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Before You Visit London for the First Time

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London Big Ben and traffic on Westminster Bridge
Sylvain Sonnet/The Image Bank/Getty Images

London is a wonderful place to visit but you do need to plan in advance to make the most of your time. There is an incredible amount of options to consider: when to visit, where to stay, what to see... I hope this helps make the planning simpler for you.

Also see:One Week in London - An Itinerary for a First-Time Visit to London

 

Decide What Time of Year to Go

 

As I'm sure you've heard, London weather can be quite unpredictable. We Londoners are known to regularly carry both our sunglasses and an umbrella. But London weather is never so extreme as to detract from all the great things to do in the city, and major attractions are not seasonal.

The city sees a large increase in visitors in July and August (the hottest time of the year, usually).

 

Travel Document Requirements

All overseas visitors will need a passport when traveling to London and some visitors will need a visa. US citizens are encouraged to register any overseas travel with the US Department of State.

 

Arriving in London

You can get to London by air, rail, road, or ferry. Obviously, where you are traveling from, and how much time you have, will influence your choice.

 

Figure Out How to Use Public Transport

London's public transport is easy and safe to use. Between the Underground rail system and the bus routes, you can get almost anywhere you want fairly cheaply. Or if you've got a little more money, a black taxi will take you there.

 

Etiquette in London

Londoners are overall polite and helpful, provided you don't infringe in their personal space and aren't loud and obnoxious. Obey the 'rules of the road', such as standing on the right on Underground escalators, keeping your iPod volume turned relatively low, using "please" and "thank you" constantly, then you'll be fine.

 

Where to Stay in London

If you are only staying in London for a short time (a week or less) it would be best to stay in central London to avoid wasting time traveling. It is remarkably easy to get around London on public transport so don't worry too much about which area in central London; if you find a hotel you like, or can get a great deal, then as long as it's central you will be fine.

 

Where to Eat in London

London has an astronomical number of restaurants so you won't have problems finding something new every day. I recommend checking the Harden's website where you can search by cuisine, price, and location. Remember, London has residents from every country in the world so you can try a lot of new taste experiences here.

 

What to See in London

There are plenty of free things to see and do but if you want to see some of the more expensive attractions you may want to consider a London Pass/. It's a sightseeing card at a fixed rate and covers over 55 attractions.

The London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel and you can get some great views across the city. Or try some of our royal heritage with the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace.

 

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