London hacks: How to explore London like a local – words Al Woods
It’s hard not to look like a tourist when you’re in an unfamiliar place, especially when it’s one of the busiest cities in the world. With a little advice from many of the London locals, however, we’ve put together a few tips on how to experience the city the way they live it.
You won’t escape using the Underground
With an area covering more than 1,500 square kilometres, it’s practically impossible to get quickly from one place to another without using London’s iconic rail network. Get yourself an Oyster card, use Transport for London’s website or app to familiarise yourself with the train lines, and plan a couple of your key journeys beforehand.
Follow the same process for your bus journeys, and you’ll soon be hopping on and off the transport networks as routinely as the locals. Also, research which stations are walkable – Piccadilly to St. James’s Park, for instance – and you’ll have the full, immersive experience of exploring the streets via bus, train and on foot.
Avoid tourist hot-spots during peak times
Just a note – this doesn’t mean don’t see the sights. If you’re looking for authenticity, Leicester Square and Oxford Circus are simply large, busy commercial areas for retail. Camden Market is an equally renowned, but much more unique shopping experience, and different with every visit.
You’ll no doubt want to see some of the main attractions, though, so rise early to see the landmarks and consider visiting the museums by night. This way, you’ll get to not only take in all of the sights and exhibits you desire but also free up time in the middle of the day to discover as much of the city as your time and legs will allow.
Explore, indulge, enjoy
There are many surprises to be found in the city. If you know a Londoner, ask them which routes they like to take, or locations they love, which aren’t part of the regular tourist trail. A useful hack is to research other travel writers’ journeys around the city, and perhaps cobble together your own, ideal experience based on what you like to see, do, and indulge in.
Remember that there’s no harm in using a Maps app on your smartphone. When you’re in a city of more than 8 million people, you’re bound to get lost from time to time – even if you already live there! Alternatively, there are many guided walks you could take during your stay – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them yourself if you research the route.
Squeeze the most out of every minute
At the end of your busy day, you’ll want somewhere where you can relax and will know your bearings for at least a few hours. Located in the heart of the city, the Dorsett Hotel, Shepherds Bush will give you the luxurious comfort you’ll need while you recharge for another day of discovery and adventure.
Many Londoners are especially proud of their amazing city’s diversity. There is so much to see, do, and be amazed by – and it never stops growing and changing. Thankfully, what this means for tourists is that every visit is different, and each journey taken through London’s historically rich streets is unique.