London is a vast city which has a lot to offer tourists; perhaps that is why it sees around 18 million people visiting each year. Whether you have an interest in history, you want to enjoy some of the finest dining in the UK, you like to try new things or you just want to explore a leading European destination, there are so many reasons to choose London for your next city break. But how do you make your London trip stand out from all the others?
Do your research
Once you have decided to visit London then you need to make sure that you spend less time wondering what to do next and more time out enjoying the experiences that London has to offer. Set some time aside to sit down and get online to do some research about London. Read up about the layout of the city, the different methods of public transport, the people and the culture, the weather and the leading attractions. The more you can understand about the place you will be visiting, the more prepared you can be, which means that you can immediately hit the ground and begin exploring when you arrive, rather than having to acclimatise and get your bearings.
Whilst it might not suit your personality or travelling style to have a detailed itinerary of how you are going to spend your time when in London, it will help if you have a basic idea of the things you want to see and do. On top of that, it makes sense to book your travel and accommodation in advance, to try and find a good London hotels discount and you can even get discounts on public transport too if you organise a Visitor Oyster Card ahead of your trip.
Eat like a local
One of the best ways to really get the most out of visiting somewhere new is to try and experience the city like a local would. Head away from the main tourist spots and find hidden gems; restaurants and bars where the locals congregate rather than the chain restaurants which are usually more expensive and don’t always offer the same quality food. It might require you to try a new type of cuisine, particularly if you are an international visitor, but you might just find something new that you like.
Hang out with locals
Visiting famous and iconic landmarks is something which most people want to do when in London but you should also try and carve out some time to just sit and soak up the atmosphere. London is one of the most historical and culturally diverse cities in the world and it can be a fascinating experience to take an hour and find a spot in a coffee shop or bar and just take it all in.
Mix it up
For many first time visitors, the list of the buildings and attractions they want to visit can be extremely long but this isn’t always the best way to get the most out of a trip to London. Try instead to combine some main attractions with those off the beaten track. For example, you could spend the morning exploring Hyde Park, which is one of the eight Royal Parks of the city, on the doorstep of the Park Grand London Kensington Hotel and an extremely popular attraction, followed by an afternoon at Leighton House, one of the lesser known and smaller museums in the city.
This tip goes for all trips and not just a visit to London but make sure that you take the time to look up from your smart phone or camera, put aside your guide book and just be in the moment. London has centuries of history which are available for you to see on almost every street corner as well as offering a stunning mix of old meets new in the architecture and atmosphere, and you can often miss that if you are too busy making sure you get the perfect selfie.
Although London does offer a great network of public transport, it is also a city which can be explored on foot, particularly around the Central London area. Take the opportunity to walk from one attraction to the next and you never know what you might come across. It is often stumbling across these hidden gems which truly make a trip memorable, rather than the 10 iconic attractions you got to cross off your list.
Have an adventure
From climbing the exterior of the O2 arena to paddle-boarding along the River Thames, London is a city which was made for adventures and there are plenty of ways you can do just that. Take a night tour on an open-top bus, sleep at the Natural History Museum, scale a wall of ice, go white water rafting or get locked in a room for an hour…whatever tickles your fancy, you will find numerous ways to have a new experience when in London.
Avoid peak season
To truly see the best of a city, we would always suggest trying to go outside of peak season as this is the time when the majority of tourists will be visiting. It is also often more expensive with accommodation and ticket prices rising during these times of year as well. This can be particularly useful to bear in mind if you want to see London through the eyes of locals as you will find them much easier to locate when the city isn’t thronged with tourists.
Learn something new
Whether you visit an attraction which details the history of a culture, sit and chat with a few locals or pick something up from a tour guide, don’t go home without having learnt something new about London. There is so much to discover here that it would be a shame to return home without something interesting to share with friends and family.