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.

WATCH FULL VIDEO: London’s ONE ALDWYCH Is For The Stylish, Artistic & Cool Jetsetter

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

  • Currently British Summer Time (BST), UTC +1
  • Standard time (Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), UTC +0) usually starts in the middle of October
  • For example, if it’s 12:00 pm in NYC, it’s 5:00 pm in London

The same visa rules apply for London as they do for the UK: if you have a U.S. passport and are are staying in London for 6 months or less, you do not need a visa. If you do need to apply for a visa, it is best to start early because dates fill up quickly at visa offices.

  • Click here to double-check if you need a visa or not.

London has 5 major airports: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted. Trains to London include the Gatwick Express and the Heathrow Express. Oyster cards are well known throughout London for easy, public transport. You can take a taxi from all of these London airports, but know that it will be more expensive than a ride on the Tube.

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 if not “the” most common way to get around the city of London and parts of the UK. Oyster cards make it easy to get on and off public transport with the swipe or slide of a card (most times touching the Oyster card to the yellow reader works). It is a rechargeable smartcard in which money can be added; Oyster cards are the most cost-effective way to get around London.

Why buy an Oyster card?

  • Accepted everywhere – use on all London public transport.
  • Reusable and flexible – choose the amount of pay-as-you-go credit you need.
  • It’s 50% cheaper – a Tube journey in central London costs £2.40 with Oyster or £4.90 with cash.
  • Earn exclusive discounts and offers at various restaurants/attractions.
  • Can even be used on the Heathrow and Gatwick Express.
  • Overall, saves you time and money!

London is still considered a safe place despite things that have happened in the past. It is still a big city and safety precautions should always be in place.

Call 999 or 112 in an emergency to contact the police, ambulance or fire department.

For non-urgent crimes contact the police by calling 101.

Safety tips:

  • Never leave your bags in a public place unattended.
  • Keep important valuables out of sight and never in your pockets.
  • When using a cashpoint, make sure no one can see your PIN number and that the machine has not been tampered with to get your personal information.
  • Keep up to date on local social media such as instagram and Facebook for news events.
  • Only use registered taxis or minicabs, and always plan your route before you leave.
  • Be careful of wearing headphones, as they reduce your attentiveness of your surroundings.
  • Cars drive on the LEFT in the UK, so pay attention to designated crossings and always watch for traffic.

Safety Tips for Nighttime:

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Stick to well-lit streets.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Ask your friends where they are and if they got home safely; it is best to stay in groups.

For Female Travelers:

  • London is considered quite safe for travelers of all genders and identities. London allows freedom for women; it is not considered a city with a high risk for female travelers.

The best time to visit London is March through May when the temperature isn’t too hot or cold and things are starting to turn green. Late spring and summer reflect the most visitors and travel prices can increase. Fall and winter have chillier temperatures. 72 degrees F is the average of July temperatures, and 45 degrees F is the average of January temperatures.

Number 1 tip: Always expect to bring an umbrella whenever you choose to go! 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 diverse city in the world. The top languages spoken in London are English, Bengali, Sylheti, and Panjabi.

Some common phrases:

“Take care” or “Catch ya later”.

Wanker (idiot).

Dry (when something is boring).

Bollocks (nonsense).

Crepes (sneakers/trainers).

Fit, Buff, Peng (instead of “attractive”).

Gobsmacked (astonished).

Pissed (drunk).

Taking the piss (making fun of something).

Ends (neighborhood).

Loo (toilet).

Chips (French fries).

Here are some unspoken etiquette rules you should follow during a visit to London:

  • Stopping to make a donation in a museum is expected, even if a museum is technically free.
  • Londoners love to say sorry, even for things that aren’t their fault.
  • It’s fine to ask for directions, but talking to strangers on public transport is not the norm.
  • Try not to speak in a loud volume with others around you.
  • Wait your turn in line!
  • Always stand on the right side of the elevator.

The official currency of London is the pound sterling, known as the pound (which is divided into 100 pence). The most common bills are £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 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, so make sure to contact your bank before you leave.

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.

The electrical current in London is 220–240 volts (similar with the rest of Europe at 230 volts), 50 cycles alternating current (AC). Three-pin plugs are in wall outlets, and shaver sockets take two round, oversize prongs. If you’re from America, chances are you’ll have to bring an adapter and/or a converter. Your adaptor should look like this:

Tap water is fine to drink in London, as all tap water in the UK is safe. Bottled water is charged at a premium, so be sure to bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!

Many Starbucks and internet cafés have free wifi. SIM cards are easy to purchase when you arrive in London as well if you’re there for a longer stay.

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 of most friendly LGBTQ+ places to visit in the world. There are endless possibilities of bars, restaurants, and hangouts for people of all identities. The annual pride parade is always very important in London, with banners and flags down many streets and people from all different backgrounds walking together.

If you’re game for slow travel, try a ferry route instead of other transportation such as air travel. The number of cyclists is also increasing in London, and sustainable hotels keep popping up around the city. Always use a reusable water bottle and try to pick up plastic wherever you go. Sustainable fashion in local boutiques is becoming more common, as with zero-waste restaurants. Even with its large amount of people, London is always aiming to do better environmentally while making people more aware.

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HOTELS WE LOVE:

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.