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Table of Contents
Welcome to our blog “22 London Travel Tips Including How To Reduce Your Visiting Costs Dramatically”
London attracted almost 20 Million visitors in 2017, making it the third most visited city in the world. It was only beaten by Hong Kong & Bangkok (source Insider). Some people say that as Brexit looms, London will become even more attractive because of the price of the pound falling meaning travellers will have more money to spend when they get here.
The high-ranking in the list is hardly surprising when you consider the great rich history of the city, and the fantastic attractions. Who in the world doesn’t want to visit the great historical landmarks such as the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower Bridge or the Houses of Parliament. Then there’s the lesser historical landmarks such as Madame Tussaud, the London Eye, and many many more fantastic treats.
We decided to put together some London travel tips. I was born in London so I know some of the quaint characteristics of the Londoner, that may help a visitor to survive the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Money Saving Tips
1. Buy an Oyster Card
An Oyster Card is a great way to get round London on the cheap. It is estimated that the average Oyster Card traveller can save 50% at least on fares while in London. A 7 day Oyster Card costs only around £60 and allows you access to these types of London Travel:
- The London Underground Network
- London Red Local Bus Network
- The Railway Network in Greater London
- Docklands Light Railway (DLR), TFL Railway Services & London Overground Railway
- ,33% Discount On Selected River Journeys
- Train Services Between London & Gatwick Airport
There are also many concessions such as:
- One Day Group Travel for groups of 10 or more-Check out the prices here
- Senior Concessions-33% discount
- Child Concessions-children under 11 free when travelling with an adult with an Oyster card-other concessions
- Student Concessions– up to 34% off
Some of the Oyster Card procedures and pricing are quite confusing, but if you go to this link here- Oyster Card Briefing, it will give you a good idea of what you may need. But it’s definitely a good idea to buy before you arrive.
2. Walk Short Journeys When You Can
Many of your journeys will be within London’s central area once you have arrived there. You will get a great feel for the place by walking to your destination. There are many benefits of walking as opposed to public transport not least the fact that it will be healthier in some areas (London smog still exists don’t forget). You may find hidden treasures that you wouldn’t have found using public transport. And, during rush hours it’s actually quicker to walk from Covent Garden to Leicester Square.
3. Hire a bike under the Santander Cycles Scheme
It costs £2 to hire a bike for 24 hours. Cycling is a brilliant way to see the London sights. If your used to Cycling in a busy city it’s a must to try. For beginners, I would proceed with caution as London can be quite intimidating for a learner cyclist. Here’s a link to Santander Cycling Scheme
4. Visit London’s Free Attractions
There are many Free Attractions that you can visit whilst in London. Some of them are listed here:
- Royal Air Force Museum– Go back in time to the Battle of Britain-Totally Free (apart from car parking)
- National Portrait Gallery– See portraits of Tudor Monarchs- Totally Free
- Wellcome Collection– See Darwin’s walking stick at this medical history centre
- Many Many More Free Attractions– click link for all London’s Free Attractions
5. Buy a London Pass
A one day London Pass will give you free “fast track” access to most of London’s attractions and if you include Oyster Travel will set you back £84 for an adult & £55 for a child. A 10 day London Pass would cost you £239 with Oyster Travel (£184 without travel) & £194 for a child (£139 without travel).
Considering that a visit to just one attraction can cost you £20 each, you can see the massive benefit of a London Pass. Add to that you get to include an Oyster card (major convenience) and you get “fast track” at some of the attractions, means this really is a great way to save lots of money. It’s estimated that the average Tourist using a London Pass saves up to 70% off paying at the door prices, so it’s a must if you want to visit the more popular attractions!
6. Book Selective Attractions Online In Advance
If you don’t need a London Pass. Maybe you’re only visiting one attraction during a short visit, you can save money by ordering online before you arrive. There are always offers and benefits by ordering online rather than paying at the door. For example, London Eye tickets are 10% cheaper online!
7. Discount Your West End Tickets
Theatre can be very expensive, and sometimes you can arrive only to find no seats for your favourite show. Avoid this by buying online in advance. There are massive discounts to be gained and you will be guaranteed your seat for the show!. There are also “last minute” ticket booths in Leicester Square for cheap discounted tickets to various shows if you aren’t too concerned which show you want to see!
8. Seek out some Bargains at London’s most Iconic Street Markets
Petticoat Lane, Portobello Road & Covent Garden are major markets that come to mind when thinking about London Street Markets, but there are plenty of other markets that you may not have heard of, such as Greenwich Market or Borough Market.
Street Markets can be a great source of bargains. If you are on a budget, you may find your holiday gifts much cheaper here than in central London where you can expect to pay premium prices, rather than some bargain market prices.
Quick Tip– Haggling isn’t really the done thing in Central London, but at the markets it’s well worth a go, so try a little haggling. You may well get your bargain even cheaper. They can only say no to your cheeky offer!
9. Check Out The Live Shows
From the Rolling Stones to Oasis, many top bands have all played at smaller London pubs and bars before hitting the big time. Aspiring stars all know London is the place to be found, so you can see some wonderful artists for a few pounds 7 sometimes even free. Lots of bars and pubs here
Stand up comedy & Cabaret shows are also to be found plentifully around London. Again, some of the world’s top stars started their careers in these London shows. So you may well be able to see a future star for a couple of pounds or even free.
10. Cheap Dining
Eating out in central London won’t be cheap, especially if you choose a restaurant, so try street foods or smaller cafes. I have been known to buy pre-packed sandwiches from the supermarkets and then go to the park to enjoy the sunshine and the food al fresco style (In the few days of sunshine London actually gets). Probably best not to buy food at the tourist attractions as these will cost at least 30% extra!
11. Cheap Sleeping
Not all of London’s Hotels are the Ritz. There are plenty of budget Hotels and Hostels where you can stay for a fraction of the price of a top Hotel. Travel Loge, Premier Inn are budget types of Hotels that won’t break your bank and provide great accommodation and customer care. There are even camp sites within London, bet you didn’t know that did you?
12. Cut Back On The Tips
You don’t have to tip in London, well, it’s nice to leave a tip but it’s not as important as in the USA for example. Most Londoners don’t leave a tip for food or drinks in bars for example, but they do in a restaurant. I would suggest a 10% tip if you can afford it, but don’t fret about it if you can’t!
Other London Travel Tips
13. Take An Umbrella
Unfortunately, London has very unpredictable weather. One moment you’re basking in glorious sunshine, the next minute your hit by hailstones as big as a pea. there’s nothing worse than visiting your much longed after attraction soaking wet, so avoid the feeling and get an umbrella.
14. Embrace the Locals
Londoners have a bit of a reputation for being cold & grumpy, even a bit unfriendly. But I haven’t found this. Most Londoners are warm & friendly once they are engaged. And they love to be asked questions. Ask them about themselves and you’ll be amazed at the response. Just be careful when you’re in a Black cab when asking questions as you might find yourself going on a longer more expensive journey, just so he can finish telling you his life story!
15. You Should Stand On The Right On Escalators
Yes, London is different to elsewhere you may have been. They have their own set of rules and escalator etiquette is just another strange London quirk. So always stand on the right on a London escalator so people can rush on by. Yes, it really is that busy! Officially one of the busiest places on earth, you will face the wrath of a Londoners tut if you get in the way (way to polite to actually say anything to you)
16. Try a London Walk
There are many great walks around London. Here are just some of them:
- Jack the Ripper walk
- Charles Dickens London
- Haunted London
- Rock n Roll London
- Unexpected London
- Royal London
- Sherlock Holmes London
Walks cost £10 and there’s no need to book, simply turn up at the allotted time. For more details see here London Walks
17. WiFi In London
WiFi is pretty good in London. They have invested in top of the range gigabit WiFi network more efficient than the WiFi New York uses apparently. But this is in the City of London, which is the central square mile of London. The rest of London is adequately catered for but varies from place to place. Most of the cafes & restaurants have free WiFi available.
You can also access WiFi on 260 Underground stations & 79 Overground stations which is 97% of all London stations. You need to check with your service provider if you can access for free, but more information is here Station WiFi
18. Public Transport is Hit & Miss
You may find long delays in all areas of public transport, but especially buses. Your bus time may be 2 pm but you might still be waiting at 2.30 pm and then 3 will turn up all at once. It’s a hectic place with lots of traffic, which usually means lots of delays and this place is no exception. Especially at peak times. Trains are more punctual but can still be liable to delays.
19. You Can Actually Go Inside Buckingham Palace
It’s True! You can actually go inside the palace and see how the queen lives. You might even meet her. Well, maybe not, but she does live there! The cost is around £24 for a tour and can be booked online before the event. You’ll be able to see:
- Venture through the regular used state rooms
- See famous artwork
- Walk the Queens 42 acre exotic garden
- See the stunning royal gifts exhibition
- Wonder at the Royal architecture & decor
- See the Queen watching TV (OK, my imagination has got carried away)
20. Traffic drives on the Left
Not greatly important until you come to cross the road and you’re looking left. Oops, wrong way, you need to be looking right first, or you could find yourself visiting one of the famous NHS hospitals that are often criminally underfunded but free. Waiting times are sometimes 12 hours. Imagine waiting 12 hours with a broken leg?
21. Emergency Number is 999
Hopefully, your now looking the right way when you cross the road, but just in case, the emergency service number is 999. You will be asked which service you require. The answer will be either, Ambulance, Fire Brigade or Police. The 999 service is free to all mobile/cell phone users in London (UK in general)
22. Last Of The London Travel Tips- Eat an English Breakfast
It’s impossible to visit London without eating an English Breakfast or eating Fish & Chips for dinner. You’ll find both of these everywhere. To visit London and not try both of these would be like visiting India and not trying a curry!
Thanks for reading our post “22 London Travel Tips”
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