First time in London - what you need to know

Whenever you go to a big city for the first time, it can be hard to predict what it is going to be like. If you are from a different part of the world or a small town, there are likely to be several differences between London and what you are used to in your day to day life so arriving somewhere prepared is always a good thing. We have put a few key points and tips together to ensure that you have the best experience of London possible.

Getting around London

Getting around London may seem like quite a complicated affair; but it doesn’t have to be! There are several tricks and tips that will make it very easy.

Citymapper - This is an app that will plan your entire route from your doorstep to your destination for you. This includes bus routes, cycle paths, walking distance, tube and rail all with an estimate of the time that it will take.



The Tube or London Underground

The Tube/Underground is the most popular form of transportation for people living in London. Although it is usually a lot quicker than other transportation, beware if you are using it during rush hour (8am-9.30am & 5pm 6.30pm on week days) as it can get crowded.

Tube Map –The Tube Map is a great app that will show you a map of all of the underground lines, the line status and a route planner (which is fantastic for finding the quickest underground route to get from one station to another) You can even use the tube map when you don’t have an internet connection.



Oyster card

Oyster cards are a useful way to pay for buses and the Tube/underground in London if you don’t want to use a contactless card or if you are group travelling and want to pay for more than one person on one card. If you are on holiday, we recommend buying Visitor London Oyster cards

These are similar to normal Oyster cards, however you get discounts in some restaurants and you can order them in advance so you don’t have to queue to buy them at the station in London when you arrive! Be aware of the fact that you cannot pay by cash on any London transport anymore, so make sure you have enough money on your Oyster to last the journey. Oyster cards can be bought and topped up at tube and train stations. (Children under the age of 11 travel for free)

London Bus Live Countdown –  The iconic red London buses are a great way to travel, and sitting on the top deck you get some great views of London whilst you travel.  This is a great app to help you plan you route and find out when the next bus is arriving.  Enjoy your coffee in peace and arrive at the correct bus stop just in time!




Getting from one place to another (along the river Thames) on the Thames Clipper is a lot more fun than other forms of transportation as there is no traffic to struggle with. You can use the riverboats as a great way to get from A to B, or there are other river cruises including evening, dining experiences, and guided tours that you can also try.  Well worth it if you are here for a short while and want to experience something different.


If you are planning to do a lot of walking in London, make sure you have comfortable shoes with you. London is a fast moving city and you will have to try to keep up with the Londoners in the busy parts of central London.  IF you have the time and really want to explore you can always book onto a London Walking Tour.  These last a couple of hours and take in various interesting routes around London, and cost just £10 per person.


Cycling is a great way to explore London, however it can be quite intimidating in some areas with cars and large coaches passing you. If you want to have an enjoyable bike ride, try going a bit outside of central London or find quieter cycling paths such as in large parks or along the River Thames.

Santander Cycles (formerly Barclays Bikes, or more popularly known as Boris Bikes) are the official bikes run by Transport for London. Their app will help you get from A to B but it also tells you where you can find a docking station and whether there is any free space to park your bike there!



Uber – We can’t talk about travelling around London without mentioning Uber, the popular rideshare scheme.  If you want to get somewhere cheaply and quickly, their app is a great option. You choose your destination and starting point and then you have the option to select which ride you want to choose depending on price, punctuality or user rating.



When you are in London for the first time there are several things that you should try and explore. Here are some things that we would definitely recommend you try:

Afternoon tea

An afternoon tea is something that British people have at home including tea, biscuits, finger sandwiches and cakes. If you are in London you should try to go for an afternoon tea at a cafe or a hotel.

Dining out

When you come to London you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants.  We also have some great traditions such as fish and chip, and Sunday roasts. Why not check out our other blogs for some recommendations!


In London, you will soon come to realise that the most popular way of socialising is by going to a bar or a pub (not necessarily to drink alcohol but even to have dinner or lunch). There are several great places to choose from including bars and pubs with great outdoor areas.

We hope that this post will help your first time in London run smoothly. There are several great things to do around the city and if you want to get some more ideas have a look at our main blog page. If you are looking for accommodation for your stay, we have luxury serviced apartments in various locations around the city. Please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for daily advice and London focused posts.