London can be daunting to first time visitors, especially those of us from much smaller towns. Here are 4 tips for your London vacation to help you enjoy yourself and not be overwhelmed, that I learned on my first visit.
Use the Tube! We had never ridden a subway before going to London and were quite hesitant. This is a mistake! The tube is a clean, safe, quick, and dare I say fun way to get around London. Check out daily passes allowing you to ride tubes, busses, and trains all day. If you will be riding for many days, then the Oyster card can save you money. Most of the sites that you will want to see in London are in a fairly compact area, but the tube will save your legs and save time. It is easy to use, too. We now wish that we had something similar where we live.
Stay as close to the action as possible. Even though the tube is fast and easy, I recommend that you choose a well-rated place as close to central London as your budget will allow. We stayed in Charing Cross, which is literally considered the central point in London. Our hotel, Amba Charing Cross was on the Strand about a block from Trafalgar Square. Across the Thames behind us was the London Eye. Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, and Big Ben were all within a 5-6 minute walk. Museums, landmarks, shopping, and Parks were all within easy access by foot. There is very little that could not be reached within 1 or 2 tube stops. This “total emersion” experience made everything come alive.
Take a tour. Many tours are available and are a great way to get acquainted with the city. We did a VIP Tour with Adrian Rouse and were expertly whisked around from site to site while getting a entertaining history lesson. Private tours can be expensive. Hop on/Hop off double decker bus tours are popular and are easier on most budgets. There are three main companies: Original London Tour, Big Bus, and Golden Tours Panorama; each offering pretty much the same thing. Bus drivers give commentary on major sites or you can listen to an audioguide.
Make your own tour! As mentioned above, most of the sites that you will want to see in London are easily accessible by foot or by tube. With a little research (Google search), you can map out things that specifically interest you. We visited Harry Potter movie sites and London literature sites. We also visited Twining’s Tea shop which has been open since 1704. There is so much to do and see in London, but obviously, not all will interest everyone. Choose your own adventure!
I hope that these tips for your London vacation helps you plan your holiday!
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