Unraveling London: Handy Do’s and Don’ts for the Debutante Explorer

Updated on 13 Aug 2023

Are you ready to embark on your first journey to London, the dazzling capital city of England? Exciting times! But remember, every new city has its quirks and charms, and London is no exception. To make the most of your maiden voyage to this vibrant metropolis, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts in London. These tips are more like local secrets, serving as your golden ticket to an unforgettable British adventure!


London Tower
  • Online Ticketing for the Tower of London

A trip to London would be incomplete without visiting the iconic Tower of London. Just remember – plan ahead and book your tickets online. If you’re caught buying tickets on the spot, you’ll face two separate queues – one for ticket purchase and another for entry. Avoid the wait; buy online!

  • Time your visit to the Changing of the Guards

This classic ceremony is a spectacle not to be missed! However, remember to check the timings, especially on bank holidays. We learned this the hard way – we spent our morning delighting in tea and cupcakes at Peggy Porschen Cakes, only to discover we’d missed the ceremony due to a shift in schedule!

  • Give Traditional British Cuisine a go

You can’t visit England without tasting traditional British fare. A recommendation? The Shepherd’s Pie at the Grazing Goat. Ignore the usual tourist fare of Fish and Chips; this cosy pub provides an authentic taste of Britain. Plus, the local crowd adds to the charm!

  • Keep an eye on construction updates

When visiting monumental structures like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, or the Millennium Bridge, make sure you aren’t greeted by scaffolding instead of the awe-inspiring architecture you’re expecting. Check online for renovation updates before setting off!

  • Look for service charges on restaurant bills

When dining out, you might notice a service charge on your bill – this is essentially the tip. If you’re feeling generous, you’re welcome to tip extra, but it’s not necessary. It’s a different system than in the US, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do!


London Underground
  • Fall for the Gatwick Express trap

Fresh off the plane, you might be tempted to jump onto the Gatwick Express. Resist the urge! Instead, opt for the Thameslink train. It’s cheaper and your ticket covers all Underground transportation for the day. But remember, you can only buy this ticket at the airport.

  • Get an Oyster Card if you have a contactless credit card

The London public transport system is compatible with contactless credit cards, so no need to buy an Oyster Card unless you don’t have a contactless card. It’s a small thing, but it’s the little stuff that counts when you’re abroad!

  • Get stuck in rush hour

Nothing disrupts travel like getting stuck in a crowd during rush hour, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar city. Avoid the Underground between 07:30 – 09:30 and 17:00 – 19:00 if you can.

  • Overload on cash

London is credit-card friendly, meaning there’s no need to carry much cash. Take it from us – we lost a bit on exchange rates and found ourselves spending cash unnecessarily near the end of the trip!

  • Forget to pack Melatonin

For those of us prone to jet lag, Melatonin can be a life-saver. Remember, in London, Melatonin is prescription-only, so pack your own to help adjust your sleep cycle.


Navigating a new city like London can be intimidating, but with these do’s and don’ts in your pocket, you’ll be exploring like a local in no time! Just remember, while it’s smart to plan ahead, it’s also important to leave room for spontaneity and unexpected discoveries. After all, that’s what travel is all about! Here’s to an incredible first-time visit to London, and many more to come.

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