London is such a lovely place and is perfect for first time travellers. Here are some tips & tricks about this city.
Best times to go
Spring & Fall are the best times – it’s not that cold and not that warm either. There are not as many tourists as in the summertime, so you can get better deals on accommodation and on tours (if you are joining any). Try to avoid the winter – it can be cold and wet and if it snows, public transportation can easily halt. Summer is an ok time to go – if you can afford it (some hotel properties charge more) and can bear the heats, crowds, and queues to some of the more popular tourist sites.
Once you have booked that flight and landed in London, you have multiple transportation options to get around the city. Make the tube your friend (also known as the Underground), which connects you from one point to another. Though overwhelming at first, you’ll get used to the various colours and lines that it represents. Be sure to grab a copy of the map before you make your way around. The downside is that you won’t see any of the scenery as you make your way and some lines may be closed for maintenance on the weekend.
Another iconic transportation option is the double decker buses: this is a cheaper option than the tube, but you may take a longer time to learn the routes.
The most expensive option is the black cab. Iconic as it is, it will set you back a couple of pounds but know that the cabbies definitely know their way around the city so you won’t feel lost.
Another option would be to walk. London’s city center is pedestrian friendly: you can actually walk from Big Ben to Tower Bridge and see all the sites that dot the riverbank. This is the cheapest option and you get to see more, if you have the stamina for it.
Places to See:
A week in London is not enough. There’s plenty to see and do in the city, what’s covered here is definitely not enough. Almost every month has a new festival being hosted in the city.
- Notting Hill Carnival – loud and colourful with a parade of costumes, it is a must see if you are there in the city in time for the event.
- Portobello Road – weekend market, from there you can see the neighborhood of Notting Hill, great to look for antiques and other great finds.
- Tower Bridge – commonly mistaken and referred to as the London Bridge, you can climb up to the top and walk through the glass floor to see the Thames and the cars underneath, if you dare.
- Tower of London – Built in the 11th century and expanded to what you see today, this castle and fortress is home to a mystery of the Princes in the Tower. Also a place where royals had been imprisoned and beheaded (including Anne Boleyn).
- Westminster Abbey – a fan of Will & Kate? This is where they wed! Not only that, but Shakespeare and other known scientists, poets, and even royalty were buried here. Also the place where royal coronations are held. How’s that for history?
- The South Bank – a great place to walk: you can see the London Eye, the London Aquarium, Jubilee Gardens, Jubilee Bridge from a distance, among others. Also home to a big IMAX theatre and the Southbank festival.
- Hyde Park/Kensington Park – two big parks that are adjacent to each other, it is a great place to have a picnic, sunbathe, or watch events. Hyde Park has the Speaker’s Corner and is also a venue for concerts, while you can see swans in the lake in Kensington Park.
What to Eat
Beside the quintessential fish & chips , sprinkled with salt and vinegar, most of English cuisine centers around Indian food like chicken tika masala. You can also try shepherd’s pie (a pie filled with meat), bangers & mash (sausage & mashed potatoes), among others. They don’t really have a national food to eat, but rather they take in what immigrants have brought from their countries and made it their own. You can find delicious Indian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and pretty much any cuisine you’re craving for in London.