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How Not To Look Like A Tourist In London


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Gretal Akin



Welcome to the bustling streets of London, a city that seamlessly blends history with modernity, tradition with innovation. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, London attracts millions of visitors each year who come to drink in its rich culture, vibrant atmosphere, and iconic landmarks. However, standing out as a tourist in a city as cosmopolitan as London is easier than you might think.


To truly immerse yourself in the local culture and avoid looking like a wide-eyed tourist, it’s important to adopt a few insider tips and tricks that will help you blend in seamlessly. In this guide, we’ll share some valuable insights on how to avoid the obvious tell-tale signs of being a tourist in London. From dressing like a local and using public transportation to exploring lesser-known areas and embracing the local cuisine, these tips will help you experience London from an insider’s perspective.


So, whether you’re planning a short getaway or a long, leisurely trip to London, join us as we take a dive into the world of local knowledge and uncover the secrets to not looking like a tourist in this vibrant city.


Dress Like a Local

One of the easiest ways to avoid standing out as a tourist in London is to dress like a local. Londoners are known for their sense of style, which effortlessly blends sophistication with casual elegance. To blend in with the locals, opt for a smart-casual look that reflects the city’s fashion-forward atmosphere.


Instead of sporting bright, oversized logo t-shirts and athletic shoes, go for a more refined and understated look. Invest in well-fitted clothing in neutral colors, such as black, gray, or navy, and pair them with stylish accessories like a classic trench coat or a fashionable scarf. Londoners are also fond of layering, so be sure to bring along a versatile jacket or cardigan to adapt to the unpredictable weather.


When it comes to footwear, leave the bulky sneakers at home and opt for comfortable yet stylish alternatives. Classic leather shoes, loafers, or ankle boots are popular choices amongst locals. Remember to always pay attention to your surroundings and dress appropriately for the occasion. Londoners take their fashion seriously, whether it’s for a night out in the West End or a casual stroll through the city’s parks.


By adopting a wardrobe that reflects the city’s fashion sensibilities, you’ll seamlessly blend in with the locals and avoid looking like a tourist. Plus, dressing like a local will enhance your overall experience, as you’ll feel more connected to the city’s vibrant energy and cosmopolitan vibe.


Use Public Transportation

One of the best ways to navigate the bustling streets of London like a local is to utilize the city’s extensive public transportation network. London is famous for its efficient and well-connected transportation system, which includes the iconic red double-decker buses, the Underground (also known as the Tube), and the Overground trains.


When using public transportation, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Oyster card, a reloadable smart card that allows you to easily pay for your journeys across different modes of transport. This card offers discounted fares compared to purchasing single tickets, and it can be topped up at various stations and online.


Avoid the temptation to rely solely on taxis or ride-sharing apps, as they can be expensive and may lead to spending unnecessary time in traffic. Instead, plan your journeys using Transport for London’s website or mobile app, which provide real-time updates on routes, schedules, and any disruptions or delays.


As you venture into the Underground system, pay attention to the “Stand on the right” rule when using escalators. Londoners are known for their efficiency, so be sure to stand on the right-hand side of the escalator to allow those in a rush to pass on the left. It’s also worth noting that during peak hours, the tube can get very crowded, so it’s best to avoid rush hour if possible.


Using public transportation not only helps you blend in with the locals, but it also allows you to efficiently explore the city and experience London the way Londoners do. So grab an Oyster card, hop on a red bus, or take a journey on the Underground, and immerse yourself in the heart of the city’s vibrant rhythm.


Avoid Peak Tourist Times

London is a city that is constantly buzzing with activity, but it’s important to be mindful of the peak tourist times if you want to blend in and avoid long queues at popular attractions. Understanding when the city is busiest can help you plan your visit more strategically and ensure a smoother and less crowded experience.


Peak tourist times in London typically coincide with school holidays and the summer months when visitors from around the world flock to the city. This includes major holidays like Christmas and Easter, as well as the months of July and August. During these times, popular attractions such as the Tower of London, the British Museum, and Buckingham Palace can be incredibly crowded.


Instead, consider visiting London during its shoulder seasons, which are the transitional periods between high and low tourist seasons. This includes the months of April, May, September, and October when the weather is still pleasant, but the crowds are more manageable. The city is just as vibrant and lively during these months, with plenty of festivals, events, and cultural happenings to enjoy.


If you have flexibility in your schedule, try to visit popular attractions early in the morning or later in the evening when they are typically less crowded. This allows you to enjoy the sights and experiences without being surrounded by hordes of tourists.


By avoiding peak tourist times, you’ll not only have a more enjoyable and authentic experience, but you’ll also have the opportunity to witness the city at its own pace, free from the overwhelming crowds that can often accompany peak travel periods.


Explore Lesser-Known Areas

While London is undoubtedly famous for its well-known landmarks and attractions, it’s worth venturing off the beaten path and exploring the city’s lesser-known areas. These hidden gems offer a unique and authentic experience, allowing you to discover a side of London that many tourists miss.


One such area is Camden, known for its vibrant markets, alternative music scene, and quirky shops. Explore Camden Lock Market, where you can find everything from vintage clothing and unique artwork to delicious street food from around the world. Take a stroll along the picturesque Regent’s Canal and soak in the creative and bohemian atmosphere.


Another hidden gem is Notting Hill, famous for its colorful houses and the annual Notting Hill Carnival. This eclectic neighborhood is filled with trendy boutiques, charming cafes, and the famous Portobello Road Market, where you can browse antiques and uncover hidden treasures.


For a taste of London’s creative side, head to Shoreditch in East London. This vibrant neighborhood is synonymous with street art, independent boutiques, and a buzzing nightlife. Explore Brick Lane, known for its diverse food stalls and vibrant street art scene, or visit the Old Street area for its trendy bars and live music venues.


If you’re seeking green spaces and a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle, head to Hampstead Heath. This expansive park offers sprawling grassy fields, beautiful woodland walks, and breathtaking views of the city skyline from Parliament Hill.


By exploring these lesser-known areas, you’ll not only discover a different side of London but also have the opportunity to interact with locals and experience the city’s diverse and vibrant culture. So venture beyond the tourist hotspots and uncover the hidden treasures that make London truly one-of-a-kind.


Learn the Basics of British Etiquette

When visiting a new country, understanding and respecting local customs and etiquette is essential. In London, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the basics of British etiquette to avoid standing out as a tourist and to show respect to the locals.


Firstly, when greeting someone, it’s customary to use a handshake. In more formal situations, a slight nod of the head can also be used. Be sure to maintain eye contact and offer a friendly smile as you engage in conversation.


Politeness and good manners are highly valued in British culture. Remember to say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with others, whether it’s ordering a meal at a restaurant or asking for directions. Queuing (standing in line) is also a fundamental aspect of British etiquette. Make sure to wait your turn and avoid cutting in line, as this is seen as rude.


When dining in a restaurant, it’s customary to wait for all members of your party to be seated before starting the meal. Keep in mind that tipping is customary but not mandatory in the UK. A typical tip is around 10-15% of the bill; however, some establishments may include a service charge. Always check the menu or ask the staff if you’re unsure.


Additionally, embracing the art of small talk can go a long way in social situations. The British often engage in light conversation about topics such as the weather, current events, or hobbies. This helps to establish rapport and create a friendly atmosphere.


Lastly, it’s important to be mindful of personal space and respect boundaries. Londoners value their personal space, so it’s best to avoid unnecessary physical contact with strangers unless given a clear indication to do so. Remember to use your “inside voice” and be mindful of noise levels, especially on public transportation.


By familiarizing yourself with the basics of British etiquette, you’ll seamlessly blend in and show respect to the local culture. It’s a great way to engage with the Londoners and create lasting connections during your visit to this diverse and welcoming city.


Avoid Overly Touristy Restaurants and Cafes

When exploring a vibrant city like London, it’s tempting to flock to the well-known tourist hotspots for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. However, to truly experience the local culinary scene and avoid the typical tourist traps, it’s best to steer clear of overly touristy restaurants and cafes.


Instead, venture into the neighborhoods and seek out the hidden gems that the locals frequent. London is home to a diverse food culture, offering a variety of cuisines from around the world. From authentic Indian curry houses in Brick Lane to trendy coffee shops in the hipster haven of Hackney, there’s something to suit every palate.


One way to find lesser-known eateries is by exploring the side streets and back alleys. These often hide charming cafes and cozy restaurants, where you can enjoy delicious meals away from the crowds. Take the time to research local food blogs or ask for recommendations from Londoners themselves to discover these hidden culinary treasures.


Avoid restaurants that display large menus in multiple languages or have aggressive touting outside their doors. These are often indicators of tourist-oriented establishments that prioritize quantity over quality. Instead, look for places where locals are dining and lines of locals waiting for a table – this is usually a good sign of tasty and authentic food.


Embrace the concept of the “gastropub,” where traditional British pub fare is elevated to a high standard. Many of these establishments offer a cozy atmosphere and a menu showcasing seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. This is the perfect opportunity to indulge in classic British dishes like fish and chips, Sunday roast, or a hearty pie.


By seeking out local eateries and avoiding overly touristy restaurants and cafes, you’ll not only enjoy the true flavors of London but also support small businesses and contribute to the local economy. So step off the beaten path and savor the authentic tastes of the city.


Embrace the Local Cuisine

London is a melting pot of diverse cultures and cuisines, offering a culinary experience like no other. To truly immerse yourself in the local culture and avoid looking like a tourist, embrace the opportunity to try traditional British dishes and explore the flavors that define the city.


Start your culinary adventure by sampling the quintessential British classic: fish and chips. This iconic dish consists of battered and deep-fried fish served with crispy chips (French fries) and a side of mushy peas. Look for local fish and chip shops that pride themselves on using fresh, sustainable fish and creating the perfect crispy batter.


Indulge in a traditional English breakfast, often referred to as a “full English.” This hearty meal typically includes bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, and black pudding, all served with toast or fried bread.


For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the beloved British dessert: sticky toffee pudding. This rich and moist sponge cake is topped with a decadent toffee sauce and often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or custard.


Another must-try British staple is the Sunday roast. This traditional meal, typically enjoyed on Sundays, consists of roasted meat (such as beef, lamb, or chicken) accompanied by roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, and gravy. It’s a comforting and satisfying meal that brings families and friends together.


London’s culinary scene extends far beyond traditional British fare. The city is renowned for its international cuisine, with a plethora of restaurants serving flavors from around the world. From Indian curries in Brick Lane to Chinese dim sum in Chinatown, the options are seemingly endless.


Don’t forget to pair your meals with a pint of beer or cider from one of London’s many traditional pubs. Enjoy the lively ambiance, strike up a conversation with locals, and experience the authentic pub culture that is ingrained in British society.


By embracing the local cuisine, you’ll not only savor the flavors of the city but also connect with the cultural heritage and traditions of London. So venture beyond familiar dishes and allow your taste buds to experience the delights that the city has to offer.


Discover Hidden Gems

London is a city full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. While iconic landmarks and popular attractions are a must-visit, it’s important to explore beyond the tourist-heavy areas and uncover the lesser-known treasures that make London truly unique.


One of the best ways to discover hidden gems is to wander through the city’s neighborhoods and explore their charming streets. Head to Covent Garden, known for its bustling markets, street performers, and independent boutiques. Discover Neal’s Yard, a colorful courtyard tucked away in the heart of the city, where you can find health food stores, cafes, and beauty boutiques.


For history buffs, a visit to the Churchill War Rooms is a must. This underground bunker served as the nerve center for British military planning during World War II. Explore the rooms, corridors, and secret chambers to gain insight into the strategy and operations of the time.


Escape the crowds and find tranquility in the Kyoto Garden, tucked away in Holland Park. This peaceful Japanese garden features a koi pond, cherry blossom trees, and a charming waterfall. It’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a moment of serenity amidst the bustling city.


Discover the vibrant street art scene in East London’s Shoreditch neighborhood. Explore the colorful murals adorning the walls and immerse yourself in the creativity and expression of the local artists. You may even stumble upon hidden art installations and surprising finds down the narrow alleyways.


If you’re a book lover, make your way to the serene and inspiring British Library. This immense collection houses over 170 million items, including some of the world’s most precious literary works, manuscripts, and historical documents. Take a leisurely stroll through the library’s exhibitions and marvel at the knowledge and history preserved within its walls.


By venturing off the beaten path and seeking out these hidden gems, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the diverse and captivating layers that make up the fabric of London. Embrace the sense of discovery and allow yourself to be charmed by the city’s secrets.


Engage with the Locals

To truly experience the essence of London and avoid looking like a tourist, make an effort to engage with the locals. Londoners are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, and interacting with them will give you a unique perspective on the city and its culture.


One of the best ways to connect with locals is by striking up conversations in local establishments such as pubs, cafes, or markets. Londoners are often more than happy to share their favorite spots, recommend hidden gems, or engage in friendly banter.


Participating in local activities and events is another great way to engage with the community. Check out local listings for festivals, art exhibitions, concerts, or neighborhood markets. These events offer a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet Londoners who share similar interests.


If you’re interested in the arts, visit the smaller, independent theaters and galleries that showcase local talent. Attend a live music performance or a comedy show in one of the city’s many intimate venues. Not only will you experience the creative pulse of the city, but you’ll also have opportunities to chat with fellow attendees and artists.


You can also consider joining organized walking tours or guided experiences led by local experts. These tours provide insights into the city’s history, architecture, and hidden stories that you might not discover on your own. Engage with the guide and fellow participants, ask questions, and learn from their expertise.


Lastly, use social media platforms to connect with like-minded individuals in London. Join local community groups or forums, and participate in discussions about events, recommendations, or cultural topics. This can lead to making new friends and possibly even arranging meetups with other locals.


By engaging with the locals, you’ll not only gain insider knowledge and unique insights into the city, but you’ll also form connections and create memories that go beyond being a tourist. Embrace the opportunity to learn from the people who call London their home and let their stories enrich your experience.



London is a remarkable city that offers a wealth of experiences for tourists and locals alike. By following these tips on how not to look like a tourist in London, you can fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and blend in with the local scene. From dressing like a local and using public transportation to exploring lesser-known areas and engaging with the locals, these strategies will help you unlock the city’s hidden treasures.


Finding your way off the beaten path and discovering hidden gems will provide a more authentic and enriching experience. By venturing into local neighborhoods, trying traditional British cuisine, and engaging in activities and events that locals enjoy, you’ll get a taste of the real London and create lasting memories.


Remember to respect local customs and etiquette, and approach your interactions with an open mind and a friendly attitude. Embrace the diversity, creativity, and energy that London has to offer, and let yourself become a part of its vibrant tapestry.


Whether it’s strolling through a colorful market, enjoying a pint in a traditional pub, or striking up conversations with Londoners, the key is to embrace the city’s authentic character and immerse yourself in its rich tapestry of culture and history.


So, venture beyond the tourist traps, wander through the city’s hidden corners, and let London’s allure captivate you. By following these tips, you’ll create a truly memorable experience and leave with a deep appreciation for the city and its people.