London is one of Europe’s most visited cities, so it’s no surprise that it can get crowded. But there are ways to beat the crowds. From advance tickets to night tours to less tourist-packed neighborhoods, here’s how to make the most of your visit.
1. Plan ahead.
Take the time to examine opening times and pre-book entry when possible; it can save a lot of time and money during your visit. Advance tickets and skip-the-line access can help avoid long queues for popular spots such as the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, and the London Zoo. The London Pass also enables you to access many of these using one card.
2. Put your walking shoes on.
Many central London sights are within a short walking distance from one another. It can be fastest to arrive by foot to spots such as the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tate Modern.
3. Explore beyond the tourist center.
The allure of Big Ben and other classic London sights brings many tourists to the same parts of the city. Covent Garden, Oxford Street, and Mayfair are often crowded with shoppers. Heading out to locally loved locales like Hyde Park and Regent’s Park allows you to see more of the city and lose the crowds.
4. Choose transportation wisely.
London’s Underground is one of the finest public transport systems in the world. You may face crowding, however, at popular stops and during rush hour. If you’re short on time, consider hiring a classic black cab that can whisk you around to the sights of your choice.
5. Embrace the weather.
In rainy weather, most travelers avoid outdoor sights. If you’re willing to grab an umbrella, you can see London’s top spots without the crowds. If you’d prefer a day indoors, the British Museum, Tate, and National Gallery are great options.
6. Take a night tour.
When most visitors have called it a day, you can still see the nighttime side of London. With spooky ghost tours and late-night openings, you lose most of the crowds. Early morning is another optimal time to see sights before most people are up.