London Local Tips
In order to make your stay in London more enjoyable, allow us to give you the low-down on what to expect.
Escalators: walk on the left, stand on the right.
Peace signs: palms facing outwards, please.
iPods and other MP3 players: keep the volume down on public transport.
Alcohol: being a disruptive drunk in public is an arrestable offence.
Photo ID: carry it on you always.
Littering: doing it in public will get you fined.
Smoking: doing it in public places is illegal in London and the rest of the UK.
Queue-jumpers: don't push in, stand at the back if a queue has formed.
Buskers: they sing and/or play instruments on the Underground. Feel free to drop them a few pennies; they might be professionals in disguise.
Standing up: if an elderly, pregnant, or disabled person boards a train or bus, offer them your seat.
How much you tip depends on where you are. Allow to us to highlight some of the common places where you're expected to tip, and how much:
Restaurants - Check to see if there is a service charge already included on the bill. If the charge is included, you don´t need to tip but you still can tip more. The normal tip is usually about 10-15% but can range above or below that depending on the service.
Pubs - There is no expectation to leave a tip in a pub. You may leave a tip but it is sometimes customary to buy the bartender a drink.
Taxis - The fare is usually rounded up to the nearest £1. For example, if your fare is £8.32, you will leave £9
Hotels - Bell boys and luggage carriers should be tipped £1
When to go and what to pack
London is usually busy during the entire year but it is more so in the summer months. Check out our full weather page for expected temperatures, rainfall and sunshine averages.
Summer does not mean that the weather will be perfect in London but it is the best season. Be sure to bring a variety of clothes to prepare for all types of weather (cooler temperatures and rain). Bring a light jacket that also doubles as a rain jacket. If you plan on using the tube, be prepared for sweltering temperatures. The tube is often much warmer than the outside air.
Even though it is rare that the temperature fall below freezing in the winter, that doesn´t mean that you shouldn´t bundle help and get ready for the rain. You will definitely want to have a coat while travelling. It is a good idea to dress in layers. Also, don´t forget your umbrella because you may arrive when the constant drizzle never seems to end.
Food: Fast food meal: about £3.50 - - Restaurant meal: £7 - - Fine Restaurant: £50+
Drinks: Water (500ml): £0.55 - - Water (2L): £1.50 - - Soft drink can: £0.50 - - Lager (pint): £3.00 - £3.50 - - Glass of wine: £3.00 - £3.50
Accommodation: Hostel (shared room): £20+ - - Hostel (private room): £40+ - - Hotel: £120
Supermarkets - Open seven days a week from about 7am to around 10pm (closing times do vary from place to place). On Sundays they shut closer to 8pm. Some bigger supermarkets are open 24 hours.
Shopping centres - Location varies but, generally, expect an opening time of 9am and a closing time of 6pm. These times are expanded on Friday/Saturday nights and reduced on Sundays.
Pubs - Weekdays see 11am and 11pm as the norm for opening and closing times, with 11am - 1:00am on weekends and 12pm - 10pm on Sundays.
Nightclubs - Closed during the daytime, opening at around 7pm - 2:00am. Some stay open even longer.
Restaurants - Depends if they specialise in lunch or dinner, but an average opening time 12:pm - 2:00pm for lunch, and 7pm - 10pm for dinner.
Museums - Typically, 9am - 5pm. Check for special exhibitions, some of them are available for viewing after the standard closing time.
Several of them around the city, all open every day except Sundays. Opening times are typically 9am - 5:30/6:00pm. Some may close earlier on Saturdays, or even for an hour during lunch/early afternoon. Some post offices offer 24 hour ATM access (or, as we call them, "holes in the wall"). To find the nearest branch to you in London, check out the Post Office's official branch-finding page.
Phones & the Internet
The area code for London is 020 and the international dialing code is (+44) - remember that if you're calling from outside the UK. Phone boxes are easily accessible all over the city, and some ATMs allow you to top up your mobile on the move.
There are hundreds of internet cafes around London and most establishments, such as pubs, offer wifi access. There may be a charge for this and there will almost certainly be a password. Ask at the bar for the password (there may be a small chalkboard inviting you to do so anyway). Internet access is also available in most hotels, but the charge for this could be a lot steeper. An alternative solution would be to find wifi hotspots around the city, which there also plenty of.
Water & Electricity
Water is perfectly drinkable in London - except straight from the Thames. Bottles of it are served everywhere; supermarkets, corner shops, and cafes. In pubs and restaurants, it's sometimes complimentary and extra glasses are free.
The standard UK AC power plug is the tri-pin BS 1363 and is 230v at 50 Hz. It can be adapted to accommodate EU and international variants. These adaptor plugs can be purchased at all London airports, supermarkets, and chemists.