Compared to other places in Europe London is rather expensive – well, that’s what people like to say about it anyway. Is a trip there really worth it at all then? After all, you’d rather be spending your money shopping in the fashion capital than blowing all your money on expensive hotels. Well, I’m going to show you the best ways to get there and the sights you just can’t afford to miss! You’ll also see where you can enjoy the best views of London without having to deal with the masses of tourists. You’ll be surprised at what you can visit for free! London offers a diverse culture regardless of whether you’re in the artsy neighbourhood of Shoreditch or the touristy West End – you’ll also be guaranteed to find great souvenirs and experience some really special moments! Enjoy these London tips :)
You can start saving money as soon as you land at London Heathrow because there’s a great alternative to the expensive Heathrow Express. There’s a very good London Underground connection on the Picadilly Line – it’ll take a little longer to get to where you’re going, but it’s a fraction of the cost. £35 vs. £11.40 for return – that’s a massive difference! If you’re flying to London with budget airlines like Ryanair chances are you’ll be landing at airports that are a little further out like Luton, Gatwick and Stansted. There’s an Easy Bus shuttle service that operates here. They depart every 30 minutes, although you will have to wait a little longer early in the morning or during the evening. With a bit of luck during the day you can leave for the city every ten minutes.
Once you arrive in the city centre it’s worth using the Tube. All you have to do is just keep topping up your Oyster card which will get you to all the important places, and for a very reasonable price too. If you’d rather travel above ground I recommend taking the number 4 or 11 buses. These two services pass by all the important sights and offer better value for money than the touristy sightseeing buses. Just grab a map of London from your hotel – the important sights will more than likely be marked on it.
How to experience the sights of London for free
London can indeed be very expensive, but the most important museums are free every time (though of course donations are welcome)! It makes a huge difference particularly at major museums such as the British Museumor the National Gallery, which you’d normally pay about £7 entry in other cities. Besides art galleries there’s also the London Transport Museum, where you can view the typical red double-decker buses or the world’s first underground steam train. If you’ve got children with you the Victoria & Albert Museum is recommended – there’s lots of fascinating and curious artefacts to marvel at. As well as museums there’s also a few sights that you can visit for free as well.
Free sights in London
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Tower Bridge and its walkway
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park
…and many more!
Discovering London on foot – a walk through the city
London has plenty of sights – during your first trip you should take the time to stop at each of the important sights so you can really appreciate the architecture for a little while!
You can discover all of the essential sights by going on a stroll. First and foremost: St. Paul’s Cathedral, the place where Prince Charles and Diana exchanged vows. The cathedral’s characteristic dome will remind you ofSt. Peter’s Basilica in Rome or the Capitol in Washington and it’s one of the typical features of the London Skyline. Did you know that the cathedral features in a ton of films like Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes and (of course) Harry Potter? Just take a closer look next time!
Another highlight of the city is the Big Ben bell tower. When you’re there on the hour you’ll hear exactly why it’s called ‘Big’ Ben. The bell has been chiming since 1859, even during the Blitz when the Houses of Parliament suffered heavy damage. If you look closely you’ll see that the tower’s at a bit of an incline – thanks to some underground construction work the tower has gone a bit wonky, but it’s not dangerous.
If you have time you should definitely you should definitely go up the London Eye. If the weather’s good you’ll be able to see for miles! Mind you, you’ll have to fork out a lot – a 30 minute ride costs £19.35.
Between April and Juli the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace takes place daily at 11:30am. If you plan your stay carefully you can even celebrate the Queen’s birthday at the Trooping the Colour parade. You won’t be able to escape the Queen’s charm, especially when the whole city transforms into a parade.
Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace can all be done in a good two hours or so, though if you decide you want to do a guided tour of Buckingham Palace you should give yourself a little more time.
If you can’t be bothered walking then just hop on to one of the red double decker buses and let them take you to your next destination. If it’s possible you should sit on the top; that way you can get to know the city a little better. I’ve already mentioned the 4 and 11 lines which will take you to all the important sights which is another sneaky way to help save a penny or two.
Harry Potter Tour in the Warner Bros. Studio
Harry Potter and London go hand-in-hand – no other books have captured the imagination of so many children and adults in the past few years. If you dare to go behind-the-scenes of the world-famous blockbusters then head to the Warner Bros. studio, where you can have a good look around the sets and props. Whether it’s the main hall, the Gryffindor common room or Professor Snape’s premises, a whole host of varied highlights await you. Prices start from £33 per person.
Trendy neighbourhoods in London
Ella, an absolute London expert, strongly recommends a visit to Spitalfields and its markets abound with offers.
“Unlike Camden Market which is quite famous Spitalfields can be considered a local secret. Over here it’s trendy, there’s less tourists and everything is a bit more reasonable. There’s also plenty of bars and restaurants nearby too. There’s actually three markets here and each one is worth a visit.”
You can rummage through flea markets every day of the week, try a few delicacies and – above all – get an amazing insight into the London art and culture scene. Great for a rainy day!
Culinary highlights of London
That old stereotype of English food being rubbish is a load of nonsense. If you want to enjoy typical English dishes in the oldest restaurant in the city then you should stop off for a bite to eat at The Rules, where traditional regional meals are served in a very special atmosphere.
If you’re looking for something a bit more hip then Shoreditch is the place to go. At theSunday Up Market especially there’s plenty of diverse food stalls and unique items up for sale, so it’s the perfect place to loiter about in. Since 2004 young artists and designers have been offering their latest creations at this market. The Food Market Area is also known outside of London. Treat yourself to a hip breakfast and go on the hunt afterwards for something really unique at the designer stalls!
Legendary London nightlife
You’d be crazy not to visit a pub while you’re in London – have a few ales in the evening and watch as beer lovers and party-goers start hitting the streets. You can then go on to spend the night in one of the very funky nightclubs. The Vertigo 42 champagne barin particular offers a unique view of the city that’s worth seeing! However you’ve been warned: prices in the West End tend to be very steep.
London is hip and trendy, and you can see that for yourself on pretty much every street corner. With the right tips you can really make the most out of your city break. Don’t be shy – just ask Londoners about their favourite areas to go and you’ll be finding more and more places worth seeing that are hidden away!
And if you need a great hotel deal to stay in London, then check out Trivago for the cheapest rates on your dates. I’m sure you’ll find a decent deal for you :)