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Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Is Travel insurance worth it?Travel insurance is often the last thing you have on your mind when planning your next trip for just yourself, with your family or with friends. We look forward to a well-earned and long-desired vacation and we know deep down, however, that travelling brings about the unexpected (mostly in good ways). For the hopefully rare bad case scenarios, where you need to cancel a trip due to hazardous weather, sickness, the death of a family member, or any accidents during your trip, stolen or lost luggage/passports/wallets, and even worse injury or death of a travel mate, you want to be covered. Instead of overthinking the many things that might happen, travel insurance can help to put your mind at ease for the many what-ifs, so you can get back to planning and enjoying the fun things about your next trip.  So, is travel insurance worth it?

Be sure to read our post on purchasing a SIM Card for the US.

Travel insurance – what to look for:

Most travel insurance plans cover 2 main things: travel benefits and medical benefits. Those usually entail:

  • a refund when you need to cancel your trip due to emergency
  • covered expenses when a flight is delayed or cancelled or when you miss your flight
  • compensation of expenses if your carrier loses or delays your luggage
  • Coverage of expenses for any medical or dental emergency during your trip
  • Coverage of cost for medical emergency evacuation or accidental death or dismemberment
  • Optional benefits include car rental insurance

Depending on the provider benefits may differ in cost and range, so make sure you read the small print.

Things to know about travel insurance:

  • It only covers the days you paid for – not less, not more

So make sure you get coverage including the days you travel. Purchase your travel insurance well in advance and include the actual days of travel. If you need to change your dates of travel, don’t forget to change your insurance time frame as well. If your return flight is overnight, make sure you include that extra day as well.

  • Be prepared to pay first yourself before you get reimbursed

In most cases, the insurance will cover your expenses, but that still means that you have to pay out of pocket first before you get reimbursed later. You will need to safe all the receipts and papers for proof of payment later.

  • You probably won’t need it, but it’s better to have it

In most cases you’ll pay more than you’ll get out of, because you’ll thankfully won’t need the insurance. But that might be a risk well worth taking.

Things that are not covered by travel insurance:

Make sure you know what’s covered. Among other things, these are usually not insured:

  • High-risk sports or activities, such as scuba diving, bungee jumping etc.
  • Losses due to person being legally drunk
  • Medical expenses due to pre-existing conditions

travel insurance teddyTravel insurance plans

Allianz Global Assistance Travel insurance

From Basic, Classic, and Classic+ plans, travel insurance starts at $20, depending on age of traveler, and length + cost of the trip.

Travelex

Plans are Travel Select, Travel Basic, and Travel Max Insurance. The basic plans start around $34 depending on age of traveler, and length + cost of the trip.

AIG Travel Insurance

Plans are Basic, Travel Guard, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The basic plan starts around $23 depending on age of traveler, and length + cost of the trip.

What to consider before you buy travel insurance?

Check with your health insurance at home first if you are already covered

This should be your first step. You might be already covered with your health insurance, but you definitely have to check with your provider at home prior to your trip and get something in writing. Trips to the United States are usually not covered, because the health system there is more costly. You might be able to add a short-term coverage from your existing plan for your travels abroad.

Avoid double coverage for auto, homeowners insurance

You might already be insured with your car owner insurance, your homeowner insurance or via your credit card benefits as well. Again, it’s strongly recommended to contact your provider or credit card company before the trip and find out what would really be covered.

Consider term life insurance rather than flight insurance

If you are flying somewhere and renting a car, remember that driving around in a foreign place can be tricky and sometimes dangerous as well. If you are worrying about any worst case scenario, flight insurance won’t cover you in a car accident and you might feel more at ease for your loved ones if you have a term life insurance plan.

+++Free Tours by Foot wishes you safe trip and travels and hopefully we will see you soon on our many walking tours!+++

London Off the Beaten Track Itinerary

Posted by & filed under London.

When it comes to London, everybody knows the main sights: Big Ben, the London Eye, the River Thames, etc. But there is another London that operates right alongside the more commonly known locations. This is London off the beaten track – sites, sights, and locations that will take you away from the crowds and into pockets of town you may not have ever seen before. Perfect for visitors to London who have been here before, or for those who want something a little bit different, this itinerary will guide you through a London trip that will take you well off the beaten track.

[NOTE: Budget-friendly stops will be marked with a **!]

Day 1

10:00 – Canal Museum [12/13 New Wharf Road, N1 – Website]

The London Canal Museum is located inside an old ice-house that was used to store ice imported from Norway in the 19th century. The Museum here tells the history of the London canals and the people and goods that used to travel along these now little-used waterways. The outside terrace of the museum also gives guests a great view of the modern day canal and the old cranes that used to load up boats with shipments of Guinness on this site.

11:00 – Canal Boat Ride

From the Canal Museum, consider taking a canal boat ride! The canals of North London are walked and enjoyed by Londoners as it crosses through areas such as Camden. But the boat tours themselves are a little-known treat to both locals and visitors alike. The boat rides here are part tour, part lazy journey and we recommend a journey through Regent’s Park on the Regent’s Canal toward Paddington.

12:30 – Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising [Colville Mews, W1 – Website]

This is a truly off-beat museum. Tucked down a tiny mews street that you’d never find on your own, this museum is focused on the history of branding, advertising and packaging. From centuries ago to the adverts and posters that surround us today, this is a truly interesting journey through the history of advertising and packaging. Keep an eye out for shockingly offensive early adverts from two hundred years ago and also get a glimpse at the possible future of advertising today.

2:30 – Lunch at the Churchill Arms** [119 Kensington Church Street, W8 – Website]

This is a recommendation we have made on a number of occasions on our website! The Churchill Arms is a true London treasure. The pub itself is a brilliant place to grab a drink, just far enough off the main roads of High Street Kensington and Notting Hill to avoid major crowds. However, locals flock here every day after work so lunch time is a great time to visit. If you’d like more than a drink here, you’re in luck, because one of the best Thai restaurants in London operates in the back of this pub in a hidden secret garden. Cheap, cheerful and authentic, this is a personal favourite of ours at Free Tours By Foot.

5:00 – Kensington Roof Gardens [ 99 Kensington High Street, W8 – Website ]

There’s over 1 ½ acres of garden here, raised up high on the 6th floor of what used to be Barker’s Department Store. Today the gardens are maintained by the Virgin group, but the layout and plants date as far back to the 1930’s. A little oasis high up above the buzz of High Street Kensington, this is a great place to enjoy a relatively-secret garden.

 

Day 2

10:00 – Syon Park [ Park Road, Middlesex, TW8 – Website]

Syon Park dates back to the 16th century, and has seen visits by royalty dating back to the time of King Henry VIII when his 5th wife, Katherine Howard, stayed a night here on the way to her final journey to the Tower of London before her execution. There’s the historic Syon House here – still home to the Dukes of Northumberland – which is a wonderful museum containing a huge collection of art and interior design. There’s also a conservatory and a garden to explore. The entire complex has been used for filming over the past few decades, including the most recent film to be produced here: Belle.

12:00 – Chiswick Park** [ Burlington Lane, Chiswick, W4 – Website]

Chiswick House and Gardens is a wonderfully preserved example of both Georgian architecture and landscape design. The house has played host to Prime Ministers, socialites and gentry, including the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire. The house is large enough to be impressive and interesting, but small enough to be comfortable and charming. Far enough outside central London to avoid big queues, exploring the grounds and gardens here can be a wonderful private experience.

2:00 – Richmond Green and Richmond Palace Gatehouse** [ Richmond Green, Portland Terrace]

Richmond Green today is a charming little square surrounded by luxury houses and traditional pubs. However, 500 years ago this green was part of a courtyard to a massive palace that once stood on this site – Richmond Palace. Queen Elizabeth I was a huge fan of Richmond Palace and it was here that she died in 1603. In the hands of the royal family until its’ destruction during the Civil War, today only the old gatehouse of the Palace remains. Fine red Tudor brick that today is an entry way to flats is the only reminder that one of the nations’ greatest Palaces used to stand here.

3:00 – River Thames and Richmond Park**

The Richmond area is a lovely little community that has been sitting on the edge of this beautiful stretch of the River Thames for centuries. The Park here was previously hunting grounds for King Henry VIII and it’s a magnificent place to deer watch! We recommend exploring the park – climbing King Henry VIII’s Mound (a hilltop with a view all the way toward St. Paul’s Cathedral!) and then finishing up on the edge of the Thames where there are a number of pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating to help you enjoy this lovely London suburb.

 

Day 3

10:00 – Eltham Palace [ Court Yard, SE9 – Website]

On the outer fringes of London sits Eltham Palace, gifted originally to King Edward II back in 1305. In the 1930’s, the badly decayed palace fell into the hands of a pair of extravagant socialites who refurbished the entire building into a glittering example of art deco architecture. A fascinating mix of old and modern, Eltham Palace is also surrounded by stunning gardens.

1:00 – Horniman Museum [ 100 London Road, SE23 – Website]

Opened in 1901, the Horniman Museum houses a massive collection of natural history, anthropology and – somewhat curiously – musical instruments. There are wonderfully odd items on exhibition here including a glass-walled beehive, a stuffed mermaid, and an overly-stuffed taxidermy walrus. Charming and interesting, this Museum is just far enough outside the edges of London to ensure smaller crowds.

4:00 – Crystal Palace Dinosaur Park** [Sydenham Hill, SE19 – Website]

This little park is quickly becoming more well known as a destination for parents of younger children and adults who may be children at heart! The park itself here is perfectly lovely but what makes it worth the visit are the gigantic dinosaur statues. Carved in the early 19th century when the existence of dinosaurs was first being discovered, many of these creatures don’t look like the dinosaurs we would recognise today. But their odd looks are surprisingly charming and make for great photographs!

 

Day 4

10:00 – Old Operating Theatre** [ 9a St. Thomas Street, SE1 – Website]

This little museum is a one-of-a-kind here in London: the only surviving Victorian operating theatre. The museum gives guests the chance to explore the theatre, where student surgeons would have learned their craft, and where countless patients would have undergone horrific procedures. The museum also gives a history of the hospital of Guys & St. Thomas, has an exhibition of old surgical instruments, as well as an old apothecary.

11:30 – Crossbones Graveyard** [Redcross Way, SE1 – Website]

Today, this small patch of land is easily overlooked and there is no indication to mark the fact that over 15,000 people are buried here. From 1161 this part of London was home to brothels and prostitutes – known as ‘Winchester Geese’ for the Bishop of Winchester who owned this land – and these women were not allowed burial services in hallowed ground. The land here was therefore set aside for them and became known as a “burial ground for misfits.” Memorial services are still occasionally held here to remember all those who finished their lives at this location.

12:00 – Lunch at the Libertine** [ 125 Great Suffolk Street – Website]

This is another personal recommendation from our London staff! The Libertine is a cozy traditional pub with mismatched chairs, sofas, and board games spread throughout the building. But the food here is anything BUT traditional – fresh hot pizzas with home-made bases are the order of the day here. The pizzas come with a plethora of toppings and are generous in their portion sizes, meaning you can have lunch and a drink for around £10! Off the beaten track, this pub is popular with the locals after work but makes a nice quiet spot for delicious lunch.

2:00 – Cinema Museum [ The Master’s House, 2 Dugard Way, SE11 – Website ]

This museum is well hidden, down a cul-de-sac in Kennington. However, what we have here is the world’s most extensive collection of film-related images and artefacts. As an extra bonus, the building that houses the museum used to be a Victorian workhouse where 9-year-old Charlie Chaplin worked! Artefacts here are extensive and various: a 1917 ticket machine, centuries-old film reels, and old advertising signs. This is a truly hidden gem and, best of all, it’s free!

4:00 – Garden Museum [ Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 – Website]

The Garden Museum is pretty much what you would expect, aside from the location. This Museum is located inside the former church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, which was built on the site of Lambeth Palace – home to the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century. This is actually the first gardening museum in the world and has gardens worth exploring but also a library and museum highlighting artefacts and archives of the history of gardening – there’s much more here than meets the eye.

5:30 – Morpeth Arms** [ 58 Millbank, SW1P – Website ]

Just opposite the Tate Britain Museum is a metal bollard that houses a small plaque marking the spot where, for centuries, prisoners at Millbank Prison would await to board the boats that would be deporting them to Australia. Previously there were underground tunnels here for shuffling the prisoners from the prison to the river. On top of the tunnels was then built a pub to serve the prison wardens – the Morpeth Arms. Still operating today, it is said that the ghosts of former inmates haunt the pub!

 

Day 5

10:00 – St. Andrew Undershaft** [ St Mary Ace, EC3A ]

This little church is surrounded by the huge structures of London’s financial district. However, once inside, the church really comes to life. One of the few complete medieval churches in London, this building can be traced back to 1147. The church survived the centuries and even the Blitz of WWII and the 16th century interior is original. Keep an eye out for carvings celebrating King Henry VIII and a 17th century organ.

11:30 – Dennis Sever’s House [ 18 Folgate Street, E1 – Website]

Dennis Severs’ House is both a “still-life drama” as well as a historical time capsule. An original Georgian home, preserved by the previous owner, to act as a “historical imagination” to bring the house to life. This means that everything in the building is original, and guests to the House are told that they are exploring the home of a family who is still in residence – however, they have JUST left the room every time a guest walks inside. With sights, sounds, smells and textures, this building brings the 18th century to life.

1:00 – Postman’s Park** [ Saint Martin’s Le-Grand, EC1A – Website]

This, the largest park in the City of London, was constructed on the former churchyard and burial ground of St. Botolph’s Aldersgate church. A lovely place to relax, the most important reason for visiting the Park today is the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice – a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others and who may have otherwise been forgotten as time has gone on. The park was also used for filming in the 2004 film Closer, which gave the area here a resurgence of popularity.

1:30 – Lunch at St. Katharine’s Docks [ 50 Saint Katharine’s Way, E1W – Website]

St. Katharine’s Docks has been a focus of commerce and trade since the 10th century! Previously the docks where shipments of goods to and from Britain would have passed through, the docks were also popular locations for notorious pirates! Today, with commerce taking place primarily via air, the docks have been converted into luxury flats as well as a great place to eat and drink. Hidden away, it’s only locals who populate the Docks these days, taking advantage of it’s hidden location and prime positioning on the water. Take lunch in the traditional Victorian Charles Dickens Inn pub, try tapas, or enjoy some dim sum – there’s something for everybody here.

3:00 – Wilton’s Music Hall [ Graces Alley off Ensign Street, E1 – Website]

Wilton’s is the oldest surviving Music Hall in the world! Guided tours run here to give vistors an insight into the history of the Hall, as well as the history of Music Halls in general as well as the East End of London. First opened in 1859, this venue was constructed to hold at least 300 guests but these days it is just the occasional tourist who comes through, lending it a somewhat surreal – but enchanting – atmosphere.

5:00 – Prospect of Whitby Pub** [ 57 Wapping Wall, E1W – Website]

One of the most delightfully historical pus in London, the Prospect of Whitby was constructed in 1520 and has been serving drinks here ever since. It is the oldest riverside Tavern in London and was traditionally associated with smugglers, pirates, cut-throats, and sailors. There’s a hang mans’ noose dangling over the river as a reminder of the fate of smugglers who were caught in the area in centuries gone by. Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys are known to have drank here – so add your name to the list!

Free Things to Do in London at Night

Posted by & filed under London.

Free Things to Do at Night in London

London is a non-stop city and there are still ways to enjoy and explore the capital, even once the sun has gone down. In the winter months, the night falls early in London, but the fun never stops. Here’s our list of the best free and pay what you wish things to do in town after sunset!

Be sure to also read our Guide to London on a Budget, where you can find other budget itineraries.

Thames Night

 1. Take a Tour – Free Tours By Foot runs tours throughout the day…and then into the night! During the summer months, you can join our NIGHT TOUR – taking guests along the Southbank of the River Thames to enjoy London all lit up. Also think about jumping on our classic JACK THE RIPPER TOUR, exploring the streets and history of London’s East End, or the DARK SIDE OF LONDON GHOST TOUR which highlights the grim realities of life in London over the last few centuries. And just like all of our tours, these run on a pay-what-you-like basis which makes it budget friendly for everybody!

Ceremony of the Keys London Night2. Watch the Ceremony of the Keys – Every night at the Tower of London, the fortress is locked in a historical ceremony that has been unchanged for nearly 500 years. The world-famous “Beefeaters” work together with Queens Guard soldiers to lock the Tower, securing all the valuables (like the crown jewels) inside in a ceremony that includes military marches, musical support and secret passwords! Visitors must have a ticket to watch the Ceremony but the good news is that the tickets are free! Book your ticket at the Historic Royal Palaces website.

3. Watch a Political Debate and Visit a Royal Palace – The Palace of Westminster is better known to most people as the Houses of Parliament and this historical building is open to guests all year ‘round. On the weekends and during holidays, visitors can pay to take a tour of the building BUT the real treat is that whenever the House of Commons or House of Lords are working at Parliament, it is free for the public to go inside the building! Sit in the public galleries for as long as you like, walk through one of the oldest rooms in the country, and pick up all kinds of free leaflets and information about the history of one of London’s most famous buildings. Check out the schedule on their website before you go.

4. Enjoy the Lights at Piccadilly Circus – Famous the world over, Piccadilly Circus is a large traffic junction in the middle of London, linking Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly and Regent’s Street. And it was here just over 100 years ago that the first electric lights in the capital were put on display. The bright lights here still draw visitors from all over the world who have come to enjoy some of the most famous lights on earth.

5. Stargaze in Hampstead – The Hampstead Scientific Society opens their observatory to the public from September to April each year. Guests are given information on the various telescopes here, the vast range of celestial objects they will get to view, and also special events that coincide with eclipses and meteor showers, etc. And best of all – it’s all for FREE! See when their next star-gazing event is on their website.

6. Go on a Bat Walk – London Zoo isn’t the only place in London where you can see animals! The London Bat Group is a charity that works toward the well-being and preservation of bat species living in London. As part of their work, they organise free ‘Bat Walks’ at random days throughout the years where guests are taken to various different locations, taught about bats and their place in London, as well as a great chance to see these fascinating little creatures! Find out when the next walk is on their website.

7. Visit a Museum – London’s museums are always worth visiting and the majority of them are free (read our guide to free London Museums). However, what is not as well-known is the fact that some museums operate late nights, where doors are opened to the public long after the sun has set! Think if places like the National Gallery or the Tate Modern (open until 10pm!) for a chance to explore the museums for free, once the larger crowds of day time guests have departed.

8. Head to the Southbank Centre – All throughout the year, the Southbank Centre showcases exhibitions, art installations, film and events. They are almost always all free and they stay open well into the evening hours. Check Night Bridgeout interesting instillations like an interactive LED light room, or watch films detailing life on the front lines of conflict throughout the world – the exhibitions are ever changing and always engaging. Find out what’s coming up on their website.

9. Take in a Talk – Birkbeck University in London’s Bloomsbury area operates a constantly changing calendar of interesting lectures and talks. The events normally take place in the evening, making this a great way to spend your time after many of the bigger tourist attractions have closed. Talks here take in a wide variety of subjects and topics, usually based around science, history and current events. See what talks are on during your London visit on their website.

10. Get a Good View – At the top of London’s new “Walkie Talkie” building sits a restaurant, bistro, bar…and free public garden! The views from this building are almost unrivalled in London and even though the outdoor viewing balcony closes around 5, the atrium stays open until the late hours of the night. Watch the sunset from the garden and enjoy the sights of London as it lights up the night. Guests MUST pre-book but there is no cost to do so. Book your tickets on their website.

Best Free Views of London

Posted by & filed under London.

Best Views of London…For Free!

You may have already seen our guide to fabulous bars and restaurants in London that come with amazing views of the City.  But if you’re looking to take in one of the best free views of London…well, we’ve got a list for you, too! Here is our handy guide on how to get some spectacular views of our gorgeous city without spending a single cent.

Be sure to check out our Guide to London on a Budget for more money saving ideas for your time in London.

  • Sky Garden

One of the newest skyscrapers to appear on London’s skyline is 20 Fenchurch Street (read our full post) – otherwise known to locals and tourists as the “Walkie-Talkie.” This is a glass building with a unique shape, spreading out the further up the building stretches, whose curved glass led to a reflection so strong…it melted a car!

At the top of this new London landmark is an enlarged glass dome that houses three floors of landscaped gardens including observation decks and an open air terrace. This is the highest public garden in London and best of all…it’s FREE!

NOTE: Although free, tickets must be booked in advance through their website: SkyGarden

Nearest Underground Station: Monument

  • New Change Building View of St. Paul'sNew Change

A modern glass and steel construction sitting next door to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the New Change building holds offices, shops and restaurants. But the best part of the New Change building is the public roof garden on top! The word “garden” here could be a bit misleading as there is no greenery, but there ARE amazing views throughout London – spanning east to west – as well as a face-to-face meeting with St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is an incredible place for photographs and during the summer months, keep an eye out for screens on display here showing international sporting events. (See image to right)

Nearest Underground Station: St. Paul’s

  • Tate Modern

Another good way to get an excellent view of St. Paul’s Cathedral is the visit the Tate Modern Museum. You’ll also have an incredible view of the Millennium Bridge (aka the “wobbly bridge” aka the “Harry Potter bridge”) spanning the river from the Tate to the Cathedral. All of London is stretched out in front of you, as the Tate is right in the middle of town. The view here is worth the effort even for those who may not be interested in visiting the museum itself.

Nearest Underground Station: Blackfriars

  • Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath is a 791-acre parkland sitting in the hills of North London. It was thought that during the Civil War there was military activity here – giving the hill its’ name. Parliament Hill is one of the best-known locations by locals to get excellent views over London. The vista from here is sweeping over the entirety of London and the park land that surrounds it is a great place for pic-nics, for children to play, for walking dogs…or just going for a wander! You’ll be surprised how high up you are when you look down over all the city has to offer.

Nearest Underground Station: Hampstead

Nearest Overground Station (Closer): Hampstead Heath

  • 7 PRIMROSE HILLPrimrose Hill

Primrose Hill sits on the edge of Camden, in the luxurious Primrose Hill district which is home to the famous and wealthy. Just across from Regent’s Park and London Zoo, Primrose Hill does take a fair amount of energy to climb! The paths are paved and the incline is gradual, but get ready to work for your view. Atop the hill is one of the truly quiet places in London and the views are stunning…over the rolling hills and tree-lined lanes of Regent’s Park into the West End with the towering BT Tower near the right then the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie in the distance to the left. There’s a few benches at the top to sit and admire one of the finest views in town.

Nearest Underground Station: Camden Town or St. John’s Wood

 

Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory

The view of London from Greenwich Park is legally protected by statutes that state no buildings can be constructed that would obstruct the view of the City of London from this point. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich Park can be visited by the public – for a fee – but the park is free to explore. Once you’ve climbed to the highest most point of the park you’ll be rewarded with perfect views of east London – think the O2 dome, Canary Wharf, the Gherkin and the Shard. You’ll also get a perfect view of Christopher Wren’s Greenwich Naval College and the 17th century Queen’s House. On sunny days, the sparkling waters of the Thames are visible and this park can actually be accessed by taking a boat through town – a suggestion we’d personally make.

 

King Henry’s Mound, Richmond

Richmond is a wealthy leafy suburb on the South-western fringes of London. Sprawling Richmond Park used to be a hunting ground for King Henry VIII in the 16th century and today is a popular place for pic-nics and deer watching. The highest point in the park is known as King Henry’s Mound and there is an impressive unobstructed view 10 miles into the distance. It’s to be seen to be believed as guests can actually spot St. Paul’s Cathedral, in the heart of the city, all the way from this far flung point of forest. The view here is so impressive that a law was passed in 1710 stating that NOTHING can be constructed to obscure it!

Nearest Underground Station: Richmond

Monument to the Great Fire of London

We wanted to add this one, even though it isn’t free.  At £4, it’s almost free.  You will need to climb 311 stairs to reach the top of the column, but the 360 degree view is worth the climb (and the £4).

Best London Restaurants With a View

Posted by & filed under London.

There are thousands of places to eat in London and sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to dine! This little list of the best London restaurants with a view is here to point you in the right direction by highlighting the restaurants here that feature fabulous views of the city for those who want to enjoy London’s skyline while they dine.

Be sure to read our companion post on the best London bars with a view as well as our Guide to London on a Budget.

We rank the prices of the bars on a scale of £ (very cheap) to ££££ (very pricey).

Tate Modern Restaurant

Millenium bridge London twilightLocated on Level 6 of the Tate Modern Museum sits the Rex Whistler Restaurant. Fine food, afternoon cream teas and a wide selection of cakes are all on offer here along with an incredible view over the River Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Beautiful during the day and particularly stunning at night, the restaurant is worth visiting even for those who may not be fans of modern art. Even with the lavish, expansive wine list, this is still one of the more affordable restaurants on our list.

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG

Nearest Underground Station: Blackfrairs

Price: £

Aqua Shard

Sitting on the 31st floor of the tallest building in the European Union (as of writing – 2015) sits Aqua Shard. One of a number of restaurants in the Shard building, Aqua Shard is the most affordable with a light breakfast of juice and coffee served up with a selection of pastries all with a bill of under £10! The food here is a modern take of classic British and, where possible, ingredients are sourced from Borough Market just next door. As you can imagine, being located in the Shard, Aqua Shard has some of the finest views in town with sweeping vistas along the Thames from Tower Bridge in the East all the way into Westminster.

Address: Level 31, The Shard, 21 Saint Thomas Street, SE1 9RY

Nearest Underground Station: London Bridge

Price: £ [Breakfast] £££ [Lunch and Dinner]

 

Darwin Brasserie

The 4th highest restaurant in London, the Darwin Brasserie is located in the Walkie Talkie Building’s Sky Garden – one of the newest vantage points in town. The views here are over the City and along the River Thames, and the Sky Garden itself is open to visitors to explore either before/after they have eaten. The food here is British classics with modern flair and is remarkably affordable considering the prime location in the centre of London with one of the best views in the capital.

Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 3BY

Nearest Underground Station: Monument

Price: ££

 

Blueprint Café

The Blueprint Café is located on the south-eastern edge of Central London, on top of the London Design Museum, which means it comes with a prime location on the edge of the River Thames. Floor-to-ceiling windows here mean there are uninterrupted views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and out to the Docklands. When weather is good, there is an outdoor terrace for meals al fresco. The menu here is European and changes with the seasons. Expect a small amount of choice but delicious food accompanied by an extensive wine list.

Address: The Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1 2YD

Nearest Underground Station: London Bridge or Tower Hill

Price: ££

 

OXO Restaurant

The OXO Tower is a London landmark and an excellent design of art deco sitting right on the southern banks of the Thames. There is an outdoor terrace at the brasserie for outdoors dining, and the more expensive restaurant area has a frontage made totally of glass. Dining here takes place on the 8th storey so this location is not as tall as others, but the views are still commanding. So no matter where you choose to dine, you’ll be getting great views of the river and into the City featuring St. Paul’s Cathedral and the towering turrets of the Royal Courts of Justice. Expect excellent service, modern British cuisine with a pan-Asian twist and a wine list with over 800 choices! Vegetarians and vegans take note, there is an entire menu here for you, too!

Address: Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH

Nearest Underground Station: Waterloo or Temple

Price: ££ [Brasserie] £££ [Restaurant]

 Coq

Coq D’Argent

Visits to Coq D’Argent start off with a ride in a posh private lift, which takes guests up into a gorgeous rooftop garden that overlooks London’s financial district. The views of the skyline here – particularly that of Mansion House and St. Paul’s as well as the other towering turrets of London’s skyscrapers – are spectacular but it’s the impressively manicured lawns and topiaries that really complete the look. Food here is regional French and although the dining is decadent there are both fine and casual dining (at the brasserie) choices available.

Address: 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ

Nearest Underground Station: Bank

Price: ££ [Brasserie] ££££ [Restaurant]

 

Duck and Waffle View

Sushisamba

A unique menu is on offer at Sushisamba with food that displays a blend of Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese cuisine. The food is delicious, but does come with a hefty price-tag. It’s worth it, though, for the views here. This is the second-tallest restaurant in London and the views are directed out into the East, highlighting the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and all the way out into the Olympic Park! There’s an outdoor terrace that overlooks the Gherkin which is an incredible place to sit during the summer months, basking in the sunshine overlooking nearly the entire city.

Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Price: ££££

 

City Social

City Social is located on the 24th floor, surrounded by the modern megaliths of the City of London. You’ll be face-to-face with landmarks like the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie (the building that melted a car!). The food here is the creation of master chef Jason Atherton and features modern British tastes with Asian and Mediterranean flavours. As you may expect, sitting in the heart of the financial district, this is a restaurant for splashing the cash so consider this one for a special occasion.

Address: 24th Floor, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ

Nearest Underground Station: Bank

Price: ££££

 

Galvin at Windows

Galvin at Windows was one of the first restaurants to capitalise on the vistas and views of London, opening in 2006. The views here are verdant, overlooking posh Park Lane and into the gorgeous Hyde Park, as well as looking down onto Buckingham Palace. Food is French…and expensive but the views at night, with the city lit up from below is a true experience.

Address: London Hilton, 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE

Nearest Underground Station: Hyde Park Corner

Price: ££££

Best London Bars With a View

Posted by & filed under London.

London is a beautiful city and one of the best ways to enjoy it is whilst sipping on a delicious cocktail, enjoying a gorgeous glass of wine, or tasting some authentic English beers and ales! For those of you who are looking for a roof top bar to visit during your stay in London, here is a helpful list of the best bars with a view in town.

Do read our companion post on the best London restaurants with a view as well as our posts on best London riverside pubs and best London historical pubs.

our Guide to London on a Budget for more money saving tips for your time in the city.

We rank the prices of the bars on a scale of £ (very cheap) to ££££ (very pricey).

Duck and Waffle View

Dalston Roof Park

Now this one is a bit off the beaten track all the way out in the trendy East-London locale of Dalston. This means that the views here display London’s skyline at a bit of a distance, but definitely good enough to warrant the effort to get here. The rooftop terrace here is plush with faux grass, deckchairs, and the occasional screen showcasing films or even a performance from a live band. East London is now a hub for culture and art and this rooftop terrace showcases that perfectly.

Address: The Print House, 18-22 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL

Nearest Underground Station: [Overground] Dalston Junction

Cost: £

National Portrait Gallery Café & Bar

This is the cheaper alternative to the Trafalgar Hotel (located further down the list). Located at the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery, just on the north side of Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery Café & Bar offers a lovely view over the Square and down Whitehall toward the magnificent Big Ben. Guests here can enjoy a cocktail for under £10.00 and coffees come even cheaper with prices under £5! Not as high as the Hotel but with lovely views of the same locations, this is the budget-friendly option to enjoy Trafalgar Square!

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

Cost: £

 New ChangeMadison Bar

Madison Bar gives visitors an up-close and personal view of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral. During the day, this is the perfect way to get face-to-face with Christopher Wren’s masterpiece and a prime location to watch the glittering Thames flow through town. At night, enjoy the bright lights of the city with views of the Shard, the Millennium Bridge and all the way into Westminster with the illuminations of Big Ben and the London Eye.

Address: 1 New Change, EC4M 9AD

Nearest Underground Station: St. Paul’s

Cost: ££ [Tip: A fizzy glass of prosecco will only set you back £7!]

 

Radio Rooftop Bar at the ME Hotel

This hotel is located on the Strand, on the edge of Covent Garden. The bar is located on the 10th floor and the terrace here is a perfect place to enjoy views of the River Thames and the landmarks that dot it. The view is south-eastern which means incredible views of Tower Bridge, The Shark, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House and Covent Garden. An often overlooked place for drinks in London, come up here to escape the busy streets of the West End below!

Psst…the bar here is open until 2am making it one of the latest running bars in town!

Address: 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross

Cost: ££

 

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle is a bar and restaurant located in Heron Tower. We say that there’s no need to go to the restaurant as the views you get from the bar are just as good – if not better. Cocktails here can be a little pricey but there are non-alcoholic drinks and a wine list that is surprisingly affordable considering this bar is located in the heart of the financial district. The views here are pretty-much unparalleled spanning from Canary Wharf in the east all the way out to Battersea in the West and into the rolling hills of Hampstead and Highgate to the North. The lift to get to Duck & Waffle is almost worth the visit itself…a shockingly fast journey from the ground floor up to the 40th in an all-glass lift on the OUTSIDE of the building! For those afraid of heights: this is NOT the place for you.

Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Cost: ££

 Heron Tower

Vertigo 42

Tower 42 is right in the centre of London’s bustling financial district. The bar, as you may have guessed, is on the 42nd floor of one of the tallest buildings in our city. The sweeping views here nearly cover all of town from the southern part of town, along the river into the west, and all the way into the distant hills of the north. Guests can walk through the bar to enjoy the views from every vantage point.

Address: 25 Old Broad Street, City of London, EC2N 1HQ

Nearest Underground Station: Liverpool Street

Cost: £££

 

Vista at the Trafalgar Hotel               

Atop the Trafalgar Hotel is a hidden rooftop bar that is usually only visited by London locals. The bar here provides a perfect view of Trafalgar Square, putting guests nearly face-to-face with Admiral Nelson, sitting atop Nelson’s Column in the Square. Views also sweep over the white stone facades of Covent Garden with a spattering of pretty church steeples. Right in the centre of one of the busiest parts of London, most guests to the city will find themselves in this area at least once during their visit, so take the chance to head on up!

Address: 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS

Nearest Underground Station: Charing Cross

Cost: £££

 

SkyLounge at Double Tree by Hilton

SkyLounge gives visitors the option of sitting on the North or the South Terraces – views of both sides are excellent, showing the panoramic London skyline along the River Thames, through the glass and steel structures of the City, and into the northern hills. When the weather is good, sitting outside is a real treat and perfect way to see our city.

Address: 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF

Nearest Underground Station: Tower Hill

Cost: ££££

 

Tour Guide Spotlight: Washington, DC’s Kara

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Born and raised in Hawaii, Kara is a former beach bum who loves D.C.’s history and humidity. After an extended stint as a professional globetrotter and mapquest extraordinaire, she decided to ditch the backpack and turn touring into a career. When not guiding, Kara spends her days reading 20th century prose, perfecting her headstand, and occasionally talking about herself in the third person.

  •  Why did I become a guide?1de4113

I took a really fantastic walking tour in Berlin, and was keen on the profession ever since. I love history, traveling, and being outside so it seemed like the perfect fit. And so far, it has been!

  • Best tour I’ve ever taken?

A buggy tour along the northeast coast of Brazil. We saved a turtle, went zip-lining into a lagoon, and drove up and down some steep sand dunes after dark — does it get any better?!

  • Places I want friends/family be sure to see in DC?

My neighborhood! DC’s local history is just as important as its national history so I always try and persuade guests to get out and explore beyond the National Mall.

  • Favorite tour group memory?

I’ve had a lot of really great groups, but a personal highlight was the time I was with a school group at the Marine Corps Memorial and we met a veteran who was actually on Iwo Jima the day the flag was raised! He was kind enough to share his haunting story of watching the flag go up on Mount Suribachi. We were all in tears by the end!

  • If I wasn’t a tour guide?

Probably teaching abroad. I love traveling and learning, so it’d need to be something that let me incorporate both!

Guide Spotlight: New York City’s Meredith

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought you should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Originally from Long Island, NY, regular trips to NYC was a part of my growing up experience and I became an official city dweller in 1996. Before becoming a tour guide I worked for years as a pedicab driver, pedaling people around the streets of Manhattan on a bicycle rickshaw. Doing this job I greatly increased my knowledge of NYC and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of taking visitors around town, showing them the sights, and sharing their wide-eyed enthusiasm for the excitement of New York City. Becoming a bona fide tour guide was a natural choice for me and I became officially licensed in 2011, and I couldn’t ask for a better job! I love that I get to meet new people from all around the world each day, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing my knowledge and love this wonderfully historic and dynamic city.

20140801_110915

  • Why did I become a guide?

I spent years as a pedicab (bicycle rickshaw) driver in Manhattan and during that time I was continuously learning more and more about the city as well as enjoying the experience of showing people the sites around town. Becoming a bona fide tour guide was a natural next step from there. And because I truly enjoy sharing my knowledge and love of NYC with visitors.

  • Best tour I’ve ever taken?

A five day tour of Cairo and Giza, Egypt. Among other typical things that many tourists do like see the pyramids and ride a camel, I was with a group that got special privileges like exploring inside the Great Pyramid and being down in the excavated pit with the Sphynx. Not many tourists can say they’ve actually touched the Sphynx.

  • Places I want friends/family to be sure to see in NYC?

I love taking friends all over NYC but I’d say my favorite things to show visitors are the artwork of Rockefeller Center and New York Harbor- particularly by boat. Both the Staten Island ferry and Governor’s Island ferry are fun excursions.

  • Favorite tour group memory?

I had a group at Madison Sq. Park on a clear day with a beautiful view of the Empire State Building, so I was telling my group the basic history of the building. I hadn’t planned on telling the story, but a man asked if the clouds ever come down lower than the height of the building, so I went into the story of how in July of 1945 one day the fog was so thick that a B-25 bomber actually crashed into the building at the 72nd floor. Suddenly a tiny, frail, little old lady came up and interrupted me to say she overheard me talking and said she was actually working at Empire State the day that happened! She proceeded to describe the whole event in a soft voice that made my whole group suddenly huddle in close to hear her words and get her picture. Even I had to pull out my phone and ask if I could get a picture too!

  • If I wasn’t a tour guide?

I’d probably still be driving a pedicab and/or possibly working in theater. I enjoy all aspects of the theater and used to work as a stage hand and stage manager.

 

London on a budget 6 days

London Under £100 a Day

Posted by & filed under London.

How to spend 6 days on a £100 a day budget in London

London is notoriously expensive, but it is possible to visit the city on a budget! What follows here are a selection of 1-day itineraries that will have you seeing the best London has to offer, for well under £100 a day! Either follow our schedule, or pick and choose what looks best to you and design your own affordable London holiday!

All itineraries should START at your nearest Underground Station by getting yourself an Oystercard. For those staying only a couple days, simply load the card with around £20.00, which should be enough for your entire stay. For those staying longer, consider buying a weekly Travelcard for £32.10 – for a 7-day stay that works out to unlimited travel for around £4.50 a day. Check out our tips on how to navigate the London underground here.

Be sure to also read our Guide to London on a Budget, where you can find other budget itineraries.

Day 1 – Highlights of London – London Under £100 a Day

London Walking Tours[This itinerary is great for those who are in London for a very short time, perhaps one or two days. This will see you checking out all the ‘big’ tourist sites in town, as well as give you the most information possible in a short amount of time. Here your money will go toward a theatre ticket – which you can get at discount – as well as money for your guide and a cheap bite to eat!]

8:00  – The Breakfast Club – People queue for hours to get into this Soho hot spot, so make sure to arrive early to bag yourself a fabulous British breakfast – easy to do for around £10!

9:30 – TKTS at Leicester Square – Get to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square early, as they open at 10:00am. See what offers they have on and buy yourself a ticket for a show tonight – oftentimes it is possible to get tickets as cheap as £25!

10:30 – London All-in-One Tour starting at Green Park Station – Meet your friendly London guide just inside Green Park. This tour will show you all the highlights of London, including Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guard, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, giving you anecdotes, details and history that you’d never discover on your own, all at a pay-what-you-wish price. You’ll also have the opportunity to eat a traditional British pub on your lunch break, which serves up traditional British pies at £10 each.

5:00 – Tower Bridge and Southbank [FREE] – When your tour is over, walk around the Tower of London onto the world famous Tower Bridge to get an amazing view of London, and stand on one of the most famous bridges in the world! Then walk along the path running the Southern bank of the River Thames, seeing London from a new direction as well as passing popular sites such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and the London Eye.

6:30 – Covent Garden – Cross the Thames on either Waterloo Bridge or the Hungerford Bridge and walk into Covent Garden. You’re now in the heart of London’s West End and you should be near a theatre for your show! Explore the cobbled back streets and grab a bite to eat and the best margarita in town at a London Favourite: La Perla Bar and Restaurant – with a Happy Hour running from 4pm – 7pm, margaritas are under £5 each, and nibble on delicious chips and salsa for another £3.00 – bargain!

London tower at night7:30 – The Show Goes On! – Most London West End productions begin at 7:30 in the evening.

10:00 – London At Night – [FREE] When your show is over, head to Trafalgar Square and see Nelson’s Column illuminated at night. You can also head to Whitehall to re-visit the Houses of Parliament and see Big Ben, towering over you with lights shining bright! Or even take a pay-what-you-like Night tour that starts on Westminster Bridge.

 

Day 2 – Authentic London Locations – London Under £100 a Day

London Tower[This itinerary will see you exploring “authentic” London, visiting amazing places you will never find anywhere else in the world. You’ll get to grips with London’s 2,000 years of history at the Museum and Tower, and then some of the best food in town all finished by the most LONDON tour you can take – Jack the Ripper!]

9:00am – The Tower of London – An absolute must for a visit to our capital city, the Tower of London holds 1,000 years of history…not to mention the Crown Jewels! Get their first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and head straight to the Jewel House first thing, so you can explore before others arrive later on. Entry is pricey at £22.00 but worth it for the sheer amount that is hidden inside.

12:00 – St. Katherine’s Docks – Just behind the Tower of London lies hidden docklands, dotted with restaurants, pubs and bars, so uncover the secret and grab a bite to eat here on the water. Lunch with a drink is easy to find for well under £20.00 here!

1:30 – The Museum of London – [FREE] If there’s only time to visit one museum you visit in London, this is the one that will give you the best London-centric experience. Chronologically laid out, this Museum covers thousands of years of London History.  Be sure to check out their exhibit on Londonium and check out a piece of the Roman city wall.  For history fans, read our self-guided tour of Roman London stops.  Be sure to also check out our itinerary suggestions for London museums.

4:30 – Heron Tower – After the Museum, head to nearby Liverpool Street and one of the tallest skyscrapers in town: Heron Tower. With a bar at the top selling cocktails, wine, or non-alcoholic goodies, a drink here will provide you with one of the most stunning views of London – all for the cost of a drink! Soft drinks run around £5, and cocktails come in around £12.00, so think about treating yourself!

Brick Lane in London5:30 – Just around the corner is the East End and Brick Lane, so get yourself some delicious and authentic Indian food for dinner (easy to do for around £10.00 per person), and have a bit of a wander to take in all of the street art that decorates this eclectic part of town. Maybe even consider some East End food bites.

8:00pm – Jack the Ripper Tour – Explore the backstreets of Victorian London with our expert guide and hear the stories about the world’s most famous murder victims…and their killer! A London “must,” this tour encompasses the spirit of London’s evocative East End, all with a pay-what-you-wish price!

 

Day 3 Classic London – London Under £100 a Day

London Greenwich[This itinerary will have you traveling through town on the Thames – a classic way to view the city. You’ll also enjoy a snack at an authentic London market, followed by a British “classic” – afternoon tea!]

9:00 – Boat Trip – Catch a boat from Westminster and enjoy the river views as you travel all the way to Greenwich! Ticket prices run from around £8.00 one-way and £12.00 return. If you’ve already got yourself and Oystercard/Travelcard, you can snap up a discount!  Check out our post on London boat tours.

10:30 – Greenwich – Explore Britain’s naval history and straddle the Prime Meridian! The Old Naval College, the Royal Observatory and the Naval Museum are all worth visiting. Or perhaps you can follow our free Self-guided Greenwich Walking Tour. There is also a market for delicious snacks in the centre of town, all of which are easily affordable – think around £5.00 to satisfy your hunger (but don’t eat too much because soon you’ll be having…

3:00 – Afternoon Tea – For those on a budget, take your afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury (either at their Bloomsbury Branch, or the City – both of which will see you spending around £10.00 for a pot of tea and cake, or add a glass of fizz for another £9) and for those wanting the full ‘silver service,’ take your tea at Fortnum & Mason’s – this is a true splash out and will set you back around £40.00 per person, but the experience is long, lingering, and delicious!

BigBen parliament6:30 – Parliament – [FREE] Whenever the House of Commons or House of Lords are in session, it is possible to go inside and sit in the public galleries! Located entirely within the Palace of Westminster, this means you can enter a royal Palace without having to pay a single penny. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the houses tend to sit late into the night, so avoid the crowds and enjoy the Parliamentary process!

9:00 – See Soho – Soho comes alive at night (especially on the weekends) and is a great place to explore! Cobbled streets and hidden alleys hold interesting buildings, shops, restaurants and bars. Consider stopping to have a drink at a traditional British pub like the John Snow (with pints of traditional British ales, lagers and beers for under £4.00), or sip some cocktails at Milk & Honey, a classic London cocktail institution – drinks are pricey so treat yourself to just one for around £10.00!

 

Day 4 – Taste the Culinary London – London Under £100 a Day

Tour guide Margaret at Borough Market in London[This itinerary will have you exploring the best markets London has to offer, including the largest food Market in town, serving up 100% British snacks, drinks and ingredients. You’ll do some bargain hunting in Camden, stroll through a beautiful park, and get in touch with your inner-Beatle!]

10:00 – Borough Market – Get your day started with some tasty treats from Borough Market. All the goods for sale here are top-quality British specialties, from fresh produce, to wine, to hot pies, as well as desserts, fruit and nut bars, bakeries…etc. etc! It’s possible to shop cheaply here, but give yourself a budget of between £10 – £20 to ensure you can get maximum tastes and flavours!

 

London Camden Market12:00 – Camden Market – An easy ride up from Borough Market, Camden is a great place to spend the afternoon. If our Camden Tour is running, definitely book yourself a space, but if not – there is still plenty to do here! With an antiques market perfect for those who like to rummage, clothing stalls for fashionistas, and a quite exciting high street full of shops selling nearly anything you could imagine. Camden is the hot bed of counter-culture in London so anything goes here (and don’t be afraid to haggle…Camden is all about getting yourself a bargain!). It’s also a great place to people-watch, sit along Regent’s Canal, and get yourself London’s best fish and chips at Poppy’s – a massive sharing plate will set you back under £15.00 for lunch for two people!

3:00 – Regent’s Park – [FREE] Bordering Camden is one of the most beautiful, and less frequented, London parks. Regent’s Park is great for a wander, holds a beautiful rose garden, fountains, and Regent’s Canal runs alongside which means it’s possible to walk directly from Camden into the park via the 18th century waterway.  Read our summary post on London parks you need to visit.

4:00 – Baker Street – Here you can choose to either visit Madame Tussauds (book online starting from £22.50) or the Sherlock Holmes Museum (not actually located at 22B – and tickets are £10.00 for adults!). There’s also a statue of Holmes outside Baker Street Underground Station, for those who may want to get a photograph.

6:30 – Abbey Road – [FREE] One tube-stop away from Baker Street lies Abbey Road…home to the most famous street crossing in the world! Walk in the footsteps of the Fab Four, or just get a picture of the recording studio – Abbey Road is a unique London location worth making the effort to visit.  Read our post on how to get to Abbey Road.

8:00 – The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street – This is an enthusiastic and personal recommendation from our London guide and City Manager, Margaret. The Churchill Arms in front of a classic, cozy London pub – all kinds of curious newspaper clippings, posters and adverts covering each wooden-panel wall, the ceiling is full of hanging baskets, candles and beersteins, and the carpet is suitably thick and dark, giving the pub a cozy atmosphere. In back, however, is the real treat: the best Thai restaurant in London! The tiny restaurant is set underneath hanging baskets, flowers, and butterflies which makes it an interesting locale, and main dishes are ALL under £10.00 each – so get yourself there!

 

Day 5 – Museums, not just for rainy days – London Under £100 a Day

Self-guided Hyde Park and Kensington tour Victoria and Albert Museum[With this itinerary, the only money you spend is on your daily oystercard to get you through town, then lunch and dinner, both of which are in budget-friendly locations!]

10:00am – Victoria & Albert Museum [FREE] – This museum is one of our favorites. Its exhibits include the “Britain” gallery which has artefacts relating to the history of Britain – including an entire Jacobean room that has been rebuilt inside the Museum. It’s renowned for its decorative arts and design collection and currently holds over 4.5million objects on a rotating collection of fantastic exhibitions.

12:30pm – Have lunch at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The lovely cafe inside serves fresh food and little afternoon tea-style treats.

1:00pm – Natural History Museum [FREE] – This museum has fascinating pieces from all over the world, just to mention a few: extinct animals, a T-Rex dinosaur that moves, a piece of the largest trees in the world, as well as endless collection of spiders and butterflies. You should take a walk through the solar system or get up close to the special gemstone collection that rivals the Queen’s!

3:30pm – Science Museum [FREE] – This museum is great for families. Its exhibitions are very hands-on, and therefore create an awesome interactive experience. Come and see the world’s oldest steam locomotive, the first jet engine, and even an IMAX theatre showing science and nature documentaries.

London Trafalgar square    1Read our tips on other free museums in London.

6:00pm – Once everything closes, take the opportunity to jump on a bus (Number 9) to Trafalgar Square to see the famous fountains and Nelson’s Column. Make your way down Whitehall to see Big Ben, red telephone boxes, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In certain times of the year this will be in the dark hours, and the dim lights will create a very special atmosphere!

7:30pm – Chinatown – A great place to cheap eats, London’s Chinatown is vibrant, thriving, and delicious! Shops selling Chinese candies and treats, restaurants of various sizes and styles, as well as wonderful bakeries with tasty dessert treats – Chinatown is a gastronomic delight and it’s easy to eat yourself happy for under £20.00 a person.

 

Day 6 Get out of London for the day or walk its many streets – London Under £100 a Day

London windsor castle DAY TRIP – There are a number of London companies that offer day trips to exciting locations within driving distance of London. The most popular is the Windsor (primary home of Queen Elizabeth II and longest continually-inhabited castle in the world), Bath (home to the Roman Baths and Jane Austin) and Stonehenge (England’s best known prehistoric monument). A whirlwind day out, this tour is definitely ‘bang for your buck.’ Check out companies like: Evan Evans and Golden Tours to see which tour suits you best, and get your day-trip ticket for about £75.00 each, which will include entrance to the Queen’s Apartments at Windsor, the Roman Baths, Stonehenge AND some of them even include lunch!

London Ye olde Cheshire CheeseAlternatively, if you still haven’t gotten enough of London, consider exploring some neighborhoods with our free self-guided walking tours or check out our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours if you prefer a live tour guide.

If you’re not too tired when you get back to town, consider grabbing a cheap meal (under £10) at one of London’s oldest and best loved pubs: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This pub has been serving up drinks and food to Londoners since the 16th century and the current building dates all the way from 1667 – it doesn’t get more authentic than this cozy little pub, tucked away on an alley just off of Fleet Street.

Oyster Card or Travel Card

Should I buy the Oyster Card or Travelcard?

Posted by & filed under London.

When it comes to travelling around London, public transport is the easiest, cheapest, and most authentic way to go. To get the best value for your money when moving through the capital, it’s always worth checking out your options. No matter the length of time you will be in London, whereabouts you want to go, or which mode of transport you wish to take, there are transport ticket options for every one! Detailed here are the most common (and most useful) ticket types.

Be sure to read our Guide to London on a Budget for more money saving tips for your visit.

TIP: If you are considering our All-in-One London Tour, which utilizes the London Underground, we can help you to determine which transport card to purchase at the start of the tour.  Also, check out our blog post on how to navigate the London Underground.

What Are My Options?

In London, there are two options available to visitors: Visitor Oyster Card or Travelcard.

Paper Tickets (Travelcards):  Paper tickets can consist of single-fare tickets, valid for a single journey, round-trip tickets to get you elsewhere and back again, 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards (or even monthly and yearly!).

oysterOyster Cards: This is the choice for Londoners themselves – everybody who lives in London has an Oyster card! Oyster cards are plastic smartcards that can be loaded with 1-Day-Travelcards, 7-Day-Travelcards (even monthly and yearly!), or can be pre-loaded with money to spend as and when you need it. Oyster cards are reusable so you can load and re-load your card as many times as you need to while you’re here. Visitors can even take their oyster cards back home with them and either keep them as souvenirs or hold onto them until their next trip to London!

To get yourself an Oyster card you can simply go to the window at any London Underground Station and request one, or use some of the many self-service ticket machines at busier Underground Stations. To get an Oyster card you need to pay a £5.00 deposit, which is held by Transport for London – but can be reimbursed to you whenever you return your Oyster card back to any London Underground Station at the end of your visit. In addition to collecting your deposit, you can also receive any extra money you put onto the card that you have not yet spent.

However! Money you have loaded onto your Oyster card does not expire, which means if you don’t spend it all before you leave, it will remain on your card until your next visit. So if you plan to come back, simply hold onto your card.

For those who like to plan in advance, and don’t mind a non-refundable deposit of £3.00, it is possible to order a pre-loaded Oystercard to be sent to you before you even leave the house! http://www.superbreak.com/go/bp041/oyster-card/index.htm.

So Which Ticket Do I Want?

This depends on what it is you want to do and where you want to go! Note that the London Underground Map is divided into 9 different zones. Zones 1 and 2 are in the centre, where most of the popular visitor attractions are. When travelling across London, it’s worth remember that the further outside of Zones 1 and 2 you need to go, the more expensive your journey can become.

As a general rule of thumb, you can determine which ticket will be best for you depending on the length of time you are in town.

In London for 4 Days or Fewer:

Single Journey: If you have planned ahead and you know that you will only need to use public transport once or twice a day, and you do not wish to get an Oyster card, you can always purchase a single ticket from one part of London to another, which will be issued to you as a paper ticket.

Note: When it comes to single fares on tubes and buses – it is always cheaper to use Oyster Pay-As-You-Go (see below for details on Oyster)!

1-Day-Travelcard: If you know that you will be using public transport quite a bit, you have the good option of purchasing a standard 1-Day-Travelcard that is valid for a 24 hour period (4:30am – 4:30am, regardless of when your ticket was purchased). This ticket is good for Underground journeys as well as bus journeys.  Please note however, that the Underground is not a 24-hour service. After the tube has shut for the evening, your travelcard will still be valid on all bus routes throughout the city. The price you will pay for your travelcard will depend on how many zones you wish to travel in (see pricing overview below).

1-Day-Travelcards can be issued as paper tickets, or can be loaded onto Oyster cards.

If you purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard at a London Rail Station (as opposed to an Underground Station), you will be eligible for 2for1 discounts at many popular London attractions, including the Tower of London and London Eye.  Read our blog post for more information.

Pay-As-You-Go: If you intend to spend a lot of your time walking, or you do not have a specified route of travel in mind when you arrive to London, your best bet is to use the Oyster card Pay-As-You-Go (Pre-Pay Oyster) card. This is when your Oyster card is loaded with an amount of credit that you have chosen yourself. Your bus or tube fare will be deducted as and when you use your card to travel.Red_double_decker_bus_in_London

The best part of Oyster Pay-As-You-Go is that you will never be charged more than it would cost to purchase a 1-Day-Travelcard. Once you have spent the equivalent amount on your Oyster card, that you would have spent for a 1-Day-Travelcard, your Oyster card will stop deducting money from your Pay-As-You-Go balance.

Note: Oyster Pay-As-You-Go can also be used on KPMG Thames Clipper River services!

In London for 5 Days or More:

If you are in London for more than 5 days and you know you will be travelling extensively throughout the capital then a 7-Day-Travelcard is the most sensible choice by far. This Travelcard is good on both London Underground as well as London buses and can also net you a discount on some boat journeys.

You may choose to put your 7-Day-Travelcard onto an Oystercard, or you may wish to use a 7-Day-Travelcard paper ticket – the choice is yours.

What are the Ticket Rates for 1-Day-Travelcards and 7-Day-Travelcards?

Rates vary depending on the time you wish to travel and how many zones you want to cover. 4

Zones: Most London attractions are within Zones 1 – 2 but a Zone 1 – 6 covers absolutely all of them, as well as Heathrow airport!

Time: 1-Day-Travelcards and single fare paper tickets come in two different formats: Peak and Off-Peak. Peak means that you can use your ticket or 1-Day-Travelcard any time to travel on the Underground. Off-Peak means your ticket is not valid on weekdays before 9:30am. If you are fond of lying in – the Off-Peak may be a sensible choice!

Peak and Off-Peak does not apply on 7-Day-Travelcards, Single Cash fares, or bus journeys.

Ticket Type Peak Off-Peak
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £9.00 £7.30
1-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £17.00 £8.90
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 2 £31.40 N/A
7-Day-Travelcard, Zones 1 – 6 £57.20 N/A
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2(Cash) £4.70
Single Fare in Zones 1 – 2 (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £2.80 £2.20
Bus Journey (Cash) £2.40 N/A
Bus Journey (Oyster Pay-As-You-Go) £1.45

 

Anything Else?

We have some more interesting facts on our blog. This guide is only an overview of the most popular, cheapest, and easiest tickets you may need while you are in London. However, for more information, including tickets for children, travel beyond Zone 6, or bus and tube maps please see the Transport for London Website: www.tfl.gov.uk.