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London’s do and don’ts

Picture the scene : Strolling through the London streets, passing through many amazing shopping places, looking in awe at the Big Ben and then you decided to go to London bridge but what you see is not what you expected.This is not the bridge you wanted to see or you’re on a busy train on the London Underground when you accidentally step on someone’s foot.Your fellow traveller mumbles an inexplicable apology, and you respond by making eye contact and initiating a conversation. Silence envelops the carriage and everyone’s gaze drops to the floor, while the other person pulls the face of someone who’s been told they have seven seconds to live. Five seconds ago.You’ve just breached London social etiquette. Don’t worry, the most you’re likely to suffer is a tut in your general direction – that’s as confrontational as most British people get. Even so, if you’d rather blend in like a local when exploring the capital, keep these dos and don’ts in mind.

London dos and don’ts

By : Will Jones

Lonely Planet Writer

1. Do say sorry

As established, Londoners love to say sorry, so much so they’ll even say it for things which aren’t their fault. This is true of British society generally but everything’s a bit more squashed together in the capital, so there are more opportunities to express regret.

2. Don’t talk to strangers

It’s absolutely fine to ask for directions, or to apologise, or both, but engaging people in general chitchat – especially on public transport, where escape options are limited – is highly frowned upon.

3 . Don’t confuse London Bridge with Tower Bridge

Easily done. Tower Bridge is the one you’ve seen in photos (it literally has towers and a drawbridge and looks marvellous) whereas London Bridge is a rather drab affair with no distinguishing features (other than a steady stream of slightly dejected tourists).

4 . Don’t take the tube everywhere

London has a lot of Underground stations and many of them are very close together, particularly in central areas. It’s always worth checking an actual map before committing to the tube, as often it’s quicker to walk, particularly if a line-change is needed.

5 . Do have a pint in a pub

For non- Muslim , London has a mind-boggling number of pubs (short for ‘public house’) and to visit without supping a pint of beer in one would be like wandering past Big Ben without glancing at the clock face. This isn’t just a do, it’s a must do.Service at pubs is at the bar, with no tipping required. Smarter bars and food-focused places may have table service, for which tipping is roughly as it is in restaurants – 10–15%.

6 . Do make the most of the free attractions

London has some of the greatest cultural attractions in the world, and most of them are free, including the permanent collections at the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern, as well as the Changing of the Guard (every other day at Buckingham Palace)

7 . Don’t ignore the queue

Queuing is sacred to British culture and you’ll cause unanimous disgruntlement if you try to jump ahead. In situations where there is more than one end point (for example three cash points next to each other) it’s normal for a single queue to form, with the next in line taking the next available slot.

8 . Do use an Oyster card

These prepaid travel cards make using London’s public transport both easier and cheaper, and remove the need to faff around buying individual tickets, which can be confusing at the best of times. Tourists can order a Visitor Oyster card ( to be delivered before they go. If you've a contactless UK bank card, you can tap in at the ticket barriers for the same rates. 

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