London is one of those cities that is constantly changing with new and exciting things sprouting up almost every day! This is all well and good but it sure can make a visit to our capital city pretty hectic, especially if you’re trying to plan, book and see all the things you want in a short period of time. This is exactly why I wanted to share some interesting facts about London for your visit.
Below, I’ve included a whole heap of interesting facts about London for any new visitor to our amazing city.
Take a look at some of the interesting facts about London for your visit. Have a great trip.
1.) London is big
Yeah, there’s no denying it, London is huge!
With millions of people, the city and metropolitan area are ginormous, to say the least. If you’ve only got a few short days in the city, try to stay in the best areas in London that you want to explore (or at least close by).
This will save you a whole lotta time travelling across the city every day, especially as travelling in London can add up to several hours per day in transport time.
2.) Get an Oyster Card
An Oyster Card (for transport in London) will save you time and money when it comes to those pesky travel-related costs.
Grab an Oyster Card (which is FREE, with a small refundable deposit) from most tube stations and preload a given amount onto the card. When using an Oyster Card, your journey has a maximum daily cap that you can spend in one day. This means that after doing 3 or 4 journeys, the rest of the day’s travel will be totally free around the whole of London.
It’s one of those interesting facts about London you wouldn’t really consider without known.
3.) Walk between tube stops
Speaking of travel, there are quite a few stations where it’s actually quicker to walk rather than take the tube/bus. Case in point being Leicester Square to Covent Garden, the walk will take less than 3 minutes, which is quicker than going underground on the tube and won’t cost you a dime.
It’s easily one of those interesting facts about London that most people don’t think about when visiting.
4.) Fly into low-cost airports
If you’re looking to keep costs low, then there are a few interesting facts about London you need to consider. You see, when it comes to getting yourself to London, you can grab a low-cost flight to one of the more ‘regional’ London airports.
These airports tend to prioritise the cheaper landing fees, with airports like London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend all being cheaper than places like Heathrow or London City.
That being said, there is a downside, too. Stansted is around 45 minutes by train or 1 hour by bus to the city centre.
5.) Pret gives out free coffee
Yup, that’s right, it’s one of those interesting facts about London you wouldn’t even know until it happens to you.
At the discretion of the barista inside Pret, you might be one of the lucky chosen people to receive your coffee for free.
Though if you’re looking for a more independent spot, then head towards one of these gorgeous coffee shops (my favourites are here)
6.) Museums are FREE
This is one of my favourite things about our city and one of the interesting facts about London you might not know if you’re visiting a country that charges for museums.
Museums like; the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern… plus, much more are free, too.
Spend a day wandering through the many historical artefacts and enjoy the rich heritage the city has to offer. Obviously, donations are welcome, though in no way obligatory at all.
7.) West End shows aren’t always expensive
TKTS sells all remaining unsold tickets for shows on the day, which is usually heavily discounted. You will always be given the best seats available and you can even choose from the available seats. It’s one of those interesting facts about London that you’ll love if you’re into the theatre.
8.) Move to London easily
Okay, so first off, this is one of the interesting facts about London that’ll be only interesting if you’re planning to relocate here.
Firstly, let us not beat-around-the-bush… rental costs are very high in the city but that doesn’t mean you should compromise or be coerced into making decisions on where you’re going to live based on what estate agents and other housing bodies tell you to do.
There are so many really easy tips and tricks to save money, along with essential ‘red lights’ you should look out for hence why I’ve included a link to our essential renting tips for when you’re looking for a flat/house/mansion/luxury yacht in London right here.
9.) Grab discounted rail and tube fares
If you’re under the grand young age of 26 (or a student), over the age of 60, as a couple, or perhaps travelling with your family then you’ll be eligible to pick up a Railcard from any train station.
Costing approximately £30 for one year, this card will give you 33% (1/3rd) discount off rail travel and tube travel at off-peak times – a massive saving if you’re visiting the city multiple times. It’s easy to use and one of the interesting facts about London that’ll keep your transport costs lower.
10.) You can visit Big Ben for FREE
Big Ben is the bell inside the Queen Elizabeth II Tower that chimes across London. Attached to the Houses of Parliament it’s only accessible by invitation.
One of the easiest ways to grab yourself an invitation (if you live in the UK) is to ask your local MP for an invite (find out who your local MP is here). They will put your name forward and will issue you some free tickets for a tour! It’s a unique perspective that most people will never have seen.
That being said, Big Ben is currently undergoing a huge renovation (and is full of scaffolding) so visits are on hold. 🙁
11.) Tipping isn’t essential
Tipping isn’t as big a deal as it is in the United States or other countries but that doesn’t mean it isn’t appreciated.
Usually, a small 10-15 per cent tip is more than fine for a restaurant whilst there is no need to tip at any bar or for drinks. There’s also no need to tip when hailing a cab, though it often makes sense to round up the amount to the nearest pound.
It’s one of the interesting facts about London that might seem quite strange if you’re used to a culture of tipping. Though, you might find that some of the best restaurants in London do add an optional ‘service charge’ of about 12.5% to bills.
12.) Tour London cheaply
Okay, so there are lots of those ‘hop-on-hop-off’ buses that drive all across the city but often charge a pretty high price-tag for the convenience – great if you’re in a rush but not so great for your wallet.
Though, if you’re visiting London on a tighter shoe-string and want to save money, there are a few interesting facts about London that’ll save you a pretty penny.
For instance. If you want to save a great deal off that price then jump on board a red London bus. One of my favourite journey to take is on the 24-hour bus number 453 from Marylebone Station – hop on and grab yourself a seat upstairs. You’ll pass; Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Downing Street, Houses Of Parliament, Big Ben and The London Eye – where you can hop off and experience London’s Southbank by foot. before it heads further south.
13.) You can get good fish and chips here
This old, British favourite can sometimes be a little tricky to find in central London but there are a few yummy spots to easily find.
Thankfully, Poppies in Shoreditch has one of the best I’ve tasted in the capital and is of astoundingly great quality – so much so that I’m starting to blame them for my extra weight gain.
Meals are cooked fresh with lashings of salt and vinegar.
14.) Avoid Oxford Street on Saturday
A weekend shopping on Oxford Street can be something of a stressful ordeal as the streets become filled with thousands of people.
There can sometimes be literally no space on the pavements and even the tube closes due to crowd control. If you’re geared up to shop, think about heading over to Oxford Street around mid-morning, and preferably on a weekday. Crowds are much lower and you can easily peruse the shops at your own pace.
15.) You can rent a bike in London
Anyone can rent a bike in London, all you need is a debit or credit card and a good sense of direction.
If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon, grab yourself a bike from one of the self-service cycle bays and head across the town. It’s a great way to see the city and you’ll be saving lots of time and money too. It’s one of those interesting facts about London that actually make it fun to navigate the city.
16.) Discover the secret ears and noses of Covent Garden
Yep, that’s right, Covent Garden is much more than a quaint cobbled market of beautiful little shops! On your next visit, if you look closely, you might spot quite a few ‘hidden’ noses and ears that have been placed around the whole area so remember to keep your eyes peeled for them.
It really is one of the interesting facts about London that’s hidden in plain sight.
17.) See where Liberty Bell was made
Head to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to visit the world’s oldest bell maker.
Not only did they make the likes of Big Ben, they actually made the Liberty Bell that is now so symbolic for the United States of America and its people. Although it is currently closed, the property still exists in Whitechapel and is easy to find if you’re in the area.
It’s one of the most interesting facts about London that not even many Londoners know.
18.) London’s markets are delicious
There are so many amazing markets in London that it can actually be difficult to whittle them down to a mere few to visit.
Though, still one of my favourites is Borough Market which has loads of yummy treats. Head here around lunchtime for a quick bite to eat and a little treat from one of the many dessert stalls.
That’s one of the things I love most, the fact that London isn’t just filled with shops and out-of-town-malls. London has so many incredible markets to visit and you’ll honestly be spoilt for choice.
19.) London has some amazing cocktail bars
Shoreditch is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods and one of the interesting facts about London is that they also have some of the best cocktail spots in the city.
Filled with an array of amazing speakeasies, secret hangouts and hidden clubs, this place is the perfect place to visit for a night out.
20.) You can go inside Buckingham Palace
Not many people realise that you can actually tour Buckingham Palace in the summer months.
Tickets can (and should) be purchased online before you travel and it’s well worth a visit if you’re planning on marrying into royalty or just fancy a good nose around the Queen’s gaff!
It really is one of the interesting facts about London that some international visitors don’t realise.
21 Black Cabs can be fast(er)!
…if you’re in a hurry! Though Uber is much cheaper than a black cab, they can’t use bus lanes as official black cabs can.
Decide on what your priority is; efficient time or lower price. If neither take your fancy, then use that flashy Oyster Card I spoke about earlier on to ride the tube.
22.) There’s a garden in the sky
Well, on top of a skyscraper at least.
Tickets are totally free as this is a public space which can be enjoyed by anyone. See some impressive views across the city and even stop for a bite to eat if you like. It’s a great place for a view and one of the interesting facts about London that you might not know exists when looking for the best viewpoints.
Just make sure to book your free entry in advance, here.
23.) Notting Hill is more than colourful houses
Often overlooked for the more adventurous/exciting East-End (unless it’s for carnival) this area of London has become one of the best places to discover some of London’s tastiest restaurants.
It has a proper foodie scene, making it a great area to explore on a lazy afternoon. Take a wander around brunch and settle for something local, organic or absolutely totally different. This area has it all!
24.) Stand on the right at tube stations
Well, unless you want to experience the passive-aggressive Londoner. 😉
Okay, joking aside, tube stations can get very busy, with quite limited space for everyone to move. The escalators up and down the stations have standing and walking lanes on them.
Always stand on the right if you intend to stand and use the left if you plan on scaling the stairs faster than a gazelle. It’s honestly one of those interesting London facts that you just wouldn’t know if you didn’t live here.
25.) Sunday Lunches are delicious
Everyone visiting London (or the UK, generally) for the first time has to try a traditional Sunday Roast.
Mainly consisting of Chicken, Beef or Lamb, dollops of stuffing, gravy and a whole farm of vegetables, it is truly one of the best ways to enjoy a traditional British meal. Don’t forget to ask for a Yorkshire pudding with your meal too, it’s too delicious to ignore.
26.) Camden Town is a unique area of London
Camden Town is one of the very best neighbourhoods in London to explore if you want to see a different side of the city.
Head here to discover the amazing street markets, offering everything from Ethiopian food, Moroccan leather to Pan-Asian cuisine. The whole vibe of the area is electric with an alternative counterculture that is bursting at the seams with excitement.
27.) Grab a local sim card
Free wifi on the streets of London can be pretty bad unless you fancy spending lots of time in Starbucks or Apple. 😉
If your phone is unlocked, grab yourself a local sim card to make calls and internet allowance at a fraction of roaming costs. One of the best providers for cheap sim cards when it comes to value for money is Giff Gaff, followed by Three. Though, you can pick up sim cards quite easy to use in most electronic stores in the city.
28.) Take an umbrella
Okay, so this is likely to be one of the wetter than interesting facts about London itself! You see, London weather is notoriously unpredictable even in summer.
Don’t forget to pack an umbrella (or a raincoat) and stay dry when those infamous showers begin to fall! At the very least, check the weather forecast before you leave your hotel or Airbnb.
29.) You can dine with a Damien Hirst cow floating above you
Yup, it is as surreal as it sounds.
Head to the legendary Tram Shed restaurant by Mark Hix in Shoreditch, where you’ll not only get to eat some of the tastiest chicken known to man but you’ll be able to eat it all under a massive floating cow.
It’s one of those interesting facts about London and a restaurant that’s totally cool to visit when you’re in East London.
30.) Londoners are friendly
Honestly, Londoners might look a little cold or quiet whilst squished against you on a packed tube but I guarantee that Londoners are absolutely amazing people.
I’ve no doubt you’ll make lots of friends and meet loads of new people that will have a good old natter with you at almost any London bar so don’t let anything stop you from making new friends when you’re in London town.