London on a budget: entertainment
Thursday, July 16, 2009
There's no denying London
is a fantastic place, but it does have the reputation of being very expensive. To help you on your visit, Getaway
sent Jason Dundas and the crew there to suss out the best ways to get the most from your travel dollar.
Like everything else, keeping yourself entertained in London
can be expensive. A fun thing to do is join a Sunday Stroll, which is open to anyone who "can stop effectively on skates". Sometimes the group can number more than 200 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. It is recommended you wear a helmet and wrist, elbow and knee pads. Skates and rollerblades can be rented some people just join in and walk or jog along with the group.
It's all a hoot with people bringing blaring boom boxes 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. Visit www.lfns.co.uk for more information.
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, comedy, drama, dance and opera 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. They're the perfect venues for extravagant productions through to small, intimate shows, covering everything from Shakespeare to modern comedies.
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.
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 Time Out 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're an Australian citizen, 30 years of age or under you can apply for a two-year visa. Get started at 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 for more information.
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.
Budget options across London
Emirates has fantastic, low fares to London. They're for a limited time, so visit www.emirates.com/getaway
or call 1300 303 777 for more details.
Prices correct at July 16, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
The London Bicycle Tour Company
1A Gabriels Wharf
56 Upper Ground
London SE1 9PP
Ph: +44 20 7928 6838
Changing of the Guard
The Hoxton Hotel
81-83 Great Eastern Street
London EC2A 3HU
Ph: +44 20 7550 1000
Best Western Shaftesbury
65-73 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 6EX
Ph: +44 20 7871 6000
Fax: +44 20 7871 6001
Imperial College London
South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ
Ph: +44 20 7589 5111
Ph: +44 11 4249 3090
Fax: +44 11 4249 3091
London W10 & W11
Pret a Manger
1 Hudson's Place
London SW1V 1PZ
Ph: +44 20 77827 8000
Ph: +44 7813 2233
Tkts Theatre Tickets
Leicester Square & Brent Cross
London SE1 9PX
Ph: +44 20 7452 3400
19 Short's Gardens
London WC2H 9AW
Ph: +44 20 7240 9731
Fax: +44 20 7836 3137
Doggett's Coat & Badge
1 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 9UD
Ph: +44 20 7633 9081
Australia High Commission
London WC2 B4LA
Ph: +44 20 7379 4334
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: The UK is on GMT between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.
Currency: The British pound sterling.
International dialling code: +44.