You moved to London to pursue your acting goals. You know what you need to achieve and things to do. But do you have a real plan of action, and the things you’re planning to accomplish now that you’re in the best place to be to pursue acting?
We’ve created a quick list of thirty things to do in your first 30 days in London. You can stretch them out, but this should give you a good idea of how to get settled in the city and begin working towards your goals.
I also recommend reading the following articles:
- 5 Things You’ll Need To Do Before Moving to London
- How to Live Cheap in London on £40 a Day
- 9 Best Neighborhoods in London for Actors
- 20 Tips on Living in London (From Londoners to Newcomers)
- How to Be an Actor in London: The Daily Grind
30 Things To Do in Your First 30 Days in London
1. Travel like a Londonder.
Take time and the bus from the airport into central London, not the train. It’ll be twice as long, but half the cost and ten times more pleasant. More importantly, it will give you some flavour of your new home.
2. The immediate priority will be to find a home.
Sensible you will have already done on-line research; if really sensible, you’ll also have arranged viewings of prospective flats (apartments) or flat-shares for the first days after arrival.
3. Buy an Oyster stored-value card.
It provides contactless access to the Underground rail (the ‘tube’) and bus networks at a big discount. You can also get an Oyster app for your mobile ‘phone (cellphone). Both are available at: https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do
4. There are other ways to get around.
For shorter journeys, get an access key for ‘Boris bikes’, the self-service public bicycles introduced by Mayor Boris Johnson and available at over 700 locations across London. They’re perfect for sight-seeing and acclimatisation, as well as for keeping fit. More details here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles
5. Find your way to the nearest supermarket.
Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s are the leading national chains and offer better value than local shops and small chains. Get a loyalty card from the one you like, use it every time you shop there, and save even more.
6. Locate the pubs near your new home.
They are quite unlike American bars, more like social centres. Many offer quiz-nights, live entertainment, big-screen sports viewing, and other distractions. If applicable, take your new flat-mates to your ‘local’ for a bonding round of drinks as soon as possible.
7. Register with the local library.
It not only lends out any books you might like or need, but is also a quiet, warm, and comfortable place to work, do research, or learn a part you may have won. Wi-fi access is available, free.
8. Check what other cards you can take advantage of.
For example, if you’re under 31 and registered with a drama school, get an International Student Identity Card. You’ll get big discounts on travel, tickets for events, and many more items, including Council Tax, the local-government levy paid by every resident. You can apply here: https://www.myisic.co.uk/isic-online-application/
9. Open a sterling bank account.
You might be able to do this with the London office of a US bank, but that won’t offer the same benefits as signing up with a UK provider. Do some on-line research to find the most appealing. If you’re a drama student, you can get special terms and services.
10. Now that you’re settled, see the sights.
London is a world-class tourist destination, so you’ll have no problem – apart from the crowds – in finding the popular places: Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Camden Market, Portobello Road, Petticoat Lane, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, and so forth. I’d like to suggest others, more esoteric, less frequented.
11. Start by finding your nearest street-market.
Most London boroughs, even in central areas, have at least one. The best are entertaining as well as being cheap sources of fresh food, clothes, and just stuff.
12. Don’t get stuck – explore.
If none can be found locally, try Shepherd’s Bush Market for an eyeful of amusing tat and a multi-cultural experience. On a grander scale, there’s Borough Market, although it’s now getting on to the tourist trail.
13. Spend a sunny afternoon in one of London’s many parks.
All are free to use. There are the famous ones – Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park – but most boroughs have something green and spacious that’s non-touristy and reflects the locale. Take a book or simply enjoy, as the Small Faces sang in Itchycoo Park (actually, Little Ilford Park, in north-east London), resting your eyes in shades of green.
14. Go to the theatre, using your student card to get a discount.
London is the world’s home of theatre and every variety of venue and production is readily available. However, get away from the obvious West End places and check out the Tabard, situated over a pub of the same name in Chiswick, west London. Get the details at: http://www.tabardweb.co.uk
15. Remember to explore your industry.
To see how American enterprise has expanded London’s theatre experience, visit the Shakespeare Globe, a replica of an Elizabethan-era wooden theatre, founded by US director, Sam Wanamaker. See: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com
15. Do what other Londonders do.
Register with Time Out’s website: http://www.timeout.com/london. It has details of just about every event of any kind in London.
16. Visit the Troubadour in Earl’s Court.
It’s a renowned live-music spot for more than 60 years and the inspiration for Doug Weston’s eponymous West Hollywood venue. Many of the greats have played there at some point in their early career; some still come in, unannounced, to jam after a London gig.
It does good meals, too, and its informal seating encourages mingling and meeting. Book a table at: https://troubadour.co.uk or just turn up for a coffee or a glass of wine at any time, day or night.
18. Or try other options.
If your taste runs more to jazz (with latin and R&B also in the mix), visit the 606 Club for a meal and a performance. It, too, has a long history, albeit in different locations, but it’s for night-owls only. Go to: http://www.606club.co.uk
19. Go to the church of your choice.
I don’t mean for worship (but you might want to do that, too), but for the beauty of it. Everyone knows Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, but you’ll pay at least £16 ($25) to enter them.
There’s more charm in visiting some of the 50 churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren to replace those destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. There’s also the pleasure of having them pretty much to yourself for the cost of a small donation.
Look for those little affected by later modifications, such as St Margaret Pattens or St Stephen’s Walbrook, although the latter does have a (beautifully) rearranged interior layout, with an altar by Henry Moore.
20. Be a real tourist.
Take a river cruise on the Thames (pronounced ‘tems’), a relaxed way to view the city’s skyline and waterfront at reasonable cost. I like the one that starts at Tower Pier, close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge – three attractions for £16.20 ($25.50). See: http://www.citycruises.com/city-cruises-sightseeing-prices-timetable.aspx
21. Join a demo.
If you’re to be a true drama student, you should march with others in London for a good cause. Big or small, there’s a chance at least one will suit your particular brand of outrage during your first 30 days.
22. Give something back.
Try joining a local charitable organisation that provides outreach services to London’s homeless, impoverished, or otherwise disadvantaged.
Alternatively, help your career and give something back by volunteering at The London Theatre Workshop: http://londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/category/get-involved/
23. Go window-shopping.
Try Oxford Street, Regent Street, and among the bespoke establishments of Savile Row and St James’s Street. Marvel at the consumerist wonders – often unique – of what Napoleon called ‘a nation of shopkeepers’.
24. Expand your worldview.
If you’re a petrolhead (gearhead) and your first 30 days include August, take an evening stroll along Brompton Road, Sloane Avenue, and adjoining streets. Watch Middle Eastern playboys showing off in new Bugattis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Koenigseggs, and the like. It’s a free motor show, but with moving, full-throttle, exhibits.
25. Visit a stately home.
England is famous for its grand country houses, but London also has them. Here’s a selection. Most are now museums, but not all. My favourite is Ham House, an unspoiled gem in Richmond.
26. Try local food.
There are jellied eels, fish and chips, tripe and onions, roast beef, pie and mash, and, of course, afternoon tea. Go to: http://www.eatinglondontours.co.uk/blog/traditional-british-food-london-restaurants/
27. Visit a London museum.
There are, literally, hundreds, from the national and comprehensive to the minuscule and esoteric. Several big ones offer free entry to their permanent exhibits; many also have pleasant, affordable, cafés. This is a good list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_London
28. How about some sports?
London is crazy about football (soccer). Catch a game at one of the many clubs in London, from Premier Division to non-League. Here’s a full list: http://www.myfootygrounds.co.uk/AreaMap.asp?view=LONDON
If that gives you the football bug, get your flat-mates and friends together for a game in Hyde Park. It’s free but you must book ahead.
29. Go clubbing.
London is one of the epicenters for good nighttime clubbing. And even though the club dance scene has tailed off in recent years, you can still have a ‘massive’ night if you know where you look: http://www.ilovethenest.com
30. Just wander.
London is immensely varied and walk-friendly. Take a long walk wherever your instincts point your feet and soak it all in.
31. Finally, get out of town!
Use your student card to book a coach (long-distance bus) day-trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. It takes just two hours to get there and a return (round-trip) ticket costs about £10 ($15).
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