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Jules's England adventure: London

Thursday, September 9, 2010
The United Kingdom. The tiny group of islands has contributed so much to the world and Jules Lund set off to find some tips for first time visitors to get around London and some beautiful places in England. Even if you've been there many times you may pick up a few things you didn't know about.

Thousands of Australians head to London every year to enjoy a working holiday, making it a very handy base for exploring Europe. Coming from somewhere as geographically remote as Australia, when based in the UK it's fantastic to be able to so easily visit foreign countries for just a couple of days.

London is a city that lends itself to walking. If you head out once you've settled in to your accommodation, not only will you see loads of major sights, it could help get over jetlag and set your body clock to local time.

Britain and London Visitor Centre on Regent Street (www.visitlondon.com) is a must to help you plan your entire UK holiday. For 25 years the centre has been providing free information at the one-stop location, including accommodation, travel and theatre tickets, currency, event information. They have thousands of brochures and you can even check your email there. There are several branches across the city.

An absolute must is to buy yourself a London Pass from BLVC. It will save you hundreds of pounds on entry fees to 55 top attractions. Hampton Court Palace, London Zoo, Windsor Castle, St Paul's Cathedral and Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum are just a few. Not only is entry free but at places such as Kew Gardens and Tower of London you will go straight to the front of the queue.

The pass includes offers and discounts at restaurants, theatres and nightclubs, a guidebook and an option for free travel on London transport.

Public transport is the way to go — National Rail trains, double-decker buses and the underground railway, known as the Tube have plenty of services and are reliable.

That's where the Oyster Card comes in. They can have Travelcards and bus pass season tickets put on them, or you can charge them up to £50 ($85) to pay-as-you-go. Oyster's fares are cheaper than paying by cash and you can buy one before you leave home at www.visitlondon.com. The clever little card works out the cheapest fare for all your journeys on the Tube, bus, tram, National Rail and gives one-third off River Services prices. They come as one-, three- or seven-day passes. Once again, you won't have to endure that English invention — queuing.

Oyster is available for adults only. Children younger than 11 can accompany adults free of charge. Those between 11 and 15 should use the standard child travel card.

If you are planning a driving holiday, you are better off booking your vehicle in Australian dollars before you leave home. Make sure you have your Australian licence and passport when you collect the car on arrival. Jules recommends to get yourself into a compact car. Most companies supply a map book, but please consider getting yourself a good GPS.

One-way rentals are available to most locations for a slightly higher fee.

Drive only in the city of London only if you really, really have to. To cut congestion the City of London will charge you around $20 for the privilege.

Related: London on a budget: accommodation

Location

Hints for travellers in London.

Cost

London Pass costs around $70 for adults and $47 for children for one day, ranging to $156 and $111 for six days.

Prices correct at September 9, 2010.

For further information

Britain & London Visitor Centre
1 Regent Street
London SW1Y 4XT
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 87 0156 6366
www.visitlondon.com

Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time zone: GMT.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

International dialling code: +44.

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