With the new year comes new goals and new dreams, and where better to make those dreams come through than in the bustling city of London. They say those who are bored in London are bored in life, and we couldn’t agree more. From basking in the beauty of Buckingham Palace to embracing your inner witch or wizard on a Harry Potter London studio tour, this dynamic metropolis has so much to see and do – you’ll never have a dull moment on your London visit.

With so much magical attractions condensed into one city, it’s no wonder that London is such a popular destination for travelers. Don’t let the crowds of other tourists or the pricey tourist traps stand in the way of you having the best vacation ever. Whether you opt to explore on a guided London city tour or prefer to journey through the city at your own pace, these five tips will help you make the most of your time in London.

1. Stay in the City Center

If it’s your first time visiting London you may be a little overwhelmed by the amount of accommodation the area boasts, and not to mention their varying prices. While it may be tempting to book one of the cheaper options who claim to be in ‘London City’ it isn’t always advised. London, as you’ll realize as soon as you get there, is enormous! So, while many of these hotels may still have London in their postcode, they might be a far cry from the buzzing, bright-light city of your dreams. Be sure to view your hotel or accommodation on Google Maps before booking. Try seeing how far away the accommodation is from some of the city’s most loved attractions such as Buckingham Palace or Tower Bridge for a better understanding of just how central the accommodation really is. As a rule of thumb, zones 1 or 2 are the ideal locations for your London stay.

Not only will staying in London city center offer you the eccentric, dynamic London ambiance that makes this city so iconic, but it will also save you a lot of time and money while you’re there. Commuting into London city every day from its outer zones can be costly. It can also be very time consuming, especially if your London tours coincide with rush hour. Stay in central London to really make the most of your time, you won’t even have to spend as many days exploring as you would do if you were commuting from further away.

2. Get Around the London Way

As we mentioned, London is pretty massive and visiting everything by foot isn’t possible. The good news is that in a city as densely populated as London the public transport is super-efficient and reliable.

Ditch your Uber and Black Cabs and explore the city like a local, on public transport. The Tube is London’s equivalent to the metro. The biggest benefit of traveling by Tube is that you can avoid London’s notorious traffic as you quickly get from one side of the city to the other underground. However, there’s a caveat, the Tube gets pretty packed during rush hour and with no air-conditioning underground the heat can be unbearable during summer months. Our tip is to avoid using the Tube during rush hour and always have a bottle of water on hand, in case the heat gets too much.

While the Tube is definitely the most efficient way to get around the city, you do miss out on some London sightseeing opportunities while underground. For shorter distances or if you have time to spare, why not hop aboard one of the city’s iconic red buses to take in the sights as you travel.

We recommend getting an Oyster Card as soon as you touchdown in London town. This card is your electronic ticket and can be used on all forms of public transport as you explore the Greater London region. Riding with your Oyster Card will reduce the cost of your journey and your travel will be capped at a daily ticket rate so you can hop on and off as much as you like without racking up a huge tab.

3. Enjoy London’s Free Attractions

Let’s be real, visiting London doesn’t come cheap but enjoying a tour of London doesn’t have the break the bank either. There is a lot of exciting and totally free ways to while away an afternoon if you’re traveling on a budget. For example, most of London’s best museums are completely free to the public. Some of our favorites include; British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum.

If you get good weather during your stay in London and want to explore outdoors, then you’re in luck. London has some of the most beautifully landscaped parks in all of Europe. Watch the Queen’s horses trot around Hyde Park if you visit in the early morning or stroll through St. James’ Park from some of the best views of Buckingham Palace.

4. Plan Your Days and Book in Advance

In London there is no such thing as winging it. As we mentioned London is a super popular tourist destination, meaning attractions and activities book out far in advance. From London walking tours to tours of Buckingham Palace, make sure you don’t miss anything on your London bucket list by booking in advance. By booking ahead you’ll get the best tour times, better prices and won’t have to waste precious vacation time waiting in line!

5. Make the Most of Your Time

You might not be back to London for a very long time, don’t waste hours standing in longs lines by being unprepared. Skip the crowds to see the city’s main attractions and landmarks when you take our Skip-the-Line Access tours. Whether it’s London sightseeing tours or a Harry Potter studio tour you’re after, enter at ease with our privileged access. Check out our best London tours and book in advance to make your London vacation a truly memorable experience.