This post is basically a links list - 100% of our students arrived with a laptop, tablet, or other personal computing device, which made me think about the sites I have at my fingers tips on mine.
These are my personal - I stress, personal - recommendations for the essential sites to bookmark, subscribe to, or otherwise have to hand for tackling London.
TfL - for the journey planner, and for the all-important disruption maps, especially when making weekend plans, when the engineering works kick into high gear.
GoogleMaps - obvious, but true. I still carry an A-Z sometimes, but now I have a smartphone...
WalkIt: London - my other go-to for walking directions, especially as the less busy and lower pollution choices often turns up good alternative routes through parks, or using the riverside.
Time Out : London - again, obvious, but for good reason! Tip: once you have searched for something - say, events in the category music, happening in the next 7 days - you'll be able to select 'Free' to limit the results, which is a great tool for turning up free activities and events.
Londonist - huge sprawling team-run blog on all things London. Subscribe for a steady flow of news, reviews, and what's-on posts.
London's not short of fantastic opportunities for free things to do, but I haven't found one single 'freebies' website that I could recommend as The One - I check in on a few, and generally do a little searching around to confirm events, particularly recurring events which may keep showing up in the listings long after the events themselves cease. http://www.freelondonevents.co.uk/ and Free London Listings are the two I use most.
I also connect directly with venues and organisations who host events I'm likely to be interested in - Twitter, Facebook and mailing lists bring me regular updates on things I might want to see and do. There are some suggestions for venues to try in the London on a Budget: Entertainment Edition post I wrote for the program blog here.
Meetup.com can be useful for tracking down people who share common interests, and if you're interested in photography, Flickr's London Meetup Group can be a good source of information. (Safety note - if you're going somewhere to meet up with people you don't know, take the usual precautions for your safety - take a friend, meet somewhere public, let people know where you're going and when you expect to be back, etc.)
News & Weather (online)
- BBC Weather for Central London
- BBC News
- The Guardian
Suggestions for essential sites I've missed welcome in the comments!