Advice for female solo travellers in London (Shutterstock)
Advice Words : Rosie Fitzgerald | 28 May 2019

11 essential tips for solo female travel in London

London's considered a safe option for women travelling alone, but here's how to make sure your solo trip is as enjoyable and comfortable as possible...

Is London safe for solo female travellers?

There's little danger of finding yourself alone in the hustle and bustle of London (Shutterstock)

There's little danger of finding yourself alone in the hustle and bustle of London (Shutterstock)

London is one of the safest cities in the world for lone female travellers. The capital of England tends to be very tolerant of all groups of people, so it is unlikely that you will run into any trouble.

Adding to the security of the city is its hustle and bustle. In this city that never sleeps, most busy areas of London are filled with people day and night. This means it’s really unlikely that you will be entirely alone when travelling in London.

Having said that, it always pays to be alert when travelling alone in any city. Use your common sense. Steer clear of walking down quiet, dark streets or parks during the night. Keep the address of where you’re staying on you at all times in case you get lost and need help finding where you’re staying.

It's always wise before travelling anywhere to check the UK Foreign Office (or your country's equivalent) for official travel advice, too.

Tips for travelling around London safely 

London's transport hub is affordable and on the most part works really well. Whether you want to zip from place to place quickly by tube, or enjoy a scenic walk through the capital, below are some top tips for getting around the city...

1. Travelling around London... on foot

Enjoy a scenic walk along Regent's Canal past Little Venice (Dreamstime)

Enjoy a scenic walk along Regent's Canal past Little Venice (Dreamstime)

Without a doubt, the best way to see London is by taking a stroll. Conveniently, London’s classic icons such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge are relatively close together.

With easy-to-see street-side maps on almost every corner, it’s very hard to lose your way – and you’ll see more than you bargained for by staying above ground in between each site. As you would in any large city, keep an eye on your belongings during your stroll.

If you’d rather a bit more structure, there are plenty of free guided walking tours to choose from – and as you’ll be walking in a group, it’s a great way to meet fellow travellers if you fancy some company.

There are more than just the main landmarks, though. See another side of London by walking along the picturesque Regent’s Canal. Starting in Paddington, you can follow the waterway all the way to eclectic Camden.

The two-mile stretch will take you past the moored up and flower-adorned canal boats-turned restaurants of Little Venice and alongside Regent’s Park, designed by the same man who created the canal. The next stage takes you past London Zoo and drops you in Camden. Here you can mooch around markets stalls and tuck into a vast array of street food, inspired by the culturally diverse makeup of the city.

2. Travelling around London... on public transport

London's transport system is effeicent and affordable (Shutterstock)

London's transport system is effeicent and affordable (Shutterstock)

Like the walking routes, the tubes are easy to navigate - once you get the hang of it! While you do, it's always good to carry a tube map, apps like google maps and TFL’s journey planner makes finding your end destination simple.

If all else fails, memorise the station nearest to your hotel, so you can ask an underground employee (often wearing red and blue, with the London Underground logo on their jackets, or hi-vis jackets) to help you get back. 

Often, London's tube stations get extremely crowded. Central London stations will be busy during the week around rush hour (8 to 9am and from about 5pm til 7pm) and on weekends. Don't be surprised if people aren't so polite when getting on and off the tube.

If you end up on a busy train full of commuters, prepare to squeeze in. You won't have much in the way of personal space (sadly), but make sure you've got your eye on your bag. It's rare you'll have trouble on the tube, but if something or someone is making you feel uncomfortable, voice your discomfort loudly and clearly, and get off at the next station, where you can speak to a member of staff, or board the next train.

Oxford Circus, next to the uber-popular Oxford Street, is pretty much always busy! Prepare for lots of people walking very quickly, and avoid dawdling if you're able to. Stand to the side of the station, against a wall, when consulting your map to avoid being bumped into or feeling overloaded.

Sounds a nightmare? You could opt for the bus. Often, buses will take a little longer than the tube, but it is cheaper and there’s the added bonus of being able to see more of London from the window.  

The plus side? You don’t need to worry about getting an Oyster card during your visit - you can just use your contactless card for the same price. Keep an eye on your valuables when passing through the underground, as you would in any large city.

3. Travelling around London... in black cabs

Th black cab is an icon of London (Shutterstock)

Th black cab is an icon of London (Shutterstock)

You may feel more comfortable at night in a taxi if you're by yourself. Do what feels best for you - it's your solo trip, after all.

Black Cabs are the official taxis of London and as well as being iconic, their drivers have to learn the ins and outs of every street in London as part of their training. This means they will take you to your hotel without getting you lost. Just remember check that the cab is official and fully licensed.

Something else to watch out for are minicabs. Only black cabs can be hailed by the side of the road, so if a minicab stops to offer you a lift, don’t get in, as they must be booked in advance. 

A cheaper alternative is to order an Uber. Download the app and make use of built-in safety features and the GPS tracker means you can keep an eye on where you’re heading on your phone. The app also shows you the driver’s name and license plate, which you can send onto a friend, so they know who you're with, just in case.

4. Travelling around... London's airports

A plane taking off from London City aiport (Shutterstock)

A plane taking off from London City aiport (Shutterstock)

There’s loads of airports in and around London. It's important to be aware of how vast the city is and how far the airport may be from where you’re staying. It’s wise to book your transfer in advance as taxis out of the airport can get pricey.

The Gatwick Express is a quick way to get to London Victoria by train. If you’re flying into Heathrow, you can simply jump on the underground from platform two, three, four or five. The Piccadilly line stops at many of the main tube stations in London.

Another thing to bear in mind is the time of the flight. Like with anywhere in the world, arriving into London late at night and alone could be a tad unsettling. If you have a choice, opt for a flight that lands during the day.

What should solo female travellers wear in London?

Wear whatever you want! In London, anything goes, and you will quickly learn that even the most eccentric of outfits fail to get a second glance most of the time. 

However, the tips below will help make sure you’re dressed as practically as possible for London…

5. Be aware of dress codes

The Shard is one of many locations where a dress code may be enforced (Shutterstock)

The Shard is one of many locations where a dress code may be enforced (Shutterstock)

Although you can wear whatever you want most of the time you do need to be careful if you’re planning on visiting some of London’s flasher icons.

Most restaurants in The Shard, for example, operate a smart/casual dress code, and you might be denied entry if you’re in flip flops or scruffy shorts.

6. Pack a pair of trainers or walking shoes

Make sure your boots are made for walkin' (Shutterstock)

Make sure your boots are made for walkin' (Shutterstock)

London is bigger than you think. Much bigger. If you’re planning on exploring by foot, then forget about looking cosmopolitan.

Opt for some comfy trainers or even walking boots. It would be a shame to have to cut your day short because your feet have given up on you.

7. Wear layers

Be prepared for the unpredictable weather in London (Shutterstock)

Be prepared for the unpredictable weather in London (Shutterstock)

The weather can change at a drop of a hat in London. One moment you’re wishing you’d brought your sunglasses with you and the next minute you’re running for cover in the nearest shop from a sudden torrential downpour.

The best way to stay comfortable is to wear layers, so you can strip them off and put them on again depending on the temperature. And make sure you have an umbrella in your bag, too!

8. Pack light

When it's busy on the London Underground, there's not much room for big bags, so pack light (Shutterstock)

When it's busy on the London Underground, there's not much room for big bags, so pack light (Shutterstock)

Big back packs and suitcases don’t work so well on the tube, especially if you’re travelling during rush hour. Instead, opt for a small bag that will squash in easily with all the other people in the carriage.

It’s also worth thinking about the security of your bag. Make sure it zips up securely and hides your valuables so you don’t tempt any pickpockets that may be nearby.

London activities perfect for solo female travellers

Whether you're looking for a safe place to have a bit of alone time, or if you are keen to meet other female solo travellers, here's some unique things to do...

9. Join in with Park Run

Run past tame deer in Richmond Park (Shutterstock)

Run past tame deer in Richmond Park (Shutterstock)

Feeling energetic? Then sign up to the Park Run. This free event is a great way to explore London’s parks in a safe and friendly way. Don’t worry – it’s not at all competitive. It’s much more about the coffee everyone is invited to after the event than it is about your position in the run.

Richmond’s Park is full of astonishingly tame wild deer, while Hampstead Heath is a classic and beautiful option a bit closer to the centre of London.

For something away from the crowds, try running the event at Alexander Palace. The hill-side greenery surrounding this ‘people’s palace’ feels a million miles away from the busy city. That is until you get right to the top from where you can see London’s City landmarks such as The Shard and The Gherkin glittering on the horizon.

10. Brave a dip in a women’s only pond at Hampstead Heath

There are three baths in Hampstead heath: male only, a female only, and a mixed pond (Shutterstock)

There are three baths in Hampstead heath: male only, a female only, and a mixed pond (Shutterstock)

Weather permitting (and it can be temperamental in London), head to Hampstead Heath’s swimming baths. Here you will find the women-only pond, well-covered and shaded by trees.

Find yourself a spot and relax on the grass around the water or take the plunge and swim a few lengths. It’s a great place to find a moment of calm within the always-on-the-go city.

Some women prefer to swim nude in the women-only pond, but you're absolutely fine to wear a costume if you'd prefer.

11. Turn a museum visit into a social occasion

Attend an evening event at the Tate Modern (Shutterstock)

Attend an evening event at the Tate Modern (Shutterstock)

Spending alone time in a museum can be fantastic – a perfect place to get lost in the art and in your own thoughts without anyone bothering you. But if you feel a bit lonely with just those portraits for company, there’s many ways to make a museum visit more sociable.

Many galleries and museums in London offer late night events with chances to meet like-minded people. For example, on the last Friday of every month, the Tate Modern opens its doors for longer, promising an evening of live music sets, seminars and a whole host of other activities. Pair this with the selection of food and drink on offer and you’ve got yourself a perfect evening of entertainment.

Also worth checking out (particularly if you’re keen to get away from the main tourist traps) is Camden Arts Centre’s Wednesday night event. Mingle with other visitors to discuss the work on display and head outside to the gorgeously green garden to relax with a drink.

Tell us: have you travelled solo in London? What would you recommend? Share your tips on Twitter @wanderlustmag or Instagram @wanderlustmag

More for solo travellers: 

Lyn Hughes' top tips for solo female travellers

15 trips for solo travellers (with no single supplement!)

Tips for going solo in Thailand

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