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The Insider Quick Reference Guide for London, with Love from a Londoner

Here is a quick guide to help you navigate your visit to London. It covers everything from currency, the best time to visit, terms, and local cuisine. This London insider quick guide is all you'll need to get acclimated in no time.

Airports: Heathrow Airport (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), London Stansted Airport (STN)

Currency: £, British pound sterling (GBP)

Public transportation: The Tube or the Underground is London's subway system, the quickest way to get around. Alternatively, you can use the bus system for a more scenic route (Hop on the #55 from Shoreditch to Oxford Circus). You'll need an Oyster card, which can be purchased at nearby convenience stores or off-licenses (liquor stores).

Black cabs with double-decker bus in the back.

Private transportation: Black cabs and Uber are London's most frequently used private transportation options.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit London is from April to June. However, if you don't mind the cold, visiting during the holidays can be magical. For a cultural immersive experience that celebrates the influences of British-Caribbean people on the London scene, visit in August for the Notting Hill Carnival.

The ideal length of stay: 3-4 days is ideal for a stopover, perhaps as an add-on to a lengthier trip. However, if you want time for all the major attractions, 5-7 days are the sweet spot.

Language: English.  British English has different variations such as Proper or Standard English, Cockney, which is working-class English, and Urban British English (also referred to as “Multicultural London English” MLE), which is part cockney mixed in with African and Caribbean influences. Therefore, some pronunciations may vary. See the term guide below. 

Signature dishes: 

English Breakfast.

  • Breakfast - English brekkie, beans on toast, cheese on toast with Worcestershire sauce, and crumpets

Bangers (sausage) and Mash (mashed potatoes)

  • Dinner - fish & chips, curry, Sunday roast dinner, shepherd's pie, bangers and mash,  and black pudding

Apple crumble with custard.

  • Desserts - apple crumble, mince pie, scones, bread pudding, and custards

Please find below some useful pronunciation tips, terms, and other tidbits you might encounter while exploring London. With this insider knowledge, you can feel confident and prepared, knowing you have the inside scoop.


  • Address - pronounced Uh-dress

  • Schedule - pronounced shed-yool

  • Leisure - pronounced Leezh-uh 

  • Privacy - pronounced Priv-a-see

  • Route - pronounced Root 

  • Advertisement - pronounced Ad-vur-tuhs-ment or Ad-vur-t for short

  • Z - is pronounced Zed, therefore a Zebra is pronounced as Zeb-ruh

Food Terms 

  • Sweets - used to describe candy 

  • Biscuits - used to describe cookies 

  • Chips - used to refer to French fries 

  • Crisps - what Americans would refer to as “chips,” are thinly sliced crisped potatoes 

Telling the time 

  • “Half” past, “Quarter” past, 10 to x hour, 5 to x hour - we refer to minutes past or minutes to the hour

Multicultural London English (MLE)

  • A cuppa - a cup of tea (usually black tea, sugar, and milk)

  • A fiver - a reference to money, specifically £5

  • A monkey - a reference to money, specifically £500

  • A pony - a reference to money, specifically £25

  • A pub - short for public house, is a place to meet for drinks and food

  • A Quid - a reference to money, for example, 10 quid, is £10

  • Ahlie! - used to express agreement, “I agree”

  • Allow (it/that)- used to urge someone to exercise self-restraint and leave it/that alone

  • Bare - a lot of or plenty

  • Bits ‘n Bobs - having a few things

  • Blimey - used to express surprise or shock

  • Blud - an endearing term used for a close friend that’s like family

  • Brap Brap - used to represent yourself

  • Chat up - to seduce/flirt with someone

  • Cheeky - being slightly rude or disrespectful

  • Do me a favour - no way

  • Ends - neighborhood the person is from

  • Fag or Blem- cigarette

  • Fancy - when you are in the mood for something/ wanting

  • Footie - refers to football, also known as soccer

  • Gutted - disappointed about something

  • In-it - abbreviation of "isn't it." Often added at the end of a sentence for emphasis

  • Jam - chill out and relax

  • Jiffy - immediately

  • Knackered - tired or exhausted

  • Knickers- underwear

  • Leave it out - stop it

  • Long - used to describe something that is laborious or tedious

  • Loo or Bog - toilet

  • Minted - rich

  • Peas and rice - oh my gosh

  • Pint - a beer

  • Porkies - lies

  • Proper- often used instead of “very,” for example, the food was “proper good”

  • Rubbish is a synonym for trash; as a noun, it refers to something that is worthless, untrue, or nonsense

  • Safe - used as a greeting or parting phrase

  • Skint - broke

  • Sling your hook - go away

  • Taking the piss - you’re pissing me off

  • Trousers - pants

  • Yard - your house

Other Terms 

  • A “flat” -  is an Apartment

  • A “lift -  is an elevator 

  • Ground Floor - the floor of a building that is leveled with the ground, and the next floor above it is the first floor.

  • Most Brits name items based on the original brand. Two examples are “Hoover,” which refers to a vacuum, and “Trainers,” which refers to sneakers. Oh, and while we are on the topic of sneakers, Adidas is pronounced “Add-dee-dass”

Spelling (no, it’s not a misspelling)

  • Mom is Mum

  • Words with “or” is “our” example favor, is “favour”, and the neighborhood is “neighbourhood”

  • Words with “er” is “re” example center is “centre”

  • Words with “ce” is “se” example practice is “practise”

  • Words with “ize” is “ise” for example, Apologize  is “ Apologise”

  • Words with “yze” is “yse” for example, Analyze is “Analyse”

  • Words with “og” is “ogue” for example dialog is “dialogue”

  • Then there is the double consonants like “l”; for example,  “traveled” is “travelled,” and enrollment is enrolment 

We hope this article has equipped you with the necessary tools to vibe with the locals on your next London adventure. Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments.


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