LONDON

Where have you BEN all my life?.

“What if we all wore rainbow scarves like the eighty-year-old man in the alley by the Globe with popcorn kernel teeth and a first name that means Open, hat laced with dandelion stems, chewing black licorice, passing out periwinkle paper poems for free?” – excerpts from Amanda Dettmann’s poem An Old Man Performs Poetry In A London Alley.

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There are approximately 300 languages spoken in London, and 170 museums waiting for you to visit.

UK goes by Greenwich Mean Time (GMT.) For example, the time difference between London and New York is 5 hours.

If you have a U.S. passport and are staying in London for 6 months or less, you do not need a visa. If you’re an European passport holder, you also don’t need a visa to enter the UK. Click here to double-check on visa requirements for your country.

London has five major airports: London City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted. Trains to London city center include the Gatwick Express and the Heathrow Express. Oyster cards are convenient throughout London for easy, public transport. This map shows the distances to Central London by Express train. Click here for more London travel information to/from the airport.

The Tube is one of the most common ways to get around the city. Oyster cards is a rechargeable smartcard and is:

  • Accepted everywhere – use on all London public transport.
  • Reusable and flexible – choose the amount of pay-as-you-go credit you need.
  • Earn exclusive discounts and offers at various restaurants/attractions.
  • Can even be used on the Heathrow and Gatwick Express.

Just like any big cities, female solo travelers need to practice general precaution. London, however, is considered safe for female solo travelers since the city also provides solid public transportation system with police guards frequently seen throughout the city. Be especially careful with your phone in public places, beware of thieves on mopeds and bicycles.

The best time to visit London is March through May when the temperature isn’t too hot or cold. Late spring and summer reflect the most visitors and travel prices can increase. Fall and winter have colder temperatures. 70°F is the average temperature in July, and 47°F is the average in January.

Hot tip! Always bring an umbrella since misty days and showers year round are common.

Most people don’t realize that over 250 languages are spoken in London, which makes the capital the most linguistically-diversed city in the world. The top languages spoken in London are English, Bengali, Sylheti, and Panjabi.

Be sure to stand on the right on escalators since left side is strictly for moving traffic only.

Informally, some British people may say “cheers” instead of “you’re welcome.”

London is an ethnically and racially diverse city, keep an open mind and be respectful of different cultures.

When visiting Buckingham Palace or other famous landmarks with guards and horses, do not touch.

Devouring a Sunday Roast is a must in the UK, keep in mind that some people start exactly at 3:15 p.m.

The official currency of London is the pound. ATMs have a low exchange rate, and they are quite easy to find all over the city. Just know that your bank may charge you transaction fees while you’re abroad.

Tipping! Most people leave 10-15% of the bill when eating out. Make sure to check your bill if you don’t want to tip twice because restaurants will often add on a service charge around 12.5% if you’re in a large group.

UK uses plug type G, which is the plug that three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.

Tap water is fine to drink in London, as all tap water in the UK is safe.

Many public places and internet cafés have free Wi-Fi. SIM cards are easy to purchase when you arrive in London if you’re there for a longer stay.

Most ride-sharing apps exist in London, but Uber is one of London’s most crucial markets. It makes getting around even easier, but if you’d rather use the famous black taxi cabs, they are always available in London as well.

London usually tops the list as one of the most liberal cities in the world. There are endless possibilities of bars, restaurants and clubs for the LGBTQIA+ communities especially on Old Compton Street in Soho. Every June, there’s a Pride Parade that takes place in the city center.

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WHERE TO STAY

London hotel averages at USD$200/night, Airbnb $150/night.

FOR THE PLANNERS:

Covent Garden remains to be one of the best neighborhoods to stay for first-timers and foodies.

FOR ARTISTS:

There's free entrance in all UK National museums, except for some exhibits that require an admission fee.