Travellers often complain that London is so hard to get to know. Believe me, I’m with them on that! The place is so big you’ll find that even seasoned expats only know their own little corners of the city [big ups North London!]. But with a bit of research and a few [or all!] of these London apps, you might find that the tide will turn and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Here are 8 essential London apps for your next trip:
Navigating around London is a daunting task — which side of the taxi do I get on? Does this road have a bike lane? If they drive on the left, does that mean you stand on the left and walk on the right?! [You always stand on the right].
My point is, I get it. To help you navigate the random squiggles Londoners call roads, Citymapper is at your service. The app will show you the route to your destination on foot, bike, car, and public transportation. It’s even tapped in to the London Transport’s GPS system so you’ll know exactly when you need to leave to catch the bus.
2. Street Art London
If you’re interested in modern art but have already completed a tour of the Tate Modern, you might want to take your search to the streets. I don’t mean the graffiti tags that seem to be scattered all over the capital’s bare walls, but professional street artists – with the most famous being Banksy.
The Street Art London app will direct you towards some of the coolest street art you never knew existed — or tell you exactly where you need to go find your favourite artists.
3. London’s Best Coffee
I fancy myself a bit of a coffee snob — okay, not really. But I know when something is good and when it’s not. Frankly, if you’re going to be out there hustlin’ on those curlicue streets you’re going to want to do it with a good brew in your system.
I think this will be one your favourite London apps: it will point you in the direction of a top-tier caffeine fix from independent cafés and artisan coffee stands.
4. Hidden London
This is hands-down one of the best London apps for people who love to discover and uncover the places they visit. I mean — did you know there is a street under a street you can only see by sticking your nose in a sewer grate? This app will show you some of those spots that are tucked away and overshadowed by the big attractions.
It will steer you towards some of those under-the-radar curiosities that only history buffs and Londonphiles would know about.
Get it for iOS [FREE]
5. Google Goggles
With there being so many little nooks and crannies to explore [see above], you will unavoidably stumble upon some random building or funny looking sculpture and think: What is that? With Google Goggles, all you need to do is a take a picture and the app will search relevant databases to give you all the information you need to sound like you know what the heck you’re talking about.
Of course, the technology isn’t perfect. Some tips? Take zoomed in photos rather than wide-angle shots and make sure there is plenty of light. It’s not for Instagram, it’s for Information!
Available for Android phones [FREE]
After a long day hanging out with the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum or shopping on Oxford street, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Whether you fancy a cheeky Nando’s [but still why is it cheeky?!] or want to find the best Peruvian tapas, Foodspotting will bring up a list of the best restaurants [based on user ratings] near you.
That’s what I call fast food!
7. London Parks & Gardens
One of the things I love about London is the way the green space is integrated as part of the urban jungle. It isn’t just one central park with patches of trees here and there — you can take a shortcut to the British Museum by cutting through Russell Square or nap on a bench during your lunch break at Aske Garden just off Old Street.
If you love picnics, fresh air, and getting excited about other people’s cute dogs [that can’t just be me, right?] then this London app is your dream come true.
8. London Market Guide
I love visiting local markets — the market in Martinique is literally where I did my master’s field research! I get all the feels tasting cheese, sifting through another man’s [sic] treasures, and leaving with treats and local produce.
London’s markets are diverse — from the New Covent Garden flower market to the Brick Lane bric-a-brac spot [okay, there’s fantastic street food too!], you’ll have a blast uncovering these spots in London.
Download it from the App Store [£1.49]