Saving money while sightseeing in London is not as hard as you might think. Pick up some simple tips here and save yourself some money.
Vacationing to popular tourist destinations is not cheap. When you visit large cities you can expect to pay much more for items than you would in your own home town, but there are still ways to make things more affordable. Here are some tips on saving money while visiting London.
Many large cities around the world now have programs similar to the London Pass so you may be familiar with the concept already if you have visited places like Southern California, New York or other tourist friendly destinations. You pay one flat rate for your chosen number of days (one, three or six with the London Pass) and then you get to visit a range of popular tourist destinations by simply showing your London Pass. You get to skip the ticket purchase line (or queue as they call it in the United Kingdom) and proceed directly to the entrance area so the pass can save you time as well as money. The time savings are even greater when you visit during the summer when lines for tickets are at their longest. If you are considering London Pass, make a basic list of the sights you expect to fit in while sightseeing in London, then visit the websites of the attractions and find out how much regularly priced admission will cost you. Add up the price of each attraction and then compare it to the price of the London Pass for the number of days you will be there. If the costs are similar, keep in mind that your plans may change and you may end up not seeing all the sights you want to. Also consider how valuable your time is if you are visiting during the summer with many other tourists. The bottom line is that the London Pass may or may not save you money, you need to do your homework and find out then choose accordingly.
While London is one of the most expensive cities around for things like food and clothing, for tourists it is offset nicely by the fact that all government-run museums offer free entry. The museums in London are like no others on earth and the amount of specialization offered is amazing, from the Science Museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum that focuses on fashion and design throughout the span of the British monarchy. If any of the museums interest you, spending time there is not only entertaining and enriching, but also free. For true museum buffs, London can be a wonderfully affordable place to visit when you spend all of your time visiting these treasure troves of history. Of course, gift shops and restaurants still cost money, so not every aspect of the museums is free, but with free entry it makes up for the fact that you will have to pay to grab a quick bite to eat while taking a break. The nine most popular museums in London that are free to visit are the British Library, British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Science Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
National Rail Two-for-One Offers
If you have done the math and decided that the London Pass is not a bargain for you, consider using the two-for-one offers through the National Rail. This program is intended primarily to encourage residents of the United Kingdom to use the train system to come to London and visit the sights in their nation’s capital, however it does not prevent tourists from other countries from using the same bargains. Do a web search for the National Rail two-for-one offers and you will find a way to claim these offers online. Some of the must-see destinations in London including the EDF Energy London Eye, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and various palace tours are all options for the two-for-one deals. By using this London sightseeing money-saving tip you will cut your entry fees in half if you are visiting with one other person. You need to show a National Rail ticket along with these vouchers to have them accepted, so do your homework about how to get a ticket you can use for this purpose. One of the simplest ways to do this is if you are flying into Gatwick Airport, take the train from the airport into the center of the city then save that ticket, as it is a National Rail ticket and will then essentially make your vouchers valid for the savings.
Oyster Card for the Tube
Whenever you mention you are visiting London, you are sure to hear that it is crucial to use the Underground, or Tube. The Underground is the vast network of subways that connect London better than just about any other city on earth. With color-coded lines it is relatively easy for tourists to navigate the system and get around without having to hire the ridiculously expensive cabs. The Tube is moving away from a cash and trying to encourage a card-based system for all travelers and the Oyster Card is the product of these efforts. You will pay a fee of several British Pounds to get the Oyster Card but when you surrender the card on your way out of the Underground system, you can get that deposit back. Using the Oyster Card has one huge advantage, though because the electronic system will cap your daily transit fees once you reach a daily maximum. For tourists using the Tube exclusively it is simple to reach this maximum with just a couple of tube trips a day. Once you reach the daily maximum for the areas where you are traveling you then essentially, travel on the tube “free” because your Oyster Card will not be debited any further for your trips.
Fun Free Activities
Just like any destination city, there are tons of free tourist activities in London. Viewing the infamous Big Ben is free and fast, because it is essentially a “drive by” experience. Try taking the time to walk across the Thames River on the Millennium Bridge to get some amazing views and photo opportunities. Another revered British experience is viewing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind you need to check the schedule for the changing of the guards, though, and arrive early to get a good viewing spot.