Whenever you visit a large city for the first time, it can be super complicated to get around. London is no exception, in fact it’s probably more complicated than the average city. At around 2,000 years old, the city was not exactly designed with tourism in mind. Some of the streets and buildings have been in place for hundreds of years, even the sewers are 150 years old! If you are from the UK, or overseas, London can be difficult to navigate; so we have compiled a quick list to ensure your first time in the nation’s capital is an absolute success. If you are taking advantage of your hotel loyalty rewards program and have booked a room in the Park Grand London Hyde Park hotel, then you will be perfectly situated to explore the city with ease.
Let’s take a look at the things you need to know to get you around in the big city!
The London Underground is by far the best way to traverse the city. With an incredible 272 stations spread across London, you can pretty much get anywhere. As the world’s first underground passenger railway, it is steeped in history; first opened in 1863 to service just a few main stations; it now spans the city and has 11 different lines. So if you are based in the Paddington Court Executive Rooms then you are a five minute walk from the Lancaster gate Tube station on the Central Line; from here you can literally go anywhere, you may just have to change lines for different areas of the city. If you need to travel central London at speed, this is how you do it. Just be aware that travelling on the tube at rush hour might not be thest idea, it can get very busy!
As a first timer walking down into a tube station with the throngs of business men and women can be very daunting. The map looks like someone has thrown multicoloured spaghetti at the wall and scribbled all over it, and the speed at which people walk can be horrifying. But, fear not, there are a couple of tips that will make your life easier. First, download ‘Tube Map’, it’s widely available across all platforms and it’s free! There is a route planner to help you get to exactly where you need to go, and you can use it offline; just make sure you enter your route before you leave the hotel wifi! If phones aren’t your thing then do it the old fashioned way. Despite the intimidating atmosphere of the tube, there are staff and stewards everywhere. These guys are experts and very friendly too. Just ask them how to get where you’re going, and they’ll guide you. Second, just to make your life easier, if you aren’t going to walk up the escalators, stand to the right. Just trust me, it’s better that way.
Oyster Cards are the best thing about the tube. You can top them up online, and all you have to do is tap the card against the yellow reader as you pass through the ticket gates. Your fare will be charged automatically, and it is up to 50% cheaper than buying a day ticket. There is also a spend limit and once you reach it on any given day, you won’t pay any more fares until midnight. You can also pick up a visitor’s Oyster Card that will give you discounts in certain restaurants and stores around London. Spot on!
Double Decker Busses
The iconic double decker bus is also a great way to get around the city, although it can be a little slow depending on the time of day. You can use your Oyster Card here too, simply tap the yellow badge when boarding the bus, and voila! Head to the top deck for the best views around the city, and you can even jump on a sightseeing tour bus.
This may sound like a fantasy, but there are river taxis and tour boats operating on the Thames. It can be a great way to get from A to B avoiding traffic and crowds, but you are rather limited to the waterways. Hop on a sightseeing river tour and a guide will give you facts about the city and point out the best landmarks. Who doesn’t love a different mode of transport?
Cycling is by far my favourite way to travel the city. There are plenty of designated bike lanes across the city centre, as well as riverside paths and parks you can cycle through. Go at your own pace and stop wherever you like to see the sights. ‘Boris Bikes’ as they are known by locals, or Santander Cycles if you want to use their real name, are bicycles that are conveniently placed around the city available to hire. You simply download the app, scan the bike you want to take and it unlocks it for you. Much cheaper than hiring a bike for the day, and all you have to do to return it is find another docking station and ‘dock’ the bike. It’s that simple. They tend to have docking stations at the main tourist attractions, and it’s not very often they are empty of bikes!
Want to keep it old fashioned? I respect that. Walking can be an amazing way to get around the city, although it’s not for the faint of heart. The city centre actually covers a huge area, and all the best tourist spots in the city are widespread too. So make sure you have some comfy shoes on and get cracking. Be aware that you will have to keep out of the way of busy, high speed Londoners whilst you are in the centre. Trust me, they don’t stop for anyone! If you fancy a bit of company, or want to see the best spots in the city, then book onto a walking tour. There are free tours on offer, and paid tours too. It’s a great way to see all the best sights, and learn something new.
Hopefully this quick guide of how to get around London will give you a good head start when trying to plan your day. Remember it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first, and if you are stuck all you have to do is ask for help. Take full advantage of your Premier Club Rewards points, book a beautiful hotel, and travel like a local. Now get out there and explore!