The 5 best apps for your Smartphone on your London vacation

Arriving in a foreign city can be a little overwhelming for some. Others feel comfortable from the moment they land and want to maximise their time.

Whatever type of traveller you are, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 apps you’ll want to download onto your Smartphone on your next trip to London. From navigating the public transport system to a laundry valet service, these apps will make your London trip even more enjoyable. We’ve personally used all these apps during London vacations and can personally attest to how much easier and enjoyable they’ve made our time in London.

Number 5: Laundrapp

If you’re travelling for more than a few days, it’s nice to be able to wash your clothes or get your shirts or blouses pressed. One great benefit of being able to do laundry when you travel is that you don’t need to pack as much in the first place. But no one wants to pay the often exorbitant hotel laundry prices — some hotels might charge $5 just to launder a single t-shirt!

That’s where the Laundrapp app saves the day. Laundrapp gives you dry cleaning and laundry to your door. Download the app, create your account, book a collection, then Laundrapp will collect it from your London accommodation, Airbnb or hotel, professionally clean and press it, and then it’s all delivered back to you. Think of it like Uber for your laundry! You can even watch in real-time as the driver is on approach to pick up and drop off your laundry.

Screenshot from the Laundrapp app for London
Screenshot from the Laundrapp app for London

It’s an extremely flexible service and you can book a collection or delivery from early morning through to late in the night. The pricing is great value, and you get get up to 6kg (13 pounds) of laundry washed, tumble dried and folded for just £12 ($15). If you just need your shirts or blouses pressed, then it’s just £12 for five men’s shirts washed, ironed and hung, and just £24 for five women’s blouses cleaned, hand-finished and hung.

Want a free £25 credit to use on Laundrapp? Just use the referral code MYUKSIM and you’ll automatically get a free £25 credit.

Number 4: Opentable 

We love the Opentable app so much that we wrote an entire blog article about it already.  The Opentable app unlocks discounted specials at some of London’s finest restaurants, including top Michelin star restaurants as well as celebrity restaurants including those of Gordon Ramsay.

Just download the app, choose the time you want to dine and the number of people, and the app will give you live availability at restaurants near your location. You’ll get to see any special offers available only for Opentable bookings, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at some of the great offers available, particularly at lunch time which can mean you pay half the price you’d normally pay! Check out the link above and get eating at some of London’s best restaurants.

Screenshot from the Opentable app for London
Screenshot from the Opentable app for London

Number 3: Citymapper

London’s public transport system is one of the best in the world. The idea of owning a car is a foreign concept for many Londoners. With an efficient underground train system (called “The Tube”), an extensive bus network, as well as other above ground trains, getting anywhere in London (or the UK) is fast and efficient.

We devoted an entire blog post to navigating the London public transport system so make sure to check it out. The ONLY app you need to download to get around London is the Citymapper app.  It’s free and you can download it from your phone’s app store.

Citymapper is the holy grail for navigating the London public transport system because:

  • It gives you point to point detailed instructions, including your arrival time (and takes into account live traffic information);
  • It gives you a variety of options (just the Tube, Tube + Bus, walking etc); and
  • It even tells you the best train carriage to board so that you get the fastest exit or transfer at your destination.

You can save your “Home” location (eg your hotel or Airbnb) so you can just tap Home wherever you are for quick directions. This app is just awesome, and we cannot speak more highly about it.

Annotated screenshot from the Citymapper App for London
Annotated screenshot from the Citymapper App for London

Number 2: Uber

Right so you probably know about Uber, so we won’t go into too much detail, suffice to say that using Uber is a great addition to using the London public transport system.

If you’ve not used Uber before, then it’s a must app to download for your London vacation. Uber fares are about 20% less than a traditional taxi in London, and your payment details are stored in the app, so when you get to your destination there’s no fumbling about with cash or cards.

Want a free ride when you first use Uber? Just download the app and enter the invite code nickb2423.

Number 1: Visit London

The Visit London app is your one stop shop to London. It will help you get the most from your vacation, with handpicked lists of the best things to do and see, all viewable as a list or on a map. You can find free attractions, the best markets, cheap eats, weekend activities and secret venues.

It’s a customisable app and you can create your own personalised map and itineraries by saving all of your favourite things to see and do.  And you can save money and skip long lines by buying tickets for top West End theatre shows, famous attractions, comedy nights, gigs and more, all through the app.

One final tip: get a local SIM Card and avoiding expensive international roaming costs

Unless you’re a millionaire, the idea of using international roaming on your cell phone is probably something you’re not contemplating. But all the apps above require data on the go, along with all those apps you’ll use to share your experiences with your family and friends back home. Fortunately you can now buy a prepaid UK SIM Card here in the USA and have it shipped to you before you leave home.  My UK SIM Card offer a great value SIM Card with 12GB of high speed 4G LTE data, minutes and texts. And if you’re travelling through Europe too, the SIM Card works seamlessly in more than 30 European countries.