Author Topic: Visiting London, need tips  (Read 1161 times)

InCreator

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Visiting London, need tips
« on: 10 Jan 2012, 19:48 »
I decided to see UK this year, although my stay will be fairly short (1,5 days).
While I put together rather detailed map what I want to see and how to fill this short period of time, I have few problems/unknowns:

1) Transit. I arrive and depart from Luton Airport which is rather far from city center and hotel (30 miles or so)

I think there shouldn't be too much problems in getting to hotel (which located in far NE, near Lea Bridge rd/A104), but leaving is a problem: plane departs at 7:45AM and I have no clue if anything drives me so early there.
Also, I figured there's trains, metro and buses. What would be most reasonable/not too expensive and what operates at night?
Google maps for some reason fails to give me any directions also. Is there something else I could use?

2) How does it work? Where do I get a ticket for rail or metro, etc? Are there booths, whatever? I have honestly no clue atm.

3) What to see:
I figured basic touristy stuff like Tower of London, maybe National Museum or Imperial war museum, planned a long walk that would take me through all interesting stuff, but is there anything I should see?

And any other tips would be appreciated!

« Last Edit: 10 Jan 2012, 19:50 by InCreator »

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #1 on: 10 Jan 2012, 20:04 »
Be on the lookout for Doctor Who. He seems to hang out there quite a bit.
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cat

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #2 on: 10 Jan 2012, 20:10 »
I'd ask at the hotel reception, they might be able to organise a car for you. In most cities there are those special airport taxis that have to be preordered but are cheaper than regular taxis.

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #3 on: 10 Jan 2012, 20:48 »

1) Transit. I arrive and depart from Luton Airport which is rather far from city center and hotel (30 miles or so)

I think there shouldn't be too much problems in getting to hotel (which located in far NE, near Lea Bridge rd/A104), but leaving is a problem: plane departs at 7:45AM and I have no clue if anything drives me so early there.
Also, I figured there's trains, metro and buses. What would be most reasonable/not too expensive and what operates at night?
Google maps for some reason fails to give me any directions also. Is there something else I could use?

No idea. Don't think trains start until 6am so you my have to look into buses or something. If I remember correctly train stations close around midnight, so last train = midnight, first train = about 6am. Buses run pretty much 24/7.


2) How does it work? Where do I get a ticket for rail or metro, etc? Are there booths, whatever? I have honestly no clue atm.

Depending on the station, there are either machines where you can buy tickets, or a staffed booth. Best bet is to get a visitor oyster card I think (a local may be able to help you better with this if they contribute). http://www.tfl.gov.uk <- transport for london website. They deliver visitor travel cards to a number of countries. 


3) What to see:
I figured basic touristy stuff like Tower of London, maybe National Museum or Imperial war museum, planned a long walk that would take me through all interesting stuff, but is there anything I should see?

And any other tips would be appreciated!



Never really been down there for the touristy stuff, but you seem to have missed off a few places. Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family "live", Westminster Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben. You can't really see Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives), but you can walk past the big iron gate guarded by 3 policemen carrying MP5's and try and get a glimpse in. Not sure about Buckingham Palace, but the rest of those sights I mentioned can be done in a walk (they are all around the same area).

As for pubs, if you are a drinker, The Porterhouse in Covent Garden is worth a mention for it's really long beer menu (It's essentially a book). Not expensive, but I wouldn't spend a night out there, best to move on to a cheaper pub once you've experienced it.

If you're a Jack the Ripper fan you can probably get a guided tour around the famous Ripper spots, i.e. Whitechapel Road etc, but you'll have to do some research on where to go to get on those. Taxi's are best avoided if possible as they are expensive, buses are quite busy during the day, so when I'm in London I normally get the tube (trains) as it's easier to get on and off.

As cat said the hotel receptionist should be able to help. You definitely won't be the only foreigner they have ever had stay there, so they should know all the places to go like the back of their hand.

Hope that helps. I'm not a londoner myself, just have friends there, but that is pretty much the extent of my knowledge of tourist info for the place.
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Anian

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #4 on: 10 Jan 2012, 21:01 »
As far as I remember (from a toursit point), you've got train or bus or of course taxi from the airport, I think train comes out the cheapest (has been a while since I was in London though).

In general, use the Underground, fastest way to move around and if you've ever used a metro type of transit, it's same there. Booths/tickets can be purchased at the metro stations and wherever the train/bus drops you off, you'll probably find ticket shops. Buses are fun (as in they're specific to London) but streets are busy at all times of the day.

Underground takes you where you need to go and of course near all the "must see" things. I sugest Museum of natural history (this might take a few hours), Tower and London bridge (Tower has cool tour from one side to the other plus you get to see how it works, while London bridge has castle stuff, plus crowns, dungeons etc.), the Parliament/Big Ben (those two are close by, if you're into that kind of architecture then definetly visit), Trafalgar square (this is nothing that special, but still a nice and important place).

Buckingham palace is crowded, you can't get nowhere near it and if you go then time it so you see the changing of the guards, because that's about it. But if you're there (just checked, it's Victoria station) near it is Westminster Cathedral.
Be warned that Whitechapel looks really "ordinary" today, so it's kind of a "if you have a lot of time" thing.
Visit Greenwich if you have more time (more then like a week - did you say 1-5 days?) and expect a really long line for the Madame Tussauds wax museum (I suggest you even skip it), but if you're there, you can visit Sherlock's gigs, I think they're nearby, also shopping around Picadilly...it depends on how fast of a toursit you are and what you're interests are.

God I want to go back there, last time I was there I "kicked" out of the pub cause I was underage.

p.s. note that they have different electrical sockets there
« Last Edit: 10 Jan 2012, 21:11 by anian »
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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #5 on: 10 Jan 2012, 21:33 »
Picadilly Circus at night. It's awesome, especially when it's not freezing. I often stumbled into improptu happenings there. And back in 2008 there was an awesome Jacked Potato shop there, if you're a potato fan.

InCreator

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #6 on: 10 Jan 2012, 21:35 »

Depending on the station, there are either machines where you can buy tickets, or a staffed booth. Best bet is to get a visitor oyster card I think (a local may be able to help you better with this if they contribute). http://www.tfl.gov.uk <- transport for london website. They deliver visitor travel cards to a number of countries.  


Thanks, this website turned out to be worth gold, once I decyphered how it works.

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #8 on: 14 Jan 2012, 20:53 »
tfl fares list but seems to have gone up since I was at Uni.

It may work out cheaper to use Oyster Pay As You Go rather than a travelcard depending on how long you are staying, but the travelcards give you less to worry about. You can use both on the metro, buses, trams and Overground in most cases. If you do use Oyster Pay As You Go, remember to only touch in at the start and end of your journey.

In most main stations this is simple enough: you have to touch on the yellow reader to open/exit through the gate. But some of the Oyster readers are on the platforms or in the connecting tunnels so it can be tempting to touch your Oyster card on all of them! If you forget to touch out or you touch when you shouldn't you get charged the full daily fare, and trust me, it's happened to me quite a few times!

The only exception is the pink readers you might need to use mid-journey. These tell the system that you're avoiding zone 1 and you get a cheaper fare. An example i've used is the one in Stratford. If in doubt, ask a member of staff.

Enjoy your stay in London. Unfortunately I don't drive otherwise I would've offered to help get you to/from the airport (it's about 30 miles from us I think) but pm me if you get into trouble and I can nag her parents to offer a free taxi ;)

InCreator

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #9 on: 17 Jan 2012, 20:26 »
Thanks for all the helpful info. Flying out tomorrow and my trip got twice as complicated, since I injured my right hand so it's about 10% working, just enough to type, but as long as I find places to get some wi-fi to my Ipad, I'll be fine. Bookmarked TFL also.

Metro card stuff sounds quite frightening, only time in I life I used underground train was in Stockholm and I was too hammered to remember but it cannot be too bad I think.
Also, from some online investigation, London actually doesn't sound so expensive at all: some prices seem to be lower than in Estonia, although we have 6x to tenfold smaller wages. Frustrating... At least I'll feel like home there :D
« Last Edit: 17 Jan 2012, 20:29 by InCreator »

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Re: Visiting London, need tips
« Reply #10 on: 22 Jan 2012, 15:04 »
TRANSIT
This is a great site for transit around London.
http://citymapper.co.uk/

Tells you all the ways you can travel including how much it'll cost and mash it up into a google map.

I stick to the tube mostly, buses after midnight/1am when tubes stop or walk.

Black cabs are ridiculously expensive. If you know where you need to go in advance you can book a mini-cab. They're much cheaper but they may not know where they're going... depends on how niche the location you're going is.

Pick up a mini a-z map, speak to the locals who are on the desk at the hotel/hostel.

STUFF TO DO
Because it always rains, museums are always good. London is always coming in the top lists worldwide for it's parks, museums and galleries, all of which are free. Science museum, natural history museum, Victoria and Albert museum, national gallery. You'll have to pay for special exhibits or for some private galleries.

Go shopping on Oxford Street. see Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London (pay to get in, but still just as good looking from the outside). Go to Harrods in Knightsbridge, check out bars and clubs in Soho or Shoreditch. Ride the London Eye ferris wheel and see the houses of parliament.

------
My ultimate one day walking tour of London (super-cheap as well, see all* major attractions)
if you're only here for a day, I'd just do this. Take a tube to Westminister, see the houses of parliament. Walk up to Buckingham Palace (Birdcage walk) then up and through green park to Harrods at Knightsbridge. Jump on a tube (or stroll through Hyde Park) and go to St Pauls cathedral (amazing cathedral, worth the money to go inside and look... lots of steps so be prepared), walk across the river on the millennium bridge, stop at the Tate gallery if you want some art or carry along the river towards Shakespeares globe, the HMS Belfast, London bridge and tower bridge where you can cross to look at the tower of London. Lots of good places to have dinner around Shoreditch and Spitalfields Market if you want somewhere less touristy than Soho, which also has some great eats.


* may not actually see all major sights
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