If you’re heading to London, here’s some useful tips to help you make the most of your stay.
Oyster Card: If you plan to travel by underground, bus or Thames clipper, get yourself an Oyster Card (children under 11 travel free). These plastic smartcards will give you the best fares across the network and you can buy them at any underground/rail station or newsagent-style shop in London. You simply pre-load credit onto the card and then at the end of your visit, you can either keep it for next time or return to a ticket machine/TFL Office and get any remaining credit refunded.
Contactless: If you have a Contactless payment card, you can also use this to pay as you go across the transport network, and you get the same discounted fares as you would with an Oyster Card. In order for it to be Contactless, your card must feature the symbol to the left.
Travel App: There’s an excellent free app called ‘Citymapper’ which helps you find your way around (make sure you download the London version). You simply key in your starting point and end destination, and it will tell you all the different ways to get there, the time it takes, any costs and even how many calories you’ll use if you walk!
Airport Transportation: Here are two reliable companies that offer airport transfers:
Luggage Storage: There are secure storage facilities at most mainline railway stations which you can book in advance at www.left-baggage.co.uk/en. Alternatively, you might want to check out Stasher Luggage Storage, which works in partnership with local shops and hotels who have extra storage space available – https://stasher.com/luggage-storage-guide/london.
STAYING IN TOUCH
Pay as you Go UK SIM Card: It’s fairly straightforward to get a UK SIM Card to use in your unlocked phone. You can usually buy them from any of the high street mobile phone retailers such as Carphone Warehouse, O2, Vodafone etc. Might be useful to have your passport and other key documents with you just in case the shop requests to see these. Most airports have options too: if you’re flying into Heathrow for instance, there should be a ‘SIM Local’ or ‘We Know London’ service desk at most of the arrival terminals, where you can pick up a card.
London Pass: If you intend to visit 2-3 major attractions a day, then it might be worth considering the London Pass – a sightseeing pass which gives you discounted access to 60+ attractions around London including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Kew Gardens and Thames River Cruises. Find out more.
Theatre Performances: There’s always a huge range of theatre shows on in London – in fact you can choose from over 200 performances a day. Visit Official London Theatre for the full list. If you select the date you’d like to go, it will show you all the performances for that day.
Discounted Theatre Tickets: For last minute and discount theatre tickets, head to the TKTS booth in the heart of Leicester Square. You can buy theatre tickets for performances on the day or the following two days, but you must go there in person.