Technologically advanced and always on the go, London is a fast-paced, switched on city. Luckily for visitors, there’s a whole digital world set up to help them navigate it. Whether you want an app that can book a table at the best restaurants, a digital map of the city or simply a taxi service, almost everything you could possibly need is accessible from a smartphone. From Streetmuseum and Citymapper to StreetHub and Velocity, these are the best London apps to download before your next trip.
Sightseeing: Visit London
When it comes to sightseeing, Visit London is one of the best London apps available to visitors. It’s packed full of information about the city’s landmark sights and attractions and features a whole host of useful functions such as recommended itineraries, area guides, events calendars, offline maps and tips for tourists. On top of that, it’s completely free.
Blast from the past: Streetmuseum
A fascinating and inspiring app for visitors, Museum of London’s Streetmuseum offers a unique perspective of the city. It uses hundreds of images from the museum’s archive to give visitors a then and now outlook on many streets and sights. Simply select an attraction from the list, or search for nearby destinations, and hold up your phone to see the scene as it was in the past. Helpful descriptions detail interesting facts and help users find the right viewpoints.
Getting around: Google Maps
An essential travel companion wherever you are in the world, Google Maps is one of the most up-to-date digital navigation maps on the market. Particularly useful when sightseeing by foot (and available offline via download to avoid roaming fees), the foolproof app shows your position as you move around, with directions on how to reach your chosen destination and how long it will take. Select a route and benefit from optional audible progress reports as you travel.
Taxis: Uber, Gett & Hailo
Whatever time of day or night, there’s never a shortage of taxis in London. If you’re in a central area, you’ll never have to wait for more than a few minutes for a taxi to appear. Like in many cities, Uber is widely available. If you want a more traditional London black cab experience, use Hailo or Gett to order a licensed black cab to your location. A bonus of using Gett instead of flagging down a cab is that rates are fixed rather than set by the meter.
The Tube: Citymapper
Taking a ride on London’s famous underground system is on many travellers’ itineraries, but unless you’re a local, working out the quickest way to get from A to B can be challenging. This is where Citymapper comes in. Put aside your colour coded tube map (a digital version, Tubemap, can be downloaded) and programme in your destination to discover all the available route options and how long they’ll take. The app is constantly updated with journeys rerouted to factor in any delays.
Restaurant bookings: OpenTable & Velocity
London has an exceptional food scene but with so many people competing for tables at the top restaurants, it’s a good idea to book in advance. A number of apps, such as Open Table and Velocity, offer instant online booking. The former features an enormous array of options across all cuisines and price ranges, while the latter focuses on last minute reservations at fine dining restaurants, with reviews and inspiration sections arranged by theme, such as Date Night and Hidden Gems.