Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Visiting London

I've just finished typing up a (pretty long) message to my cousin who is planning a trip to London and the following is a variation on what I end up typing out every time someone asks for advice about coming to London. It's the general stuff that I think you should know/do no matter who you are or what interests you. Just figured I'd put it out there for more people to access (plus, next time someone asks, I can just point them here).

- Don't pay £20 for the hop-on, hop-off bus. Instead, buy an all day bus pass or zone 1-2 travel card (which includes the tube as well) and go where you want. You won't get a commentary, but you don't really need it if you have some sort of travel book, or know your English landmarks really well :) See the Transport for London website for all the info you could possibly want about public transport (

- Take advantage of the fact that almost all the museums and galleries are free to get into. Pick the ones that appeal to your interests and visit, if only for a couple of hours. This is also good for when the weather decides to be uncooperative.

- If you have more than 3 days, use one of them to get out of London - England is a beautiful country, but sometimes London just feels like any other big city. Go to somewhere like Oxford for the day, but make sure you pre-book a train or catch the 'Oxford Tube' (which is actually a bus) otherwise it is an expensive day trip. Or do one of the more touristy bus trips to Stonehenge, the Cotswolds, somewhere else that seems interesting to you.

- Go to a show on the West End. I love the theatre and would (and did, before Lily was born) go every chance I get, but even people who think they're 'not into that sort of thing' will find something that appeals. Avenue Q is crude and hilarious, but American. If you want something British, I've heard that Billy Elliot is amazing, but haven't actually seen it. I personally loved Les Miserables. (Why, yes, they are all musicals, but not only is that mainly what I've seen, it's also what tends to run the longest and appeal to the most people)

- Walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Make sure you have some peanuts for the squirrels, because they will come up and take them from your hand. (The second part of this one is probably not so exciting for anyone who encounters squirrels on a semi-regular basis, but we don't have squirrels in Australia and I think they're adorable)

- For the more touristy things, pick the ones that coincide with your interests. I absolutely loved the Tower of London - the history, the crown jewels, all that, but I know other people think it's a waste of a day. Flipside, some people think Madame Tussauds is the best thing ever, whereas we only went because we could get in free and while the waxworks are impressive from a skill perspective, it's not something I'd ever pay to see.


  1. Which cousin is heading to London?

  2. I was thinking, hey, I did pretty well, I did most of the things on this list... but then I realized that part of it probably came from the conversation we had while I was there :)