London is one of the greatest cities in the world, and the only one — alongside New York — that has the status of “Alpha++” Global City, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network(GaWC).
That means that the city offers a great number of things to do: From places to visit, things to eat, markets to explore, events and concerts to attend, to pop-ups that may disappear before you even know they are there.
We put together a list of 11 useful apps that will help you better navigate the British capital, and make the most out of it every day of the year.
1. Dojo — An all-round great app to discover events, restaurants, and shops to enjoy London
Dojo is an all-encompassing app that’s great both for locals as well as visitors and tourists. It offers a wide range of options to look through for whatever it is you may be fancying: Something to eat, a rooftop to enjoy a view, a nearby shop, exhibition or market — Dojo has it all.
The categories the app divides activities into are oddly specific; you will find “restaurants” and “markets,” but also more intriguing and specific ones like “cheap eats,” “rooftop drinking,” and “beer gardens,” in addition to the ever-useful “around me” and “new openings.”
The reason Dojo stands out is twofold. For one, everything is handpicked by the Londoners who run the app. There is a 1-to-10 ranking scale for things like restaurants and cafes, but you can generally rest assured that the places highlighted are all good.
Then there’s the fact that Dojo is updated constantly; it evolves with the city, the seasons, and the events, so the app always offers timely recommendations that make good use of where you are and what is happening around you.
2. REVL — Find events in London and compare ticket prices
Dojo always offers a good choice of events, but REVL is a fully fledged app dedicated to just that.
REVL offers a much broader selection, as well as a series of features that can come in really handy when you actually want to attend an event rather than simply browse to see what’s up.
When you first open the app, it will ask you to activate notifications (that prompt you when something you may be interested in is happening in your area) and then select from the so-called “PLAYlists.”
PLAYlists are categories of things you may be interested in: Think music festivals, sports, talks, comedy, or art and culture. All of these also have sub-categories, which may further expand to narrow your selection.
You might find “Restaurants” under “Food & Drink,” for instance, and then dig deeper to find “Mediterranean Restaurants.” The app also makes use of a Calendar and a News tab to keep all your interests organized, and even offers ticket price comparisons when there is a choice.
3. Citymapper — Move around London in the shortest amount of time
Citymapper is your best public transport companion app. That means that if you’re just looking for a maps app to orientate and look for things around you, you better stick with Google Maps.
However, if you want to actually move from point A to point B, there’s no better alternative. Citymapper is easy to use and straight to the point: It asks for a place where you want to go, and offers a range of alternatives on how to get there.
Every possible transport method is there: London’s tube, buses, Overground, trains, even bikes and the ferry, all mapped out in the app’s main page.
Citymapper’s main strength is accuracy: Its estimated time of arrivals (ETA) are often scarily precise down to the minute, as all of London’s transport services are fully integrated within the app. You can also share your ETA to let your friends know how long it will take for you to arrive.
In addition to that, things like telling you which section of the underground train to take (back, middle or front in accordance with the station’s exit position) or letting you set places like “Home” and “Work” to make your commute easier (this will trigger a timely notification in accordance with your pre-set times) make it reliable and useful.
There is also a handy Uber integration that will show you both an ETA as well as an estimate for the fare, and a direct link to the app to hail a ride.
4. Santander Cycle — Speed up the process of booking a bike
If you decide to take a bike, you will find it helpful to download the official Santander Cycles app, published by the city’s Transport for London (TfL) body.
There’s nothing special about it, but it does save you from the hassle of dealing with bikes at the local stations.
You can automate everything via the app before actually getting there, and keep a bike booked for 10 minutes from the moment you unlock it.
It’s handy, there are dozens of docking stations scattered around, and cycling, in general, can be one of the fastest ways to get around town.
5. Eventbrite — Keep all your event tickets stored in one handy place
If you are booking an event anywhere in London, chances are you will get your digital tickets delivered through the Eventbrite app.
Eventbrite keeps all your tickets stored and lets you fire up a QR code when you need access to the venue, but is also a nice way to discover events.
It doesn’t have as broad a selection as REVL, but it does give you suggestions based on events you already attended, so it might be worth keeping an eye out to see if there’s anything relevant inside the “For You” tab.
Eventbrite is also not limited to London alone, which means that, if you are traveling, you might find interesting events without having to download another app that’s specific to the place you are visiting.
On iOS, Eventbrite also offers a handy Passbook integration.
6. OpenTable — Pick your restaurant and make effortless reservations
When it comes to eating, there’s no better alternative to OpenTable.
The app’s main purpose is to connect you with restaurants to book a table, but it also does so much more.
In short, OpenTable work as a great standalone app to look for places to eat, with a series of filters and labels that can help you find exactly what kind of meal you are looking for.
The app offers four main sections, each divided into sub-categories: A main page with lists like “Near me now” or “Dinner tonight,” then “Cuisines,” “Special Features,” and “Neighborhoods.”
“Cuisines” and “Neighborhood” are pretty self-explanatory. But under Special Features, on the other hand, sub-categories have options like “Great for Brunch,” “Outdoor Seating,” and “Good for Groups,” which can help you find places that can best accommodate your needs.
You can then filter the research down by distance, rating, and price, look at the always rich information lists (which include hours, payment options, reviews, and menus), and book right from the app.
7. Dark Sky — Get accurate weather predictions
Dark Sky is simply the best, most accurate weather app available to both Android and iOS users. There are a few things that make it special.
One is the “feel like” temperature, which often differs from the actual one (and is calculated considering atmospheric pressure, humidity, and more) and is generally more reliable for you to pick your clothes accordingly,
Then there’s accuracy. Much like Citymapper with public transport, Dark Sky is almost impossibly precise about weather conditions. It will always guess right when the rain is light, heavy, or just drizzling — and when it says that it will start in 13 minutes and end in 27, believe it.
There’s not much else a weather app can or should do — it won’t tell you what the forecast for a city a thousand miles away is, but you can bet that its hyperlocal information will always be correct.
You can also set a “daily summary” notification to get a forecast when you wake up, as well as a “next hour precipitation” with down-to-the-minute alerts for anything happening within the next 60 minutes.
8. London Coffee (In)Touch Guide — Get the best coffee wherever you are
Londoners love coffee. That’s why London is full of coffee shops. You might spot half a dozen of them within a single mile radius.
It goes without saying that not all of them have the best London has to offer, however, and the Coffee (In)Touch Guide should be your first stop if you care about good-quality coffee.
Dojo has a good, hand-selected catalogue of cafes, but it is different from the Coffee Guide’s in two ways: For one, it’s decidedly smaller in size, but most of all Dojo’s ranking takes food and the location in consideration.
The Coffee Guide, instead, expectedly puts the coffee above all else. It also offers distinct rankings based on food, pastries, and how many “favourites” the place gets by users, but coffee is the priority.
There are also handy, thoroughly written “Expert Roundup” notes that give you a good idea of how the place is like, and what kind of coffee the place makes.
The Top 25 places also enjoy a little gold medal, so you can rest assured that, if you spot one of those, your coffee won’t disappoint.
9. Drinki — London’s best bars at your fingertips
The Coffee Guide is to the day what Drinki is to the night. When coffee time is over and you feel like moving to something a little stronger, Drinki is your best companion.
Much like the Coffee Guide, it offers a hand-crafted selection of the best bars in London, with accurate descriptions of the places, the kind of drinks they serve, and even notifications of exclusive offers.
One of Drinki’s strengths lies in its crazy discounts, with a sharing function that will make sure you get a few pounds off any time you share an invite with someone else.
Other nice touches include the exact drinks bars may be offering discounts for, the duration of the offers, and even a “Free Drink Now” label, which lets you know if places around you are feeling particularly generous.
10. DICE — Tickets for festivals, concerts, clubs, and more
If you are fond of live music, clubs, and festivals, DICE is the app for you.
Much like many of the previous apps, DICE’s strength relies on the fact that all of the gigs are handpicked. The staff is made up of people that, according to the app’s description, have “too many late nights on their CVs.”
The app’s mission is to make you discover new music events, and it does so with an user interface that’s easy to navigate and is primarily divided into genres, so you always know what you are searching for.
Prices, event location, and dates are the prioritised in the main page’s previews, but a further dig will tell you additional things like the doors opening times, how long it will take you to get to a specific venue, and whether there is wheelchair accessibility.
A nice Apple Music integration will also give you a nice snippet of the artist’s music — even on Android phones.