What NOT to Do in London

in City Guides, Travel Tips

London's Big Ben

London's Big Ben - Photo: Philipp Klinger

London is a fantastic city which has preserved its history while becoming one of the most forward-thinking and modern capitals in the world. As Samuel Johnson said ‘the man who is tired of London is tired of life’. But London is overwhelming and it’s easy for tourists to end up disappointed because their trip has not worked out as planned. To make sure you enjoy the good sides of the city here’s a guide to what not to do in London.

1. Don’t take the tube when you could travel by bus

Many visitors to London find the tube system incredibly complicated and that’s before you even factor in the delays and claustrophobic carriages. The bus system can also be complicated but you should find the conductors helpful. Why spend an hour underground when a bus ride is one of the most pleasant ways to see London? Whether you get the bus or tube, make sure to get a money-saving Oyster card before travelling. They are sold in the tube stations.

2. Don’t be scared of the food

It’s an outdated myth that the English are not up to it in the kitchen. Nowadays London has fantastic cuisine from all around the world. You can try the variety of restaurants which offer everything from Afghani to Zimbabwean cooking. And there are local favourites like fish and chips in the pub or good Cornish pasties available at most railway stations. For mouth-watering curry and the chance to bring your own booze head to Brick Lane in East London.

3. Avoid the big chain companies

London has the most atmospheric pubs in the world, often hidden away down little side streets. So why go to the big chains like All Bar One? These places are soulless and more expensive. With a bit of exploration you will find the unforgettable eating or dining experience in London.

4. Give the aquarium or the zoo a miss

London has wonderful attractions, from the Planetarium to Madame Tussauds. But the aquarium is one of the worst that I have been to and definitely not worth the steep entry price. Likewise the zoo.

5.  Avoid shopping on Oxford Street

Many people head straight to Oxford Street where they can find the huge chains like Nike and Top Shop. Shopping on Oxford Street is in fact a nightmarish experience. There is hardly any room to walk, plenty of jostling to get in the shops and then queues to try things on in the changing rooms. Camden and Portobello markets are much more fun.

6. Don’t stick to one part of London

The city changes massively from the picturesque majesty of Richmond with its royal parks and river, to the hip mecca of nightclubs and bars in Shoreditch. London is huge and you have to be willing to travel if you want to really see it.

7. Don’t go to the cinema – spend your money wisely

At between seven and twelve pounds for a movie ticket, it’s a waste to do something which you could do anywhere else in the world and probably pay a lot less for. The musicals are ok but a bit of a tourist trap. Theatre is spectacular so why not see a play at the Old Vic in South London?

Have you been to London? What would you recommend doing or NOT doing? Make a comment and let everybody know!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }


If you’re tight on money I would recommend skipping the London Eye. It’s fun but you can get similarly great (free) views of London from Primrose Hill or the top of the Tate Modern.

I would also probably skip Madame Tussauds. It’s expensive and not unique to London (we have on in DC and there are a few other ones).


As a person who has lived in London for two years, I totally agree, especially point 3! London is full of little quirky places much worthier than big chains. Every area in London has a different soul, you can find the Turkish quarter, the Lebanese, the pretty English with its picturesque pubs: as usual, much better going local!


I’m a huge fan of the Tube and YES, the Oyster card is a must if you’re planning to use it often. Though I prefer to walk around the city, even if it takes me ages to get from point A to B.


i would probably don’t take the bus either, London is a great city to walk around and easy to get around on foot and it doesn’t take too long to get around the major sightseeing around the center


Walking in London is great but taking the bus is a fun activity that is often overlooked. Sitting on top of a double decker is like having your own private tour. I used to bus around a lot when I lived there.

Francesca Maggi

Well, don’t wait for the waitress to take your order at the pub! You will never get served unless you pay up at the counter first.
And, I’d add: never look right.
Francesca Maggi


Cant believe you’re recommending Madame Tussauds – how chintzy. And if you mean the Planetarium that used to be next door to MT it closed in 2006 and is now part of MT – “Please note that we no longer show astronomy-based shows”. Pity, because I agree with the rest of this.

Eurotrip Tips

I wouldn’t recommend Tussauds either – there are many free museums in town worth the visit instead, starting with the Natural History or the Tate Modern.

And riding a double-decker is not only cliche, it’s also a lot of fun – there’s more to it than sitting on the first bench of the top floor. You can get different views of the city from up there, plus you get a ride around many interesting places. Definitely do not give the bus a miss.

I practically lived in buses when I lived in London. Mine was the 29, exit at Murray St.

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