I was a little unsure of what to expect when I first arrived in London.
This was the first destination on my trip with Viking Cruises. Growing up, I always heard about the royalty that inhabited London. It always sounded magical. London has been a destination I’ve dreamed of visiting since I was a young boy.
Unlike cities here in the United States, London is packed full of history dating back to when the Romans founded it in 50 AD.
Even though England is a foreign country, it’s cool to be in a European city and still be able to communicate with the locals. This makes London a fantastic first destination for novice travelers who want to see Europe. The English here is a little different than what I’m used to, but we’ll discuss that later.
London is such a world-renown city; you’ll find awesome things to do, no matter who you are. Let’s jump in as I teach you what I’ve learned from my experiences in London, England.
Also Read: The Wonders of Montreal, Canada
What I learned about London
London is the most popular city in England, so you’d think that it’s also the most British. Actually, London is one of the most diverse and international cities you can visit in Europe.
In the movies, it seems like it’s ALWAYS raining in London. During my stay in the city, it didn’t rain once. The sun was shining every day with partly cloudy skies. However, you may not be so lucky. Take an umbrella; it’s still known to rain unpredictably on a regular basis.
Where I’m from in Puerto Rico, it’s hot all-year-round. However, the weather in London was refreshingly cool. Even in late August, the temperature didn’t go much above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re looking for an affordable European city, don’t expect London to be cheap. Seriously, be warned. EVERYTHING in this city is expensive.
The public transportation in London is exceptional. You can count on it getting you anywhere. The caveat is that it’s expensive, just like everything else.
The good news is you can purchase an Oyster Card, which will get you cheaper fares on all public transport around the city. Don’t forget to scan your card when entering or leaving, or you’ll be charged when you’re not even traveling.
Expect to pay to gain access to some of the hottest destinations, although there are plenty of free things to do also.
London is huge. It will be challenging to see everything all in one trip, so plan your time efficiently.
You’ll be able to find all of the traditional English dishes here, like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. But because London is so diverse, you’ll find food from all over the world.
London isn’t just British. It’s an international city, a melting pot of all cultures and nationalities from around the globe.
Londoners and British people, in general, love their pub culture and going out to grab a casual drink. If you like going out to bars with your friends, then I highly recommend going out with a pub crawl. Keep in mind though that the prices will be relatively high for a beer at these London pubs.
British people are very polite; they always say “please” and “thank you.” You might also notice that they say “sorry” too much.
Quick Tips to Surviving London:
- Don’t mess up their lines and queues. The British love their order.
- Please, and thank you: use your good manners here.
- Remember that the British drive on the left side of the road. Don’t forget to look twice to your right while looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Most pubs close at 11 p.m., so get your drinking in early.
- Don’t forget to tap out with your Oyster Card.
- Be prepared to spend a lot of money here. Remember, it’s expensive.
- Don’t expect to get anywhere on time on a Sunday. They seem to always have construction and maintenance delays on Sundays.
- Bring an umbrella. You’ll need it, especially if your stay is longer.
My review of London
Cost to stay in London
Because London is such a pricey city, I would not recommend Greenwich or any of its other boroughs as a budget-friendly place to visit or live.
Whether you’re going out for food or a drink, booking a place to stay, or visiting some of the sites, you’ll be spending considerably more money than you may have thought.
London is a very safe city, but you do have to beware of pickpockets. It’s not as bad as other big European cities, but be careful around tourist attractions.
Be careful about crossing the street. Remember that the British drive on the left side of the road. I caught myself looking for cars the wrong way a couple of times when crossing the street, so remember that cars will be coming down the left side of the street instead of the right.
Suggested Reading: Edinburgh, Scotland
London has people and cultures from all over the world. The city doesn’t have just one culture.
Londoners are very used to tourists. In fact, London is perfect for new world travelers and tourists. The diversity and wide range of activities are great for everyone.
There are plenty of sites to see, and the nightlife in London is excellent. Londoners love their pub culture and grabbing beers throughout the day.
If pubs aren’t your thing, there is still a crazy amount of activities to keep you amused.
There are SO many things to see in London, but these are my top six must-see sites:
- Big Ben
- Tower of London
- Coca-Cola London Eye
- Tower Bridge
- Buckingham Palace
- British Museum (it’s free!)
Even though the United Kingdom is just a small island compared to the rest of the world, there is a huge variety of English accents there. However, the London accent is arguably the most iconic. London is an international city, so you will hear languages from all over the world here.
As a Puerto Rican, Spanish has always been my native tongue. I’ve learned and become fluent in English over time. Sometimes English slang words and the accents made it a little harder for my wife and me to understand. You’ll get used to it though; don’t worry.
London is the capital of England, the country the English language came from. Thus, if your English is sufficient enough to read this article, you’ll get along just fine there.
Quality of life
For those who can afford to live here, the quality of life is excellent. As any city, some places are better than others. Regardless, people of all colors, shapes, orientation, and sizes are all treated well here.
My conclusion of London
My time spent in London was fast-moving. We took a drive-by tour around the city, where we saw all of the most iconic sites except Parliament, which was swarmed with Brexit protests. During the time we went, the streets were filled with demonstrations. This didn’t stop us from seeing all of the most iconic and historical sites of London and Greenwich borough.
The bottom line is that Greenwich and London are packed with remarkably rich British history. No world traveler should miss an opportunity to visit.
If you’ve been to London before, what do you think is an attraction everyone must-see?