London is crammed with tourists in the summer, of course, but it’s in the autumn I notice it more. Possibly because standing outside posing for photos in front of Buckingham Palace is less appealing in the rain and thus everyone wanders indoors. So I thought, for anyone visiting London this Autumn, I’d give you my top tourist tips!
If you’re wealthy enough to hail a cab wherever you go, then go for it. The starting price is something like £2.60 and if there’s a few of you it can work out fairly reasonable. However, be warned, it can take just as long, if not longer, than a tube! Apps like Hailo and Uber are great for ensuring your ride arrives, and mean you don’t need to carry too much cash around with you.
If you’re venturing underground, grab a copy of the tube map (which you can pick up at any station) and keep it on you. Even if you plan your journey ahead you never know when a signal failure will mess up your whole route and somehow you’ve ended up in High Barnet. If you plan on taking more than one or two tube journeys during your stay in London, definitely invest in an Oyster card. Just look out for the Oyster symbol in some shops and newsagents, and at some stations, and pick up a card, top it up with money and off you go. It’s definitely the cheapest way to travel and if you hit a same amount spent as a daily travelcard costs then they cap your payments. Times to avoid the tube are between 8 and 9:30am and between 5 and 6:30pm as you’ll be fighting against the thousands of commuters that will want to move a lot faster than you!
If you fancy sightseeing from the river or simply need to get from one end to the other there’s always the River Bus, which isn’t always the most time efficient method of transport but it’s often by far the most comfortable! Have a look into the stops the River Bus makes and see if that could break up your journey. If you’re out East towards the Millennium Dome then you can fly high above London on the Emirates Air Line, also accessible using your Oyster Card.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because places are a tube station or two apart you couldn’t walk it faster. Particularly around Westminster, The Embankment and the West End, it is often quicker (and more fun) to walk between your destinations. Look out for tall black signs which have directions, maps and local landmarks identified. Plus, you can always ask someone if you’re really lost!
The Original London Bus Tour and other similar ideas can be really fun if you have half a day spare and any hop on hop off tickets are great if you want to combine some information with sightseeing. You’re somewhat restricted in terms of where you visit on these buses but they can be a great starting point if you’re a little indecisive about what to see whilst you’re in London.
I would advise not cycling through London unless you’re really experienced, as the traffic can be fairly unpredictable and if you’re not 100% sure where you’re going it’s not the best idea! Within Soho and the West End you can pick up a rickshaw outside almost any theatre, but be sure to haggle your price down before you get in if this method of transport takes your fancy, otherwise you could find yourself considerably worse off when you reach your destination!
Overall, I’d recommend making the most of the public transport on offer, but don’t be afraid to jump in a classic Black Cab when needs be. If you can find a ticket office, ask them for the cheapest way you can get around and they’ll more often than not be happy to help. Happy travels!