London is one of the world’s great cities, with a huge range of things to do and places to explore.
If you are considering a trip to London but want to know more about whether it is a good choice for solo travel, the answer is yes! To find out why, you’ll have to keep reading!
I was born in London and have lived here for most of my life, so I know the city very well. I’ve also done a lot of solo travel to other countries.
So, as a Londoner and fellow solo traveller, here is my guide to solo female travel in London.
Why London is Great for Solo Female Travellers
London stands out as an exceptional destination for solo female travellers for several reasons, combining its rich history with a modern, inclusive vibe that welcomes visitors from all corners of the globe.
Here’s why London is a top pick for those embarking on a solo journey, especially for female travellers:
If you are visiting from North America, Australia, New Zealand or other similar countries, the UK will feel fairly familiar.
Of course, there are differences, but you won’t have to worry about language barriers. Visiting foreign countries can mean running afoul of cultural faux pas, but in the UK they will be broadly similar to home.
My first major solo travel experience was to New Zealand, familiar enough that it wasn’t intimidating, but different enough to be interesting. Many solo visitors to London have a similar experience.
Extensive Public Transport Network
One of London’s most practical advantages is its comprehensive public transport system. The city boasts an extensive network of buses, trains, and the Underground (Tube), which are not only efficient but also well-regulated, making them a safe option for getting around. For further information, keep reading.
Safe and Tourist-Friendly Atmosphere
London is consistently ranked as one of the safest major cities for travellers. The presence of CCTV and a visible police force in tourist areas and transport hubs adds an extra layer of security, providing peace of mind for solo travellers.
Londoners are generally helpful and friendly, ready to assist with directions or offer recommendations, making it easier for solo visitors to navigate the city.
We might not initiate conversation in the same way that you see in America, but that doesn’t mean we are anti-tourist (as long as you don’t stand on the left on escalators!)
As a Londoner, I have had very few safety concerns in all the years I have lived here, even living in an area that many consider to be more dangerous. I won’t pretend that my experience is universal, but by and large, London is a safe city for women on their own.
Personal Growth and Exploration
Solo travel in London is not just about safety and convenience; it’s also about personal growth. I think this is true of solo travel to any location, but London has a lot to offer as a solo destination.
The city’s array of museums, galleries, parks, and historical sites means there’s always something new to discover, often free of charge.
Despite its busy nature, London offers numerous chances to connect with others. From walking tours and museum visits to workshops and social events specifically designed for solo travellers or groups, the city provides a warm and welcoming environment for making new friends.
Preparing for Your Trip
Preparing for a solo trip to London involves a mix of practical planning and a dash of anticipation for the adventures ahead. From ensuring you have the right documents to packing smartly for the unpredictable British weather, here are essential tips to get you ready for an unforgettable experience in the heart of the UK.
Visa and Entry Requirements
For many travellers, including citizens of America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, the UK allows visa-free entry for stays of up to six months for tourism purposes.
If you have previously been refused entry to the UK or have some form of criminal record you may need a visa, so make sure you check the official website before booking your travel.
Ensure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay, and be aware you may be required to show evidence that your visit is temporary and for tourism purposes.
This may include things like proving that you have a ticket to leave the UK, that you have accommodation booked for your stay and that you have the available funds to cover your stay.
Always check the latest entry requirements on the UK government website before booking your trip, as immigration policies can change.
The UK government is starting to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system and in the future citizens of some countries that currently require a visa, may be able to enter with an ETA instead. Always check before you make any travel arrangements.
- Weather-Appropriate Clothing: London’s weather can be unpredictable, with possible rain showers even in summer. Pack layers, a waterproof jacket, and comfortable walking shoes. In winter, warm clothing is a must.
- Power Adapter: The UK uses Type G plugs, so bring an adapter for your electronic devices.
- Travel Insurance: Don’t overlook travel insurance that covers health, theft, and cancellations. It’s essential for peace of mind, especially when travelling solo.
- Contactless Payment: For public transport, having a contactless payment card, ApplePay or GooglePay is a must for ease and savings. These methods of payment are cheaper than buying daily paper tickets unless your bank charges high international transaction fees.
Familiarising Yourself with London
Before you arrive, familiarise yourself with London’s layout, main attractions, and public transport system.
Download useful apps like Citymapper for navigation, and an offline map from Google Maps, especially if you don’t have a data plan that allows you to access the internet on your phone when walking around. This preparation will make navigating the city much smoother.
Setting a Budget
London can be expensive, but with careful planning, it’s possible to enjoy the city without breaking the bank. Set a daily budget for meals, attractions, and shopping. Take advantage of free attractions like museums and parks, and look for discounts or city passes for popular sights.
Learn Basic Local Customs
Understanding local customs can enhance your travel experience. Londoners queue for everything. Stand on the right-hand side on escalators, so people can pass you on the left.
Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory, with 10% being common in restaurants. Staff in restaurants and cafes are paid at least the national minimum wage rather than being reliant on tips.
For more information about how this can change your interactions (especially if visiting from America where tipping is virtually mandatory and a higher percentage), I have a complete article about tipping in London.
Where To Stay
London offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. There are female-only hostels for travellers on a budget, or 5-star hotels such as Claridges if money is no object. Consider staying in central areas like Covent Garden or Soho for easy access to major attractions.
For a more local experience, neighbourhoods such as Shoreditch or Camden offer unique vibes and are well-connected by public transport. Booking in advance can secure better deals, and reading reviews will help you find safe and welcoming places to stay.
Here are some accommodation recommendations:
Luxury: If money is no issue, go all out and stay at one of the iconic London hotels like Claridge’s, or my London bucket list hotel, Shangri-La at The Shard. I live less than an hour away but am determined to stay there at some point!
Getting Around the City
I have a complete guide to getting around London, but here is a brief overview.
Navigating London as a solo female traveller is remarkably straightforward, thanks to its world-class public transport system. The city’s extensive network of buses, trains, and the iconic Underground (Tube) ensures that every corner of the metropolis is accessible.
For convenience and savings, consider using an Oyster card or contactless payment methods, which can be used across all modes of transport.
Don’t hire a car. Unless you are driving away from the city, a car in London won’t be helpful. Traffic is terrible, parking is extortionate, and the roads can be narrow with lots of restrictions which are easy to get wrong.
In the interest of improving London’s safety and air quality, there are lots of streets that restrict access at certain times, for example, if they are near schools. The road won’t be blocked, but you can get a fine if you don’t notice the sign telling you not to enter.
The majority of Londoners use public transport to get around, and I flat-out refuse to drive my car in central London.
For those looking to explore the city’s scenic routes, walking is not just safe but also highly recommended.
London has some amazing architecture, with modern skyscrapers next to buildings that are hundreds of years old, and the best way to see them is by walking. If you look up, you’ll see blue plaques all over the city, marking locations where historical figures lived and worked.
Also, from a practical perspective, some Tube stations are closer than the TfL’s map would suggest, and it can be quicker to walk than get back on the Tube.
Cycling has become increasingly popular, with dedicated bike lanes and the Santander Cycles hire scheme providing an alternative and eco-friendly way to see the city.
However, I would still only recommend this to people who are used to cycling in cities, and remember that we drive on the left here, so make sure you check the correct way if crossing traffic.
Despite London’s size, the efficient transport options and comprehensive signage make getting around an easy part of your solo adventure. Always have a map app on your phone to help with real-time directions and transport updates.
Things To Do In London
Exploring London solo opens up a world of iconic sights and hidden gems, each offering a unique experience. Here’s a selection of must-visit spots that cater well to the solo traveller, blending the city’s rich history with its vibrant contemporary culture.
- The British Museum: Dive into the world’s history and culture. Entry is free and there is a huge amount to see.
- The Tower of London: Learn about London’s royal and tumultuous past. The Yeoman Warder tours are highly recommended for an engaging and informative experience.
- The Tate Modern and Tate Britain: Perfect for art enthusiasts, these galleries showcase British art from 1500 to the present day, including international modern and contemporary art. Free entry and occasional guided tours make these spots solo-friendly.
- The South Bank: Stroll along the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge, passing iconic sights like the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Borough Market – perfect for enjoying at your own pace. This is one of the things I highly recommend to all visitors to London – I even have a blog post dedicated to the South Bank.
- The Shard: this is a more expensive activity, but if it’s your first time to London and you want to get some great views on a clear day, visit The View From The Shard at the top of London’s tallest building.
- Sky Garden: Offering free entry (but you must pre-book a slot online), it’s London’s highest public garden, providing fantastic city views (and perfect Instagram opportunities). The views aren’t quite as impressive as The Shard, but they are free. If the booking slots are all taken, try the Oxo Tower on the South Bank for another free viewing platform.
- Columbia Road Flower Market: Experience local London life at this vibrant Sunday flower market, surrounded by independent cafes and boutiques.
- Greenwich: A short boat ride along the Thames takes you to this historic area, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory, explore the Cutty Sark, and enjoy the market.
Whenever I visit a city for a week or more, I usually join some form of group tour so I’m not completely alone for the entire trip. If it’s in a wine region that usually means a wine tour (Seattle, Napa, Sonoma, New Zealand…I’ve done quite a few!).
In London, there are many amazing tours focusing on history and culture. Again, I have a full article about group tours you can join, but here are a couple of highlights.
💂♀️ – For a very affordable walking tour of the major sites, book a Landmarks Walking Tour here!
Soho Pub and Music Tour – experience British pub culture with some new friends, and learn about the musicians who frequented them.
Jack The Ripper Tour – there are many Jack the Ripper tours, but this one focuses on the victims of the infamous serial killer, and what their lives would have been like before their murders.
Day Trip to Stonehenge – for a longer excursion further afield, join this group tour to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath.
Solo Dining in London
London is a hub of solo adventurers, and dining alone is both common and embraced.
I like going out for dinner, and as many of my friends have moved away from the city over time, or are less free now that they have kids, I go to restaurants alone fairly often.
Many restaurants, especially in areas like Soho, Shoreditch, and Covent Garden, are accustomed to solo diners. Look for places with bar seating or communal tables, which offer a more casual and comfortable solo dining experience.
Don’t hesitate to bring a book or journal, but also consider this an opportunity to truly savour your meal and observe the bustling life of the city. Also, not to be intentionally eavesdropping, but by sitting at a table alone I have also overheard some very interesting conversations of nearby diners.
Generally try not to worry about dining alone. Most people are too focused on their food and the people they are with to notice who is around them.
I’ve only ever had a couple of solo meals that felt genuinely awkward, and none of them were in London.
The one that springs to mind is a 5-course tasting menu with wine matching in Wellington, New Zealand. The sommelier bringing out maps to tell me all about where the wine came from drew the attention of other diners and made me quite self-conscious!
But I was travelling alone, and really wanted to try the tasting menu. I am determined that being on my own shouldn’t stop me just because everyone else is with their partner or friends.
Solo Dining Tips
- Market Hopping: London’s food markets, like Borough Market or Camden Market, offer lots of options where you can pick up various bites and enjoy them on the go or at communal seating areas.
- Coffee Culture: London’s coffee shops are not just about the brew; they’re perfect spots to relax or catch up on some reading. Many have a welcoming atmosphere for solo visitors, such as Monmouth Coffee or Kaffeine.
- Afternoon Tea: There are lots of places that offer Afternoon Tea, for a fun and quintessentially British experience. It’s a popular thing to do but many of them require advance booking and can have dress codes.
Nightlife and Socialising
I always find evenings as a solo traveller in a new city harder to fill than the days. London still has some great options.
But remember, there is also nothing wrong with heading back to your accommodation in the evening. If you aren’t comfortable going out alone at night, that’s totally ok. It can be great to push yourself a little bit, but not to the extent that you feel truly uncomfortable.
Theatre and Comedy Nights
London’s West End is renowned for its world-class theatre productions, offering everything from musicals to classic plays. Solo travellers can often snag last-minute tickets at a discount, and attending a performance can be a great way to spend an evening.
With a full theatre, no one will notice or care if you are alone. I highly recommend Six – a fantastic musical all about the six wives of Henry VIII.
For something light, comedy clubs are scattered throughout the city, providing a fun and laid-back environment.
If you want to get out of your accommodation in the evening, checking out some of the city’s famous shops can be a great choice.
Big department stores and shops around Oxford Street such as Selfridges, John Lewis and Primark are open late in the evening, some as late as 10pm. Just check their websites to confirm opening hours when you are visiting.
Shopping in these areas during the day on weekends can be nightmarishly crowded, so quieter evenings can be a better time to visit. There are several Tube stations nearby that run until just after midnight, so you won’t have trouble getting back after.
Social Events and Meetups
For those looking to meet people, London offers countless opportunities through workshops, social events, and meetups. Websites like Meetup.com feature groups for everything from photography walks to book clubs, catering to solo travellers looking to join a group activity.
Additionally, many hotels organise events aimed at solo travellers, providing a safe and welcoming space to connect with others.
There are also a couple of Facebook groups that can be worth joining. Girls LOVE Travel is a great one for getting recommendations for cities around the world.
If you have a really specific question that can’t be answered in articles written for general information, female travel groups on Facebook will generally provide the answer.
London Safety Tips
London is an incredible city, but in some circles, it has a less-than-stellar reputation. A reputation that I personally think is unfair. As with virtually any topic you can think of, it’s always the extremes that are reported, but London is generally a very safe city.
I’ve lived in London for most of my life, and I’ve explored plenty of the city solo. I even live alone in Newham in east London, statistically one of the London Boroughs with the highest crime rates. This means it is unavoidable to sometimes walk home alone from the Tube at night, but I hardly ever have any safety concerns.
Stay Informed and Prepared
- Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Always be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded places like tourist attractions, public transport, and nightlife areas.
- Keep Important Information Handy: Have a list of emergency contacts, including your country’s embassy, and emergency services (999 in the UK). It’s also helpful to have the address and contact number of your accommodation.
Use Public Transport Wisely
- Travel Smart on Public Transport: The Tube, buses, and trains are safe, especially during the day and evening hours. However, try to avoid less busy carriages late at night and always keep your belongings close.
- Plan Your Route: Before heading out, plan your journey using reliable apps like Citymapper or Google Maps. Knowing your route can prevent you from looking lost and makes you a less likely target for opportunists.
Manage Your Belongings
- Keep Valuables Secure: Use bags that can be securely closed and keep them in front of you, especially in crowded areas.
- Avoid Flashing Expensive Items: Be discreet with cash, jewellery, and electronic devices. Using headphones can make you less aware of your surroundings, so be cautious.
- Keep Your Phone Charged: Ensure your mobile phone is always charged and has enough data. Portable chargers can be a lifesaver.
- Check-In Regularly: Regularly update a trusted friend or family member on your whereabouts, especially if you plan to explore late at night or visit less populated areas.
Trust Your Instincts
- Listen to Your Gut: If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Whether it’s leaving a venue or crossing the street to avoid someone who makes you uncomfortable, your safety is paramount.
- Choose Safe Accommodation: Research and book accommodations with good safety reviews and secure entry. Hostels, hotels, and Airbnb options in well-populated, well-lit areas are advisable.
- Use Safe Deposit Boxes: If your accommodation provides a safe or secure storage, use it to store valuables when you’re out exploring.
Conclusion: Solo Female Travel in London
Solo travel is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. Be open to trying new things, whether it’s a type of food you’ve never tasted before or an activity that challenges you. London has a huge amount to offer solo travellers, and it’s a great city to try out if you are new to travelling alone.
For more advice on planning your London adventure, check out these posts.