Some say the best way to travel is to travel alone. Travelling alone is fun, especially if you want to indulge in self-pampering or discovery.
London is a popular metropolitan city, and as such, it attracts tourists from all over the world. It is normal to have concerns about travelling alone to London, especially with incidents that have been happening around the world.
Is London Safe to Travel Alone? Yes. London is considered reasonably safe for travellers of any gender and identity. However, like any other city, London has its fair share of issues, so it is only normal to take certain precautions, which is not out of the ordinary, to ensure your safety when in London.
Are you thinking of travelling to London alone? Then read on for tips on how to stay safe in London.
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- How to be Safe When Travelling Alone to London
- Be Prepared
- Plan Before You Travel Around London
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- Hide Your Belongings
- Go Against the Flow
- Trust Your Instincts
- Be Vigilant When Drinking
- Safety in Numbers
- Staying Safe on London Public Transport
- What to Do in the Event of An Attack in London
- Where to Stay in London
- How to Check for Crime in London
- More London Articles
How to be Safe When Travelling Alone to London
London is a fairly safe place to visit. However, like any major metropolitan city, London attracts tourists of all shapes, sizes and genders. As expected, you might have some concerns about safety, especially if you are travelling alone and there is nobody to watch your back.
If you are travelling alone in London, you don’t need to be overly anxious about your safety. The country has a low crime rate record and a culture that is friendly to both solo and group travellers.
Nonetheless, it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So, it is advisable to take appropriate safety precautions whenever you are travelling alone, whether it is London or any other place.
London Travel Insurance
Before going on any trip it’s essential to take travel insurance seriously as you just never know what can happen when you are travelling. This will give you peace-of-mind during your trip to London.
Personally I use World Nomads. They are highly recommended for this purpose and the go-to travel insurers for world travellers. If anything happens, they are also really fast at processing your claims.
• Southern Cross
Make sure you double, and triple check the policies and see what’s included. If you have a medical condition disclose this even if it ups your insurance claim as you don’t want your claim to be rejected by not disclosing.
Emergency contacts and information
Emergency numbers are free to call. To make yourself privy to all information relating to major incidents in London, you can go to Met Police website or follow Met Police on Twitter and Facebook.
You can also watch the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) video with advice on what to do in the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack.
Save these numbers in your phone so you have them to hand if anything happens.
- 999 Emergency
- 112 Emergency 112 will work on any mobile anywhere in the world
- 111 National non-emergency medical number
- 101 Non-emergency number for the police
Plan Before You Travel Around London
- If you’re travelling around London and it’s not an area you are used to then planning your route in advance can help you know where you are going. Understand the main roads, know where the bus stop or tube is and avoid side streets.
- On a night out I always try and hide a card or some money so that if anything happens to my wallet, I have a way to get home. If you ever do lose your oyster card or wallet on a night out the speak to the staff. I have found the transport staff friendly in helping you out.
- Carry a charged mobile phone. Some pubs and clubs will allow you to stand at the bar and charge your phone if you have the right cables for 10 to 20 minutes. Just ask around if you get stuck. If you need ideas on where you can charge your phone, here’s my article detailing 6 options.
- Only use Taxis or registered minicabs. Minicabs will have offices in all the major areas of London so a quick Google you will be able to find the closest official minicab office.
- Alternative cab options are Uber, Bolt, Kaptan or you can use the Free Now which is the app for Black cabs.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- When walking in the streets, be careful when using earphones or headsets as it reduces your awareness of your immediate environment.
- Make sure when you get things out like your mobile phone you are holding it correctly and aware of things around you. It’s common for phones to be stolen in London and I’ve had the experience of someone riding a bike snatching my phone out of my hand.
- It is also important to note that in London, cars drive on the left. Be careful when crossing the road and obey all traffic rules like crossing the road during a green light. Yes, Londoners do ignore this, and it is common to see jaywalking but if you’re not used to this then it’s better to wait for the lights to change.
- Be careful of your surroundings while using an ATM. Make sure no one is looking over shoulder, and if possible, cover the keypads with your hands when entering your pin.
Hide Your Belongings
- Keep your property out of sight when in a restaurant or bar or use the clips usually under the table to secure them.
- Leaving your bag unattended in London, may lead to theft or a security alert.
- Always make sure you are aware of your purse or wallet, and it is better to not carry too much cash around.
- Keep your valuables out of sight, especially if they are not in use. These include your devices, gadgets, cameras, etc.
- In case of theft or any loss of valuables, contact your service provider and police, they are in a better position to take the next step.
Go Against the Flow
Going against the flow of traffic provides extra protection as you will be able to see those two-wheeler thieves that try and snatch your belongings from behind you. I’ve had this happen to me once when walking home from a night out where a man on a bicycle snatched my phone from behind. It’s the only time I have ever had anything stolen off me whilst living in London.
By walking against the flow, it will make it more difficult and you can see anyone approaching you.
Trust Your Instincts
That feeling you get in your stomach when your instincts flare-up should be listened to! If you think the area is unsafe to walk alone, then try and catch public transport or a bus. Keep to the pavement that has lighting and all the common sense things we know to do.
Whatever it is that sets your instincts off, head to the nearest safe place that you can find that involves CCTV, lights, crowds, shops where someone can help you or somewhere you feel comfortable.
Be Vigilant When Drinking
It’s sad that I must include this in the tips but as there are still lots of incidents that happen while people are intoxicated, it’s important to take into consideration:
- Knowing your limits and drink in moderation.
- Never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drinks unattended to. Also be sure to uncork your beers, drinks by yourself or the barman as the case may be.
If you are feeling unsafe in a pub or bars there is a great campaign that started in 2016 which is called “Ask for Angela”. This is to encourage men and women who may not feel safe to get help.
Safety in Numbers
Whilst you are travelling alone, it’s nice to make friends! Whether it’s making friends at your accommodation, on a walking tour or a pub crawl, try and travel with the people you have met (if you feel safe). Where possible, stick to routes and forms of transport that others are using and avoid routes that aren’t common.
In case you are worried about safety and quality, then rest assured, London hostels are relatively safe. You can read this post on “Are London Hostels Safe?”.
Staying Safe on London Public Transport
- It is advisable to note where the emergency alarms, nearest exits, and fire exits are in case of emergencies.
- Try to always sit downstairs when inside a bus, and if possible, sit close to the driver, so you can exit quickly if there is need.
- If it can be avoided, then don’t sit alone or board an empty carriage or bus. Always, make sure that people are where you are seated.
Should You take London’s public transport or walk the streets? It all boils down to personal choice. The public transport in London runs well, is relatively clean and easy to use. On the other hand, walking in London is fun is better if you are there to explore the city. The street signs even advise you how long a walk is between areas.
What to Do in the Event of An Attack in London
Below are some of the things you can do, if you are ever caught up in an attack.
- Try to Escape: The first thing to do in the event of an attack is to try to escape. However, before taking this step, consider your escape options and choose the safest plan.
- You also need to consider if there is a safe route to leave the location, if yes, can you get there without getting caught and exposing yourself to danger? If your answers to all these questions are no or unsatisfactory, then the best thing to do is hide!
- If there are people with you and you have a safe route to escape. You will need to convince them to leave with you and leave all belongings behind. This is because unnecessary baggage will only slow you and your companions down.
- Hide if there is no means to run or escape: it will be better to hide than to expose yourself to unnecessary danger. Before you hide, you will need to switch off or silence your phone. Take note of your surrounding, especially the exits and entrance.
- A good place to hide will be somewhere that is covered with walls and possibly reinforced doors and windows.
- You will also need to hide from gunfire. The best position to do this is to lie down flat. Make sure wherever you are hiding has enough coverage that can withstand gunfire.
Report as Soon as You Get the Opportunity
- For non-urgent crimes, contact the police by calling 101.
- Report any unattended bags or items in public places.
What do the police need to know in the event of an attack?
- Location: Where are the suspects?
- Direction: Where did you last see the suspects?
- Descriptions: Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, weapons, etc
- Do you know the extent of causalities? If Yes, report the number of casualties, type of injury, building location and description and if there are hostages.
- If it is safe to do so, try preventing others from entering the building.
Where to Stay in London
Depending on your personal choice and budget, there are different accommodation options available for people travelling alone in London. Some of these are:
If you are looking for popular neighbourhoods in London, then below are some of the most popular neighbourhoods to stay when in London.
City of London
The City of London is also known as the Square Mile, the financial district and historic centre of London. Some of the famous sites in the areas are St Paul’s Cathedral Church, The Tower of London, Sky Garden, Museum of London and the Monument.
There are also different accommodation options from luxury hotels to moderately price BNB apartments to depending on your personal preference and budget.
Is the City of London Safe?
It is very safe in London, although as it’s mainly office buildings it does become very empty later in the evening and super quiet at the weekend. It can feel weird walking around in the emptiness.
Shoreditch is a hipster part of London. It’s an artsy neighbourhood with lots of clubs and bars around Shoreditch High Street, Great Eastern Street, and Old Street. There are lots of interesting food options too. Shoreditch will be ideal for party lovers and outgoing tourists.
Is Shoreditch Safe?
Shoreditch is in the East End and the area was known to be dangerous (several years ago now) but it is now very gentrified. Keep your wits about you when it comes to your belongings are there are still pick pocketers and muggings.
If you are gunning for a residential area, Marylebone is your best bet. There is a lot to do here, including shopping, restaurant eating and visiting the bars. Marylebone is also close to famous sightseeing locations such as Trafalgar Square, Regent Park. Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, etc.
Is Marylebone Safe?
As a Londoner I feel safe in Marylebone if you like a cosy neighbourhood with lots of cafes, restaurants, fashion boutiques and pubs, this is for you. It’s a very central area, making it easy to get to all the places you’d want to visit as a tourist.
Bloomsbury is in the centre of London, and so there is a lot for you to do. You can sit on the squares, relax and just watch everything drift by or you can indulge yourself in some sightseeing by going to the British Museum and visiting their coffee shops. There are also boutiques to shop and Gardens to spend your time in.
Is Bloomsbury Safe?
Bloomsbury is a very nice and safe area. With it being close to tourist attractions there will be more tourist in the area. Additionally, as the area has a lot of University of London buildings there are a number of students with a bit of a student vibe.
If you are into Movies, theatres, and shopping, then Convent Garden is the neighbourhood you’d want to stay.
Is Convent Garden Safe?
Although Convent Garden is very safe but the area does attract a lot of pickpockets who take advantage of the crowds on the streets.
South Kensington is well known for being the museum’s area of London. The perfect place if you love learning about science and history or green spaces. Kensington alone houses three of the best museums in London. They include The Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum.
Is South Kensington Safe?
The safest neighbourhoods in London tend to be the most affluent ones and South Kensington fits into that bill. It’s safe to walk around during the day and night so this area is great to put your mind at ease.
How to Check for Crime in London
Whether an area is safe can change quite drastically depending on the person and their comfort levels so it’s good to have some statistics as well. The police publish a crime map and under the find your neighbourhood tab you can enter your postcode or the accommodation you are planning to stay at and see all reported crime in the immediate area.
More London Articles
Here are some more inspiration and frequently asked questions.
- Money Exchange and Paying in London: 13 Tips and Tricks
- 26 Things You Can Only Buy in London
- A Helpful Guide on What to Book Ahead in London by a Local
- First timers guide to London – COMPLETE WITH INSIDER TIPS
- Do You Ask for the Check in London? A Guide to Tipping
- A Guide to Cycling in Hyde Park (With a Handy Map)
If you have any question about London and whether it is safe, let me know in the comment below.