Tips for first time visitors to London


London is a vibrant and charming city to visit and is one of the most popular and famous tourist destinations in the world. It offers old world charm that blends in seamlessly with its modern cosmopolitan atmosphere. It is home to some of the most famous and historic landmarks in the world. The city has played a prominent role in the social, political and cultural development of the country and this is evident by the various iconic landmarks and attractions to be found in London.

Finding suitable accommodation is generally never a problem as there are hundreds of hotels catering to all types of budgets in London. The location you choose to stay is important as it will offer convenient access to most of the prominent attractions in the city. Choosing a central location like a hotel close to Osterley Park would be ideal on a holiday in London.

For business travellers staying at a hotel like the BEST WESTERN PLUS Park Grand London Heathrow, with easy access to the airport would be ideal. Many first time travellers to London (especially from North America) find it to be quite different from back home.  Although the same language is spoken phrases and words seem alien at times. Similarly travel on the road and tube is something that again seems rather different.  For first time travellers to London these are a few tips that may come in handy to make their stay more enjoyable:


Buy an Oyster Card:
While travelling on the bus you cannot make cash payments. So it is recommended to purchase either an Oyster Card or a ticket when planning to use the public transit system. An Oyster Card would definitely be a more prudent choice as it will help you to save substantially on travel expenses and you can top it up at various outlets including tube stations across the city.

While buying something in pounds may seem like a bargain at times, do not forget to consider converting it into dollars to get a better idea of the amount you will spend.

Keep an eye on the traffic:
Remember that traffic will come from the other side on the road quite unlike North America where it is the converse. The city authorities have ensured to place many signs at street crossings and pavements etc. to remind foreign travellers about which way to look.

Acquaint yourself with British terminology:
There are a number of words that are different in British English. These include lifts instead of escalators, queues for lines, fries instead of chips and the loo for toilet etc. Familiarising yourself with these terms will make it easier to communicate effectively.

Stick to the right:
A very important point to keep in mind when using the lift is to ensure to stick to the right to stay out of the way of passengers who can pass towards the left. On the roads you need to stick to the left and on lifts to the right!

Time factor:
In North America it is standard to use the 12 hour clock with 7:00pm being night. In the UK and in most overseas countries, the 24 hour clock schedule is in use. So that would mean 7:00 pm would be read as 19:00 hours. Be mindful of the 24 hour clock timings so as to avoid missing transport while travelling or being misunderstood.

Choose the right travel time:
If you need to use the tube or the bus ensure that you minimise travel during peak or rush hours. It is far more comfortable and cheaper to travel in non-peak hours. In the mornings try to travel before 9:30 am and in the evenings before 4 pm or after 7 pm, as this is the time when traffic will be less.

Stay off the main streets to economise:
Wherever you may travel it is the norm to have to pay more for souvenirs, food and drinks when they are close to prominent attractions, especially in the trendier areas. So if you want to cut down on overhead costs try to select a side street where the rates will be more budget friendly and help to save substantially on expenses. What will cost you more than a pond in certain posh areas may cost just a few pence in less prominent areas. If you do not want to overshoot your budget then make it a point to keep this in mind.

Use your arm to board a bus:
While there are many buses that stop at various designated bus stops it may not necessarily stop to pick up a passenger, unless the passenger raises an arm to indicate that he wants to get on. The next time you want to board a bus in London, indicate by raising your arm to catch the driver’s attention.

Get a map of the Tube:
While London admittedly is a lovely place to explore on foot the fact is it is not feasible to see most of the attractions on a stroll. The best option is to make use of the extensive Tube network to get around the city. Using the Tube is relatively simple and there are signs showing the routes and stops. To plan and make your travel more effective get yourself a Tube map which will give you a better idea of the layout and also help you to better plan your travel itinerary. It will assist in getting an accurate idea of where the stations are and make it far simpler to reach your destination, without having the embarrassment of getting lost.


These are just a few basics to keep in mind when on a trip to the city of London. It will help to make your stay in the city a much more pleasurable and memorable experience!