Forever bustling, popular and interesting, London is one the coolest cities in the world despite the weather! I am luckily to call London home this past year and everyday I fall more in love with this sleepless city.
HELPFUL LONDON APPS TO DOWNLOAD
Having moved to London, I have found there are some essential apps that I use almost daily to navigate London:
Citymappers – if you need to work out the quickest and best journey across London this is the best app out there. Plus there is a quick tube map to peek at when you don’t have an internet connection on the underground and don’t want to stare over someone’s head.
Bus London – as you would expect, this shows you the bus routes to get you from your current location to your destination, Citymappers also works this out for you
Trainline – I have found this to be the cheapest booking website for longer train routes in the UK
Meet up – this app lists all the groups and activities across London, this is especially useful if you live in London or are here on a long visit and want to make some new friends
Big Bus tours – I don’t use this one personally but those that do sign up for the Big bus tours should use this handy app to track the buses routes and next service.
Best coffee, cafes guide – If you are a Melbourne coffee snob like me… you will want this app!
I also recommend subscribing to Timeout London Offer’s mailing list, I get amazing discounted tickets for local events, shows in my inbox – love them!
HARRY POTTER FAN?
I am a huge Harry Potter fan – I was exactly the same age as Harry when the first book came out, his letter came by owl and he went off to Hogwarts and I…. didn’t.
If you are heading out to the Studio tour in Watford, you must book your tickets online and in advance as it can be booked out for months.
I was expecting it to be lots of fun but I totally geeked out wandering through the sets, buying Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, walking through the Hogwarts express and drinking butter beer! Don’t miss this experience!
THE LONDON SIGHTSEEING PASS
Should you get a London Pass to cover all the sightseeing expenses?
If you are going to visit at least five popular sights and make the most of a free hop-on-hop off bus, then it is certainly worth it.
My only hesitation for travellers is that many people think they should buy a pass, spend the money and only make it to one or two paid entry sights over the weekend.
Ultimately, you will need to do some research, plan what you will see, and work out if it will be cheaper with or without a pass.
For current information, prices and dates, click here to visit the official London Pass website.
DON’T LEAVE GREENWICH UNTIL…
…you see the Painted Dining Hall and Royal Chapel in Greenwich University, formerly the Royal Naval College.
Sir Christopher Wren designed the exterior and interior of the College, these rooms are often overlooked or unknown. If you only have time to see one thing in Greenwich, this is it! Unlike most of the UK’s sights, the entry is free.
Regional trains in Britain can be very expensive but keep in mind they are cheaper the further in advance you book them.
Britrail passes can work out cheaper if you are staying in Great Britain and making multiple train rides.
TIPS FOR VISITING ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
My second favourite church in Europe after St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, St Paul’s Cathedral is an essential stop each time I visit London.
Built by Sir Christopher Wren in the late seventeenth century, an original church on the same land dates back to as early as the year 604.
The church holds regular public services and is often used for state functions such as the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897, Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral, and Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee in 2012.
The interior of St Paul’s Cathedral is astounding but you will have to visit for yourself as photos are not permitted inside.
Make sure you visit the Whispering Galley on the first floor of the dome, when you whisper into the wall on one side of the dome, it can be heard by someone on the other side. Yelling does not work, which I have watched many tourists attempt, so just whisper softly.
Be aware of the opening hours of this Cathedral as it closes at 4:30pm and last entry is at 4:15pm, Monday to Saturday. I have been caught out countless times!
The best views and photographs of St Paul’s is from Millennium Bridge, which was also featured in the film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
PRET-A-MANGER & EAT
One of my best tips for travelling the UK is to discover the chains Pret-A-Manger and EAT.
Eating on your travels takes up so much of your holiday, and if you’re not careful, so much of your budget, especially when spending Pounds Sterling!
Pret-A-Manger and EAT serve healthy and fresh sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads for a third of the price of a pub meal. Mark & Spencers and Sainsbury’s also offer fresh on-the-go meals as well.
GET AN OYSTER CARDS
To travel on London’s transport you must get an Oyster travel card.
These pay-as-you-go cards charge the cheapest fare once you tap on and tap off the station barricades and are capped daily at £6.60.
Oyster cards are available for purchase in the train stations and airports and are valid for all underground and overground trains, buses, and some National Rail services.
WEST END SHOWS
The ‘West End’ area comprises the streets around Leicester Square in vibrant Covent Garden.
2013 saw a record of 14.5 million people attend a West End show and the tickets can be very expensive.
If you aren’t limited on time, there are many last-minute ticket booths in and around Leicester Square as well as several legitimate websites you can source tickets through, such as Timeout and Last Minute.
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So who am I…? Hi! My name is India.
I am a nomadic Australian who has wandered the world full time exploring over 60 countries and 5/7 continents.
After ten years on the road, I have launched my own website – Travelling Notebook – to share the knowledge I have gained on the road and the images I have collected over the years with fellow adventurers. Keep reading…
I am a freelance travel writer, photography and videographer, based in London. If you need specific travel advice or would like to collaborate please send an email my way!
Always say yes to adventure!