With its foolproof public transport system and its population of English speakers, London is one of the easiest places to travel to for those coming from the United States. It’s also one of the most popular travel destinations in the entire world. When you arrive and become immersed in the iconic London ambiance, you’ll see why.
Although it may be easier to navigate than other cities, London is still a place where rookies tend to make a lot of blunders on their first visit. Keep reading to find out what mistakes first-timers always make in London and how to avoid them!
10 Eating Before Afternoon Tea
You can’t go to London and not experience afternoon tea. The ritual, sometimes called high tea, is a pastime shrouded in tradition and style. It’s a lot of fun! Just make sure that you don’t eat before you go.
A lot of people tend to think that afternoon tea consists of a cup of tea and perhaps a cookie (called a biscuit in England). But actually, there’s quite a bit to eat. You’ll be presented with everything from finger sandwiches to scones to cakes. It is a full meal, so make sure you’re not already full by the time you get there!
9 Being Too Scared To Take The Tube
The London Underground can seem intimidating to foreigners visiting London for the first time. But it is actually unbelievably simple and easy. It can also be much quicker and cheaper than taking a cab. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from using the Tube.
We would advise that you avoid using the Tube at peak hours. That’s normally between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. The commuters will be out in full force then, and the experience might be a little too overwhelming for a newbie.
8 Taking The Tube Everywhere
On the flip side, it’s also a mistake to take the Tube absolutely everywhere in London. Sometimes, tourists see how easy it is, fall in love with it, and decide to take it everywhere. But there will be certain times when it’s actually smarter to walk.
Research the distance between point A and point B before deciding whether to take the Tube or walk. If you can get away with walking, then do it. You’ll see more of the city that way and might discover something exciting that you never expected to find. We can guarantee that won’t happen in an underground tunnel!
7 Only Visiting Expensive Attractions
We won’t lie to you: London isn’t the cheapest destination you could go to. From food to transport to accommodation, a lot of what the city has to offer will be expensive. Don’t make it more expensive by filling your itinerary only with attractions that you have to pay for. Especially when there are so many great free things to do in London!
There will be some things on your bucket list that you’ll just have to see, and some of those will cost a fee. That’s fine. But don’t forget to also include things that are free, like a stroll through Hyde Park and visit the Natural History Museum.
6 Believing English Food Only Consists Of Fish And Chips
It’s only natural to want to taste traditional English food when you’re in London. Be sure to seek out foods other than fish and chips! Don’t get us wrong: fish and chips are delicious and you definitely should try them while in London. But English cuisine doesn’t stop there. There’s also the Sunday roast, bangers and mash, a full breakfast, steak and kidney pie, and so much more.
Also, be sure to eat at traditional pubs rather than at chain restaurants that you could find anywhere. Enjoy the quintessential British experience while you can!
5 Going To Chain Coffee Shops Instead Of Independent Stores
In the same way that you should avoid chain restaurants, you should also avoid chain coffee shops. According to The Points Guy, London has amazing coffee to offer but you have to know where to go. By only ordering at chain stores like Starbucks, you’ll never experience the true quality of local coffee.
By going to independent stores over chain stores, you’ll also have the chance to support local businesses. This applies to coffee shops, but also to restaurants, cafes, and even retail outlets. Why go with the same old thing you could get anywhere when you could experience something that’s unique to London?
4 Underestimating The Immense Size Of Heathrow Airport
If you’re from a small town, you might not appreciate just how big and overwhelming Heathrow Airport is. Allow yourself plenty of time to get through security at the busy airport and also allow plenty of time to get there.
Speaking from personal experience, please remember to check the terminal you’re going to on your ticket. In some airports, getting your terminal wrong is easily fixed. But at Heathrow, if you get it wrong, you’ll need to get on a train to get to the right one. The airport is huge, so you don’t want to go in the wrong direction!
3 Failing To Queue
The English have a reputation for being super polite and always remembering their manners. While it’s not true of every single person in England, it does tend to be a very real part of the culture. One of the ways that people show manners is by queuing up. There are queues for nearly everything in London, so don’t be that annoying tourist who tries to push to the front.
If you see a queue, simply join the end of it and wait your turn patiently. This applies to getting on the Tube, getting into nightclubs, paying for your purchases in a store, and just about everything else!
2 Expecting To Go Inside Buckingham Palace
The majority of tourists visiting London for the first time dream of going to Buckingham Palace to visit the Queen. Most know that only half of that dream will come true: you can go to the palace, but you can’t visit the Queen. In fact, the majority of the time, you can’t even go inside the palace.
Palace tours only operate when the Queen is not there for 10 weeks each summer, and during other select dates. But you can watch the Changing of the Guard from outside the gates, which takes place daily in summer and at 11:00 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at other times.
1 Getting Confused Between The Attractions
When you’re new to London, it’s easy to get confused between the various attractions that there are to see. For example, the British Museum and the Museum of London are not the same thing, but you might not realize that until you turn up at the wrong place! It’s best to make sure you have the names of where you’re going super clear to avoid blunders like that.
Another common attraction that people get confused with is the Tower Bridge. This stunning draw bridge is a sight to be seen, but it’s not London Bridge.