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Top #5 Travel Tips for London

It's London baby! It's one of those cities in which its reputation precedes it. Even those who've never been can probably rattle off some well-known landmarks or things they associate with this bustling European metropolis.

And whether you'll admit to it or not, you probably know something about the royals. Yeah, I saw you glancing over at that magazine headline at the supermarket check-out. Aussies could give the Queen a high five for giving us our only winter public holiday and well, Republican advocates, a pint-sized prince has probably blown those fully-fledged independence plans out of the water for a good few years yet.

But in amongst getting there and marking out Buckingham Palace on your map, you start to feel the pinch of something you have also heard on the grapevine…London is expensive, really expensive. Despite what the weather forecast might say though, it's not all doom and gloom, and there are lots of ways to enjoy this city for less than you think.

So come on, penny pinchers! This Top #5 is going to be all about money-saving tips!

1. Look into transport costs

Before you even arrive in London, you can save money. A super cheap flight may not ultimately be your most cost-effective option depending on which airport you fly into. London is more than Heathrow; in fact, it is serviced by no less than six international airports at varying distances and transport means/costs from the central areas. Be sure to follow your booking through to the final stages to see the actual total costs including taxes and any extra baggage fees you may need to add on for budget airlines. Then calculate the cost of getting from the airport you are arriving at to where you want to go. Saving a little cash on the flight itself may not prove to be the best option with taxes, transfer costs and travel time considered, so look at everything involved for the best deal.

Once there, a Visitor Oyster Card is super handy for easily taking public transport, but be wary of simply adding funds to it. Having the card deduct funds based on each trip you take may cause your funds to diminish quickly. Depending on the length and nature of your trip, consider a one or seven day unlimited pass known as a Travelcard. London is big. When we were doing our Monopoly jaunt in which we visited all of the properties on the British Monopoly board, we were glad to have our 7-day unlimited ticket. In addition to the infamous ‘tube', London is super serviced by buses. When you're paying by trip, you'd think twice about jumping on a bus for a few blocks, but having an unlimited card gives you the freedom to jump on and off as you please.

2. Give it to me free

The site of many a coronation, regal wedding and state funeral, Westminster Abbey's royal stamp of approval has also earnt it a royal price tag. Can you believe it costs £18 to enter?! 18 POUNDS?! It may go to the up-keep of the church but, geez London, this is excessive. If this is out of your price range, the good news is, you can still experience the interior of this famous building for free during the daily Evensong.

You can't wander around, but during this approximately 40 minute service you can sit right in the heart of the cathedral. What's more, the Evensong has three major perks over a general visit: you can visit on Sundays, you don't have to wait in line for a ticket and you get to listen to the glorious voices of the choir. This is a religious service so please treat it with due respect; I believe anyone can enjoy its beauty and ceremony no matter what your beliefs. You don't have to repeat the verses should you not feel comfortable to do so, but a very thorough program gives you all the words should you wish to and gives you precise instructions on when to stand and sit for anyone not accustomed to church etiquette. Note that you cannot enter once proceedings begin or leave before their completion so be on time and expect to stay for the whole duration. Check the Abbey's website to confirm the service and the exact time for the date you plan to visit (generally 3pm on Saturdays and 5pm for the rest of the week, a later Saturday start time is in place for the warmer months).

Westminster Abbey, London

3. Keep your eye on a bargain

If you're planning on taking the London Eye, book your tickets ahead of time online. Not only will you get a discounted price but it means you can skip the ticket queue on arrival. They have easy-to-use self-service machines where you can print your tickets inside the ticket office. There's no need to bring a printed copy of your email confirmation as all you need to do is enter your booking number. Easy! While you're there, be sure to check out the 4-minute 4D Experience in the same building included in your London Eye ticket. The London Eye website also offers a range of combination tickets at a discount so if you are planning to visit a number of attractions, this can save you some pounds.

London Eye, London

4. Have a wicked time

Being the major destination that it is, London is home to some of the world's best theatres and musical performances. We went to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on the opening night for this season's cast and were blown away. It was by far the most outstanding musical performance we have ever seen. And despite what you may be thinking, this night out didn't cost an arm and a leg either. We used lastminute.com the day before to snap up a great deal in combination with another popular British activity, a high tea, at the nearby DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Check them out for last minute deals on flights, hotels and experiences in a variety of destinations around the world.

Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London

5. Maximise the freebies

Despite the generally high costs of travelling in London, this city has a surprising amount of things to do for free. There's a number of great museums that will give you days' of entertainment without costing a cent. This includes the renowned British Museum where you can see the Rosetta Stone, the mummy of Cleopatra and an array of original pieces from the Parthenon in Athens. Now that's some collection!

British Museum, London

Have you been to London? What were the highlights of your trip? Have any money-saving tips to share?

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vito

Monday 17th of March 2014

Nice travel tips for London city... Gathering information around the web but i must say found yours very informative :) Thanks for the tips

Jessica Korteman

Tuesday 25th of March 2014

Many thanks, Vito! Are you planning a trip to London?

Kathryn

Tuesday 18th of February 2014

Oh! How long will you be there for - would love to meet up! Will drop you an email.

Jessica Korteman

Tuesday 18th of February 2014

Probably around two weeks! It would be great if we could meet up! Yes, please drop us an email :)

Kathryn

Tuesday 18th of February 2014

I was there just last weekend and went to a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant in Finchley called Vynam. It looks more like a cafe with the tables rather crammed in but the food is superb and staff are lovely! We spent £46 for two courses and a beer for two. Natural History Museum is a must and free to enter. When I went I was blown away by the architecture as well as the exhibits. It has a seating/picnic area where you can eat your own food and drink rather than have to buy it in their restaurant - handy if your budget is tight.

Jessica Korteman

Tuesday 18th of February 2014

Thanks for the restaurant idea, Kat. Sounds pricey but delicious! ;)

Can you believe we didn't get to the Natural History Museum last time?! Have to rectify this on our next visit which looks like will be in about a week's time. Will you be around? Drop us a line if you will be! Great tip about the picnic area - very useful if you'd prefer to self-cater.

Charlie

Sunday 16th of February 2014

Great advice! London is super expensive, but definitely you can slash the edge of the costs using your tips. Just things like making sure you travel off-peak save a lot of money even. I love the free museums and galleries too!!

Jessica Korteman

Tuesday 18th of February 2014

Travelling off-peak is great advice, Charlie! Not all cities have different pricing based on when you travel so that's a great thing to note for new visitors. And free stuff - yes, please!

Heather

Sunday 9th of February 2014

I haven't been to London since I was a teenager on a group tour. Not the best way to see the city, certainly. I'd love to go back and experience the museums now that I appreciate the history behind the artifacts. High tea and a show sounds pretty good too!

Jessica Korteman

Saturday 15th of February 2014

It's so great to be able to go back to a place with a different perspective, Heather. Sheds a whole new light onto things. When we go back to London, I think we'll try to see some more shows too. Haven't been to so many and it reminded us of how amazing these big-budget productions can be. Wicked really blew us away.

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