London is a very big city! As the most populated metropolis in Europe, there’s lots to see, do, eat, drink, shop and lots of new people to meet. It can feel daunting to be amongst such a lot of activity and it can be difficult to judge what’s worth doing and trying and what isn’t in such hustle and bustle. Fear not! Here are some hints and tips to help you find your feet, get your bearings and make the most of your capital city experience.
Live with Locals
There’s no better way to experience any locale than ‘doing it the way the locals do’; and a homestay makes the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. Living in a typical English home with a host family, you’ll speak colloquial English daily, eat traditional foods and have a font of inside knowledge and expertise at your feet as soon as you roll out of bed. Homestays are also normally cheaper than hotels and other accommodation options, as well as being flexible on meal plans and often more central than tourist traps.
The public transport systems around London are excellent, with everything managed by a company called TfL (Transport for London). The capital’s travel infrastructure includes railways, the underground, district light railways, buses, taxis, boats and pay-as-you-ride bikes. Everything other than private taxis are covered by one smart-card payment system known as the ‘Oyster Card’. Depending on how long you’re staying in the capital, there may be a visitor option that works out cheaper for you than paying per journey. Get online to check or ask your host family for advice. London is also extremely well connected to the rest of the UK, so you can get away a little further afield if the fancy takes you!
Use Discounts and Offers for Cheap Days and Nights Out
London can be an expensive city to experience, but the locals avoid paying tourist prices by using discount websites that offer limited amounts of hefty money-off offers for restaurants, clubs, classes, theatre shows and health and beauty treatments. Sites such as Groupon and Wowcher can be a fantastic resource for saving money while still getting out and about and seeing all the city has to offer.
Get Involved in the Community
Whilst a huge city, each area of London has a distinct community feel. Londoners aren’t often the chattiest people when on the tube or walking around, but once you find an opportunity to break the ice and talk, you’ll find them to be a friendly and open bunch. If there’s a local community centre, pub or event you can visit, do just that and see who new you can meet. As a bustling melting pot of cultures, languages, religions and people from all over the world, you’re bound to find fascinating conversation and interesting debate to get stuck into.