6 London Myths Exposed

London is certainly one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, attracting over 26 million visitors a year.

Yet, certain myths continue to persist about this timeless city that are either no longer true, or never were in the first place.

Here are 6 of the top myths about London and the truth behind the hype.

1) London is too expensive for the average person to visit

Yes, London is pricey. But just like New York, San Francisco, Berlin, and every other major city in the world, there is the ‘normal’ way to go, or the ‘cheap’ way to go.

Certainly, you’ll have to do your homework and search out specials before you go and whilst you are there.

Booking online can help you find a flight to London with accommodation for much, much cheaper than you would get separately.

Don’t forget that London buses go everywhere, so you won’t need to take the pricier Tube all the time.

And as with many major cities, there are certain days that museums are free or reduced.

London can be done on a budget as long as you take some time to plan. Photo by Trodel

2) It’s always cold, rainy and damp

Yes, the weather in London can be a bit dreary.

But the constant clouds, rain and snow is not the whole truth about London weather.

The reality is that London can and does have decent – though not extremely warm – weather.

I’ve been there at different points in the year; three weeks in June, a week in August and during Thanksgiving.

Yes, I kept a jacket on me for the nights, even in the summer months. But I’d say I saw more sunny days sitting in Hyde Park than during the same time of year in San Francisco.

Walking around the last week of November was comfortable in a moderately thick coat.

Don’t let the false idea that it’s constantly raining keep you away.

London has more sunny days than you may think: Bank Holiday in Trafalgar Square by Rev Stan

3) The people are standoffish and very “British”

Yes, British people are British. But I’ve found them to be super funny and often very open.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ll run up to you with arms outstretched, but I find it’s generally untrue that the Brits, or Londoners, are standoffish.

The important thing to remember about travel in general is that we’re all a lot more alike that we think. Most people are going to be open and helpful to visitors.

Getting into conversations with people in pubs, who either grew up in London or have lived there for a long time, is a great way to see their animated discussions and sparkling wit.

You’ll more than likely end up doubled over laughing at some point.

4) Londoners only drink tea

You will have absolutely no problem finding coffee in London.

Actually, you may have more of an issue finding the traditional British black tea with cream outside of High Tea in Kensington Gardens and other top-end places throughout the city.

Try and take two steps without spotting a Costa, Caffe Nero, or everyone’s favorite worldwide chain, Starbucks.

Though the green logo was a welcome sight in 2002 when Starbucks was the only place I could get my soy latte, when I visited again in 2007 every coffee place provided all the accoutrements Americans are used to.

Coffee is just as important to Londoners – if not more so – than tea. Photo by Matt From London

5) The British have bad teeth

We may blame Austin Powers for making this notion popular, but the jokes about British teeth preceded the movie.

Contrary to the rumors, British teeth are fine, with people in London probably more concerned about their teeth than outside the city.

The Guardian asked the question, “Is there actual evidence that British teeth are worse than anyone else’s?” It’s interesting to read the answers from people both in the UK and the US.

As for this American, the teeth in London have never made me not want to smile. 

6) British food is awful

Although this myth is on its death bed after a long, slow battle, some people still think British food is awful.

Here are the reasons this is wrong: London offers every type of world cuisine you could probably think of, and most ‘traditional’ pubs now serve either Thai or Indian curry rather than bangers and mash or fish in chips.

It’s also easy to get quick, healthy take-away in places such as Pret A Manger, Wagamama, Marks and Spencer, and Whole Foods.

Open air meat, fruit, and vegetable markets abound, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options throughout the city.

Borough Market is just one of London’s great open air food markets. Photo by Wolfiewolf

Did it rain when you visited London? What’s your position on the teeth? Let me know what you think below.

If you liked this, you might also like: 12 Tacky but Terrific Things to do in London.

Main image by Leonardo, easthastings.

30 thoughts on “6 London Myths Exposed”

  1. “British Food is Awful?” Does anyone still have this misconception in the 21st century? When London has the most Michelin starred restaurants after Tokyo, Borough Market, world famous chefs such as Heston Blumental and Marcus Wareing. Even Joel Robuchon has called London the worlds best food city. There is sushi to rival Japan ( and New York) and a superb range of Indian food from simple to deluxe. Great Pizza at Franco Manca….You really are spoilt for choice. Food in budget hotels and tourist restaurants is generally pretty sh@t though so get out there and experiment!

    Re weather. Yes. It rains. Sometimes. (shock)

    Coffee? Avoid the dreaded S***bucks and head to some of Londons serious coffee sellers such as Monmouth, Princi and Flat White. You may have to queue for a while. Brits invented queueing ( standing in line)
    But the coffee is worth it. If you want some serious breakfast with your coffee try Caravan

    Have a good trip

  2. I love London! We went during the summer a few years ago and the weather was warm and sunny the whole time. Plenty of great food and free or low-cost entertainment. Our cheap hotel was kind of crappy, but but that just encouraged us to stay out and enjoy the city as much as we could.

  3. I’ve only been able to spend a total of 3 days in London and it was cold and rainy (spring/summer) all three days, so I’m not a judge of that, but the idea that British are dour is definitely a myth and we found some terrific inexpensive (relatively) ethnic food places to eat.

  4. Teeth?! That made me chuckle. Think that’s only a US-based idea (but ready to be proven wrong!)
    Brits don’t spend anywhere near as much time in braces or whitening their teeth as the US – but that’s a cosmetic issue, rather than one about dental hygiene.
    A “British” sense of humour involves a lot of deadpan delivery, while praise is described as “Not too bad.” It just takes a while to decode ;)
    I love London – enjoy it!

  5. I’ve moved to London from New Zealand – the weather’s better here, it doesn’t cost much more than home, the food’s brilliant and thanks to imports of NZ wine and NZ coffee entrepreneurs, I don’t suffer too many withdrawal pangs. As for the nature of the Brits and their teeth – London is a truly cosmopolitan city and sometimes it feels as if the English are a little thin on the ground. Check out my website http://www.basedinlondon.com – my own love letter to London (and, I guess, Londoners).

  6. >>And as with many major cities, there are certain days that museums are free or reduced.

    Actually, most museums in London are free all the time.

  7. We are going to London for the first time this summer to start the Mongol Rally. I have always avoided London because I thought it was too expensive and didn’t really have a desire to visit. Reading this post is getting my psyched to go.

  8. been to London this year in March. arrived on Mon, left on Fri. it only rained on Fri, right when we boarded the plane. it was foggy but not very cold. Loved it. I also loved Starbucks (we don’t have it in the town I live) and I was not happy b/c of the lack of free wi-fi. It worked in the pub for an hour or so then it went dead. I liked pub food, too! Had to try the famous fish and chips:) LOL

  9. Weather – I couldn’t believe how dry and warm it was. I moved from Wales and for my first 3 months at Uni, I didn’t need to wear a coat. It’s one of the driest places in the UK.

    London is also famous for it’s fog but they’re rare these days. It was once foggy 3 days in a row but I lived there more than 9 years!

    British food is Indian these days and in London, you can have anything you like.

    For a traditional London experience, you could try a ‘pie n’ mash’ place. The food is basic, but the few ‘pie n’ mash’ places left are usually housed in early 20th century interiors – tiled walls and wooden tables and the staff will speak with strong London accents (no-one will speak like Hugh Grant here).


    In central London it’s hard to know who’s British. There are so many tourist, business people and the Brits who are there are oftne 9-5 workers.

    To meet some British people to talk to, the parks and pubs are probably the best places to start a conversation.

    Thanks for the article, it’s always interesting to read a foreigner’s view of London.

  10. Been a Londoner all my life and only just found out people have issues with our teeth!! I’ll have to keep a look out on my tube journey home tonight =)

  11. Didn’t know about the teeth. Guess what I’ll be checking for now.
    I’ve had lovely weather too on many occasions when I’ve been in London. It’s the prices in general I find hard to swallow – especially the landing fees at Heathrow which always make a flight to London expensive – from Canada anyway.

  12. London is a great place to visit, and we found the people very nice. It did rain a decent bit while we were there. We also had plenty of good coffee.

    But London is not really a town for “foodies”. I enjoyed the full English breakfasts (though a bit bland), but found most of the other food we had to be “adequate”. We did have some decent Chinese and Japanese food (Mexican not quite so good). I don’t think it is that London food is “bad”, so much as it is not as good as most large cities around the globe. Perhaps the only large city that we’ve visited that I’d say was less of a town for foodies would be Delhi (o.k., the Indian was really good, but most other food was not).

  13. If Londoners and Brits in general have bad teeth, why do I find myself falling in love on the tube most days?

    Also any who thinks food in London is bland, clearly didn’t venture beyond any of the tourist spots.

  14. I second what Leigh said – Didn’t know about the teeth, either! But I’ve heard most of the other stereotypes you pointed out. Agree about the weird food myth, I now have a craving for bangers and mash.

    Wonder what it would be like to do this for other cities? New York has plenty of unfounded stereotypes/myths…

  15. Being a Londoner away travelling, I look back and really appreciate what a truly amazing and cool city it is.

    * You could spend days walking about enjoying the sights for free (Covent garden, Soho, Parliament Sq, Trafalgar Sq, Hyde Park, Buck House, Downing Street, Chelsea, Camden, Brick Lane, along the Thames, Regents park, St James’ park, Oxford street, Picadilly etc etc

    * You could then spend days in the free art galleries, museums etc. which are generally world-class and free to wonder in.

    * Food in a tourist place off Leicester sq is going to be sh*t. But look around and any food that takes your fancy is available.

    *Oh, and full English breakfast is bland?? Stick some HP sauce on!!

  16. This was an engaging read :) Debunking myths that are pervasive isn’t always an easy task. I would tend to agree that typically ‘British’ food is not my favorite but in a cosmopolitan city like London you could just about get anything I’m sure.

  17. Good information on London. I have yet to visit the city but it will be my next stop in Europe. These myths are pretty prevalent and very strong for many people, myself included. I would love to visit the city and see how false these are.

    One other thing to note about this though. San Francisco weather in the summer can be AWFUL. Yes, there are some sunny days but it can also be overcast and cold. The best weather for San Francisco is late September and October. That’s when you will have warm sunshine!

  18. drives me bonkers that people say we (Brits) have bad teeth. why would we have bad teeth if the dental care is free….. and as for the food, well its much better than the thousands of fast food restaurants in the US, at least the pubs have healthy meals for good prices…. and have you tried a good old cornish pasty… yummy……..

  19. Living just 2 hours away from London, I can honestly say that some of the restaurants are top class! I agree with the last poster though, you haven’t experienced England until you try a good old Oggie (pasty) yum yum!

  20. I’m a native Londoner who’s friendly, remembers good summers (ok this year was terrible), eats out all the time (mostly Italian and Indian), never drinks tea (always an Americano) and has great teeth (well, I had ’em all crowned in Turkey at a fraction of the cost). Apparently my home town has one of the most benign climates of the major European cities. It must be true. I read it on internet.


  21. Lousy article from the standpoing that almost all museums are free…every single day. Anyone who has been to London and gone to any museum of any sort would know that. Amateur writing.

  22. I am sorry to disappoint anyone who believed the comments posted on this a page about food in London being good…cause it is not. Maybe you have to be Spanish/Italian/Greek/French or a citizen of one of these nations where food is one of the most important things in life to realise this, but the plain fact is that food in London (and the UK as a whole) is not really that good anywhere. Yes, you can find very nice Indian/Asian restaurants, but outside this, to get properly cooked food, you have to go to really expensive restaurants. Outside the 2 extremes of posh/expensive restaurants vs the local kebab shop (which makes a beautiful snack btw), there are not that many options. I have been in London for the past 15 years and I still feel totally in love with the city, its people and the way British go about life as a whole. But I do say to all my friends, if you have come to the UK looking for good food or good weather, you have come to the wrong place. For everything else, I think London is the most amazing and vibrant city I have ever visited or lived in and I cannot really see myself living anywhere else in the world. I fully agree with some of the comments on this page that London weather is not so bad. There are many areas in central Europe where it rains a hell of a lot more (Holland for example) but where no one complains about the weather. This does not mean the weather here is good, but it is certainly nowhere near as bad as most people think. Food is a different story and I think the UK is one of the countries in Europe (or possibly the developed world), where food ranks lower in the scale of priorities of the average citizen. In any case, I always say that nature is extremely intelligent, because if nature had given London good weather (and the British had developed a real interest in food), absolutely everyone would want to live here. But despite how much I love London and the British way of life, which I find incredibly interesting and clever, I think anyone trying to defend the culinary arts of the British is just trying to be stubborn.

  23. I think the author’s answer to “British food is awful” is an admission that British food is awful, but hey.. there’s plenty of other kinds of food around here now” ;-)

  24. Spent 4 days in London in July 2012 – supposedly mid summer but the weather was wet for all 4 days – constant drizzle and spoilt our ability to get around and do things. If this is summer don’t know how they can stand winter. The tube was OK considering we were there about 2 weeks before the Olympics and the crowds were manageable. I found the food to be quite OK and in many cases cheaper than in Australia but then my wife and I are plain eaters anyway so banger’s and mash and fish and chips were no great problem . We did of course eat other food like steaks and chicken so unless you want Gordon Ramsay setting your table every night people are being really picky or are not looking closely enough. One small tip was – only order a main meal as entrees and sweets were grossly overpriced and not worth it. Most London Pubs are fine and relatively inexpensive so if you are on a budget ask someone in a local rail station or on the street – people are almost always willing to give free advice and its usually a pretty good option.

    Otherwise do your own research online and hope you get it right.


  25. Hi, interesting idea for an article. I enjoyed reading it but some of it is misleading or wrong. Disclaimer: I am a Londoner, I grew up and have lived here all my life.
    “1) London is too expensive for the average person to visit

    Yes, London is pricey. But just like New York, San Francisco, Berlin, and every other major city in the world, there is the ‘normal’ way to go, or the ‘cheap’ way to go.”

    Sure, obviously, but it’s still a massively expensive city/country. We have the world’s most expensive train/subway network and often rank as either the world’s most expensive city or in the top 5 (depending on which read). Sure you can do the budget stuff but compared to other cities this is still a very expensive place. Trust me. I know!

    You also claim you can take the bus rather than the tube to save money but sometimes the bus is very slow and I wouldn’t say you are going to save that much. If you are in the central London area you can just walk but for longer journeys then I would take the train/tube, personally. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little more.

    You said that on some days the museums might be free. In fact all the big major museums (and a lot of the smaller or less known ones ) are free every day. Not sometimes.

    “2) It’s always cold, rainy and damp”

    That’s true but it made me laugh when you said that you need a coat at night even in some nights. You realise if you are here in mid-summer that it can 30.c or higher? This year it reached 40.c… you sure you need that coat? Most of the summer months it’s between 26 and 28 and hellish humid. There is NO WAY on this earth you need a coat. That’s ridiculous. Summer in London is hot and it’s humid. Even now mid September I am still not wearing a coat yet.

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