2012 update-it appears that for a 7 day travelcard at a rail station that you now have to get a photocard so bring a passport size photo with you, I believe the photocard is free
London attractions can be very expensive but with a little help from the Days Out Guide 2 for 1 offers, I've saved a bundle of money over the years on some of the really high priced ones like the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace and London Dungeons.
The 2 for 1 offers were created to encourage travel by National Rail train to London but they've allowed a loophole for people who are just visiting London. If you are planning on getting a travelcard for use on London's underground, buses and DLR, you can also use the 2 for 1 offers. The key is that you must get a travelcard issued at a RAIL STATION, not at a tube station. You can get a 1 day travelcard or a weekly travelcard but it must have the crow's foot logo on it which is accomplished by going to a National Rail station (ie Paddington, Victoria, King's Cross, Waterloo). The Oyster Card is not valid for these offers, not even if you get your travelcard loaded onto an Oyster Card.
The last time couple of times I was in London, they checked to make sure we had a valid travelcard so don't think you can print out the vouchers and still use them without having the travelcard. And, of course, if you've traveled to London by train then you can also use the offers!
If you've left the vouchers at home or need more vouchers, there are usually booklets at the National Rail Stations.
If you are traveling by yourself, bring the voucher with you, I've been able to find people in line that have also traveled by train and have split the savings with them.
Henry Moore is one of the most famous of modern British artists, known for his semi-abstract figures with organic, rounded shapes and often pierced with openings. His later work, especially, is unmistakeable, and as there are several Moore sculptures in different parts of London there is a good chance that you will spot some as you walk around the city.
One of the best known is Knife Edge, a 1962 bronze piece on College Green across the road from the Houses of Parliament, which should be familiar to anyone who watches UK news broadcasts as very often MPs are interviewed in front of it, or reporters stand here to do their “piece to camera”. It is currently (March 2012) being restored and is hidden from view beneath hoardings.
My photo is of Locking Piece, another of his early 1960s works, which can be found on the Embankment near Tate Britain and Vauxhall Bridge. Moore said of this work:
” At one time I was playing with a couple of pebbles that I’d picked up, because behind my far field is a gravel pit and there are thousands of shapes and forms and one only has to go out there and I can find twenty new little ideas if I wish, immediately. Anyhow, I was playing with two pebbles which I found like that and somehow or other they got locked together and I couldn’t get them undone and I wondered how they got into position and it was like a clenched fist being tightly … Anyhow, eventually I did get it to [separate]; by turning and lifting, one piece came off the other. This gave one the idea of making two forms which would do that and later I called it ‘Locking Piece’ because they lock together.”
Not too far from here, in Battersea Park, there is a good example of his earlier work: Three Standing Figures, dating from 1947. As the title of the piece suggests, the figures are not reclining as most of his later ones did, but stand upright, and although curvaceous are more figurative than those later pieces too. For one of the more typical reclining figures, head to the grounds of Kenwood House in Hampstead or of Charing Cross Hospital (which confusingly is in Hammersmith, nowhere near Charing Cross!)
You can find examples of Moore’s work indoors too. In 1983 he created a sculpture, Mother and Child, for St Paul’s Cathedral – a seven foot high marble Madonna. And the church of St Stephen Walbrook in the City has an altar carved by him in the 1970s. You can see a photo of this in Regina1965's tip about the church: St. Stephen Walbrook - Wren´s parish church.
If you’d like to go searching for these works, I found a very useful Google Map with them all marked.
Another pass and another "is it worth it?" Only you will know!
For us, it was.
There was plenty we wanted to see, and all were included on the London Pass. Admission to these attractions soon adds up, and we were ahead. We bought the two day pass, and fitted in the attractions covered by the pass on these days.
IT DOES NOT INCLUDE TRANSPORT..... BUT DOES INCLUDE FREE ENTRY TO 55 ATTRACTIONS.
The Pass comes with a very good guide-book.
When you have the pass, it makes it easy to get into attractions quickly, as you don't have to stand in queues.
Child pass: ages 5-15 years (under 5s are admitted free to many attractions)
Adult pass: ages 16 years and over
There are no discounts for students or senior citizens
The pass only operates for consecutive days from when first activated
1 Day Adult Pass....£46.00
1 Day Child Pass...£29.00
2 Day Adult Pass.....£61.00
2 Day Child Pass.....£46.00
The Tower of London, expect long lines and long waits, this is what I had been told, and this is what I expected!
Can you imagine my surprise, when we arrived there just after opening time, and only found short queues of less than six people long. Then I looked at other windows [there are plenty] and saw others with less people and one with nobody!
Were we just lucky or what? It was July, perhaps that isn't a busy month?
I think, come at opening time like we did, and look at the admission windows farthest away from the road. People seem to go to the windows they come to first, and these are the ones by the street, then the rest of people follow like sheep.
Your ticket includes access to the Tower and the Crown Jewels display plus Yeoman Warder guided tour and talk, live historical re-enactments, White Tower tour, children's activity trails, entry to the Fit for a King and Prisoners of the Tower exhibitions and much more!
Child (under 16).....£10.45
Under 5s are free of charge. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
OPENING TIMES FOR SUMMER....
01 March - 31 October
Tuesday - Saturday...9:00 - 5.30 PM
Sunday - Monday..10 - 5.30 PM
OPENING TIMES FOR WINTER....
01 November - 29 February
Tuesday - Saturday... 9 - 4.3OPM
sunday - Monday...10 - 4.30PM
ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME IF YOU WANT A GOOD LOOK.
We spent over half a day here!
Every major city boasts a Chinatown. According to my guide book there has been a Chinatown in London since the 19th century and originally concentrated around the East End docks at Limehouse, where the opium dens were sited.
Check out the following website for maps and information about Chinatown : http://www.chinatownlondon.org/directory_overview.php
Fondest memory: Contains scores of restaurants, shops selling oriental produce, trinkets and souvenirs.
The British Airways London Eye, sometimes called the Millennium Wheel is the first-built and largest observation wheel in the world, and has been since its opening at the end of 1999.
It stands 135 metres (443 feet) high on the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames in Lambeth, between Westminster and Hungerford Bridges. It is adjacent to London's County Hall, and stands opposite the offices of the Ministry of Defence situated in Westminster which it overlooks to the west.
Fondest memory: If you would like to get tickets - better to order its on web-site 7-10 days before a visit
0870 5000 600
A Bank holiday would affect transport frequencies for sure, so factor that in.
In Southwark, defo visit Monument, Borough Market and Tate Modern. St Pauls (north of Tate Modern) is an architectural masterpiece, and many famous citizens are interred there. The Whispering gallery is fun, but I found the views from the top are NOT that great, obstructed by all the odd buildings around it. Only the river view south is decent. You get better views from Tate Modern's restaurant :) Or Oxo tower restaurant :)
Tower Bridge exhibition is cool, insightful, gets into the mechanics, etc. Views from the enclosed top walkway are brilliant :) Also, check their timetable to view it opening to let tall boats come through, you'll be in the neighbourhood, after all!
You can easily walk along the south bank, from Tower bridge upto Westminster bridge (max 25 minute walk), past the Eye. Again, the Eye is only good for views of the Houses of Parliament, not much else!
Walk around Parliament Square, the Abbey, up Whitehall (past Downing St) and upto Trafalgar Square. Walk time = 15 minutes.
From Trafalgar Square turn right towards Strand & Covent Garden for restaurants & theatres galore :) If you turn left you end up in Piccadilly & Leicester Square - shopping, clubs, restaurants & cinemas.
As another walking trip (recommended when transport is bad), from Parliament Square walk up Victoria St to Victoria & round the right toward Buckingham Palace. 20 minute walk. BTW, you reach Buckingham even from Trafalgar Sqaure (via Admiralty Arch), straight along The Mall - grand frontal approach! That's a 10 minute walk. Include a stroll through St James' Park on the left, off the Palace. On the right is Green Park, and behind that is Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens. These 2 parks are best explored from South Kensington tube after a visit to V&A, Science Museum, etc.
Top right of Hyde Park is Marble Arch, and right (east) of that is Oxford Street (shopping). North of Bond Street is Baker St (Madame Tussuads - definitely a no, no in my opinion). However, Regents Park is most beautiful, worth a visit.
A canal tour (www.jasons.co.uk, as mentioned earlier) is an excellent idea, taking you from Warwick Gardens (Little Venice), past Regents Canal, to Camden Lock (market). A great ride. We can meet up at Warwick Gardens for this, if interested!
North west of Hyde Park is Notting Hill & the famous Portobello Market. Worth a peep for sure :)
Greenwich would make a fine day out, go further to Woolwich arsenal to see the Barrier museum. National Maritime museum is brilliant, as is the Observatory, park, Queens House. Need a dry day for all this!
British Museum is near Holborn (or Tottenham Court Road tubes), Holborn being just north of Covent Garden. There's another cool museum on the left just before Holborn tube on Lincolns Inn Fields - Sir John Soanes museum. Most delightful, free entry, but get there early. The Brit Museum is massive, check the website to tackle your main areas of interest first!
Hampton Court is a good trip, as is Kew Gardens in the neighbourhood.
Windsor Castle (including return transport) is at least a half day trip, so Bath would have to be another trip, though a sound choice :) Start early in the morning for each!!
All the above is easily achievable in 6 days.
Walking around some of the sights will be a highlight of your trip, try that.
To summarise: I'd skip Tussuads, the Eye, double-decker tour. I've done many hop-on-hop-offs, & found they're great if pressed for time, to get a quick synopsis. But you have plenty of time, will be strategically located, and a lot of the sights can be integrated on the back of many walks; eg get the tube to Holborn, do Brit Muse, Soane's then walk along Kingsway to Covent Garden for theatre (10 mins), walk south to Trafalgar (8 mins), etc :) Another day walk all the way upto Big Ben, Victoria, etc. Easy-peasy :)
Of course if walking is an issue, get a travelcard for days you intend to travel a lot; or oyster card for short bursts (for instance a single bus trip, of any length costs 2 UKP on-the-spot versus 1.20 UKP via oyster).
Enjoy my city ;)
Fondest memory: River walks on a fine, sunny day.
Strolls through Hyde Park, Regents Park, and having a picnic in these oases.
Being awe-struck by the breadth of collections at the British Museum; admiring the massive collection of paintings in the National Gallery.
Cute Canal ride from Little Venice to Camden Lock.
Approving the cool location of Hampton Court Palace & it's entensive park.
I had a flight to London starting on Xmas Eve (photo 5) and landing on Xmas Day (photo 3). I tried to find out on the internet what would be open on Christmas without much success.
My mom said their was ice skating at the Natural History Museum, and our hotel was near to there. We also took pictures with our local paper (photo 2 and 4) in various places.
walking through Soho is really something. Before visiting UK I've found on http://www.visitbritain.co.uk/about-britain/image-and-sound-gallery/mobile.aspx great UK & London guide for mobile phones. It was easy to navigate while having my mobile phone full of useful information and maps. They have made a great job offering it for free!Definitely, I'll be back to London in near future.
Fondest memory: The best shopping ever.
I caught the boat from the Westminster Pier (by Big Ben) to head to Greenwich. It was a cloudy day, which made the boat ride not really nice but anyway I got some great views of London.
When on the boat, the sights are amazing and combined, it makes for a nice day and is well worth a visit. If you're only in London for a few days I wouldn't put this at the top of your list. But if you have the time I would recommend it.
Covent Garden is a place where I always go when in London. The Piazza itself with the small boutiques and restaurant is very nice. Also there are a lot of shops on the nearby streets so this area is well worth a morning or afternoon spent there.
There are often music students performing at the Piazza (downstairs) so You´ll be able to here some good music.
This subpoint in the area of VT called General Tip asks to enter the single most important activity or site to take someone who had never been to London before. I'll answer this category question with the standard answer I have been giving all my co-workers this week after my first week back, "in which city, on what day, in which hour" would you like to know about?"
This picture below happened in London, on our 3rd Day in town around the noon hour near Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben.
Fondest memory: What struck me about this picture I took was the variety of activities in and around Parliament. First, you have the official government offices of Great Britain with its security in place surrounding the complex. A part of this complex are the bells of Big Ben which I happened to catch striking 12 bells at noon on my camcorder. Then there are the people. In this picture we see a variety of people. The people on the left (tourist like myself) checking their map. Maybe all they needed to do was look at the sign behind them! The little girl and her mother(?) in the middle of the photo seemingly enjoying being out after a brief rain shower and finally the man at the right who was hurrying off to somewhere.
Check this picture further and you will also find at least 5 modes of transportation. 2 buses, a black cab, motorbike, car and an entrance to the Tube in the background.
The largest Christmas tree set up at Trafalgar Square every year, has been sent by the Norwegian folk as a sign of gratitude for Britain’s assistance during World War II.
The tree itself is traditionally 20 – 25 metres tall and its sight decorated in white light according to the Norwegian tradition has become an iconic London Christmas image.
The ornament lighting is turned on on the evening of the first Thursday of December.
The lighting ceremony is traditionally attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, formally announcing the arrival of the tree in London from the forests surrounding Oslo.
The lighting ceremony and Carol singing are free to attend.
Fondest memory: The popular Christmas song "Jingle Bells" was composed in Victorian England, and was originally called "One-Horse Open Sleigh." It was actually written for Thanksgiving, not Xmas.
As some of you may well know (or not), to get free tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys, at the London Tower, you have to write in and also send a STAMPED Self Addressed Envelope, with your written request. Well, I've just found that you can buy from Royal Mail online and print the stamps required, yourself! Saves you hunting around for one of those International Coupons, so you can get your request off sooner!
London is quite large and it isn't cheap. Still, there's plenty to do and see in London that doesn't cost you a penny. Museums and galleries, all the major ones, are free for regular collections. There are plenty of churches that don't charge and have some lovely stained glass, sculpture and history and if Cathedrals are your thing, there's always Westminster Cathedral (the red and white brick one), Southwark Cathedral and St. George's Southwark.
Major museums and galleries that are free:
Victoria and Albert Museum
Natural History and Science Museum
Imperial War Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Sir John Soane's Museum
Museum of London
Tate Britain and Tate Modern
Lots of smaller places as well. Some of the major attractions that do charge, charge quite a lot such as Madam Toussaud's, the Tower of London, the London Eye and even St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey charge admission now but check guide books because some of them have a free evening or discounted admission an hour before closing.
See the website below for a complete listing of galleries, museums, large and small with maps and links to their websites for full information
London Free Stuff