One of the world’s busiest cosmopolitan cities (pandemic aside), traveling to London means there’s always hustle and bustle to navigate and deal with.
Between dodging through cars queued in traffic, squashing your way onto an over-crowded train, and trying to score tickets on the West End, London is an amazing and diverse city, but it’s constantly busy!
London attracts around 30 million visitors from around the world every year, and has a population of 8.9 million locals. If you’re planning a trip to this great city, here are some tips for not getting lost in the crowd, and avoiding the busy!
How to Avoid the Crowds in London
Preplan Your Destinations
With a vast array of things to do in London it can be difficult to know where to start, and if your trip is limited to a certain amount of time, you want to make the most of your time there.
The top things to do in London will always see crowds, but if you’re able to preplan your destinations, you can come up with a plan for a route which sees you visit at less popular times of the day.
Your planning should be thorough though, and not only take into consideration peak times for the attractions you want to visit, but also peak times for transport, like the London Underground.
‘The Tube’ is one of the best and easiest ways to get from A to B in London, and is what the locals use. But on weekdays, the entire network is packed during peak hours, and the phrase ‘like a can of sardines’ is well illustrated.
Peak hours on the tube are typically when locals are traveling to and from work; 6:30 am until 9:30 am, and then from 4 pm to 7 pm. If you’re traveling at this time, pre-planning allows you to consider whether you can walk some legs.
Take Plenty of Provisions
London is a big city, and if you find yourself without food or water, or any other provisions you may need, you’re not only going to waste time trying to source them, places like restaurants, shops, and supply stores are often the busiest places on London streets.
Taking plenty of provisions with you that can last you the whole day, ie snacks, water, a first aid kit, and anything else you feel you might need means you can completely avoid crowds of people who have the same needs.
For instance, when it starts raining (which it commonly does in London!), everyone flocks for cover, and to purchase an umbrella. If you’ve already got one with you, having researched the weather, you can completely avoid those crowds and keep on moving.
Carrying a bag around all day shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but if your provisions are weighing you down, you can leave your bags temporarily with a storage company such as Radical Storage London.
Don’t Let the Rain Stop You
Speaking of the rain, don’t let that stop you! Exploring London in the rain is one of the hands down best ways to avoid the crowds while still having a really good time (take a compact umbrella).
Rain is very common in London, and people beeline for the closest cafe, cinema, or store to avoid getting wet. You’ll have the streets and outdoor attractions all to yourself if you’re well prepared for it.
Consider the Skip-the-Queue Pass
Most major London attractions have a skip-the-queue option, and while you’ll end up paying more, this will allow you to jump straight to the front of the line, avoid the crowds, and give you more time.
Some attractions in London can see you spending half a day stuck in a long line of people, so if this is particularly unappealing, go for skip-the-queue.
Research Accommodation Options
Knowing where to stay in a busy city such as London can be a difficult decision to make, especially if you don’t have any prior recommendations. But this can really affect how busy your London experience is.
Location is everything when choosing accommodation if your main aim is to avoid the crowds. Research the area and exact neighborhood where your hotel is based, considering things like whether it’s right next to a busy tube station.
Smaller boutique hotels with less rooms will have less crowded common spaces (is restaurants, lobbies, pools etc), than huge franchised brands with 40 floors. You may pay more, but it’ll come down to balancing out your priorities.
Street Food & Markets for Food
When it comes to eating, London is full of popular restaurants, which are not only crowded but also require reservations well in advance to score a table.
If your aim is to avoid the crowds, ditch the famous brand names, and visit markets and street vendors for cheap and easy food. This means you can take it with you, and enjoy your meal in a place which isn’t busy with people.
Of course, buying fresh ingredients might be difficult if you don’t have the facilities to cook in your hotel but there are also plenty of stalls where you can buy delicious meals and snacks that require no preparation at your end.
Opt For Hidden Gems
Everyone knows about Madame Tussauds and the plethora of acts playing at famous stadiums in London, but despite the high number of visitors who descend upon the city, there are still a huge range of hidden gems, and alternatives to more popular attractions.
If you head into the outskirts of London you’ll find amazing hidden pockets and gems which offer a quieter experience, in suburbs like Greenwich, Richmond and Hampstead Heath.
You can read this article of 20 things to do like a local in London for fabulous hidden gems.