Coming in at number seven in our top 10 Aussie dollar holidays is the United Kingdom
. With the Aussie buck at a 25-year high against the British pound, exploring London has never been cheaper. To help you on your visit, Getaway
sent Jason Dundas and the crew there to suss the best ways to get the most out of your travel dollar.
Before you do anything, please get yourself a London Pass. It's like a credit card and will save you lots of money and time with entry to more than 55 attractions. London's top 10 attractions are Tower of London, Thames River Cruise, St Paul's Cathedral, The Tower Bridge, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, London Bridge, Churchill Museum and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
At these places, and many others, you won't have to queue just swipe your pass for entry. London Pass also offers discounts at selected restaurants, bars, theatres and shops in London. There's a guidebook in seven languages giving detailed information and maps.
The city's transport system is widespread and busy, and if you add a London TravelCard to your London Pass you can use all public buses, Docklands light rail, trams, underground and overground trains. The London Pass takes you on a hop-on, hop-off Thames cruise so you get to have a closer look at the many attractions along the river.
The passes are valid for use on consecutive days only and are available for one, two, three or six days.
Australians can purchase the London Pass at most major travel agencies, or log on and purchase one in advance. They start at around $70 for one day. Visit www.londonpass.com for more information.
There's just so much to see in this wonderful old city and a great way to get around is to rent a bicycle from the London Bicycle Tour Company. They run all over London and hire is free for an hour for holders of the London Pass. Locks and helmets are included. They do guided tours or you can just pedal your own merry way around, with the help of the London Pass guidebook.
The company rents hybrid, mountain and ladies' bicycles. They cost around $9 for the first hour, then $7 an hour until you reach the daily rate of $34. They also have weekly rates. They are open every day between 10am and 6pm.
A must-do is to see the famous Changing of the Guard in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. The ceremony dates to the 15th century and the serving soldiers are the most elite in the British Army. It starts at 11am every day through summer, except on Sundays, and lasts for around 45 minutes. Make sure you arrive early for a good view.
The Changing of the Guard also takes place at Windsor Castle every day at 11am during June and July.
Don't forget Big Ben, Wimbledon, Lord's, galleries and museums. Your choices are endless.
Right. You've got your London Pass to get you around. Now you need somewhere to sleep. We will help you find something that ticks your important boxes location and price.
You won't believe this one! The Hoxton Hotel, a stroll from the heart of London, offers rooms for just £1! They extend the sale four times a year, selling five rooms a night for £1 and five rooms a night for £29 for the a three-month period, which is a fantastic price for London! The next sale will be in September.
You need to be on their mailing list to find out about the sale as they release details only about a week in advance. The only way to book is on the Hoxton website (www.hoxtonhotels.com). The sale begins at noon and everything was sold in eight minutes in the last sale. It's a race against time first in, first served.
The lowest rate if you miss out on the £1 sale is from $106 a night. It includes a prêt a manger breakfast, wi-fi, printing, faxing, mineral water, fresh milk and up to one hour of calls to the UK, USA and most of Europe.
If you fancy being in the theatre district, check out Best Western Shaftesbury. The boutique property is in the centre of London's West End and close to Chinatown. Comfortable air-conditioned rooms have all modern conveniences and the location if perfect for getting about the city.
Best Western Shaftesbury rooms start at around $335 a single a night including English breakfast. Visit www.bestwestern.co.uk for more information.
Another great option is to stay at one of the universities or colleges when students are on summer holidays. Imperial College has more than 1600 single and twin bedrooms in and around South Kensington. They are central to Victoria & Albert and Natural History and Science museums and Buckingham Palace is not far away. They start at around $46 a night, including breakfast.
Venue Masters has access to more than 100 universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. Single rooms start at around $48 a night self-catered, $55 with breakfast and $77 for dinner, bed and breakfast. They are available in July, August and September. To find out more, visit www.venuemasters.co.uk.
There's no doubt that London has some of the world's most expensive restaurants, but Jason went all out to find some places that won't break the bank and will fill you up with good food.
A good tip is to go to restaurants in the West End and South Bank. They are usually patronised by theatre goers early in the evening, so if you dine after 8pm, the evening specials should still be available.
Portobello Market goes straight through the heart of Notting Hill. It's been there since 1837 and has always dealt in fresh produce and tasty food. It's an interesting area with antiques and bric-a-brac, fashion, second-hand items everything imaginable. There are loads of places selling food and drinks and it's a good idea to eat as you wander through the enormous market. The minute you sit down it's going to cost you. It runs on Saturdays between 5am and 4.30pm.
Pret a Manger serves handmade natural food, avoiding chemicals, additives and preservatives. They start everything from scratch each day and any leftovers are given to charity. Their menu changes constantly and food is healthy, delicious and affordable. Sandwiches start at around $3.50. Visit www.pret.com for more information.
Toptable is a fantastic idea. Visit their website (www.toptable.com) and you will find restaurants across London offering up to 50 percent discounts. They have loads to choose from, covering a mass of cuisines.
If you fancy Belgian beer, mussels and chips, Belgo is the place to go. There are three in London to choose from. You eat at communal tables in the beer hall, or a more intimate restaurant and are served by staff in traditional monks' habits.
Belgo Centraal Beat the Clock will get you a great cheap meal from Monday to Friday get there as close to 5pm as you can as you pay just £5 for your meal. At 6pm you pay £6 and so on. Great for an early dinner if you have plans for later or you could make it a late lunch! Visit www.belgo-restaurants.co.uk for more information.
Like everything else, keeping yourself entertained in London can be expensive. A fun thing to do is join a Sunday Stroll. Sometimes the group can number 200 or more people, so it's a good way to meet people, have some exercise and it's free. However, if you care to make a donation or buy a T-shirt, that will go towards keeping it free.
You follow marshals who are dressed in red and yellow and they set the parameters. If you're skating on the Sunday Stroll, it is recommended you wear a helmet and wrist, elbow and knee pads. Skates and rollerblades can also be rented but some people just join in and walk or jog along with the group.
It's a hoot. People bring blaring boom boxes and the fun begins every Sunday at 2pm from the eastern side of Serpentine Road, weather permitting. Routes change regularly and cover up to 12km or more. Skating is very popular in London so log on to find other venues at www.lfns.co.uk.
The West End has some of the best theatre in the world. Full price tickets can be daunting, but at Tkts you can choose tickets for musicals, comedies, dramas, dances and operas at bargain prices. Snap up tickets on the day of the performance or up to a week in advance.
Tkts booths in Leicester Square and Brent Cross are the only official half-price and discount theatre ticket outlets in London. Visit www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/tkts/ for more information.
The famous National Theatre has three permanent auditoriums the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe. It is the venue for extravagant productions through to small, intimate shows, covering everything from Shakespeare to comedy.
As well as seeing shows you can attend talks, listen to music, take backstage tours, view exhibitions and enjoy outdoor performances in summer. Sit and relax in the foyers or terraces, interact with the Big Wall, enjoy a coffee, snack or meal and feel the history and imagine the greats who have performed there. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk for more information.
Equally famous, Covent Garden has free entertainment every day of the year, except Christmas Day. Performers have been strutting their stuff there since the 1660s and must audition before performing. A good idea is to go in the afternoon and stay as it lights up with buskers and performers showing their talents for free. Visit www.coventgarden.uk.com for more information.
Australians have adopted the Motherland's enjoyment of a drink with something warming in winter and a cold pint in summer. There are more than 7000 pubs in London, but on warm days, everyone makes the most of the many parks to enjoy a drink and it's legal.
Believe it or not, there is an organisation called The Cheapest Pint (www.cheapestpint.co.uk) to help you find the cheapest drinks in locations right across the United Kingdom. From beer to wine, they guarantee the best deal.
The famous old Doggett's Coat & Badge pub on the Thames is a bit of a rite of passage for young Australians living and working in London. They serve cold Aussie beer, good pub food, there's a beer garden, pool room and the atmosphere is very friendly. It all began 300 years ago when Thomas Doggett set up an amateur rowing race on the Thames. The first prize was a coat and badge!
The young Australians Jason met said rather than go to an Aussie-style pub, visit one of the typically British watering holes. Tuck into bangers and mash and meet some locals.
Some extra tips
It's not the best idea to drive in London. Public transport is so good, and the city is made for walking, cycling or skating! There are two types of cabs: the traditional black cabs, which are more expensive, and cheaper mini cabs. Jason was told that single females are advised to not hail a mini cab off the street it's far safer to go to a licensed mini cab office.
When you first arrive, grab yourself a copy of Timeout London magazine. It's a great survival guide and covers just about everything you could want. You will also find free publications at tube stations you can't have too much information about the sprawling city!
If you want to work in the UK, Australia has reciprocal arrangements there, and many other countries. If you are an Australian citizen, 30 years of age or under you can apply for a two-year visa. Get started on www.smartraveller.gov.au and follow the links to working holidays. You can also check out www.restlessworld.com.au and www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en.
If you're a regular visitor or making a one-off trip to London, it's a good idea to add an Oyster Card to your London Pass. It will save you loads of cash on all London public transport. Buy online before you arrive and top up at tube stations, DLR stations or at London Travel Information Centres. Visit www.visitlondon.com/travel/oyster/ for more information.