A few years ago we visited London and now we collected the most useful tips in our travel guide: places in London for your bucket list. London is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Europe. There are many attractions and places in London that are definitely worth visiting. That’s why we would like to share with you our experience and help you make the most of this city!
How To Get In London
London has plenty of airports and hundreds of budget options. The majority of cheap flights are operated at Stansted, Luton and Gatwick. There are 3 kings of low cost routes in London: Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air. They sometimes offer seats in their planes for not more than $25-30. With them Europe’s your oyster :)
Warsaw Chopin – London Luton – Warsaw Chopin (Wizz Air, $20 RT)
FROM AIRPORT TO THE CITY
Definitely the cheapest way to reach the center of London from the airport is by shuttle bus. Great service for all airports mentioned above is provided by easyBus. If you book your transfers online early enough, you can find a return ticket even for £3.90 (approx. $5). All these airports are located outside of the city and require a pretty long ride. Transfers can take from around 60 minutes to something about an hour and a half (depends on the airport, the traffic or the station in London you pick to arrive). Buses depart very often – every 20-30 minutes.
How To Get Around London
The most efficient way to go through this city is by metro known there as London Underground or colloquially called the Tube. It’s fast, frequent, reliable. Also this system is perfectly organized. All signs and information are clearly marked so getting around many places in London is super easy.
Most important metro stations:
- Victoria Station (for Buckingham Palace and airport transfers)
- Westminster (for Big Ben and Westminster Palace)
- Waterloo (for London Eye)
- London Bridge (for Tower Bridge, the Shard)
- Wembley Park (for Wembley Stadium)
- Bank (for the City)
- Baker Street (for Madame Tussauds)
- Piccadilly Circus
Although the metro system in London is easy to use, the ticketing for public transport may seem to be complicated and confusing. There are many types of tickets with different fares and scopes to choose and it’s not difficult to write a few pages about it. That’s why we’ll try to present you only a quick summary:
The simplest option for a short-time traveler is to buy a one day Travelcard for £12.30 (approx. $16). It’s valid in Zones 1-4 and provides you unlimited journeys. Don’t waste your money for typical paper single tickets – they are extremely overpriced. However there are some ways that may save your money. If you have a contactless payment card, you can buy tickets straightaway and pay less. Unfortunately not every card issued outside the UK is accepted and you need to check in advance if any fees won’t be charged from your account.
Also you can buy Oyster card, top it up and spend less than with single tickets. Oyster and contactless cards have the same price. Oyster card is also equipped with a useful function of daily capping – you are charged only up to a certain amount and when you reach the limit, you don’t have to pay for the rest of the day.
Example: Single journey by Tube within zone 1 costs £4.90 (approx. $6), but with Oyster or contactless card you pay only £2.40 (approx. $3) for exactly the same route.
Learn more about the Tube and its system at the official site.
Riding a red double-decker bus in London can be an attraction itself. Tickets for buses have the flat price – £1.50 (approx. $2).
Lots of tourist spots are placed in the city center (Zone 1) and some of them are situated really close to each other. The result is that sometimes it’s better to have a walk instead of taking transport.
Places In London For Your Bucket List
The residence and workplace of The Queen. One of the options to go inside is visiting the State Rooms of the Palace. The price is £23 (approx. $30) , but for students a little discount applied – £21 (approx. $27). Try to book your entrance online because you may find out at the ticket counter that every single ticket is sold out (that was what happened to us).
Every day in high season and every other day in low season at 11.30 am there’s the famous Changing the Guard in front of the Palace, which is available to watch for free for everyone. Try to arrive a bit earlier to overtake the crowd and have a better view.
It’s one of the symbols od London. Famous tower with a big clock and a powerful bell. In fact, the name Big Ben is related to the bell. However, the tower and the clock are commonly termed as Big Ben as well. On the other hand, the official name of the tower is Elisabeth Tower. The bongs of the bell make very loud and deep sound but you need to wait to hear them until 2021. Currently Big Ben is under renovation and not working at all.
Meeting place of the two houses of the UK Parliament. The visiting is available on Saturdays throughout the year and also on weekends during parliamentary recesses. The audio tour costs £18.50 (approx. $24), but students pay £16 (approx. $21). Tickets bought on the spot cost more, so advance booking is recommended. There is a beautiful view to Westminster Palace from the London Eye, so it’s possible to make great aerial shots.
Europe’s highest ferries wheel reaching 135 m. It contains 32 capsules, which can carry up to 25 people. When a capsule is up, the beautiful view of panorama of London is guaranteed. An entrance ticket lets to participate in one rotation taking 30 minutes. The wheel goes really slow (0,9 km/h), so there’s no need to stop to allow passengers to walk on and off. Tickets: online from £21.20 (approx. $27), on the spot £24.95 (approx. $32)
It’s a must-see of London. Impressive bridge in Victorian Gothic style. One of the most recognizable bridges in the world and well-known touristic site in London. It’s worth to see it in the evening when the lights are on.
TOWER OF LONDON
The castle which was the witness of many important events in the history of England. If you watched the film “The Other Boleyn Girl” (if not, we encourage you to do), you probably remember the story of King of England from 16 century – Henry VIII who was known for executing his wifes. One of them (Anne Boleyn) was imprisoned in Tower of London and then beheaded in this place. You will easily find this castle as it’s next to the Tower Bridge. Book your ticket online to save a few pounds. However, the ticket is still rather expensive and costs £21.50. No student discount available.
The new football stadium, built on the site of the legendary Wembley. The object hosts biggest football matches and other events as well. It can seat up to 90 thousand people. You can participate in the tour and see the stadium inside. The tour takes place a few times a day and you need to pay £18 (approx. $23). Students will enjoy a reduced admission fee and spend £11 (approx. $14). This price is available only online, so buying your ticket on the spot will cost you slightly more.
CITY OF LONDON
Little but powerful financial and business district in the center of London. The City has the population of about 8 000 residents. However, over 400 thousand commute to work there every day. It’s important to highlight the autonomy of the City as it has the independent local government and own policing services.
The highest building in the European Union. This 309.60 m skyscraper absorbs with unique architecture as the structure resembles a broken piece of glass. Admission at the top online: £25.95 (approx. $34), for students £20.95 (approx. $27). It’s possible to book the entrence online.
Wax museum that displays figures of the most famous people from the world of music, film, sport, politics and many other. The entrance fare is pricey – £29 online (approx. $37) or £35 (approx. $45) on the spot.
The road junction known for huge and illuminated advertisements shining on nearby buildings. The circus is a very busy place, where many people meet. That’s why this attraction is also usually crowded, as you can see on the photo. There are also Shaftesbury memorial fountain, statue of Eros, London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre nearby.
It’s not the typical garden… It’s a garden at the height 160 meters above the ground! It allows you to see the panorama with a view to many popular monuments and places in London and what’s more with a 360 degree view. Apart from the observation deck there’s a restaurant surrounded by the wonderful green plants. Probably you won’t believe but the entrance is always free of charge. To get a free ticket you must book your visit online at least a couple days in advance. Amazing attraction, great views totally for nothing :)
Sleeping, Eating, Safety and Other Tips
Finding a cheap sleeping places in London is probably the biggest obstacle for tourists visiting London on a budget. The worst double rooms (mainly far from the center) go for at least £40-45 (approx. $50-60). Hostels in the suburbs offer beds in dorms even for £8-9 (approx. $10-12), but it’s better to invest a few pounds more and sleep closer to the main spots of the city for £15-16 (approx. $20).
Cheap dinner in London means under £10 (approx. $13). Fish and chips, that is a popular English dish, can be easily found across the city for this price too.
London is generally a safe city. Standard precautions should be enough.
When crossing the street do not forget that British traffic drives on the left side of the road.
When it comes to safety, it’s also very interesting that London is a city that has the largest surveillance camera systems. 20 percent of the world’s CCTV cameras can be found in UK and an avarage dweller of London is captured about 300 times a day! If something happen to you, you can be sure that the police have it recorded.
It’s possible to successfully organize a one day trip to London (early morning to late evening) when you travel by plane from other European cities. But in one day you definitely won’t manage to see all the places in London that we described above. However, our trip to London lasted one day and we can admit that we are still very satisfied with it. We were able to visit many interesting places in London that we would describe as real must-see attractions. The only thing we regret is that we couldn’t go inside the Buckingham Palace because we wanted to see the picture gallery and paitings of famous painters there. But maybe next time! Now at least we have a reason to visit London again :)
How Much Does It Cost? (Per Person)
flights RT: £15 (approx. $20)
airport shuttles RT: £4 (approx. $5)
24 h metro ticket: £12.50 (approx. $16)
London Eye: £21.20 (approx. $27)
food spending: £15 (approx. $20)
TOTAL for the whole trip (1 day): £68 (approx. $88)