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Experiencing London inexpensively

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I seem to remember some discussion on how to order tickets for various things (like riding the tube) in advance for much cheaper than it would cost when we get to London. Can anyone give me any pointers?


We'll be in London for three nights. I know we want to do the Big Bus Tour on one of the days and probably the Tower of London on another. We'll be riding the tube to our friends' house and then back to our hotel on one of the days as well.

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Echoing what the others said--the Tower of London with a beefeater tour is my favorite tour, EVER. Definitely do it.


I think you can browse around cathedrals for free or a minimal amount--I don't remember precisely. We enjoyed St. Paul's, and the whispering gallery there is really cool.


We enjoyed a river tour also.


We found the Tube was easy to use and waaaaaay cheaper than taxis and faster than buses.


We loved the British Library. There is a room there that houses ancient texts--like the Magna Carta or the ONLY known manuscript of Beowulf.

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I highly recommend Covent Garden - just do a little wandering around the Market; take a look at the Royal Opera House, and watch the street performers.


Also the backstreets of Kensington are quite charming, with their mews houses, antique shops and coffee shops (my university stamping ground :) )


Trafalgar Square with Nelson's Column; Tower Bridge; Hyde Park. All free.


Greenwich village is another charming, quaint place.


Hamleys Toy Shop on Regent Street can easily occupy a couple of hours!


And I think the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are still free?



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Yes, the science and natural history museums are free. So is the British Museum (and with all that stuff, would you really need to add in a special exhibit? Especially when you can borrow a free kid's backpack kit as a guide). The National Gallery (in Trafalgar Square) is free and wonderful; Victoria and Albert Museum is also free.


Covent Garden is great - my favorite part is indoors above the Wine Garden/restaurant because that's where you tend to get really good musicians (opera, string quartets...)


If you like music, the Royal Opera House does have free Monday lunchtime concerts. St. Martin in the Fields (near Trafalgar Square - across from National Gallery) also has many free lunchtime concerts, but the evening concerts are not free.


Westminster Abbey is not free, but you can attend services there for free. They have evening vespers which is sung.


I think the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is also free, but visiting the Cutty Sark isn't. But Greenwich Park is really nice.


Walking along the Thames is free and is a fun way to get a feel for London. Also going to St. James Park and walking up Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace (though you have to pay to go inside there!).


The Imperial War Museum is across from St. James' Park, and it's free.


Can't think of anything else off the top of my head. I love London! You can choose whatever you're most interested in (history, music, theatre, art, shopping....) and plan your days accordingly. There's just so much great stuff.


Have fun!

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Find a Marks and Spencers and go to their food hall in the morning. They make the most wonderful variety of sandwiches. We get our sandwhiches and some juice boxes, chips etc (they have the oddest and most wonderful flavors of those too), and take them with us. My kids love them and we often eat them for breakfast and dinner.


In the pups, go for a simple ham sandwich, the soup, or a plowman's lunch. Cornish pastys are really iffy in London, but the bakeries will have sausage rolls and those are almost always good if you like sausage. (British sausage is really different to American and German, and I love it.)


Go into a cafe, and just order a cup of tea and split a cake of some kind in the afternoon between 2 and 4. You will get to experience something very English and it's pretty cheap.


Spend a day around St. James park if the weather is nice. Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace and then walk slowly through the park to the horse guards. From there you can walk through admiralty arch and up to Trafalgar square. All free. The park is a great place to sit and eat your sandwiches. There is a cafe in the park that serves the best Hot Cocoa.


I agree with the Convent Gardens bit. The street performers(buskers) have to get licenses , and they are the best in London. Then inside, especially around lunch time, Opera students come and sing (another good time for a cup of tea)


Have fun, pm me if you have any specific questions. We go every other year. Dh is from England, and we always spend a few days in London.



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Actually, the Rosetta Stone is part of the permanent collection. But it's true, they could put together an exhibition which includes pieces from the museum.


I already find it impossible to see everything there, and I find ALL of it so amazing that I'm quite content going through the permanent collections.

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My 18yo dd and I spent 2 days in London in May 2010, on the cheap.


DAY ONE, we toured:

British Library (composers, early Bibles, Magna Carta, famous authors' manuscripts--all in one wing & easy to see quickly),

British Museum (I was thrilled to be able to FIND the Rosetta Stone in that HUGE museum, then ended up crossing paths with a "famous" homeschooling family right there)



Walked by:

Buckingham Palace


Westminster Abbey

Tower of London


Walked across Tower Bridge (saw The Eye/Thames)

Walked around St. Paul's Cathedral (closed unexpectedly for a special service)


A great overview, only paid for WA and TofL. Absolutely great experience.

I highly recommend bringing carry-on luggage only, and taking the Tube when you can't walk. (We went on to spend 3 days in the English countryside and 5 days in France. We would both love to return.)



Edited by Beth S
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