How to get there and back – by Train to London Kings Cross or Liverpool street for £14.50 with a 16-25 Railcard
How long it takes – a Daytrip
How much I paid ~£50
Where to stay – N/A
Where to eat
Lunch (on the Southbank) Skylon – two courses from the sunday Lunch Menu for £25.50 Otherwise try the chains Giraffe or Yo Sushi (qualifies for NUS discount)
Dinner (in Chinatown) Little Lamb – Chinese: cheap and great Or New FookLam Moon – Malayisian goodness for small pockets
What to do and see – see below
A first trip to London should always include the main sights. Maybe it is just me, but I like to have seen the essentials wherever I go. Just imagine going to San Francisco and not seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. Likewise, you can’t really go to London and then not have seen the Tower Bridge.
And if possible I prefer to walk. Something about walking through a city I don’t know yet makes it so much easier to get a feel of the place. If you’d like to see the main sights of London or show them to a friend this walk might be just for you. But make sure you wear good shoes.
– Take the train to London King’s Cross
The train to London King’s Cross. Here you can marvel at the famous Platform 9 ¾ from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Either pose yourself or watch people take pictures with the luggage trolley that is about to enter the magical platform.
– Take the tube to Tower Hill
For that take the Circle line and get out a tower hill. The journey will take about 15 minutes and you will pass through 6 stations. Getting out at Tower Hill you have two of the main Lodnon sights right there: The Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. The first thing you will notice here is that being a tourist in London is scarily expensive and most sights and attractions will charge £15-20 to let you in. sounds like a rip-off, probably is one and you need to decide wether you think it is worth it.
The Tower of London: Normal Adult prices are £20.90. If you are a student and book online it is only £15. Expensive, but a main sight in London. It is often very crowded so decide whether it is worth it. There are usually interesting exhibitions on and the crown jewles are stunning.
The Tower Bridge: Adult Ticket £6.67; Student Ticket £4.67. There is also a ticket allowing entry to both the Tower Bridge and the Monument. As far as I remember it costs ca. £6-7 for students. This is not as expensive as most attractions and London and I find it quite fascinating. You learn a lot about how the bridge was constructed and you will be allowed to use the walkway across the bridge.
Around this part of London you can also marvel at the stunning skyscrapers of the City. The Gherkin and the just-finished Shard are examples of modern architecture. You should really have a look at Europe’s tallest building.
– Walk to the Monument & St. Paul’s Cathedral
The Monument: Adults £3; Students £2 (or buy the combination ticket with the Tower Bridge). The Monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666 is a pretty column in the City of London. Climbing up the 311 steps brings you close to great Panoramic views of the City of London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: London’s Famous Churches are incredibly expensive to visit. So if you want to keep an eye on your finances you can always just attend a service. Otherwise entry for students costs £14. Still, the church is pretty and also worth the visit if you will just look at it from the outside.
– Cross the Millenniums Bridge and walk along the Southbank to the London Eye
The Millenniums Bridge: Well- known from the Harry Potter Movies where the bridge spectacularly collapses, the Millennium Bridge is a nice way to cross the Thames while avoiding the noisy and dangerous traffic.
The Southbank: The walk along the Southbank is relaxing and pretty and allows many nice views onto the riverside. This is a great time to stop and eat. There are many opportunities to grab food along the Southbank. A great restaurant to visit is Skylon, but it is not the cheapest place. Franchises like Giraffe and Yo Sushi! are also cheap in London and offer student discounts.
The London Eye: After lunch you can follow the Southbank till you hit the London Eye. The wheel is iconic, but as many things in London not cheap. The cheapest way to get on it – if you want to experience the views across Westminster – is if you book the standard ticket online (£15).
– Visit the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey
Right across the river you will find Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. If you are there close to the hour stay for a bit and listen to the bells.
Westminster Abbey: Like St. Paul’s there is a hefty entry charge (Adults £16; Students £13), but the Abbey is beautiful and has touched so many fascinating people and lives. If in doubt you can always get an impression by attending worship. This will not just show you the church, but can be an experience if you are not familiar with Anglican service.
– Walk to Trafalgar Square via 10 Downing Street
The walk to Trafalgar Square is short and on the left you can catch a glimpse at 10 Downing Street, the home of the prime minister. Due to security reasons you can’t actually walk up to the front door anymore but have to stand in front of large metal gates that are guarded. Still, it’s on the way and you can take a peek.
At the end of the street you will hit Trafalgar Square featuring Nelsons Column and the National Gallery. I’d suggest taking a seperate trip to visit the Gallery itself. However the square is pretty and picturesque.
– Walk to Buckingham Palace via St. James Park
From Trafalgar Square the quickest way to Buckingham Palace is along The Mall. However, I prefer walking on the left hand side of the road through St. James Park. There is lots of trees, a lake and ducks, geese and squirrels. It is very pretty and you can get an ice cream on the way. At the end of the park you will see Buckingham Palace. The way my walk takes you, you will probably not see the famous Changing of the Guards. This usually happens in the morning, but is so overrun by tourists that I don’t enjoy it much at all. Have a look around and enjoy.
– Walk to Picadilly Cirus
Via Green Park on the right you can make your way to Picadilly Circus and the West End. There is a ridiculously bad tourist shop on the Circus, which I find somewhat entertaining. It is amazing how many objects they manage to slap the Queen’s face on. From Picadilly Circus you can walk to Chinatown (it is right there). Here you can easily find cheap and tasty dinner from all corners of Asia. I suggest “Little Lamb” or “New Fook Lam Moon”.
– Take the tube to Knightsbridge
From Picadilly Circus you can take the Picadilly Line to Knightsbridge. It will take about 5 minutes. From there you can walk right over to Harrods – the famous shopping centre. I find it is mostly to expensive for my tastes but I love to walk through the many rooms, exploring a great shopping centre. You should, too.
– The Night
Usually when I am in London past dinner I catch a show. i never really plan that though. I have a list of all the places that have my favourite musicals and I usually look up what’s on in the English National Opera (ENO). If you show up about half an hour before the show you can usually get discounted tickets for students. You can see the opera for £20 and it is not a bad seat. That is worth it!
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