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22 replies
Getting Around London - PLEASE HELP!
katty
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Hello

I’ve been researching for my first trip to London and have converted most things into AU dollars. But now I don’t know how I should go about getting around LOndon to see the sights without breaking the bank!

A Visitors Travel card is $50 for three days, but a big bus tour is more for just one day. Can I see the sights in the three days on the tube? Will I know how to get to the sights if i catch the tube? So, like, do I catch the tube from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London? Or are they all within walking distance of eachother? With attractions ( soooo expensive!) should I just rock up and go to the ones i want at the time, or pre-book a visitor pass thing, called londonpass i think?

Im sorry its all come out scattered like that but i am very confused!!

thanks so much for your help
xoxox

Kevindallas
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Katty:

Everything in London is Very Expensive.

You can get a 7 day travel card for £17
or a One day card for £4.30 (off-peak) or £5.30 (peak).

Other options:
a 10 pack Carnet of Tube tickets for £15
Or a 6 pack of bus tickets for £4.20
An All day BUS Pass is £2.50.

http://tube.tfl.gov….

As far as knowing how to get to the sights get a good guidebook or map. The Tower of London is way to the east and not an easy walk from the middle of town.
There is also no need to buy admission tickets ahead. I think three days is good I would certain not go less.

Free sites: British Museum, Tate Modern.

Good luck and have fun.

Kevin

KevinDallas@hotmail.com.nospam

katty
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Thanks heaps kevin!

Tinsie
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Three days aren’t quite enough to see London, so I would definitely invest in a Big Bus Tour. The day ticket costs £15 (approx. USD 26) and the tour will give you a good feel for the city. On the other two days you can buy daily travelcards at £4.30 each (approx. USD 8) and go back to the sights that you’re more interested in, or venture further afield, such as to the Docklands and Greenwich. Several London sights are free, so I wouldn’t pay for a special visitors card, unless you’re one of these people who set off at 7 am to tick as many museums as possible off their lists.

katty
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Hehe, no thats definitely not me – also im on a contiki trip through europe after london and im sure at the end of it ill be sick of museums and catehdrals – in london im happy to see most of the historical sights from the outside, and get a bit more of a local feel – so shopping, markets, eating fresh foods, that sort of thing Smile thanks so much for your help!

xo

katty
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Considering I don’t want to spend most of my time in london underground and watching the concrete walls roll by, i might do a big bus tour one day and then potter around kensingon and notting hill (where im staying) on a normal bus to see the scenery!

Thanks for helping me work it out!!

xoxo

bobbysox
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The tube system in london is one of the easiest I’ve ever encountered, study the map for a day and memorize the color coated lines and you will be fine for the next month, even though you won’t be there that long. The bus tours are okay, but pretty touristy, and why not take the local route ie the tube or your feet and really get the feel for london? Just plan your days in regards to seeing certain districts within the city ie richmond and chelsea in central and southwestern london, and you will be more than fine with your feet and the tube. Have fun, and regarding musuems, there are a lot in london that are free, pretty much all the tate musuems and the natural history as well, and the V and A if I remember correctly. Peace

Tinsie
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Katty, I think your plan’s really good – although I think you should take at least one trip by tube if you want to experience the real London.

Enjoy!

xedgex
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i think the tube is THE way to get around london. it’s efficient, relatively economical (although everything in london is expensive), and really easy to figure out. most everything that you’d want to see is near a tube stop. if you’re using the tube, you get to choose what you want to do and when. if you take a tourist bus, you’re going on their schedule.

you can see a lot of london in 3 days, but not all of it. all the museums are free (i’ve been to around 9 of them so far) and are definitely worthwhile.

if you do decide to take the tube, stand on the right side of the escalator (you’ll see what i mean), and remember to mind the gap.

cheers.

JohnB
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Most visitors to London take the Tube but bus services are now much improved and are included on your Travelcard. The advantage of the bus is that you don’t have to trek down countless stairs to Underground platform, it’s not so hot or crowded and, if you see something interesting, you can just get off at the next stop!

I’ve sometimes just caught a London bus without knowing where it’s going and decided to see where it takes me. You often spot somewhere you’d like to see and then get off.

Alternatively, take the Tube to Leicester Square, walk down Charing Cross Road into Trafalgar Square, visit the National Gallery, then walk down Whitehall past Horse Guards Parade, Downing St and the Houses of Parliament, then cross Lambeth Bridge and walk along the other bank of the river to County Hall and the London Eye. Several tourist sights in the space of a couple of miles and no need to catch a bus or Tube!

JOHN

katty
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Thanks heaps guys, your advice really helps.

I’ve since worked out that I can get a three day visitor travel card for 19 pounds (around $60 AU) if i buy it from home or an all day travel card, as some of u suggested, for around 5 pounds. so maybe the travel card is the way to go.

i guess its just a shock…at home I pay 50 cents and I can get to uni and back on the train which is a three minute walk from home…lol oh well, london isnt cheap – ive been assured of that…

now i just have to work out some cheap eats!!

xo

grtho
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50 Oz cents for a train ride? That’s 29 Euro Cents and cheaper even than Prague!

The £5 one day travelcard deal in London is one of the BEST VALUE deals in town! Welcome to the cost of living in Europe!

Martha Thomas
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Katie:
Even if you’re not a museum person, you don’t want to miss the British Museum. It’s free and filled with the most amazing antiquities from around the world. We only had one morning there and it wasn’t enough to even scratch the surface. Being a journalist, I was awed by the Rosetta stone. It’s just sitting out – you can get close to it to see and touch the writing. There were Greek and Roman freizes and temples, and Egyptian mummies, the Gutenberg Bible – then we ran out of time. Also, re: the tube – I’m direction impaired, but I still got around fine on the tube. It’s well organized and very well marked. (I found it much easier than using the buses.)

DavidF
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Hi Katty:
Here’s some advice from a native:
Definitely buy the One Day London Travelcards (or a Weekly Travelcard) while in London – there’s also a discounted 2-day Travelcard (only valid for weekends, though). All these tickets are much cheaper when purchased in London – the "Tourist Tickets" sold outside of Britain are a rip-off. (The advantage of the Weekly Travelcard is that you can travel before 9 am on Mon.-Fri. – that’s not permitted on the One Day Travelcards.) But both of these Travelcards are valid for travel in the evening rush hour (don’t ask).

If you’re arriving at Heathrow Airport, buy a One Day Travelcard at the Tube station there – not a one-way ticket to central London; for only slightly more money than the price of a one-way ticket to central London, the One Day Travelcard will give you transportation for the entire day, as well as your ride to central London. (Nobody in London buys individual tickets for their Tube or bus journeys – except confused tourists – it’s just too expensive, and inconvenient, to do it that way.)

Caution: the "Heathrow Express" main line railway train from Heathrow Airport to central London is the world’s worst expensive rip-off (especially considering that you will still have to transfer to the Tube anyway, to reach any destination in central London). Do not use! Just take the Tube direct from Heathrow Airport – and save yourself a bundle of money.

Once you’re in central London, with your London TravelCard in hand, take the Tube to Liverpool Street railway station and board the Number 11 bus on the west side of the station (go sit at the front on the upper deck of the bus) – this bus route runs right through the centre of London, going right past many of the major sights (and its a free ride with your London TravelCard – much better than paying for one of those expensive tourist bus tours).

Just be sure to get off the bus when it reaches Victoria (railway) Station (which is near Buckingham Palace), or you’ll enjoy an extensive tour of residential west London. (It’s a long bus route.) Of course, you can also ride the Number 11 bus in the other direction, Victoria Railway Station to Liverpool Street Station (which is the end of the route).

While London may be one of the world’s most expensive cities, all of the major museums are free. (Which makes the "LondonPass" an overpriced rip-off.) The one major museum which is not free is the (privately owned) Madame Tussauds (and it’s not cheap).

For cheap food, I like the "Cafe in the Crypt," in the basement of the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church (next to the National Gallery, on the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square). It’s a fund-raiser for the church (and a popular lunch spot for local office workers), so it’s not expensive (for central London, that is). In general you will find food to be somewhat more expensive in London than in Australia. (It’s less expensive – like everything else – outside of London.)

The centre of London is miles across, so you have to take the Tube to the tourist sites – but the exits from the Tube stations are clearly marked. (The only major sight without a nearby Tube station is Buckingham Palace.)

If you would like more detailed questions answered by a native, please send me an e-mail: <dlflurrie@yahoo.com>

katty
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Wow! Thanks so much guys! As I was reading your comments, I was about to hit the "buy" button on the visitor travel card website ad get my $60 3 day card…but for 5 pounds a day for a one day card once i get there, i cant go wrong! it just means i might have to use my brain to find ticket machines and get the right ticket…but im sure its all good.

and yeh, 50 cents for the train! crazy, hey! its still $3 for adults one way into the city, though, but i have a student card..ahh the joys of being a student.

so thanks heaps for your hints guys and david i might just take u up on your offer if i get confused again! (i probably will!)

cheers
xoxo

DavidF
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Katty:
You don’t have to do battle with the ticket machines on the London Underground (the Tube), because every Tube station also has at least one ticket window staffed by a live person who will sell you tickets and answer your questions. (They’re quite used to helping lost tourists.) The major Tube stations often have several staffed ticket windows.

Personally, I never use the ticket machines – I always buy my Tube tickets from the stations’s staffed ticket window (and I’m a native).

So that’s one thing you certainly don’t have to worry about.

David

Rach
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Hi,

I was wondering if anyone knows if the information above regarding traveling around London still is useful? (still update?)

It sounds like:
-it is cheaper to travel in London with a London TravelCard
-it is cheaper to buy the London TravelCard IN London (not before)
-Travelcards are valid on The Tube, Buses, National Rail Trains, Tramlink and The Docklands Light Railway
-Travelcards can be bought at the Staffed Ticket Windows
-Travelcards are valid for use within Zones 1-6 of London
-The Heathrow Express is a rip-off to get into London

Does the summary sound accurate still?

Just 2 more questions:
i. Is the Heathrow Express worth it to get TO the airport? I have a flight departing at 10:00am. Check in at 3 hrs advance…makes it that I should be at the airport at 7:00am. Does it sound like a good idea to take the express to the aiport to make the 7:00am check-in?
ii. Is the Stansted Express worth it? My flight is at 12:30 (and I want to check-in early – at least by 11:00am)

Thanks for any info/input about your experience!

Thanks,
Rach

Rach
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Anyone been to London recently that could help me out?

Dark Angel
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All still sounds accurate, though I wouldn’t know about all those special tickets. I always just bought daycards.

Heathrow Express – maybe at that time of day it would be. The tube takes a long time (about an hour if I recall correctly), so if you have the money and are willing to spend it on getting up slightly later and travelling in more comfort.. The Picadilly line tubes start around 6:15 I believe. Depending on that, the Heathrow Express may be worth it for you.

Stansted Express – is there another way to go? I didn’t even know that. In any case I believe the SE is about a tenner and takes about an hour. I don’t know what the alternative is but I always took the SE.

For any journey planning you will find this a helpful site:
http://www.tfl.gov.u…

Rach
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Thanks so much for the info, Dark Angel!! I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to get back to me. You’re awesome!

Thanks,
Rach

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Note on the travelcard, you can buy them valid for zones 1-6, but you’re probably better off just getting the zone 1-2 which is cheaper and covers just about everywhere you’re likely to need. Depending on where youre staying and visiting you might be able to get away with just a zone 1 (central london only) They’re also cheaper if you buy them after 9am, before is a substantial markup.

As for HE, unless you’re staying near Paddington, or have a lot of luggage and don’t feel up to dealing with the Piccadilly line morning crush, you’re probably better off with the tube. Under most circumstances you’re only going to save 20 minutes or so with the express since you usually have to take the tube to Paddington which is a sprawling station you’ll need to navigate. Whereas it’s a few pounds for a single to heathrow, and from West London it’s only about 30-40 minutes. Of course you can always try for the tube and go express if you’re running late!

The SE alternative is the bus from Victoria, think its about 20 minutes slower, 8 pounds or so versus 15 for SE, though they seem to raise prices constantly.

samiah
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hi katty
if your travelling in london with someone then this site is good for you to check out www.london2for1.com it offers what it says 2 for 1 entry into the ‘popular’ sites in london and all you need to do is print off some vouchers and take them with your travel card to get the discount. great way of saving.

as for getting around london a travell card is best and what toff said about zones will save you some cash.

as for the big bus tours personally i think its more fun and cheaper to get to the places by foot/train/bus

a couple routes ive taken ‘tourists’ on by foot are:
from green park station through green park to buckingham palace to big ben, past 10 dowing street onto trafalgar square. its a nice walk if its a good day and a great way of seeing a few sites in 1 go
if you wanna see the tower of london go to london bridge station. that way you’ll have to walk along the river and across tower bridge to get to it. its a nice walk with good photo opportunities. (the london dungeons and design museum are not far either)

hope you enjoy your trip

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Does anybody know the best way to get from Gatwick to Central London? What about reasonable places to stay (hostels are fine if not 50 to a room!)
Thanks!