sights, museums, markets, and activities in a logistically practical manner.

You want to optimize your time in London without backtracking or zigzagging throughout the city. These ideas might also help you put together a whole day since not all of them need a full day.

Visiting London

Station for the Circle and District Lines at the Tower of London 

The Tower of London, with its tall, scary walls, dark history, resident black ravens, and educational Beefeaters, is a must-see for anybody visiting London. The Tower of London and the neighbouring Tower Bridge stand as a steadfast reminder of a time when Kings and Queens would send convicts to “think” about their choices and wait for the unavoidable death.

The Tower of London served as the unpleasant residence for notable criminals, spies, Dukes, Bishops, Princes, and even Queens throughout their time in the country.

Anne Boleyn, the most renowned of all the Queens, was unquestionably the most tragic of them all. The Tower of London is the location where Henry the VIII’s executioner executed her on allegations of adultery and conspiracy; nevertheless, Henry was more concerned with her failure to produce a male heir than with her infidelity.

The Tower of London is now a trip back in time, and visiting it is an experience like no other. Traditions concerning this medieval castle have persisted for hundreds of years and are being practiced now. 

Residents of the Tower of London are known as Beefeaters because they live there and carry on the traditions and routines of the past. 

However, they also provide free tours (after you’ve entered the building) and impart their enormous knowledge of the Tower of London in a light-hearted manner.

These tours commence every 30 minutes beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending with the final tour at 2:30 p.m., with the first tour beginning at 10:00 a.m. and the last tour ending at 2:30 p.m.

Northern and Jubilee Lines, Take the Borough Market – London Bridge Tube Stop

After a morning spent seeing the Tower of London, plan a lunch break at Borough Market to recharge your batteries. Walking from the Tower of London will be the most convenient option. 

Choose to walk over Tower Bridge rather than London Bridge. You may also take a river bus from Tower Pier to London Bridge City Pier, which you can pay for using your Tube Oyster Card.

The market aisles of Borough Market are lined with food and grocers that sell every possible food item as you enter the market. It’s an excellent location to experience a wide range of delicacies from a number of different foreign cuisines.

Tottenham Court Tube Station

Tottenham Court Tube Station

Without a visit to The British Museum, no vacation to London would be considered complete. The art and artefacts on show are free to the public and may be seen starting at 10:00 a.m. each day until further notice. The Rosetta stone, sculptures from the Parthenon, and an extensive Egyptian collection, which includes mummies, are among the highlights.

During your visit, it’s worth keeping an eye out for any unique or limited-time displays. If there is a particular exhibit you are interested in seeing, it is worthwhile to get tickets either online or at the museum when you first arrive.

The British Museum

Continue on to Covent Garden or Soho for a shopper’s paradise once you’ve finished your visit to the Museum of London. Covent Garden is located in London’s West End and is a popular destination for theatregoers, foodies, and shoppers. From the countless chain shops, boutiques, and marketplaces, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for.

London Leicester Square – Leicester Square Tube Station

 Take the tube or a taxi to Leicester Square, which is the centre of London’s Theatre District. It’s really touristic here, yet it’s interesting to go around and investigate the alleyways and tunnels. For those who want to watch a musical or a play later on, you may get reduced tickets at the TKTS kiosk, which is conveniently located right in the plaza, for performances that day or night.

There is a lot of crossover between performances in London and the Broadway sector in New York. A performance in London before it travels to New York City is a possibility from time to time as well.

Trafalgar Square: Charing Cross Tube Station (Bakerloo and Northern Lines)

 Located near Trafalgar Square is the perfect place to round off your stroll. Monuments, historic buildings, museums, and street performers may all be found at this landmark London intersection.

 A hive of activity, it’s the ideal location for more traditional London photographs, replete with red double-decker buses going by on the streets in and around Trafalgar Square and the surrounding area.

Best Area to Stay in London

Where to stay in London is one of the most commonly asked topics for anybody considering a vacation. It’s understandable. You want to go someplace conveniently situated, safe, and within your trip budget.

Stay in London

London’s neighbourhoods each have their own particular charm and personality. And although some would argue you should undoubtedly stay in the centre of the most popular districts of the city, we believe the most essential thing when deciding where to stay in London is to stay someplace with quick access to the Tube.

You shouldn’t be scared to select a hotel that’s a few Tube stations distant from major sights. You can genuinely travel practically anyplace in London very fast by utilizing the underground rail system.

The Sumner Hotel — A lovely, mid-priced townhouse hotel between Marble Arch and Hyde Park with pleasant rooms and a wonderfully attentive staff.

Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel

 The hotel is situated near Covent Garden, the West End’s Theatre sector, bars, and my favorite Indian restaurant, Dishoom. Rooms are a typical contemporary boutique design for which Radisson Blu hotels are recognized.

The May Fair Hotel 

An expensive hotel in the calmer Mayfair district. The Green Park Tube station is meters away and Buckingham Palace a short walk.

Holiday Inn Express London-Southwark 

Just a 10-minute walk to Borough Market or the Globe Theatre, with a Tube station close.

You may also check current pricing in London for the period you’re intending to go to compare various hotels, areas, and prices.

How Many Days to Spend in London

As with other destinations, you may spend an extensive amount of time and yet not see and do all a magnificent city like London has to offer.

If it’s your first time in London, you likely will concentrate on the most popular sights and activities that interest you. For this, you’ll need 3-4 days to explore and make use of the London itinerary options in this book.

The More Days, the Better

With 4 days in London, you may also utilize a day to explore a famous destination close outside of London or even venture off the main path.

London is a terrific place to explore. It’s also the ideal jumping-off place for future excursions to Europe. The addition of a couple of days in London as a stopover before going on to another location in Europe is not difficult to do.

Arrival at London, United Kingdom

It is a speedy and effective method to travel into the city from Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow Express service. The train departs every 15 minutes and arrives at Paddington Station in roughly the same amount of time as the previous train.

You may purchase your Heathrow Express tickets online or via the Heathrow Express App. Not only will this save you time and aggravation at the airport, but it will also help you save money as well. Heathrow Express fares are less expensive the farther in advance you arrange your trip.

Express Train 

Express Train 

There is also an express train from Gatwick Airport that goes to London’s Victoria Station. It takes a half-hour to go to London by train, which runs every 15 minutes.

Similar to the fast train from Gatwick, when you book online and ahead of time, you may save a significant amount of money.

How to Look Like a Local While Being in London 

Oyester Cards

Oyster cards cost £5 but you receive your money back when you leave London and use your Oyster Card to pay for your fare. Getting around London on a budget has never been easier thanks to the London Bus. 

You don’t have to worry about carrying cash or a credit card with you when you ride the subway, bus, or overground train; all you have to do is touch your card to pay. Due to the daily spending limit of £12.50, you also get reduced tickets. So if you intend to use the train or bus a lot, this is an excellent alternative (much cheaper than buying a bunch of individual tickets).

Hotels Including Meals

Make sure you book a hostel that includes breakfast and has a shared kitchen so that you may save money on breakfast as well as on groceries and dinners in the public kitchen. If you’re looking for a way to save money while visiting London, this is the best option for you.

Free Parks

Parks

Take advantage of London’s abundance of green space and visit some of the city’s best parks, such as Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, and St. James Park (normally not too crowded and right next door to Highgate Cemetary).

Eat at the Markets

Markets such as Camden, Brixton, and Borough markets are fantastic locations to experience a wide variety of dishes from all over the globe, but they’re a lot less expensive than dining out at a sit-down restaurant (Portobello Market also has an awesome antique market that is the largest in the world and a great place to do some window shopping).

Ethnic Cuisine

If you do dine out, go to ethnic restaurants where the costs are much less expensive. Dishoom, Koshari Street, Franco Manca, The Happening Bagel, and Chilango are all wonderful options for delicious cuisine at reasonable pricing, and they’re all within walking distance of one another.

Free Tours

The excursions aren’t completely free since you’re supposed to be a nice human being and tip your guides, but they’re still worth it. Guides have to go all out and ham it up and work for their tips, so these walking tours are excellent. 

There are plenty of tour operators to choose from. It is possible to schedule a tour online with either firm or pick from a wide variety of programs that include street art walks and Jack the Ripper excursions.

Adventures Out of Central London

Take a trip outside of the city center and see what the outlying areas have to offer. London is so much more than just Westminster. The majority of these best London districts are free to visit, except the cost of a tube journey. While traveling London, you don’t have to break the bank if you visit Shoreditch, Notting Hill, or Greenwich.

Top London Attractions

London travel tips involve seeing some of the most popular landmarks in London without having to fork out a fortune in entry fees. Free tickets to legislative discussions at Buckingham Palace, church services at St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminister Abbey, and the Key Ceremony of the Tower of London are all good places to start. 

All of these free London activities for backpackers are a lot of fun and save you a lot of money. To avoid disappointment, it’s best to get tickets much in advance since seating is limited.

Splurging for Travel 

Want to go all out? Check out my many other ideas for first-time visitors to London by obtaining affordable tickets to performances at West End Theatres. Theatre in London, like it is in New York City, is a must-see experience for every visitor.

 Instead of paying full price for theatre tickets, attempt to get some day tickets from the TKTS booth in London to make the experience a little more bearable. Many websites offer cheap tickets in advance.

Final Verdict 

You have selected a beautiful city to visit, full with major monuments, historic attractions, delicious cuisine, and exciting adventures. With little preparation, you’ll arrive in London equipped with your schedule and know-how to traverse the city confidently for a wonderful vacation.

Frequently Ask Queries About The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Trip To London

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