Common Mistakes in London
Don't make these newbie mistakes!
We made all these newbie mistakes, so you don’t have to! London was fun to visit, and we did a lot of main tourist attractions in a short period of time. However, our trip would have been more enjoyable had we not made these silly mistakes!
Going to a new country can be a bit scary, especially if you are not used to the new norms. Many newcomers to London make these common mistakes, but this guide will help you feel more prepared and ready to take London head on!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Continue reading for more on Common Mistakes in London! For more travel tips, read more about the most common travel mistakes and what to do instead!
1. Not Staying Near the City
On our trip to London, we found a great deal on a hotel called the Heston Hyde. It was a wonderful hotel, and was very cheap!
The downside… it was 40 minutes from London.
No problem, we thought. 40 minutes isn’t too far. We can just rent a car (more on that mistake later).
Needless to say, it was a POOR decision. Getting to London and back to our hotel was a new adventure every day.
Spend the extra money and find a hotel near the city center, and save yourself hours a day of stress!
Check out these 3 hotel booking sites you must know about to help you find great deals, even close to the city!
2. Renting a Car
Unless you are used to driving on the left side of the road, and are used to heavy city traffic, repeat after me: Do not rent a car in London!
However, if you live in the area or are used to these things, by all means, rent the car! Some travelers aren’t bothered by a little traffic or driving on the left. Save 30% on car rentals here!
This is a common mistake in London I have seen many people make.
Driving on the left is hard. We even got a flat tire half a mile away from our hotel… Also, it made me car sick because I was not used to everything feeling backwards!
Additionally, there really is no need for a car in London. There is so much public transport to take you anywhere you need to go (given that your hotel is close to the city… refer to #1).
Here is some information on the London Subway system.
3. Not using the subway system...correctly
The London Underground is amazing for traveling throughout the city.
Once we decided to ditch our rental car, we bought Oyster cards, which you can buy for 1,2,3 or 7 days.
They are well worth the price! We used them multiple times a day to get around.
However, make sure you swipe out after you leave the train. On one stop, we noticed no one was swiping out for some reason, so we didn’t either.
Well, doing this cancels out your card. So, when we needed the subway one night, we were out of luck and had to buy new cards.
Don’t be like us. ALWAYS swipe out. There will be scanners as soon as you leave the station, so you shouldn’t forget like we did!
4. Not Booking Tickets in Advance
This is not something we made a mistake with, but we often see people in super long lines waiting to get into an attraction. Meanwhile, we had bought our tickets online in advanced, and can cut 90% of the lines!
You will want to purchase tickets ahead of time for attractions like the London Eye, the River Thames cruise, the Tower of London, and any other place you are looking to visit. These are among the top 10 things you should do in London!
We typically plan our trips and book tickets months ahead of time, so we can choose our most favorable date and time.
London is a very busy place, especially if visiting in the Summer. Do yourself a favor and book those tickets in advance!
Consider purchasing the Sightseeing pass, and get discounted prices to all main attractions!
5. Not seeing the Changing of the Guard
On our trip to London, we did not have enough time to see the changing of the guard. We were really disappointed we missed it, since we have heard so many great things about it!
I can’t promise it will be worth it, but I can say you will regret not seeing it. Next time we visit London, we will definitely make time to see it!
6. Looking the wrong way before crossing the street
Because drivers in London drive on the left, a lot is going to change both on and off the roads. This includes how you should act as a pedestrian!
You will notice this weird feeling when you get to an intersection, waiting to cross the road. It feels like you forgot how to cross the road! Which way do I look, where are the cars coming from? It feels difficult to anticipate traffic.
Don’t worry, though. There are signs directly on the street telling you which way to look before crossing! Kind of strange, but a helpful reminder!
If all else fails, just look left and right a few times before crossing (which you should be doing anyway)!
7. Only eating fish & chips
I get it. When in London, eat fish and chips. And you should! But to be honest, we were pretty disappointed, and we had them at one of the “best” places around.
We recommend trying them somewhere, but branch out and try different things too! We had shepherd’s pie at the Town of Ramsgate and it was phenomenal!
Here is a great list of unique restaurants in London!
8. Not taking advantage of FREE attractions
There are so many touristy things you should do in London, but don’t forget about things that are free! One of our favorite free sites was the Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is an AMAZING view of the whole city, and the best part- it is completely free!
However, you need to make reservations in advance. We made ours months in advance and we had slim pickings, so don’t wait!
9. Not being prepared
This goes for almost any trip, but is even more important for trips that are overseas. If you are not from Europe, chances are this will be a long flight for you. Don’t arrive completely jet lagged and miserable. Here are some tips for dealing with jet lag!
Additionally, we have found flying into London to be one of the cheapest European countries to get to, so consider stopping here no matter where your end destination is.
Lastly, you are going to need to pack some things. Here are some top carry on items you will find helpful both during your flight and visit here.
Thank you for reading Common Mistakes in London! Please leave your tips in the comment section below!