London on a budget: sightseeing
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.
Before you do anything, please get yourself a London Pass. It's a "smart 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 providing 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 allows you on the hop-on hop-off Thames cruise so you get a closer look at the many attractions along the river.
They 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 $81 for one day and about $95 with travel. 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. The company operates all over London and hire is free for an hour for holders of the London Pass. A lock and helmet are included. The company conducts 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, which cost about $9 for the first hour, then $7 an hour until you reach the daily rate of $40. They also have weekly rates and 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 back to the 15th century and the serving soldiers are the most elite in the British Army. It starts at 11am every day throughout summer, except on Sundays, and lasts for about 45 minutes. Make sure you arrive early for a good view.
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 Cricket Ground or all the galleries and museums. The choice is endless!
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.