London is a city that everybody should visit at least once. Full of historic sites, iconic landmarks, stunning architecture, and fascinating cultural experiences, this city is always flooded by a sea of tourists. And if it’s your first time in London, it’s easy to get swept up.
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There are a few classic mistakes that everybody tends to make their first time in London. While none of them mean the end of the world, you ideally want to make as few mistakes as possible when you’re getting your bearings in a major city like London. Check out what things to avoid while in the English capital!
10 Asking For Directions Instead Of Following The Signs
London is a big city that’s easy to get lost in if you’re new. But once you find your feet, you’ll realize that it’s actually really easy to navigate. There are endless tourists that visit London every year, and so London caters to foreigners pretty well. There are signs just about everywhere.
One mistake you don’t want to make, according to Happy to Wander, is neglecting to read the signs and asking locals for directions instead. It’s just not necessary to inconvenience people when the answer is right in front of you!
9 Not Having Spare Change On Hand
It’s always a good idea to have spare change on hand while you’re in London. The main reason? Although our society is becoming increasingly cashless, there are still many public restrooms in London that won’t let you in without some spare change. The entry fee isn’t much at all, but you’ll still need those coins to get in.
On the subject of change in London, it’s best to be familiar with General British Pounds before you go. That way you can tell if someone tries to shortchange you!
8 Opting For Cabs Instead Of The Tube
The Tube can seem scary to newbies, but it’s one of the most convenient public transport systems in the world. You don’t need to be a local to make use of it, either. It’s user-friendly and pretty easy to figure out, plus it will get you where you need to be faster than the average taxi cab.
The other thing about cabs in London is that they tend to be overpriced, relying on tourists who aren’t confident enough to use the Tube. Save your extra cash by taking public transport and splurge on a delicious meal instead!
7 Not Knowing The Proper Tube Etiquette
So you’ve decided to take the Tube? That’s great! Now you just have to make sure you’re practicing the proper Tube etiquette. The normal rules apply—be polite, don’t draw too much attention to yourself, don’t bother anybody, etc. But there’s one more you should know, and it concerns escalators.
When you’re taking the escalator down to the Tube (or any escalator in London), make sure you stand on the right. You only go to the left when you’re walking up or down the escalator. Stand on the wrong side, and be prepared to be pushed.
6 Assuming You’re Totally Safe At All Times
London is an incredibly safe city. Travelers tend to worry more about trying to save money in the expensive English capital than they do about keeping safe. But like any major city, London does have its dangers. If you assume you’re automatically safe just because you’re in a popular place like London, you’re less likely to be aware of your surroundings and might fall prey to petty crime.
There are still pickpockets and scammers in London, waiting for tourists to rip off. You don’t need to be afraid of that, just aware.
5 Leaving A Tip For The Bartender
In some countries around the world, tipping is customary. You wouldn’t even think of going to a bar in certain cities without tipping the bartender. But in London, it’s not necessary. When you go to a pub, you won’t often find a tip jar like you would in other places because tipping isn’t the done thing.
As Travel Off the Path advises, you don’t have to tip the barman at the pub in many establishments throughout London. While some will take your change, you’ll betray yourself as a tourist rather than a local.
4 Being Caught Out By British English
Many travelers believe that just because they’re going to an English-speaking country, they’ll understand everything that’s said. The thing to remember here is that British English can actually vary a lot from American English. There will be quite a few words you’ve never heard before, and phrases that mean something completely different from what you know.
The best thing to do is to brush up on some common British terms and phrases before you go. When you’re a foreigner, sometimes English accents can be hard enough to decipher. Pair that with strange new vocab, and you’ll end up being pretty lost.
3 Neglecting To Try A Food Market
When it comes to food in London, most foreigners come with the intention of trying one classic dish: fish and chips. You should also clear up room in your itinerary to visit a food market. The city is brimming with them, and they offer truly amazing culinary experiences that you’ll never forget.
You might have your heart on sampling authentic British cuisine, but don’t forget that in a melting pot of cultures like London, you’ll also have the chance to sample authentic dishes from many other countries. And the best place to do it is at a food market.
2 Failing To Realize The Importance of Queuing
British people are known for their politeness. While we don’t want to generalize, it’s true that impolite behavior is frowned upon throughout the country. When you’re in London, you’ll have to learn to master the art of queuing. In plainer terms, lining up for things.
People in London will queue for everything from ordering at a bar to using the changing room. If you try to cut in the line, you might find yourself face to face with some very angry locals. It’s better to be polite and join the queue, even if you have to wait.
1 Visiting Only Paid Attractions
There are a few paid attractions that will probably be on your London bucket list. Many people want to ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London, visit Buckingham Palace, or go on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. While these things might all be great attractions, don’t forget about the freebies!
Several of London’s greatest highlights don’t cost a thing to enter. These include the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and the National Gallery. London is an expensive city, so if you find that you’re coming close to hitting your budget, it might be an idea to swap the paid attractions for some free ones.