Experiencing London As A Tourist.
For most tourists who visit London, sights like Big Ben, Kensington Park, Buckingham Palace, Harrods and The London Eye are a must! I agree that these are great landmarks and should be visited at least once, but there’s more to this diverse city than lots of famous sights.
I’ve been to London a couple of times already, nevertheless I see myself as the typical tourist; I’m still shocked with supermarket prices, I still find driving in a red double-decker bus totally cool, I have no idea how to re-load my Oyster card and I still find the underground system complete frightening…
Still, London is one of the greatest mega cities with an amazingly diverse culture scene. Including the outer suburbs, it’s one of the largest capitals in the world, therefore visiting for a weekend can give you a real headache, when thinking of all the things you’d like to do. Well, you just gotta lower your sights; relax and slow down a little. You need to realise that you won’t be able to see it all.
I’d like to give you a couple of tips (from tourist to tourist) for a great London experience:
Drop the tube and just walk: As I said, I think the underground in London is frightening. Sure, it’s also one of the most extensive and frequent underground systems in the world, but you’ll experience so much more just by strolling around. Of course it always depend where you are and were you want to go, but as a tourist, you’ll (mostly) stick around the main attractions anyway.
Stay off the main roads: As it is in every city, the main roads are always packed with people and traffic. This can be nerve racking, so stroll around the side streets and I guarantee that you’ll come across some great little shops, cafés, buildings, parks and so on. One of the best things about London are all the different neighbourhoods and how quickly you can move between areas of very different types.
Don’t stress: As said before, you won’t be able to see every bit of London. Rather than rushing from one sight tot he next, take your time to enjoy London’s neighbourhoods, because there’s nothing worse than being stressed on vacation.
Be a tourist: Don’t be embarrassed if you want to go to “touristy” things … that’s totally cool. During my first visit to London, I actually felt more touristy than ever before (partly because I’ve also never seen to many tourist on one spot in any other city before) and I didn’t like it at all. But during my second and third visit, I realised that it’s fine and even Londoners like doing touristy things from time to time.
Check out Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Sightseeing Guide to complete your London experience.