This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on my affiliate link and purchase something (at no additional cost to you!), I may earn a small commission that helps me keep the blog running. Thank you so much for your support!
London is one of the best cities in the world, and it is so easy to plan and execute an epic solo trip to London!
In fact, London might just be the easiest city in Europe for solo travellers to navigate.
Especially inexperienced solo travellers.
I’ve been to London way more times than a person needs to, and I never get bored of it.
There is an amazing public transportation system, tons of tourist attractions for you to explore, and while the city has a reputation for being expensive, there are ways to visit London on a budget!
All things considered, if you’re planning your first solo trip to Europe, London should be at the top of your list!
Heck! Even if your’e planning your millionth solo trip, London should be in the running.
It is that good of a city!
In this post, we’re covering the top 10 tips and tricks you need to plan a solo trip to London.
It is pretty easy and straightforward to plan a solo trip to London, but there are a few very important things you need to know about before you embark on your solo trip to London.
And I’m spilling all those secret tips right now!
1. London is More Walkable than You Think
The biggest misconception I had about London on my first visit was that it was a massive city, and you have to rely on public transportation to get around.
That is simply not the case!
London is a very walkable city!
In a lot of instances, it is easier to walk from place to place rather than take the Underground. This is especially true when you’re in central London and walking between major tourist attractions.
It may seem like you should take the metro from Westminster to Piccadilly Circus- especially if you’re looking at a metro map and not a normal city map.
But you don’t!
The walk talks about ten minutes, and it takes significantly less time than taking the Underground does.
Especially since with this example you need to transfer lines, which means the journey will take even longer!
So, don’t just look at the metro map and think things are far away.
They really aren’t!
And even places that are a bit further away are very walkable.
There are tons of parks in London, and in most cases your walk from one place to another will be beautiful and filled with nature!
I like to walk as much as possible when I’m on a solo trip to London.
It saves a lot of money, and you stumble on things you wouldn’t otherwise see.
Plus it is a nice way to get some exercise and make room for all the yummy food you’ll be eating throughout the day!
So, pull out your Google Maps and figure out how long it takes to walk from one place to another rather than just guessing based on a map.
If it takes less than half an hour to walk there, I say go for it!
2. Public Wifi is Basically Non-Existent
Unfortunately, the public wifi network in London leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, it is downright disgraceful how difficult it is to find public wifi in London. Even a lot of restaurants and cafés don’t offer free public wifi to guests!
This can make it a bit difficult and frustrating for solo travellers in London.
You may find yourself in the awkward situation where you’re dining alone and don’t have anything to distract you. Or perhaps you’re unsure where to go next or where to eat or the currency conversion.
There are plenty of reasons why someone travelling alone in London may need to access the internet, but you are often limited in where you can access it!
There are a few options for accessing the internet when you’re in London:
- Rent pocket wifi for your trip
- Invest in your own personal wifi hotspot (Skyroam is my favourite)
- Use your phone data
- Some hotels provide a complimentary cell phone for you to use while you’re in London. You won’t be able to access your social media or personal apps, but it is better than nothing!
- Research what restaurants and tourist attractions offer complimentary wifi
- Simply live without accessing the internet throughout the day
The lack of public wifi isn’t the end of the world, but it is something I like to warn you about.
You would expect such an international city to offer a better public wifi system, but it doesn’t.
No Matter What You Have to be Internet Safe
No matter how you choose to access the internet while you’re in London, it is important that you’re internet safe while you’re online.
Even if you rent a pocket wifi device or have your own Skyroam, you will be accessing public wifi at some point when you solo travel in London.
Whether it be at a hotel, the airport, or a restaurant.
You put yourself at risk whenever you use a public wifi network! Anybody and everybody can access public wifi networks, and if they want to, it is relatively easy for them to steal your private online data.
Including your banking information!
And yes. Even public wifi networks that have passwords are still considered to be public wifi, and you have to protect yourself!
The only way you can protect your online information is by installing a VPN on your devices.
A VPN essentially cloaks your devices and prevents prying eyes from accessing your online data.
It also helps prevent Google from using your online habits to serve you with those annoying targeted adds!
A VPN makes using a public wifi network as safe as using your home wifi network where you’re the only person who knows the password.
In my mind, having a VPN on all your devices is an essential (an non-negotiable part of travel).
My Favourite VPN
I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my years of travel, and I have to tell you that I hated most of them.
VPNs have a tendency of slowing your devices down to a snail’s pace, and it can get frustrating to use them. Oftentimes, I found myself turning off my VPN because my phone/laptop was operating so slowly!
That all changed when I found NordVPN!
I’ve been using NordVPN since 2018, and they are the only VPN provider I’ve continued my subscription with past the first year.
They are the fastest VPN on the market, and that is such an important competent when it comes to choosing a VPN to protect your online data while you travel.
Plus you can cloak your location and make it look like you’re in a different country than you actually are!
This allows you to access Netflix libraries from other countries!
It may not sound like much, but I promise you’ll become addicted to exploring new Netflix libraries and all the fun shows and movies you can’t access in your home country.
I highly recommend checking out South Korea’s Netflix library!
A NordVPN subscription costs less than the price of a single latte per month.
There is zero excuse not to protect your online data while you’re on the road. The small price you pay to protect your online data is well worth it when you compare it to the cost of having, say, your banking information stolen while you’re alone in London.
My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online data from prying eyes!
3. Don’t Eat near Popular Tourist Attractions
This is one of the best tips I can give you for your solo trip to London!
The restaurants and cafés near the most popular tourist attractions charge you significantly more than places outside of tourist hubs, and the food tends to be not as good.
I’m specifically thinking about the line of restaurants on the walk from Westminster Abbey to Trafalgar Square.
Avoid those restaurants at all costs!
And if you’re in dire need of some food when you’re in these major tourist areas, stick to chains like Pret a Manger where you know the food is good and the prices fair.
Even though they are chains, I highly recommend everybody try Pret and Nando’s when in London. They are affordable, and the food is delicious.
If you’re looking for good food, get off the main tourist train and find your way to some of the lesser known neighbourhoods.
You can always find good food in Chelsea, Earl’s Court, and Angel neighbourhoods.
London South Bank also has some great restaurants and has a great vibe. Especially if you’re able to snag a seat overlooking the Thames!
But where ever you choose to eat, your wallet will thank you if you avoid the most popular tourist destinations.
Your stomach will thank you too!
4. It is Worth Paying to Stay in Zone 1
The London Underground system is broken up into different zones, and the fare price is based on what zone you’re travelling in and between.
Zone 1 covers central London and the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
The problem with zone 1 is that it is where the most expensive hotels are too.
Makes sense since it is so close to all the tourist attractions.
It can be tempting to cheap out and stay in a less expensive hotel in zone 2 or 3, but I don’t recommend that.
Especially for people on a solo trip to London!
Why You Shouldn’t Stay Outside Zone 1
The first reason I suggest that people stay in zone 1 is the convenience of it. You are so close to the major tourist attractions, and you can walk a lot of places.
The second reason I don’t suggest staying outside of zone 1 has to do with the cost of transportation.
Both in a fiscal sense and in terms of the cost of your time.
It can take a long time to travel from outside zone 1 to whatever tourist attractions you want to visit.
This means you’re stuck on the metro for an extended period of time. You will most likely have to transfer between lines as well, which adds even more time to your commute!
Staying outside of zone 1 also means you’re essentially reliant on public transportation.
Your life is dictated by when the metro/bus are (or aren’t) running, and you don’t really have the ability to walk everywhere from your hotel like you do in zone 1.
So while it may seem like it isn’t worth staying in zone 1, and it is a better choice to save money by staying outside central London, I caution you to think long and hard before you make that choice.
When you factor in the convenience of being in central London, the ability to walk, and the added cost of transportation, it is definitely worth staying in zone 1!
My personal favourite neighbourhood to stay in is Earl’s Court.
It is on the outskirts of zone 1 just before zone 2. The hotel prices are pretty good, you pay zone 1 metro prices, and you can still walk pretty much anywhere you want to go in under an hour!
My Favourite Place to Book Hotels
9 times out of 10 I book my hotels through Hotels.com.
I find their search function so easy to use, and they often have the best prices on hotels. Excluding, perhaps, booking directly through the hotel.
Always be sure to compare the Hotels.com price to the price of booking directly with the hotel!
Outside the ease of using the site, the reason I love Hotels.com so much is their rewards program!
It is the easiest hotel program to earn free stays with!
Once you stay 10 nights in any Hotels.com hotel, you earn a free night!
I’ve earned and redeemed countless free hotel nights, and it hardly takes any effort to earn a reward. It makes travel much more affordable. Especially if you’re like me and travel for extended periods of time.
My secret little tip is to save your hotel redemption for a stay at an airport hotel. I always find I don’t want to use my own money for these hotels, and I love using my rewards night there!
But do whatever you want with your rewards nights just as long as you take advantage of them!
5. Museums are Your Best Friend
If your initial reaction to this tip is to roll your eyes, read on a little bit further and hear me out!
London has some of the best and most celebrated museums in the world, and the best part is that the vast majority of them are free to visit!
You can visit world class attractions without spending a dime, and that is why you should visit as many museums as you can while on your solo trip to London!
In Kensington alone, there are three museums right next door to each other!
They’re all different, so I guarantee you’ll find something you’re interested in checking out.
And if you don’t like the museum, you just leave! It didn’t cost you a dime, so you don’t have to explore the entire museum just to get your money’s worth!
If you only have the chance to visit one free museum while you travel alone in London, I suggest it be the British Museum.
It has a little something for everybody and has some of the most priceless artifacts in the world!
The museum is quite busy as you can imagine! It is best if you avoid visiting it on the weekend if at all possible.
No matter what museum you choose, take the time to wander through at least one. It isn’t really a trip to London without visiting a museum or two!
Be sure to check if there is a price of admission before you arrive at the museum!
The majority of museums in London are free to enter, but there are a few that have an admission fee, and they’re normally quite expensive!
Unless you’re obsessed with the topic matter of a museum with an entrance fee, it is best to stick to the free ones!
6. Get Discounted West End Tickets
I wholeheartedly believe it isn’t a true trip to London if you didn’t go to the theatre!
New York’s Broadway gets a lot of attention for its theatre shows, but London’t West End shouldn’t be overlooked!
There are 39 theatres in London’s West End showing everything from famous musicals to obscure shows you’ve never heard of before.
I’m a huge theatre lover, but even friends and family who don’t love the theatre have enjoyed seeing a show on the West End.
The only problem is that tickets can be quite expensive. Especially if you buy them in advance and see the most popular shows.
There is a way around this though!
There are two discount theatre ticket providers in London:
- Today Tix
Today Tix is my personal favourite place to purchase West End tickets at a discounted price.
All you have to do is download the app, look through the shows, and find one that sounds interesting and is in your price point.
The tickets will be delivered to the theatre on the night of your show, and all you have to do is show a piece of ID to pick them up!
My favourite parts about Today Tix is that it is an app, so you can purchase your ticket whenever and where ever suits you best.
You can also purchase tickets for shows a few days in advance, so you’re not limited to only buying tickets for shows showing on that particular day.
It is a very flexible ticket platform.
TKTS is similar to Today Tix, but you have to go to their booth in Leicester Square and purchase your tickets in person.
You can also only purchase tickets for shows being performed on that day.
The lines at the London TKTS aren’t nearly as long as the ones at their New York locations, but you can still often find yourself waiting for half an hour or so until it is your turn to purchase tickets.
The good news about the London TKTS location is that you can go to their website and see what shows they have tickets for that day and the prices.
This eliminates the potential of you waiting in line and them not having tickets for the show you want to see!
But, overall, it is kind of a pain to use the TKTS booth while in London, and I suggest using the Today Tix app instead!
7. Make Time for a Day Trip
It is so easy to get caught up in all London has to offer and spend your entire trip just exploring London.
I get it! I’ve visited London multiple times and just stayed in the city the entire trip.
But that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on your solo trip to London!
The UK is an amazing part of the world, and there is so much to see outside of London and so many amazing cities that are just a short train ride away!
I’ve even managed to take a day trip to Wales from London in the past!
One of the best trips I can give you for when you’re partaking in solo travel in London is to get out of the city and see what else there is to explore!
You can take an organized day trip to some of the most popular towns and locations around London.
Or (if you’re like me and like to do everything yourself), you can hop on a train or bus and head to another city to explore by yourself.
One of my top recommendations for a day trip from London is Brighton.
It less than two hours away by train and has a completely different vibe than London. You can check out a detailed guide on how to travel between the two cities here.
It is definitely one of my favourite cities in England!
No matter where you choose to explore, I don’t think any solo trip to London is complete without exploring somewhere a bit outside the city to get a deeper understanding of the country outside of the capital city.
8. Parks Aren’t Lit at Night
London is typically a very safe city for solo travellers, but there is one exception to that: the city parks during the night.
I know this is an odd tip to have in a post about solo travel in London, but I think it is an important one.
It is certainly one I didn’t know about, and it resulted in a stressful walk back to my hotel after a West End show one evening!
I want to help you avoid this experience!
I just assumed when I was walking home one night that the parks would be lit up, so I planned my path to walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Park.
Well, to my surprise, Hyde Park was pitch black with not a light in sight, and Kensington Park was already closed for the evening.
Of course, I could have changed paths and walked along a more lit street, but I’m stubborn, and I was already a bit of a ways into Hyde Park when I realized there were no lights.
At that point, I just wanted to walk as fast as possible to get to the end of the park and find some lighting.
So, if you’re ever walking around at night while on a solo trip to London (or anytime really), be sure you walk on main road and leave the parks for daylight hours.
If you find yourself in a situation when there are no lights, and you’re quite nervous about walking alone, be sure to pull out your cellphone and either use the flashlight app or call someone who can talk with you throughout your walk.
You should still be safe, but your heart will probably be pounding.
City streets will result in a much more relaxing walk home!
Unique Solo Travel Safety Tips
9. Get an Oyster Card
I know I’ve talked a few times about how you can walk central London with little to no issue, but you will still need to use public transportation while you’re in London.
Sometimes you just can’t get around using public transportation, are too tired to walk back to your hotel after a long day, or don’t want to walk in the dark.
I feel you!
Even just getting to and from the airport requires you to use public transportation in most instances.
And that is where the Oyster card comes in!
The Oyster card is London’s transportation card. It saves you a bit of money on fares and saves you a lot of time because you just tap in and out of the metro/bus and don’t have to worry about purchasing a ticket each time.
I believe having an Oyster card is an essential part about travelling to London!
You have to pay a £5 deposit when you get your Oyster card, but it is fully refundable if you choose to return it at the end of your trip.
I still have my first Oyster card from 2014 and keep using it each time I visit London, but if you don’t think you’ll be back, definitely return it for a refund.
That is a short and sweet explanation of the Oyster card.
There is more you should know, but the main thing to know if that you need to have an Oyster card on your solo trip to London!
Solo travel in London is an unforgettable experience.
There are so many different things to see and do, and the city has a vibe and culture that is unbeatable!
There are so many different cultures and people in the city, and you never know when you’ll stumble upon a unique piece of culture, history, or food while you’re wandering through London.
As I said before, I truly believe that taking a solo trip to London is one of the easiest trips to take to learn the ropes of solo travel.
It is super easy to navigate the city, there is an attraction for anyone and everyone regardless of your tastes, and you won’t be overwhelmed with culture shock.
Plus so many flights to Europe land in London, so you may as well stop in and enjoy London before embarking on the rest of you European vacation.
It is not a city you want to miss out on!