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Is London Safe for Travel in 2020?

Updated August 17, 2020

Generally, London is a safe place for travelers. And a lovely one! 

However, London has had cases of coronavirus.

Check out our update below: 

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

UPDATE: London and the coronavirus

Like most places around the world, London has had cases of coronavirus. So, when will London be safe for travel? 

Here's the latest: 

August 17th: The U.K. never closed its borders. Anyone from any country is free to travel there. However, the country has instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for new arrivals. Breaking the quarantine will result in a fine of several thousand pounds. 

Starting on July 10th, citizens from 50 select countries will not need to quarantine. This list has changed several times as coronavirus cases spike in Europe. 

London is safer than many American cities

London at night | Pedro Carballo/Unsplash

For starters, the overall crime rate in London is much lower than it is in many big American cities, including New York. The violent crime rate in London is lower than it is in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Diego, Philadelphia, and many others. In fact, London is considered to be so safe that most of its police don’t even carry guns.

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The US State Department gives the UK a Level 2 rating

Because of the coronavirus, the US State Department has assigned the United Kingdom a Level 3 Travel Advisory. This recommends that Americans reconsider travel. 

Advice for solo travelers

Solo in London | Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash

Locals tell us that London is a great city for solo travel. Why? Our trip planners say:

  • The tube makes travel easy: Riding the tube (London’s metro) is a safe and easy way to get around town—of course, it’s also a great city to walk or bike! 

  •  London has tons of fantastic solo activities: The surplus of museums, shows, and walking tours mean that solo travelers have plenty of choices when it comes to activities and events. 

  • Pub culture makes eating alone less intimidating: Even if you feel uncomfortable eating alone at a restaurant, it’s super chill to grab a bite and a beer at one of London’s many incredible pubs. If pubs aren’t your scene, London also has plenty of restaurants with counter service—perfect for a solo traveler.

London is also a safe place for women traveling alone. Locals tell us it’s wise to take the same precautions as in any big city. Keep an eye on your belongings, don’t accept drinks from strangers, and be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking at night. It's good to get local advice, especially when traveling solo! Many of our London trip planners are women who can explain how they keep safe.

Local Tip:

Most museums in London are free so you can spend as much time as you want at each exhibit.

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Common scams in London

Like in any big city, London has its fair share of scammers. Locals say that these are some of the most common scams visitors may encounter:

Vendors selling fake tickets to shows, music venues, or popular attractions

People asking to borrow your phone

Pickpockets (especially on the Tube)

It’s common sense, but be sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times—especially when on the Tube, the bus, or anywhere like a busy train or bus station.

Locals say that some of the worst stations in London for pickpockets include King’s Cross, Oxford Circus, and Victoria stations. 

Local Tip:

London police are on the look-out for unattended baggage, so be sure you don’t leave your suitcase somewhere and walk away—you may cause an international incident.

Transportation safety tips

London tube | MicheleMex/Pixabay

When it comes to London transportation, locals tell us there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Benefit from local advice. Our trip planners note that:

  • Uber is not the best option: After much legal wrangling, Uber has officially lost its license to operate in London. The ride-sharing app will still be available as both sides iron out the details, but locals tell us that the public transit in London is so good that you probably won't need it. If you do want to use an app to call a cab, they suggest ones using one like MyTaxi.  
  • You should only use black cabs: If you are hailing a cab from the street, be sure to only use the official black taxi cabs. 
  • The tube does not run all night: Some, but not all tube lines run 24/7. Many trains stop running at midnight. Be sure to plan out your travel home so you aren’t stranded in a place you don’t know. And if you do take the tube at night, try to avoid empty cars. (Psst—our locals will provide detailed transit instructions when they design your trip.)
  • Use apps like Citymapper to navigate like a pro: The London-based Citymapper app makes getting around any city easy. And it’s free to download! 

Be cautious in these areas

Like any big city, international city, London has some areas with high crime rates (here, though, that crime is almost completely petty theft).

This is especially true in places that attract a lot of tourists. They also attract a lot of pickpockets! Generally safer during the day, locals say to be careful in these neighborhoods at night: 

  • Westminster: Although a popular place to visit—the borough contains top London attractions like Big Ben and Parliament—Westminster has a consistently high pickpocketing rate. This is due, in part, to how many tourists visit. 

  • Camden: Camden likewise contains many tourist attractions that make it a popular target for pickpockets, like the Camden Markets

  • Newham: Gives its location far east of central London, tourists will have few reasons to travel to Newham. That's ok, since the area has one worst crime rates in London. It does include London Stadium, however. If you’re hoping to see some matches, get a local’s advice about staying safe in this area.  

  • Lambeth: Lambeth is a big borough in south London with a high crime rate. It also contains some cool attractions—the London Eye, for example—which makes it a hotspot for thieves and pickpockets. It also includes several more residential areas that are less safe—but most tourists won’t travel that far south, anyway. 

  • Southwark: Southwark contains the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, and Borough Market—and has one of the higher crime rates in London. As another tourist hub, most of the crimes here also include pickpocketing and theft. Be on your guard at night. 

Emergency numbers to know

Although you probably won’t need emergency numbers, it’s always good to have them on hand. If you’re in an emergency, call 999 or 112: both will connect you to the ambulance, fire, and police services. You call also call 101 for a non-urgent crime. 

When you have a local plan your trip, they'll be available with phone support in case you run into any issues during your stay.

Still have questions about travel to London?
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