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pharmhand's avatar

Can you help with my questions about travelling in London, UK?

Asked by pharmhand (12points) April 7th, 2014

My friend suggested I ask the collective here. I apologize if I’m posting in the wrong place.

My husband and I are travelling to London in May, 2014 and were planning to stay with family, but unforeseen circumstances have eliminated that option and so we are starting fresh and completely at a loss.

1) Is there an area of the city you’d recommend as a base for touring?
2) We prefer inexpensive but personal lodgings. Do you know of a nice guesthouse or pub accommodations in that area? (Not interested in hostels)
3) What is the best way to get around London? I’ve heard something about transportation passes. We don’t want to rent a car. Where would I purchase something like that?
4) What are the “don’t miss” places to see? Not necessarily the normal tourist destinations, but places you would take a guest if you are a local or places you’d revisit if you have been a tourist.

We’re a bit anxious about plans having fallen through for our first trip to the UK but excited about the adventure opportunity.
Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

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10 Answers

Kropotkin's avatar

The interesting parts of London are mostly in and around its centre, so it’s best to find somewhere central.

I don’t know about guest houses or pubs to stay out, but I can recommend the Travelodge. There’s one within walking distance of Leicester Square, so it’s practically in the centre of London. It’s also reasonably priced, clean, and they have breakfast included in the price.

If you’re intent on a guest house or something like that, you could try your luck with

For travelling within London, I would recommend using the London Underground, also called the Tube—its metro system. Pricing is based on zones; the tickets are then usable for the entire day within the zone you’ve paid for. They’re fast, clean, safe, and the stations are typically a short walk away from the landmarks. You can also hire bicycles.

There’s lots of great restaurants, museums, galleries, interesting shops, splendid buildings, traditional pubs, shops. I don’t know about a must see place, but I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

pharmhand's avatar

Thank you @Kropotkin! I’ll look at Leicester Square area.
I had found but wasn’t sure what locale to zoom in on.

rojo's avatar

It has been too many years to have any up to date information but both times we went we found a B&B in town. Both times they were within walking distance of the Underground (but isn’t everything) and we used it extensively, on the second trip we even taught the kids how to use it in case we ever got separated, it is not difficult. Not sure about the buses. We caught one from time to time but for the most part we wanted to walk and sightsee.
Have a good time, I know you will.

PS I would stay away from a car until or unless you are going to go out of the city. Parking is a bitch and so is traffic. Not to mention the wankers drive on the wrong side of the road.

wildpotato's avatar

These are the normal tourist things, but Hyde Park, the British Museum, and the Tower of London were all excellent and I would visit them again. I also went to a play and a small concert, and would definitely recommend going to see a show while you are there. We used Hyde Park as our “base” and it worked well, but then we were staying right there. One very cool thing we did that’s a bit unusual was going on a horseback ride through the park. Use the Tube to get around; it’s very nice. The Indian food in London is fantastic – I can’t recall the name of our favorite restaurant, but I doubt you could go too wrong with this particular cuisine.

pharmhand's avatar

Thank you so much!
I’ll also look at Hyde Park. I’m a total anglophile, so I’m familiar with terms and names of locations. Just not so sure what to do after you’re dropped in Southhampton and have 6 days to do whatever!
I found many guesthouse alternatives to hotels that look nice and come in way under-budget.
You’ve given me a good start and some great ideas.
Is there any particular tour company anybody would recommend for a first day?
Hit the highlights and decide what to do from that?

rojo's avatar

Get you “several” tour guide books (Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, Frommers, Fordor,Off the beaten Path, Virtual Tourist etc. (or look them up online) because sometimes you will find things listed in one that is not in the others; something that catches your eye because there will not be as many tourists there.
We spent two days at the Brit Museum the first time (we did not have kids then) because that was something that fascinated us. We also walked many, many miles through the town because sometimes going to one place you found other interesting side trips.

good luck and enjoy!

Lightlyseared's avatar

Have a look at London Pass. It gets you entry to pretty much everything you may want to see and often you wont have to queue. If you were planning to visit several attractions it will work out cheaper.

You can get daily or weekly travel cards that will get you around on the tube or bus. Most of the main stuff is in zone 1 or 2 (ie the centre) so I wouldn’t bother getting a pass that covers more than that.

As a base I’d look at the area round Victoria. Theres a large number of hotels and guest houses near the station. It’s just far enough away from the centre that its a little cheaper but still close enough that you can walk to Hyde Park in about 10 minutes or Trafalgar square in about 15. The tube and buses from the station make it easy to get to places and there are also coach tours to places outside of London if you want a change of scene.

Stinley's avatar

I would recommend Camden Market. Very hippy, and loads of fun stuff to look at or buy.
You can get a canal barge from near there and go on a trip up the canal, that’s fun. You go through London Zoo. I would recommend the Hayward Gallery for very modern art. I saw an Anish Kapoor exhibition there before he was well known that was fantastic. The Tate Modern also very cool. Imperial War museum is fascinating. Boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich is a bit off the beaten track but interesting, historic ship, market. It’s opposite Canary Wharf where the huge skyscraper is. You can get across the river in a foot tunnel which is a great if slightly claustrophobic way to go! Soho is great, very gay but friendly, which trendy bars and coffee shops. For shopping if you travel out west to Westfield Shopping Centre it’s got loads of shops for all tastes and budgets.

If you get organised, you could get tickets for a recording of a TV show – check out SRO Audiences for your dates. The studios might be a bit out of town but should be accessible by train/Tube

downtide's avatar

When I stay in London I usually stay around the Euston/Bloomsbury area. Very central, within walking distance of the British Museum and many nice places to eat. I don’t have any B&B reccommendations because I usually stay in a hotel but there are some nice small hotels that are friendly and personal.

Definitely don’t hire a car. You can buy a 3 day or 7 day pass on the Underground – just buy it from one of the ticket machines in any underground station. Those tickets are good on buses too but I never use them because they are very slow and it’s not easy to figure out where they go.

Aside from the usual touristy things, do try to get to see a show in the West End if you can.

28lorelei's avatar

So you’re in London for 6 days? What sort of interests do you have? If you’re a classical music fan there’s amazing shows at the Royal Opera House and Southbank… even if you’re not a huge fan of classical, there are plenty of shows at the Royal Albert Hall that cater to all sorts of audiences…
If the weather is nice, Hyde Park is nice- go there on a Sunday morning and you’ll see people walking their dogs and just taking long strolls. If you don’t mind getting lost or have a great sense of direction, wandering around in the mews can be fun too. If the weather is not as nice though, there’s always lots of museums and galleries to wander around, if you want to.
Ultimately, do take the time to go to a cafe somewhere- have a cup of tea and a scone.

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