Did you know, according to London and Partners, London Town hosted a record shattering 7.9 million tourists in the first half of 2013 alone? Year over year, that number marks a 7.7% increase in tourism since 2012. The statistics aren’t terribly surprising, not when you consider that London has been the number one tourist attraction in the United Kingdom for a long time running. In fact, 54% of all tourists visiting the country spend at least some time in the Big Smoke.
Unfortunately for the vast majority of tourists the city welcomes every year, they never dig beyond London’s outer tourism shell. They may luck out and find their way to the best hotels in the city, but, by and large, they tend to stick to the same art museums and sightseeing locations they have for centuries. With our quick guide for a deeper, more engaging visit to London, however, you can make sure your European holiday is different from any other.
- See the City like a Local
- The Best Hotels Can Be Had on a Budget
- Choose the Right Cabs to Save Cash
- Don’t Stick to the Tourist Traps
The best way to enjoy a city, the best way to truly see its heart, is to act like a local. As CNN Travel suggests, this means learning to avoid the tourist traps and head to where the city’s residents like to hang out. Take the city’s nightlife: When you go out for a night in the Big Smoke, chances are the only thing to pass your lips will be differently colored and flavored liquids. The idea of dinner, or food of any kind, is unlikely to come up until you’re well and truly inebriated and on your way back to your hotel; only then is it acceptable to stop off for some booze-absorbing carbs.
The Guardian points out that many of London’s best hotels can be had for under £100 a night. In other words, whether you want to stay in Victoria, Camden Town, or elsewhere, staying in the city’s best hotel accommodations will leave you with plenty to spend on your night’s out, transport, and souvenir shopping. Just be sure to book the best hotels at least eight to 10 weeks ahead of time to find the best rates.
World renowned traveler Anthony Bourdain writes of London, “Something you should know: never take a minicab.” The minicabs in London, besides lacking space, also lack any noticeable meter, meaning you’re likely to spend way more money than you’d like to in getting from point A to point B. Instead, make sure you take one of the city’s famous black cabs; not only are black cabs cheaper, but the taxi drivers are far more likely to know where they’re going.
You might have figured this one out by now, but if you really want to enjoy your European vacation, then avoid the tourist traps like the plague. As Lonely Planet rightly points out, there are too many amazing things to do in London to worry about seeing only Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Circus. Remember, this is a city renowned for its cosmopolitan nature. Head to one of the city’s famous Indian restaurants for authentic food. Try out Hyde Park’s annual Winter Wonderland to celebrate the chill of the season. Whatever you do, don’t be a tourist!
London Town is one of the most exciting cities in the United Kingdom, if not in the entire world. With these four tips, you can treat it that way. Links like this.
Yeah, if you go out with any locals, be prepared to drink A LOT.