Things to Know Before You Visit London

Updated August 15, 2020.

It’s Travel Tip Tuesday! Is London on your travel list? Whether you have just a weekend or a whole month to explore this world-renown capital city, there are a few things that may be handy to know before you go!

Useful Information

First things first: the basics!

  • Currency: Pounds, or the GBP
  • Language: British English
  • Driving Side: Left
  • Public Transportation: The Tube
  • River Through the City: Thames (pronounced “Tim’s”)
  • Adaptor: Three-pronged adaptor
More here: 5 Essentials for International Travel


It’s true, the English do speak English! But it’s different enough from the English spoken elsewhere in the world that a trip here warrants a mention here!

  • Boot: Trunk of a car
  • Chips: French fries (as in, fish ‘n chips)
  • Lift: Elevator
  • Bangers and Mash: Sausage and mashed potatoes
  • Crisps: Chips
  • Biscuit: Cookies
  • Dual Carriage Way: Highway
  • Lorry: Delivery truck
  • Jumper: Sweater
  • Mobile: Cell phone
  • Beefeater: The iconic guards with the red coats and the tall, black, fuzzy hats; also an alcoholic beverage
Beefeater at the Tower of London
More here: The Most Iconic Sites in London

Good to Know

London is full of exciting, iconic experiences, so you’ll want to get it right the first time! Here are some tips and tricks we learned along the way.

If purchasing tickets to a show, shop around! We bought our tickets to The Mousetrap right from the the play’s website, and they were 25 pounds less expensive than purchasing from the London Box Office’s website!

Getting Around

Once you get there, you’ll need to know how to get around!


  • I don’t recommend renting a car and driving around London. You’re much better off to catch a cab, get an Uber, take the Tube, or walk! If you do rent a car, don’t forget the British drive on the left.
  • Uber is usually cheaper than an official Black Cab, but the Black Cabs can take the bus lanes, which means they can get you to your destination faster; they also have extensive training that includes insider information about London!

Taking the Tube

  • Get an Oyster Card! You can order one in advance online, but you can also just wait and get one at the airport when you arrive, which is what we did.
  • Your Oyster Card comes with built-in discounts and a cap on the amount of money you will be charged each day. After a few trips, the rest of your day’s rides will be FREE!
  • For all things about the Oyster Card, check out their website.


Okay, so you know how to walk. But if you’re used to driving on the right, the rules are a bit different when walking in a place where cars drive on the left. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Before you cross the street, look right, left, then right again.
  • Walking can sometimes be faster than taking the Tube, if you know where you’re going, so look at a map first!
A kind reminder!
Plan on driving? Tips for Driving on the Left

British Food

British food has an unfortunate reputation for being bland and tasteless, but that is not the case! For the full scope, check out What I Ate in London! But for a few quick tips, here you go:

  • Not every restaurant will be serving “tea,” which is a meal, not just a beverage. We actually had a hard time finding a place to have tea!
  • There are different types of tea: For “Cream Tea,” you will be served your own pot of tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam; for “Afternoon Tea,” you will be served a light meal with your own pot of tea, an assortment of sandwiches, scones (with clotted cream and jam), and an assortment of pastries!
  • What’s clotted cream? It’s like a mix of butter and whipped cream, and it’s amazing!
  • Curry is far more popular than you might think!
  • You will be eating baked beans for breakfast!
That’s a Full English Breakfast, folks!
Keep eating: What to Eat in London

Are you ready for your trip to foggy London town? For more information about “Pretty City London,” check out my United Kingdom Page!

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