What NOT to Do in London (if you want a local experience)

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Lots of London tourists come to the city and they spend their money and their time on these characterless, man-made attractions that don’t actually show the real side of London and I’m the type of traveler that likes to go to a city and see what the locals love doing. So if that’s how you are too, I’m going to tell you the things that you should avoid when you come to London.

Now, if you want to do some of these things that I’ve mentioned, listen, it’s you’re a trip, you do you, that’s totally fine, but I personally want to steer you in the direction of being able to see the best parts of the city and these places are just not gonna give you that.

Let’s start with Leicester Square. There is nothing to do in this square except for eat at terrible chain restaurants, like literally the worst chain restaurants in the UK, and this is also home to the absolute bane of my existence, M&M world. If you’re planning on going to M&M world I think you should just unsubscribe from my channel ’cause I just cannot have that energy here.

Just can’t do it. If you find yourself nearby Leicester Square though, and you need a good place to eat, it’s really hard to find like the good local spots. But if you have my three day London itinerary, you’ll find lots of options right around the area that are actually good. Oxford Circus is the, potentially, most famous shopping.

Oxford Circus is potentially the most famous shopping area in the entire world and because of that it is always super crowded, so crowded that Oxford Street gets on average one million visitors a day, one million people on one street. Londoners actually will add minutes to their walking journeys just to be able to avoid Oxford Street because it’s such a pain to walk on.

I also don’t recommend going shopping here because Oxford Circus and Oxford Street pretty much just have the usual chain shops that you can find in many other places and cities around the world. If you do want to go shopping, I would recommend either going to the nearby area that’s called Carnaby or you should watch my video about really cool alternative shops that you should visit in London, and you can watch that by clicking the card popping up in the corner of this video.

I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers hate going to Times Square and Piccadilly Circus is the Times Square of London. It’s pretty much just full of tourists taking photos and some really terrible souvenir shops, plus a really big screen that just has advertisements on it. I would say instead, skip Piccadilly Circus and go explore Soho and I actually have a video with Papa Teach me where we show you some great hidden gems to check out in the area.

If you want to scream from the rooftops that you are a tourist, then go on one of those hop-on hop-off bus tours. They only take you around to the most touristy attractions in London and usually get stuck in a lot of traffic while you’re on them. Instead, I would really recommend that you just take one or two areas to visit in a day and explore those by foot, and if you’re having trouble figuring that out then my three day London itinerary already has that done for you.

Everybody who comes to London knows about Harrods which means that pretty much everybody who comes to London goes to Harrods so it is always packed to the brim of people just walking around and exploring but not actually buying anything. Honestly, I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal, plus it’s in an area that there’s not really very much else around it to check out afterwards.

So if you’re not planning on buying anything, I would skip it and if you still do want to see a department store I’d recommend Selfridges near Bond Street Station, or Liberty by Carnaby Street. They’re both a little less crowded and they are also in better areas where there’s some other things that you can see along the way.

But again, if you’re not planning on buying anything, maybe just skip it ’cause I feel like wandering around a store and not being able to buy anything is kind of torture. (helicopter rotor whirring) We’re trying to film helicopter, can you be quiet for a little bit, please? Please? There are four attractions in London that are usually grouped together in ticket bundles.

I call them the Awful Four. They are soulless, they’re expensive. You can do them in pretty much any other part of the world. They’re not London based really. And they’re just awful so please, for the love of God, do not go to one of the places in the Awful Four. So the Awful Four is the London Dungeons, the London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventures, and, that creepy wax museum, Madame Tussaud’s.

Just avoid all of them, please. Right near a couple of the attractions in the Awful Four is the London Eye. And, honestly, Londoners do not get the fascination with this. You pay a lot of money for a ticket to go into a capsule for 30 minutes that spins you around and maybe you get to see the skyline of London if you get a non cloudy day, but there are so many other viewpoints that you can visit in London that are either free or just a little bit more interesting and I do have a video which tells you about some of them and you can watch that by clicking the card popping up in the corner here.

Also the area in front of the London Eye gets so, so crowded during the day, especially in the summer, so even if you buy a reserved time ticket for the London Eye, you’ll likely still end up waiting in line with like thousands of other people to get onto the Eye and, honestly, it’s very stressful.

I don’t know why we’re all subjecting ourselves to things like this on our holiday. Lots of people who visit London want to go to a pub, and that is great, you should definitely do that because that is very much a part of British culture, especially for Londoners. So it’ll be cool to get involved with the local things that people do here.

However, the pubs that are located near the major tourist attractions in London are usually pretty awful. Are we seeing a pattern here? Anything that’s near like the major attractions is usually pretty bad. So avoid those pubs because they’re going to be overpriced and also the food is going to be awful.

London has some beautiful and really interesting and fun pubs that you can go to but they’re not usually in the center of London. So you’ll want to venture a little bit away from Central London into one of the areas that feels a little bit more neighborhoody and that’s where you’ll find some really great pubs that you’ll be able to hang out in, have some nice food and also hang out with the locals.

Two areas that I would recommend starting your search for a more neighborhood local pub is Notting Hill and Camden. (upbeat music) Pretty much anything around Buckingham Palace Londoners avoid at all costs because it’s all made for tourists so it’s very expensive and if it’s like a pub or a cafe or a coffee shop it’s usually pretty terrible as well.

So you’ll never find a Londoner going to Changing the Guard. You get stuck there for like 45 minutes, especially because it gets really crowded, especially in the summer, and it’s just like, why? I mean, it’s tradition, yes, but it has nothing to do with the heartbeat of the city or how the locals experience the city.

So if that’s what you’re trying to get on your trip then I would avoid Changing the Guards. When you go to the most touristy areas of London, many of which I have mentioned, you will see lots of these flashy big souvenir shops and, honestly, anybody who has any taste hopefully will see that those weird Mind the Gap t-shirts and anything in these shops are really tacky and all that stuff, of course, is overpriced.

So instead, what I recommend for souvenirs is trying to find something that you can get in London that is special and unique and also that helps to support the local community. If you need some ideas for alternative souvenirs that you can get while you’re in London, then watch my video that literally talks about all of that by clicking the box popping up right below me and let me know what you end up picking up while you’re here.

In the corner of this video, Is that the right, am I pointing to the right corner? Yeah, yeah, yeah.