London Travel Hacks from a Local (places to visit + apps!)
Recently I planned 4-day visit to London (6 days total including travel days).
Instead of studying a tourist handbook, I reached out to my good friend Dan Cooper for some travel tips and hacks. He grew up in London and moved to the US in his 20s to be a Blue Man in Blue Man Group. He still visits his family in London regularly. (Side note: Dan helped me produce the Feisworld Docuseries as well!)
My message to Dan:
We'll likely spend 4 solid days there (outside of travel days). Which neighborhood do you recommend? Personally I'd love to walk around funky neighborhood, boutiques, good restaurants. Doesn't need to be overly curated.
Places to Visit according to Dan
Borough Market - great food market and has good bars around there too http://boroughmarket.org.uk
That is near the big tall building called The Shard, which has a cool restaurant and bar high up with a great view https://www.the-shard.com/shangri-la/restaurants-bars/ Both of those are near London Bridge station
Notting Hill is a cool place to wander around https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/notting-hill-area-guide
Cambridge is totally doable as a day trip. Trains go regularly from Liverpool Street station https://www.thetrainline.com/train-times/london-to-cambridge-station
If you go to Cambridge you have to go punting on the backs! https://www.visitcambridge.org/things-to-do/punting-bus-and-bike-tours/punting-tours
Greenwich (Dan’s favourite part of London). It has a beautiful park and a great indoor market. Right by the river Thames: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park
Paying for Stuff
Do you have a card with contactless payment? That is the best way to do it. Otherwise you must buy an Oyster card. You can’t use cash on buses these days.
Alternatively, consider putting your credit cards on your phone as Apple Pay. (Note: make sure to call your bank or credit card companies ahead of time before you travel. Otherwise they may block the purchases made overseas. It’s also a good idea to check foreign transaction fees in case they apply).
Once you have Apple Pay setup, you won’t need to take your wallet anymore. Just use your phone to get on and off the tube and buses. That is the easiest way by far.
In London, everyone has to have their own ticket or touch in and out with there own card/phone for public transportation.
Cash and card? It’s good to have some cash on you while most places accept credit cards.
Most useful mobile apps
Tube map - Must-have, invaluable for planning journeys on the underground. Tube Map - London Underground by Mapway Limited https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tube-map-london-underground/id320969612?mt=8
Bus app: Bus Times London by Mapway Limited https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bus-times-london/id480643687?mt=8
National Rail Enquiries by National Rail (This app if for the mainline overground trains. Useful to help you get to Cambridge) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/national-rail-enquiries/id519094154?mt=8
Google Maps tells you what buses and tubes to get on as well
Oyster card app - Oyster and contactless by TfL https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tfl-oyster-and-contactless/id1179420088?mt=8
Citymapper Transit Navigation by Citymapper Limited https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/citymapper-transit-navigation/id469463298?mt=8
Uber - as the article is written, Uber does operate in London (useful article)
Thanks for reading our very quick guide on London travel hacks!
If you want to learn more about the city, check out this article: 30 Travel Tips You Need to Know Before Visiting London