London Holiday

A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to London

London is a unique city that has something to offer to everyone. Home to nearly 9 million people, it prides itself in being one of the most multicultural and diverse places in the world. Despite the pressure of being the main city of Great Britain and one of the globe’s fashion, art and financial capitals, it is incredibly liveable and family-friendly. Spacious leafy green parks in the middle of the city, perfect for picnics and feeding cheeky squirrels; world-class entertainment options for any budget; abundance of free museums and galleries to explore are just a few benefits to mention. There is a reason why Paddington Bear came to London and found home there. London is amazing. Buckle up for a tour of this fascinating city.

People and culture in London

London is an incredibly diverse city. Home to nearly 9 million people, it is a melting pot of cultures where all ethnicities, traditions, beliefs, and political views are welcome. Londoners are united not only by the British values but also by distinctive, unparalleled London culture.

Are Londoners friendly? 

Londoners are an exceptional tribe. They are friendly and chatty and make every newcomer feel welcome. 

Small talk is a thing in the city. It is not unusual for two strangers to say Good Morning and strike up a conversation. Exchanging a few kind words with a barista, a rubbish collector, a postman, or a shopkeeper in the morning is a classic in London. People look up, make eye contact and smile at each other. After a while, you simply get used to it. 

Don’t look taken aback when asked where you're coming from every now and then. Many Londoners come from someplace too. They are a curious tribe! 

The locals don’t miss an opportunity to complement one another, especially the women. If someone fancies your shoes, t-shirt, or a bag, they will not keep it to themselves. I love your shoes!, they'll say in all sincerity. 

The locals are hospitable and sympathetic towards strangers. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable asking for help. If you are lost, need directions or a hand with something, stop someone politely and give them a smile. They’ll do anything for you.  

Is London suitable for families? 

London is a fantastic destination for children and families of any size. Its transportation system allows moving around stress-free. The outdoor spaces have amazing playgrounds where families can let out the steam. Most museums and galleries have loads of children-centred activities and are free for those under 16s. Multiple cafes and restaurants do their bit too; many have special menus for the little monsters with big appetites.   

London is full of references to popular fictional characters. A real delight for the fans! Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, Doctor Strange, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, and Sherlock Holmes are a few well-loved local heroes from the long list.  

What about the pets in London?

Thinking of bringing along the pet your family can't live without? London is a true paradise not only for the Queen’s corgis but all the pets. The standard of care for domestic animals is one of the best on the planet, with pet owners treating them as in-house royals. 

Pets are welcome in most public places. There are specialised daycares and an abundance of open spaces to run around and socialise. Many restaurants do not mind if your pet joins you for a meal, as long as they behave themselves, of course.

Pets travel free on public transport but have to stay in a pet carrier or on a leash.

What is London culture? 

London values align closely with British values. They consist of mutual respect, tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs, multiculturalism, the rule of law, democracy, individual freedom and equality. You are welcome, wherever you come from, as long as you mean no harm. 

London is a very people-focused city, and inclusion is one of the essential features of London culture. Every voice matters. Every person's needs matter. 

London's diversity is unmatched. Catch a “businessy” vibe in white-collar Mayfair. Get a bohemian feel in Soho. Marvel over graffiti in arty Shoreditch. Dress like a hippy in Camden Town. Taste the best Caribbean street food in Brixton. Find the best shisha place on Edgware Road by Marble Arch. Some areas of London feel uptight conservative; others are rebels with a subculture vibe; many are almost entirely populated by immigrants. However different, every part is integral for keeping the blanket whole. It makes up the city we love. 

You can also try to understand London culture by eating your way through it. Energise on the world-famous English Breakfast in the morning. Nibble on Fish & Chips for lunch. Savour traditional Afternoon Tea between 3pm and 5pm. Feel like a local with a delicious and not as spicy London version of Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner. Try to make it all in one day! And if you are in London on Sunday, don’t miss out on the Sunday Roast

Etiquette in London 

Lack of manners might be the worst sin in the eyes of Londoners. Therefore the key thing to remember is to always say Please and Thank You. Have you been served your coffee? Did someone step aside to let you pass? Basic manners are a must, regardless of the ranks, income, beliefs and other differences. 

Sorry or My apologies are other words to use frequently. It is not unusual to see a situation where one person accidentally pushes another one, and both say Sorry. Apologising for small things even when it's not your fault is considered polite. 

“Punctuality is the politeness of the kings”. It is true in London. If you made local friends and want to keep them, turn up on time.

Though people in London are friendly, they are not necessarily ready to go personal and answer bold questions. Avoid putting them and yourself in an uncomfortable situation. 

If you are invited to a Londoner’s home, there is no specific rule about removing shoes or not. It is entirely up to the host. Always ask. 

Skipping the line is extremely rude by London standards of etiquette, and there is a big chance someone will not let the injustice slip.

If you use public transport, let people out before you come in. 

While in the restaurant, be polite and gentle to the staff. They work hard to add magic to your culinary experience. Don’t be abusive. Don’t speak too loud. Don’t make more noise than necessary with your cutlery. Make sure your children are entertained and don't run around or scream. 

It’s considered polite to keep your elbows off the table. For extra points, you can lay your knife and fork together at the clock position of 6.30 when you are done with your meal. Keep eye contact with people when you make a toast. 

Tipping in London is optional. Different restaurants have different rules, from building the fixed service fee into the bill to giving you the option to add a voluntary amount on top. One thing is sure: no one will run after you if you leave no tip.    

Are there any cultural faux pas in London? 

English people are tolerant and accepting, as long as you have no evil intentions and remember your manners. Very few things are considered taboo in modern London.

The Royal Family and especially the Queen are well-loved by the Londoners. Questioning the monarchy, making disrespectful comments or joking about royal matters is considered extremely rude, coming from an outsider. 

Spitting and littering on the street is another no-no. Most public places and parks have bathrooms, and finding a bin is never a problem in London. 

Picking your nose, slurping, and loud chewing won’t go unnoticed when you eat out. 

Families have to be aware that shouting at the children will not be regarded well in public. The same goes for smacking, slapping and other bodily punishment. People might simply report you.

One of the worst things you can do is fail to clean your pet’s mess. Not only will you be seen as careless and irresponsible, but you also risk facing a fine on the spot. Always carry litter bags when out with a pet. Londoners take their pets' business seriously!  

They also value their personal space. Don't come too close while you talk. Don't ask how much they earn and don't boast about your wealth either. The latter is seen as foolish and rude. And don’t try to impose your beliefs on them.  

Londoners stay away from treating people based on their social status, you should too. Equality is a foundation of the local culture, and you are expected to show an equal amount of respect to a member of the royal family and an employee in a supermarket. This is what the Queen does. 

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