People from all around the world visit London in their thousands every year. And why not? We are the country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that. – wait, did I just accidentally quote Love Actually??? Woops! On a serious note though, we have an amazing history, some cracking buildings, plenty of weird and wonderful traditions and the Harry Potter studio tour! We are a tourist’s dream.
Travelling to a new place can be pretty daunting for a traveller – making sure you’re dressed right, that you know the customs and can successfully navigate the public transport. London is a peculiar place and Londoners are not known as the friendliest bunch. We are quite stuck in our little ways and our social interactions take some getting used to! However, this is all part of the city’s charm!
This is a tongue in cheek guide to being a tourist in London – I hope it helps a few of you out!
- DO stand on the right side of the escalators. Walk on the left side.
- DO wait until people have got off the bus/tube before getting on.
- DO use Citymapper – it’s a lifesaver that tells you how to get from A to B.
- DO walk around if you can. Many places in central London are very close together and completely possible to walk between – the added bonuses are that you save money and don’t inadvertently piss off any Londoners as you go.
- DO NOT speak to anyone on public transport before 11am. In daylight hours, only speak to those you know #strangerdanger! After 11pm, everyone’s fair game!
- DO NOT use public transport during rush hour unless absolutely necessary – especially not if you have a big bag – trust me, it’s for your own good!
- DO NOT wear your backpack on the tube/train/bus. Take it off and keep it out of the way by your feet/in a corner.
- DO NOT stand right in front of the carriage doors.
- DO ALWAYS give up your seat for elderly people, disabled people or pregnant people.
- DO NOT make eye contact with anyone on public transport.
- DO NOT walk slowly down the street. London speed is a thing.
- DO move your bag off the empty seat next to you as soon as the tube/train/bus starts to fill up.
- DO get an Oyster card so you can use our transport system like a pro.
- DO have your Oyster card ready when you reach the barrier.
- DO look at a tube map before travelling to avoid standing and staring at the giant map like an idiot in the station!
- DO move along inside the carriages so more people can fit on the tube! Don’t be the person that forces us to speak to a stranger and TELL them to move.
Food And Drink
- DO accept all cups of tea offered. It is very offensive not to!
- DO bring us treats from your country! We LOVE presents.
- DO NOT ever take the last biscuit if it is offered to you. The person offering has definitely earmarked it for themself!
- DO buy rounds in the pub. Those who shirk the responsibility of the rounds system will never be welcomed back!
- DO prepare for some big nights! Our after work drinks culture is the equivalent of a wild Saturday night for most nations. And we drink GIN. A lot of Gin!
- DO expect there to be a picnic and/or a BBQ as soon as a hint of sun is visible.
- DO NOT claim that British cuisine is terrible whilst eating solely in chain restaurants in central London. Branch out.
- DO liberally use your “Thank you”s, “Please”s and “Sorry”s otherwise we’ll think you’re rude and we’ll make all sorts of tutting noises.
- DO NOT assume that “Sorry” means “Sorry”. It could also mean: “I didn’t hear you”, “Excuse me”, “MOVE”, “What?” and many many more.
- DO NOT hug strangers. We’re more of a hand shaking nation.
- DO NOT mock our accents – we don’t take kindly to that.
- DO NOT ask us if we know your mum’s friend Mrs Jones who lives in London. We don’t! Nor do we know the Queen.
- DO send thank you cards – that’s always nice!
- DO NOT skip the queue. Anything that looks even vaguely like a queue IS a queue and we will be fuming if you skip it!
- DO NOT stand around in groups blocking the path of oncoming people.
- DO attempt to decipher the subtleties of the English language… “Not bad” for example usually actually means “Terrible! Literally couldn’t be more of a disaster!”
- DO NOT use Cockney rhyming slang under any circumstances.
- DO NOT ask us to do terrible tourist things with you like the London Eye. We’ve probably never done it but we know, right down to the core of our being, that we really wouldn’t want to anyway.
- DO check out our parks – we have lovely parks.
- DO NOT try to make the Queen’s Guards at Buckingham Palace laugh or talk to you like they do in the movies! Leave the poor guys alone!
- DO visit the many FREE museums and galleries in London – maybe avoid school holidays though!
- DO ask locals for advice on which non-touristy London things you should do.
- DO NOT be a selfie whore/photo wanker. We hate it when our way is blocked by you trying to pinch the top of Big Ben!!!
- DO NOT put locks on bridges – we are not Paris!
- DO NOT feed the pigeons.
- DO NOT ride the Lions in Trafalgar Square. They are displeased by these sorts of antics.
- DO NOT ride in rickshaws if you value your cash. They will fleece you!
- DO wander off the beaten track and find some hidden gems – mostly pubs, let’s be honest!
- DO learn the various words for describing the rain: pouring, pissing it down, bucketing down, drizzling, raining cats and dogs etc.
- DO bring a waterproof coat, shoes and an umbrella.
- DO NOT be an umbrella wanker.
- DO NOT complain about the weather. Or at least don’t complain when none of the Brits are complaining.
- DO expect it to be colder inside than outside often.
- DO bring winter gear for your summer holiday.
I hope all that hasn’t put you off coming and visiting us in London. We’re not bad chaps really. We do like our order but, as the Pirates of the Caribbean say, “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
I hope you have a spiffing time in London!
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