Editorial note: “15 Things to Keep in Mind Before Visiting London, England,” was originally published on October 28, 2021.
London is one of the most popular destinations in the world for tourists and good reason. It’s a culturally diverse and vibrant city that’s easy to get around.
One of the best things about England’s capital city is there’s something to do for every traveler.
If you’re planning a trip to London, here are 15 things to know before visiting.
1. You Lose Money
One of the first things to know is that Britain uses the British Pound and when you check conversion rates, you lose money when converting to U.S. dollars. It just means things you buy may cost you a little more.
As of this writing, the conversion rate is $1=0.86 GBP. For every 1 GBP, you will get $1.20.
2. Tipping is Not Required
Let’s talk about tipping. Tipping in London is not expected but of course, appreciated. The general rule is anywhere between 10 and 15 percent.
Keep in mind, a 12.5% service charge will already be added to the bill.
3. People Drive On The Left
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It’s cool to see people on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat, but when you’re driving or walking yourself, this can be confusing. Be sure to look the appropriate way before crossing the street. It sounds easier said than done, but it can throw you off a bit.
4. Tax (VAT) Is Included In Price
One great thing about purchasing items in London is that you don’t have to guess the prices of things after taxes as the price include the tax.
5. Understand The Language
Yes, Brits speak English but the lingo is different. Here are some terms to keep in mind.
Chips are fries.
Crisps are potato chips.
Loo is the bathroom.
Lift is an elevator.
Bin is a trashcan.
The boot is the trunk of the car.
Biscuits are cookies.
Petrol is gas.
A queue is a line.
Trainers are sneakers.
6. Bring An Adaptor
The UK uses the 3-pin outlet with a voltage of around 230 V. Make sure you pack the appropriate converter for power.
7. Emergency Is 999
In the event of an emergency, dial 999 from your phone. Use 111 for life-threatening situations.
8. Congestion Charge When Driving
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Do you have plans to rent a car? There are congestion charges to drive a car within central London. Roughly $20 a day
Congestion charges are just that: to help reduce the number of cars on the roads.
9. Public Transportation
The London Underground is the fastest and most reliable way to get around the city. Locals call the system “The Tube.”
Download the app for the transit map and check stations here by clicking here.
10. Oyster Card
11. Don’t Be That Tourist On The Escalator
If you’re riding the Tube or inside the mall, Londoners are very big on escalator etiquette.
No shade Americans, but you can’t just stand in the middle of the escalator.
Proper etiquette is you stand on the right, walk on the left.
12. Afternoon Tea
13. London Pass For Top Attractions
The London Eye Ferris Wheel, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and The View from The Shard are popular attractions in London but the price tag for all these combined can be pricy.
Take advantage of the London Pass which helps you save some money when visiting these popular places. You can customize your trip and pick your package.
14. Nightlife In Central London Can Be Expensive
Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are popular areas of Central London, but it’s touristy and can be expensive. Even with the price tag, it’s a fun place to party.
If you’re looking for a less expensive area, visit Shoreditch.
15. There are free things to do in London
Despite the storms, there are free things you can do in London. All it takes is a little research.
Here’s a list of more than 100 free things you can do in London.