Visiting London for the First Time!

Discussion in 'UK Community Board' started by HollywoodTowerHotel, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. HollywoodTowerHotel

    HollywoodTowerHotel You unlock this door with the key of imagination..

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    Hello,

    I hope I am not barging in on this forum, but I was hoping to solicit some advice. I will be traveling to London for the first time ever in October and I am so excited! I will only have four days to experience the city, so I am looking for some tips on what I should make sure to see and do. We are staying in a Mayfair hotel. If you do not mind providing me with some assistance, I would be grateful!

    Thank you in advance.

    Tara from Pennsylvania, USA
     
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  2. a1tinkfans

    a1tinkfans Spreading Some Pixie Dust Today!

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    No tips but .. have a great trip!!!
     
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  4. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    Hi I'm from Ireland and I used to live in London. I am going to London this weekend and I will write up a trip report when I get back
     
  5. Twilight Sparkle

    Twilight Sparkle DIS Veteran

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    So glad you started this thread. We're visiting London next October, so I'm going to follow along here and soak up the advice and tips. Hope you have a great trip!
     
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  6. finchy3

    finchy3 Mouseketeer

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  7. florida sun

    florida sun Mrs Christopher Eccleston wannabe! Moderator

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    Welcome aboard:thumbsup2
    nice to have you pop on here at the UK Community boards, I know we have a few people from London on here, so hopefully they will be along soon to help you out.:chat:
     
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  8. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    here is some info I posted in a different thread

    Before You Arrive in London - The Basics
    The UK = The United Kingdom = England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

    Currency = The British Pound = Sterling
    £1 = 100 pennys

    Currency Exchange For a general approx. currency exchange rate I always use this http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/

    On the day I checked it $100 = £74.05

    As currency exchange rates change on a daily basis, this is just a rough estimate for you to use for your budget

    Money
    Notes = £100, £50, £20, £10, £5

    A lot of places do not accept £100 or £50 notes when paying for purchases under £20. If you have these, try to use them in restaurants or for when the purchase amount is large.

    Coins = £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p

    Coins are just called by their denomination ie a 1 pound coin, a 5p coin. They do not have names like the American Nickles and Dimes.

    Cards
    Visa and Mastercard are the standard cards used. American Express is really only accepted in major tourist places.

    All cards used in The UK and Republic of Ireland are Chip and Pin cards. The UK and Republic of Ireland are becoming a cashless society.

    Contactless payment cards are now being issued by banks. This is where you just tap your card on the chip and pin payment unit. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2...nts-uk-stores-cards-british-retail-consortium It can be used for a single payment up to £30.

    Chip and Pin payments are just part of life. If you don’t have a chip and pin card you will be very restricted, as everything from getting a coffee in Starbucks, to getting cinema and theatre tickets, to bus and train tickets, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, souvenir shopping and things I can’t even remember but just take for granted. In restaurants they bring the chip and pin machine to the table. Buy tickets online and then collect at the machine at the venue by inserting the chip and pin card in the self-service machine.

    Timezone
    London is on GMT time.
    4pm London = 11am New York = 8am LA

    Plugs, Sockets and Voltage
    There is an electrical Voltage difference between USA and UK. The USA has a lower voltage than UK. This means you will need a voltage adaptor for your American appliances like phone chargers etc. These adaptars can be bought from Amazon or at the airports. This website explains what you need to know https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/england/

    Another reason you will need an adaptor is because UK plugs are 3 pin plugs. You will not be able to plug your American 2 pin plugs into the UK sockets.

    International Phone number
    To phone London from America +44

    Example phone number A Landline - Hard Rock Café London +44 207 514 1700

    International Code +44
    Area Code (London) 207
    Local Number 514 1700

    If you just have the Area code and local number it will look like this 0207 514 1700
    In this case drop the first 0 and then add the +44

    Example phone number A Cellphone +4478xxxyyyyzz
    International Code +44
    Network Code 78
    Number xxxyyyzz
    If you just have the local number it will look like this 078xxxyyyzzz
    In this case drop the first 0 and then add the +44
    Main UK cell network codes 071,074,075, 076,077,078,079

    Driving
    UK drives on the Left side of the road. People also walk on the left side of corridors, sidewalks etc. If you are planning to hire a car during your vacation, this is a really good website https://www.visitbritainshop.com/world/articles/guide-to-driving-in-the-uk/ It goes through what you need, rules of the road, road signs, road etiquette etc etc.

    Weights and Measures
    The UK uses a mix of metric and imperial. For example beer and milk are sold in pints, road signs have either KM or both KM and miles, people say their height in feet and inches, their weight in stones or KG.

    Temperatures
    The UK uses Centigrade not Fahrenheit Here is a handy online converter http://www.onlineconversion.com/temperature.htm

    Weather
    The Uk and Ireland have a warm temperate climate. This means that they don’t get extreme highs or extreme lows. Rain can occur at any time of the day or night at any time of the year. On average the UK gets approx. 133 days of rain per year.

    Winter lows in London are approx. 23F, Summer highs are approx. 77F to 86 F

    Use this BBC London Weather guide to help you figure out what clothes to bring http://www.bbc.com/weather/2643743

    As a rule though, April to September are layers. Jeans, sweaters, hoodies, long sleeve tshirts, short sleeve tshirts, cute summer dresses with leggings and cardigans, light rainjacket, umbrella.

    Out and About London is like Manhattan Island in New York. The city functions due to public transport. As a result you are on your feet and walking, walking everywhere. You will need sturdy comfortable shoes.

    Think of it like a day at a Disney Park, walking, standing, on transport, off transport. Also have a day bag the same as you would in a Disney park. A bottle of water is essential, the tubes can get very very hot, even in winter.

    phrases.JPG
     
  9. florida sun

    florida sun Mrs Christopher Eccleston wannabe! Moderator

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    :thanks: That is extremly helpful to the OP and anyone else interested.:worship:
     
  10. HollywoodTowerHotel

    HollywoodTowerHotel You unlock this door with the key of imagination..

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    Yes, very helpful!

    Thank you!
     
  11. piccolopat

    piccolopat DIS Veteran

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    We just returned from our second trip to London. This one was for 10 days and the last one was 12 days so we've seen a lot. Before we can give you any suggestions, can you let us know what your interests are (museums, history, Harry Potter, theater, etc.)? Also, do your four days there include the day you arrive and the day you leave or is it four full days for touring?
     
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  12. dolewhipdreams

    dolewhipdreams Counting days until my next Dole Whip

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    We just got back from our first trip to London, as well! We only had 2 1/2 days so it was very quick. My biggest piece of advice is to get an Oyster card for the tube. I found the London tube system easier to navigate than the NYC subway. It's also very inexpensive compared to trying to get a taxi when your next destination is too far of a walk. We did pay as you go and were able to refund our leftovers on our way out of the city when we were finished.
     
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  13. A Small World

    A Small World <img src=http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/data/500/509

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    Can you give us more information about who is travelling - is it just adults or children as well?
    What type of things have you already thought of doing?

    My 18yr old daughter and I love trips to London.
    Some of the things we enjoy most are wandering along Southbank - between the London Eye and London Bridge or sometimes further to Tower Bridge.
    We also like wandering around Covent garden and also love Hyde Park.
    You also need to go and look at Harrods just to say you've been - especially at the food section in there.

    On another thread a lot of people have recomended the British Museum - Ive never done this but have done the Natural History Museum which is really interesting and is free.
    Also The Tower of London is really interesting and so is Kensington Palace
    One trip we did a hop on hop off Open Top bus tour but stayed on for the whole route which gave us chance to see things we wouldnt normally see
     
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  14. HollywoodTowerHotel

    HollywoodTowerHotel You unlock this door with the key of imagination..

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    Thanks for all you thoughts!

    The traveling party will be three adults. We arrive on a Friday morning and leave on Tuesday afternoon. Sunday will be spent at Wembly seeing an NFL football game. Otherwise, we have the time to sightsee.

    I like Harry Potter and thought about the tour, but I’m worried it will take too much time. I don’t need to see Buckingham Palace, but the Tower if London and Covent Garden have been suggested as must do. Museums are okay, but not highest on my list. I also enjoy the theater, so I would consider a show if I knew where to go!
     
  15. A Small World

    A Small World <img src=http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/data/500/509

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    The Harry Potter tour would need a full day as its not actually in London so you need to catch a train there and back as well as spending time on the tour.

    The Tower of London - there is a lot to see there but the main attraction is the Crown Jewels. The queue to see those build us as the day goes on so its best to get there early and try and see them first. You need at least half a day at the Tower but can easily spend a full day there.

    Covent Garden is more of a wander round and maybe sit and have a drink/meal and enjoy watching some of the street entertainment.

    There are theatres all over London but they are mainly around the Leicester Square and Convent Garden areas.
    It will be an idea to google and find what shows are on when you go and then see what tickets are available and where the theatre is. I use sites like Lovetheatre to get ideas of whats on.
    There are places where you can buy cheap on the day tickets - in Leicester Sq I think but Ive always booked in advance because I like to know Ive got tickets.
     
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  16. piccolopat

    piccolopat DIS Veteran

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    We don't plan much the first day of arrival because jet lag can really hit hard. You might consider taking the Thames cruise to Greenwich and back, even if you don't get off the boat except to eat (we liked the The Old Brewery pub near the dock). If you take it from Westminster pier, you'll be within walking distance of the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and Parliament. There's a very nice tour in Parliament where you learn about how government works in the UK but I think it is only offered on weekends in October. On Saturday, go to the Tower of London when it opens and if you are interested go to see the Crown Jewels first as lines build quickly. Don't bother with the Beefeater tour. We tried but it was hard to hear and was taking too long. Don't miss the White Tower there. After the Tower of London, we went to the Tower Bridge Experience nearby and found that very interesting. Taking the Hop On/Off tour afterwards would show you a lot of sights that you won't have time to actually visit during such a short stay. For museums, we especially liked the Imperial War Museum (history of British military from WWI forward and a very well done Holocaust memorial), Museum of London and the Churchill War Rooms. The British Museum is great and we loved the atrium but for such a short stay, I wouldn't recommend it especially if you have access to the great museums in NYC (I see you are from PA but not sure what part). Take time to visit a park and walk the neighborhoods if you can. We loved St. James's park near our hotel and there is a nice little park next to Parliament that runs along the Thames. We saw "Bat Out of Hell" at the Dominion Theater when we were there last month and really liked it (we already knew and loved Meatloaf's music). We found it easy to use the tube to get around and I second the suggestion to get an Oyster Card. Have a great trip and report back!
     
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  17. bsj1701

    bsj1701 Mouseketeer

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    I can tell you what I have done in the past. Everything fit into your 4 day plan,(in fact we did it in 3) but there was not much time to relax!

    Take a late afternoon, early evening flight to London. With the flight time and time difference this should put you there very early in the morning.
    Most hotels won't allow check in this early. You could check and see if they will hold your bags for you. If not store your bags at a facility that allows it, I know Paddington will store your bags for a nominal fee.

    We then took a train from London to Windsor and spent a half day on our own at the castle and in the town. We were tired after the long flight so we went to sleep around 8pm.

    Day 2 started early! We took the tube to Westminster station, saw Big Ben and Parliament, saw and visited Westminster Abbey, walked through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace and watched the changing of the guard. We went to the Tower of London saw the Crown Jewels, photographs at Tower Bridge, rode the London Eye and made it to Piccadilly Circus at night.

    Day 3 took a Tour that left London for the outlying area and saw Stonehenge and Bath.

    No time for museums or anything else, I wanted to make it to St. Pauls but didn't have time. With a 4th day I could have done it and slowed the pace a little. Alot depends on when you go and what time your plane arrives. I'm sure that you can't do much about that now. Arriving early AM and hitting the ground running is hard, but arriving late in the day really cuts down on what you can see.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  18. seelyt2

    seelyt2 DIS Veteran

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    We spent 10 days in London this summer and we planned A LOT and it was well worth the effort of doing some research. We purchased a London Pass (not necessary in most instances so keep that in mind, but their website may give you some ideas on what to visit). Some of the highlights on our trip were Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, and the Imperial War Museum. Another highlight was taking a train to Windsor and seeing where Megan and Prince Harry were married, and touring Windsor Castle and St. George's Chapel. Old churches and castles are my jam, so that was my area of focus. I'm also a Princess Diana fan so we went to Kensington Palace and walked around Bond Street. As far as getting around, I downloaded 2 apps for the Tube, had an Oyster card, and also had the minut cab app on my phone in case I wanted to take a cab someplace since we were traveling at 5 a.m. in one instance and I wasn't comfortable walking at that odd hour (in retrospect I don't think I would've had a problem, though). I found that most things close at 5 p.m. (museums) except for Friday nights, so consider that in your planning. The Shard (similar to the Observation Tower or Empire State Building in NYC) is open late, though. Most places charge an admission fee of about 20-25 pounds, except for some of the museums that are comparable to what is found in Washington, DC. (still darn impressive, though, especially if you like statues, etc.,) I second the Imperial War Museum's Holocaust Museum. Washington, DC's is super moving, but the one at the IWM was even more so. I think the IWM was free? HAVE FUN!! We would LOVE to go back. It's really an amazing city!
     
  19. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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    We went to London for the first time in August... I'm currently doing a trip report about it in my pre-trip report linked in my signature.

    My tips would be re getting around... the underground is easy enough to use but it's busy and you kind of need to know where you need to go yourself so try look it up in advance because there was very little help around if you didn't know where to go.

    We did a hop on hop off tour which was great for getting around but again know where you want to go. At the London Eye there was several different attractions down along the waterfront that we didn't realise were all together like London Dungeons, Shrek Experience and Sealife Aquarium. We did the Aquarium and it was great.

    If you are a Harry Potter fan do not miss the Warner Brothers Studios tour. It was great. We spent 6 hours there one day it was fantastic! You can get a train to Watford Junction and there's a bus from there that takes you to the studios. Like that if you are a Harry Potter fan look up the walking tours, we found one for 16 euro and it was great, the guide was very informative and showed us parts of London we wouldn't have seen on the hop on hop off bus and told us more about the Harry Potter books that I didn't know.
     
  20. AurumPunzel

    AurumPunzel Mouseketeer

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    The format of a London number is actually wrong in this. London's area code is just 020 (+44 20 when dialled from outside the UK), not 0207 or 0208 (or even 0203), since London hasn't had Inner and Outer area codes since the end of the 1990s. While it's not a problem when you're dialling the number in full or from outside the UK, when you're dialling it from a landline, London numbers are actually 8-digit and not the 7-digit format familiar to Americans, so if you're dialling 514 1700 from a London landline, it won't go through as it'll be missing the initial 7 from the number, so you'll need to dial 7514 1700 if using a London landline.

    As for voltage, our grid also runs 10Hz slower than in the US, so if your appliance only runs on 60Hz, but is multi-voltage, performance may be greatly affected.
     
  21. tcufrog

    tcufrog DIS Veteran

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    I really like the Harry Potter tour but if you’re only going to be in London 4 days skip it. If you wish go to the theater or London Eye go at night when all of the regular tourist sights such the Tower or museums are closed.
     
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