Getting to Know London’s Culture, Customs, and Etiquette

by | Feb 25, 2018 | ABOUT LIVING IN LONDON

01 Getting to Know Londons Culture Customs and Etiquette

London’s Culture

There are hundreds of cities across the world, and each city has a specific culture, customs, and etiquette they adhere to. Here in London, it’s no different. We have unspoken rules that govern everyone’s behavior. And this includes how you behave or portray yourself around people in public.

Further, our culture is British which runs across UK countries and that includes Northern Ireland, British, Scotland, and UK. Therefore, we have unique social and cultural norms that are different but sometimes similar to that of some western countries.

So, if you are eager to know London’s culture, customs, and etiquette, here they are:


Politeness is the best policy

If there is something that doesn’t seem strange to us is using the word please more often. And that’s not all, a thank you as a show of gratitude is another custom we love. These two terms are frequently used in all places in London and by everybody.

What’s more, please is a starter to all encounters and transactions while thank you completes almost everything. And when one doesn’t use these words, it’s a sign of rudeness. So, whether you are asking for assistance or buying a cup of tea, people will appreciate these magical words.


We don’t take photos in the middle of walkways

With close to 10 million people, London is a large city with a bustling of activities. And being the capital of England, it’s a commercial hub. Therefore, the walkways are busy at all times with large crowds heading in different directions. And as such, taking a photo in the middle of the walkway is rude since you are interfering with other people.


We look unfriendly but approachable

Many people think we are unfriendly because of the way we carry ourselves in public. And yes, there might be some truth in it because we love to focus more on where we are going and less on chatting with strangers. However, if you need assistance, we are willing to offer it. So, never be afraid to seek assistance from any Londoner.



If it’s a first-time formal meeting with someone, then we shake hands. This is the appropriate way of initiating a meeting. And besides using this form of greeting for official use, it can also apply in some informal situations.


We keep right on the escalator

It’s not only a rule but also a custom to keep right on the escalator. As a rule, this enables those in a rush to use the left side to pass through while walking or running. On the right, it’s for those who want to stand and use the escalator to ascend or descend.

And as a custom, this minimizes the frequency of telling people to excuse me to find a way. And in a way, it reduces the awkward noise that would form from multiple people murmuring these words.


Patience in Boarding the Tube

While we might be in a hurry to find a seat on the train, we are always patient. That means we wait for arriving commuters to get off the train before we board the train. This way, we avoid brushing shoulders with people coming off the train and it allows for an organization. You may say it’s an inbuilt sense that most of us apply. But when someone attempts to break this unspoken rule, the tube can turn chaotic.


Punctuality is Vital

This is very important to all Londoners no matter who they are. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a formal or informal occasion. Arriving on time is a show of respect and shows that you care about the occasion you are invited to. However, there are setbacks that we can’t avoid at times. And as such, there is a 10 minutes grace period for anyone arriving late.


Maintain or remove your shoe

Here, everyone has their own house rules. Therefore, it’s inappropriate to walk into someone’s home with the shoe on without their permission. Therefore, you must first inquire from the host whether you should maintain your shoes or remove them.


Politics is only for the locals

People love politics and I am sure you do too. However, in London, it’s different. Here, leave the politics to the locals. Only focus on your purpose for being in the cities whether it’s business or leisure. And this is because we might have different opinions simply because we understand our politics and its history.

And while part of it may be absurd to you, to us it may be logical and we have the reasons why. Therefore, to avoid offending somebody especially locals, keep your political opinions to yourself.


Keep your volume low

We love the peace of mind and as such, we maintain a low tone during conversation to avoid disturbing those nearby. Therefore, this is expected to be replicated by everyone in the city. So, if you love talking loud, keep it low in the London streets. And it’s not about us being too cultured, but a normal part of life we are used to.


We don’t flash our cash

Flashing cash is considered rude and annoying to locals especially in the public. So, if you are paying for bills whether it’s in a café or street, take out what’s needed. Meanwhile, this will keep you safe from the prying eyes and robbers.



An apology is another common word in our mouth. It’s polite and a sign of respect. And while you say sorry for banging on someone, don’t be surprised when you hear it back.


Stay in Queue

How long can you tolerate lengthy queues? Well, we British don’t mind standing in long queues as long as you don’t attempt to jump over. Any attempt will receive harsh sentiments and protests.



We don’t have time to bond with strangers. So unless you are asking for direction, don’t bother speaking to any Londoner you don’t know.


If you can keep up with the magical words, please and thank you, Londoners are the best people you will ever meet. And if you can master the above social norms, then you might be mistaken for a local by locals themselves.

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