London has long been a destination that has attracted millions of tourists every year. According to The Telegraph, it comes second only to Hong Kong as the most visited city in the world. Visit Britain reports that in 2016 alone, an estimated 36.7 million people traveled to the city, and it is forecasted that the number will only increase in the coming years.
First-time visitors to London may be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city, as well as the number of attractions it offers. So with that in mind, this article will provide some tips to help first-time travelers get the foundations planned.
1. Find the right accommodation
With the large influx of visitors coming into London annually, it can be difficult to find a place to stay, especially during the peak season. For the sake of practicality, make sure to book your hotel reservation at least a few weeks or even months before your travel date. Given the number of London tourists, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Another option that is worth considering is booking an airport hotel at either the start of your journey or at the end, especially if you have a late or early morning flight. Because both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports are quite a way from London city center this will afford you some time to rest before embarking on your next journey, For instance, Parking4Less provides a list of on-airport hotels at Gatwick that offer this luxury to travelers who are arriving or departing from the airport. This provision is useful because at the end of the day, the last thing you want to be doing is hauling your luggage long distances after an arduous flight or paying extortionate cab fees late at night.
2. Plan your itinerary
Before traveling to London, make sure to plot out a list of activities and attractions that you want to see so you do not miss out on anything on your list. This is especially important if you only have limited time to spend in the city.
Some events and activities in London occur at a specific time, such as the changing of the guard, so make sure that you plan your itinerary carefully so you do not miss out on any of the things you want to see.
London weather can also be very temperamental. A single day can see strong gusts of wind, rain, and sweltering heat. As such, make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out for the day to avoid having your scheduled spoiled by fluctuating weather.
TimeOut published an interesting list of 101 things that you can do while in London. You can browse through this to see which activities you want to check out and which ones you can miss off your itinerary.
3. Consider purchasing a London Pass or an Oyster Card
Instead of buying tickets to individual attractions, a more practical approach would be to purchase a London Pass for each member of your party. This is inclusive of entrance fees to popular attractions within the city and transportation costs, as well as discounts to establishments such as restaurants, shops, and clubs. The price will depend on the number of days you will be spending in London, but you can easily save as much as £209 per person by purchasing this ticket.
If you do not want to purchase a London Pass, you can instead pre-purchase a Visitor Oyster Card, which will allow you to get discounted fares when taking public transportation, as well as in restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
4. Travel during the off-peak season
According to StoryV, traveling to London during the off-peak season will not only mean less crowds, it can also get you cheaper accommodation and tours, perfect for those who are on a tight budget.
There are three periods in the year considered as off-peak seasons in London: January to February, mid-September to November, and March to April.
Just because it’s your first time visiting London doesn’t mean that you have to get stressed about it. Vacations are meant to be fun. Make sure to follow these tips to have a hassle-free trip to London.