Welcome to London! The only city where the glitz and glamor of the United States intersect with the old traditions and architecture of Europe, the crossroads where past meets present to fuel the future. Parts of the city are quaint with little coffee shops dotted with fresh plants and delicious pastries while other parts are as bustling and hectic as the heart of New York City. In twenty-four hours, you see all the city has to offer without breaking the bank. Here’s how:
1. Travel by Foot: London is famous for its public transportation. It is a sprawling city connecting by the famous underground subway system, beautiful above-ground trains, and of course, iconic double-decker buses. Add up your fare prices and you are looking at a staggering number. London isn’t cheap. The best way to avoid this is by using your own two legs. It’s easy to walk from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey without feeling the need to soak your feet in cold water. Some of the best sights can be caught only while on foot. You can’t get a picturesque view of the Tower Bridge majestically watching over the glimmering Thames from a taxi cab. Well you can, but it will only last a split second before it ducks into a tunnel or swerves on to another road.
2. Immerse Yourself Entirely: London is filled with history and there’s something to see everywhere you look. When you dine, dine with the history, not away from it. Why eat at a Cheesecake Factory when you can grab a few cheap sandwiches and eat on a statue in the middle of the beautiful Trafalgar Square? Why go for your usual cup of coffee at Starbucks when you can enjoy a delicious, reasonably priced ice cream cone adjacent to the Tower of London. The choices are endless and the views are all equally gorgeous.
3. Enjoy the Journey: London is filled with secrets. If you travel by bus or train, you can miss out on some of the charm that makes it unique from any other city in the world. For example, by walking from the shopping hub that is Piccadilly Circus back to our hotel, we encountered stores you would never see in the United States. For example, Hamiley’s, a six story tall toy store that makes the Times Square Toys R’ Us look miniscule. While it is definitely crucial to see the landmarks (Big Ben, Tower of London, etc.), these little stops that make your trip to London different from your neighbor’s trip to London. And window-shopping never broke the bank (if of course, you control yourself)!
4. Do Your Homework: Thankfully, most of London can be seen with the eye. Big Ben for example, is not an attraction that comes with an admission ticket and tour. However, there are some attractions like the London Eye and the Buckingham Palace that require tickets and time for tours. Before you travel, make sure to think of the three things you want to cover in a day. Any more and you will be so tired that you won’t want to enjoy the sights around you. Make sure to get tickets in advance and research when attractions have short waits. Usually, the line for the London Eye will suck up a good hour of your day. But when we went, five minutes of research at the hotel helped us save time and we got our tickets in no time.
Of course, may of these tips seem more self-evident. But there are ways to see London in a feasible way without compromising the experience!