Though the city of London has much in common with its American friends across the pond, the United Kingdom is still very much a foreign country. However, with a little guidance and advice, it’s easy to feel right at home. Here’s a roundup of some of the most common London tourist mistakes, as well as how to avoid them to seamlessly blend in like a local in London.
Common London Tourist Mistakes:
- Don’t try and see everything in one trip. London is massive. On your first trip to the capital, pick a handful of things you really want to see, rather than trying to see all of the things you think you should see.
- Don’t show up to a major tourist attraction without a ticket. You’ll waste hours waiting in line. Most tourist attractions have online bookings, or the team at London Perfect can help book you a tour or score you tickets.
- Don’t just stay in one neighborhood. London is a city of diversity. Get out there and explore! You’ll find that West London is totally different from East London—but they both have their own charms.
- And don’t just stay in London—explore the surrounding countryside. London is the perfect base for amazing day trips to places like Oxford, Cambridge, the Cotswolds Bath and more. In fact, London Perfect offers ideal day tours and excusions.
- Don’t confuse London Bridge with Tower Bridge. Yes, London Bridge has the catchy song, but the bridge itself is unremarkable. Tower Bridge is actually the beautiful, iconic one that you’re thinking of, and confusing the two is actually one of the usual London tourist mistakes.
- Don’t forget to pack your umbrella—and your sunglasses. It’s a myth that it rains all the time in London. The weather is just very unpredictable. You can experience glorious sunshine and grey downpours throughout the day. Also, layers are always an excellent idea. You can find a full packing guide here.
- Don’t eat out for every meal. Yes, London has great restaurants but it also has some of the best artisan markets in the world. Considering buying some groceries and enjoying them at your own luxurious kitchen. (Here are a few of our favorite kitchens.)
- Speaking of eating out, “chips” mean French fries and “crisps” mean potato chips. Order accordingly.
- Don’t forget to spend some time in London’s great outdoors. London is one of the world’s greenest cities. There are eight amazing Royal Parks to enjoy.
- Don’t skip the line. Brits love to properly “queue up,” so don’t even think of cutting in, as it’s the height of rude and unfortunately one of the most common London tourist mistakes.
- Don’t get your floors confused: In the UK, the “first floor” is the first level up from the ground floor. So, basically in British English, the “first floor” is America English’s “second floor.” (Confused yet?)
- Don’t stay at a hotel. Want to experience London like a real Londoner and not a tourist? Then book a vacation rental apartment and live like a local. Our London Perfect apartments are luxurious, while also being great for families and even couples. Compared to hotels, they can also be an affordable option, plus there’s a whole team here to help.
- Don’t travel on the tube during rush hour, if possible. It’s packed and uncomfortable. Also, in summer, only a few lines have air conditioning. Also, buy an Oyster card for public transportation. It will make your travel much smoother and cheaper, and it’s required to ride the bus.
- When on an escalator in the tube, don’t stand on the left side. The left “lane” is reserved for those who want to walk up the escalators.
- Don’t forget to hold on when you get on the bus—especially when you’re climbing the stairs to the top level. Bus drivers don’t wait for you to be seated before lurching off, so hold tight for dear life until you can get a seat!
- Don’t just get into a black cab. First, you need to tell the destination to your driver, and then you enter. (Better yet, skip the black cabs and order an Uber instead. They’re much more cost effective.)
- Don’t forget to walk around. It’s a great way to experience the city. But only cross the street when the pedestrian crossing light is green or at marked “zebra” crossings. The cars will be coming from the opposite direction (always look both ways), and they won’t slow down for pedestrians.
- Also, don’t forget to watch for cyclists, as many streets have bike lanes.
- Don’t call trousers “pants.” In the UK, “pants” mean “underwear,” so please bear this in mind before complimenting someone’s pants, or they make find you very cheeky (rude).
Ready to take on London like a local? Get in touch with our team today. We can find you the perfect London rental.