9 Things You Should Know Before You Visit London
London with its centuries' old history and cosmopolitan new city vibe has something to offer everyone. When you visit the place, you will surely find something to fit your choice and taste. As a tourist you will get just a few days and few things to explore and enjoy. Hence you should know few important things about this big bustling city.
- Always be prepared
Though in reality London actually receives less precipitation than Barcelona or Milan, but it has more rainy days which gives a feeling of constant raining and you may run into such weather throughout the time you are there and an unbrella is a must. When you are visiting London, you should make it a point to carry all the documents with you most of the time, though do take steps to ensure they are safe.
- Most museums have no entry fee
If you are worried about the expensive entry fees like visiting The Tower of London, which is surely worth to visit, you will be glad to know there are certain places where you don't have to pay. The Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert, The Science Museum are some of the places which are free to visit and are also wonderful.
- Choose walking or cycling over taking a taxi
Like any other big city, London traffic is extremely crazy too. It will take a long time for you to reach a short destination as you will find yourself in endless traffic between full of merciless and frustrated drivers. Surely you don't want to face such a situation if you can walk off the crowded streets. One of the best ways to commute is walking in London, specially such congested shopping places like Oxford Street. If you still don’t want to walk, you can opt for hiring a Boris Bike also known as Santander Cycle to cut the traffic.
- Stay connected by phone and app
When you are in a city like London you will certainly need to relate to your loved ones to stay away from the feeling of being lost. You will find many institutions, ad airports who offer complimentary Wi-Fi free of cost, which can help you to call internationally and send large files. Some helpful apps can give you instant help while you are roaming around the city. The apps like Citymapper, which map your travel with time, place and route indication, Uber and Hailo to order a ride anytime, Deliver, which will fulfill your food cravings, Met Office for instant weather forecasts, Great Little Place City Guide or Dojo for keeping you up-to-date about the events happening around the city. Phone and downloaded apps can solve many problems that you might face in London.
- Oyster Card
Oyster Card is the rechargeable pay and goes easy travel card which you can use for traveling through London Tube, bus systems and Docklands Light Railway. The bus lines connect central and outskirt areas of London, the Night Tube has 24 hours rolling service around the city. Make your way around the city with this easy to use the card.
- Keep hard copies of your documents
Make sure to keep all your ID proofs, translated in English and verified. Keep you ID papers ready both digitally and hard copies so that you can save time while you travel. If you are working there then keep the evidence of employment, also as a student you need to keep your ID with you as proof.
- Love a cup of tea than coffee
The United Kingdom has been one of the world’s greatest tea consumers since the eighteenth century. It was used for medicinal purpose before it became a daily drink. Black tea or milk and sugar tea both are very much popular along with dunking a biscuit into the tea. So rather than coffee, tea is much more appreciated in London.
- Be prepared for odd greetings
Communication is important when you are traveling to some unknown place. London has its meeting and greeting etiquettes which are quite different but if you try to know a few common words before visiting there, it will be easier for you to communicate in everyday life.
10 Best Places to Visit in London
London itself is a city to explore, each corner of the place has many hidden treasures of antiquity and of the modern world. You can walk around o rtake rides to discover those beautiful places anytime of the year.
Buckingham Palace Tour
The administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom is the London residence well known as Buckingham Palace. It is in the City of Westminster, and it is the focal point for all the British people. Originally it was known as Buckingham House and it has been a beloved tourist attraction for hundred of years.
According to the royal website, the building, today is 830,000 square feet with 775 rooms, including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. It has a beautiful 39-acre garden and an ATM in the basement which prints money for the British Royal family. As one of the most prominent royal family, they host functions and ceremonies regularly.
Queen Victoria’s first appearance standing on Buckingham’s balcony has become a tradition for royal events and many celebrations of the members of the royal family take place from the iconic balcony. Along with the magnificent garden and lake, Buckingham also homes to a royal museum which exhibits the various eras of the monarchy through paintings and prints. The palace is opened for visitors all around the world but only for a few months so you will need to book your tickets as soon as possible to visit for the next year. You can visit the palace website for all information.
The Modern Coca Cola London Eye
The Coca-Cola London Eye which was formerly known as Millennium Wheel rests in the south bank of the River Thames in London. It is a cantilever observation wheel which is the tallest in Europe. It is one of the most popular paid tourist observation wheels in the United Kingdom which has over 3.75 million annual visitors. It is 443 ft tall with 394 diameters of the wheel. London eye was the highest viewing point in London before the 245-meter-high ‘The Shard’ was built. There are 32 ovoid’s capsules’ which carries the passengers. Each capsule has the capacity of 25 passengers and the wheels moves slowly – two revolutions per hour.
Standard tickets start at £28, or about Rs.2,640 at londoneye.com.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is nearly a thousand years old. It was built by William the Conqueror, a mighty stone tower at the centre of his London fortress and is still fascinating to look at. The tower has a richer and more complex history of serving as a home to a wide array of the institutions including the Royal Mint, the Royal Armoires and a zoo. The Tower attracts over three million visitors a year is a protector of the Crown Jewels, and the home of the Yeoman Warders ad its legendary guardians and the pampered ravens. Beside great history, the tower also has Ceremony of Keys and other traditions along with ghost stories and tales of torture and execution.
The Magical View from the Shard
Formerly the Shard was referred to as the London Bridge Tower. It is also known as the Shard of Glass or Shard of London Bridge. It is a 95-storey skyscraper designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom with its glass-clad structure pyramidal structure and 72 habitable floors with an outstanding viewing gallery and beautiful open-air observation deck. If you book to visit the place in advance you can save up to 20%. They have few types of entry fee with features to opt for.
The Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour
The hop on hop off bus tour of London offers the flexibility to discover London at your own pace. It is a family-friendly sightseeing option which covers all major London landmarks. You can choose from multiple bus agencies and routes with the pass or ticket which can be sometimes personalized according to your need. They also offer itinerary, a free walking tour of London or Tames River Cruise in their value packages.
Madame Tussaud is the most popular wax museum of London, Madame Tussaud was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It is a major tourist attraction of London displaying artworks of historical and world-famous people as well as popular film and television actors. You can book and save on tickets through online purchase and scan the tickets for faster entry at the time of your visit. Standard tickets start at £29 at madametussauds.com.
Sea Life London
On the ground floor of County Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames, you will find the beautiful Sea Life Aquarium of London. It hosts around one million visitors each year. The aquarium includes conversation and education-themed classrooms, which campaigns the zoo support and host 40,000 school children each year and they are open to the public when on in use by the education program. You can discover Aquarium zones, creatures, rainforest adventure, polar adventure, coral kingdom, Lego sea explorers inside the Sea Life. Tickets can be bought at visitsealife.com, starting at £34.
Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894 which is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London. It has become an iconic symbol of London that crosses the River Thames and it is close to the Tower of London. It is sometimes confused with the London Bridge which is about half a mile upstream. The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicle and pedestrians and it is beautiful all round the year.
While it is a spectacular spectacle from the outside, to learn more about it's inner workings and to get a view of the city from the Tower, buy a ticket which can cost as little as £8.80 on towerbridge.org.uk.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1697 by the architect Sir Christopher Wren. This cathedral is one of the most famous and recognizable sights of London with the dome which is highest among the world. It is a working church with hourly prayer and daily services. There is a tourist entry fee, but no charge is made to worshipers. Buy tickets from the cathedral's official website.
Who will not love to visit the largest and oldest food market in the world with all kinds of fresh produce? Borough Market of Southwark London is such a big wholesale and retail market which is there from the 12th Century. The market mainly sells speciality food to the general public. The retail market operates from Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm. The wholesale markets operate all weekdays from 2 am to 8 am.
Some Unusual Places to Visit while in London
If you are planning to do something different during your trip to London and want to see more unconventional exhibits outside the major museums and places, then you should try to visit these head-turning locations that stand out of the rest.
London Dungeon presents the most horrible history of the ancient capital which takes you to the darkest of times for ninety minutes. Live actors, shows, rides and interactive special effects ensure that you face the fear throughout the showtime. It is opened seven days is week except for Christmas Day. Buy tickets here.
The Sky Garden
You can enjoy the spectacular views across the capital from London’s highest public garden, ‘The Sky Garden’ which is the famous enlarged glass dome dedicated to three storeys of exquisitely landscaped public gardens. It is situated at 20 Fenchurch Street and it takes the exclusive social spaces including the observation decks and an open-air terrace. Enjoy the uninterrupted view across the City of London. Entrance is free but you need to book your ticket at skygarden.london.
Battersea Flower Station
This is the longest garden centre in London. Essentially it is a long stretch of the prettiest flowers, pots of garden herbs, indoor and outdoor plants, garden pots and planters, and resident florists. They deliver to many places and they are open round the week, but even if you do not plan to buy anything, this place makes for a wonderful day trip.