It’s the grit and attitude of a modern metropolis woven together with charming strokes of history that make London a must-visit global city. If you’re wondering how to slot yourself into this bustling capital pulsing with more than eight million residents, start by taking these six clever items along with your passport.
An Oyster card for visitors
You’ll have a hard time getting anywhere in London without one of these nifty little cards (and you might even pass for a local if you get swift with your swiping). All tube, bus, tram, London Overground, Tfl Rail, River Bus and National Rail journeys are easily traversed with this card, which can be loaded through the app, stations or visitor centres. For a little over £5 (AU$9) postage, Transport for London will even send a pre-loaded card with your chosen amount to your home address to avoid any unnecessary trips to the station master. Certain international credit cards are also compatible to tap on and off with London transport links in lieu of an Oyster altogether but be certain to check with Transport for London if yours is accepted before you tackle the Tube.
Avoid getting in a local’s way by making use of the clever Tube transport app, Station Master, co-created by Geoff Marshall, the 2013-2015 Guinness World Record holder for travelling to all Tube stations in the fastest time possible. Station Master is the ultimate guide to mastering the Underground thanks to its detailed maps and quirky, useful info. What other app would inform you which door and which side of the train is closest to your best exit, along with 3D maps to help you anticipate any passageways, as well as the number of steps on each underground staircase?
A guide to British etiquette
Queuing, apologising and constantly brewing tea – there are some quintessential British quirks you should have a handle on before touching down. Based on the wildly popular Twitter page, @SoVeryBritish, the handy cultural compendium Very British Problems by Rob Temple will impart a different type of wisdom about the Londoners you’ll be travelling among (and have you in stitches).
London’s West End is where all the world’s best shows converge – and also where you’ll likely have difficulty securing a last-minute seat or two should an evening open up in your sightseeing schedule. Skip the queues and book discounted, last-minute tickets to the world’s biggest musicals and plays on Todaytix, where classics such as The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Les Misérables and Wicked can easily be booked online or through the app. In addition to allowing you to buy tickets up to 30 days in advance (if you’re that organised), the app also features a ‘Rush’ option, where last-minute tickets can be secured at slashed prices.
Britain and rainy weather are as much partners in crime as a cup of tea and a biscuit but if you let drizzle stop you ticking bucket list boxes, you’d likely never leave your hotel. Prep for all of Mother Nature’s moods with an easily packable mac to shield your clothes and your plans from the dampening effect of an almost inevitable shower.
SEE ALSO: First Timer’s Guide to London