Ideas for your trip to London
Getting thereThe cheapest and easiest way to get to London is by plane. You can get a return flight from Geneva to London Luton or London Stansted or from Lyon St Exupery to London Stansted with Easyjet for around 50€. Of course, this depends when you want to go and how much in advance you want to book the ticket - it can be a lot cheaper or a lot more expensive! It is usually cheaper to travel midweek but it's even better if you can be flexible with your dates. Look at the 'Calendar' option when you book your tickets - it's shows you the prices for a two week period and makes it easy to choose the cheapest times to fly.
From December to April there is more choice and you can fly from Grenoble airport with Easyjet or Ryanair.
Don't forget that although these airports are called 'London' airports they are not, in fact, very near London and you will have to include the cost of travelling into London.
From Luton the best way is to get a 'Travelcard' on the Thameslink train. This is a single ticket into London but it includes all day travel on the Underground for that day too. When I did it in February 2006 it cost £14 for one adult alone (but strangely only £12 for one adult and one child travelling together) Note that the Thameslink service does not operate on Sundays, but there is the standard train service.
For more detailed information look at
Information about links from Stansted airport to London.
When you arrive in London you can travel around on the buses or underground system (métro). You can buy a Travelcard for 1 day, 3 days or 7 days which allows you unlimited travel on buses or underground trains. For more details see the websites below.
or this one, in French -
Where to stay
|It's always difficult to find cheap (and good) places to stay in central London.|
We can however recommend this bed and breakfast in the Paddington area of the city, found for us by one of our students. It appears to be one of the cheapest around, is family run and offers comfortable accommodation.
Tony's House Hotel
Getting to know the city
|There are sights to see in London that everyone knows and recognises – London Bridge, Big Ben, the Tower of London and many others. If you want to visit these sights, do a tour of them, climb the stairs to see the view etc then you should be prepared to pay between £10 and £20 entrance fee per attraction(15€ - 30€). However you can see a lot of the sights without going in and still get a good idea of London.|
Have a look at these sights to see how much you can do for free in London!
I suggest you start with a bus tour of London, which allows you to see all the main attractions and understand the general layout of the city. There are many companies offering bus tours . If you want to do this as cheaply as possible, look at bustour
Otherwise, I suggest ‘The Original Tour'.
The ticket costs around £20 but there are 3 routes (itineraries) and you can get on and off as often as you want. There is a recorded commentary in English, French and other languages, which describes the sights you see.
The ticket is valid for 24 hours and includes a trip on a river boat (you can also get on and off this too).
You can book the ticket in advance on the internet and if you book tickets for other sights with the same company you get discounts on these tickets – the more tickets you book, the better the discount.
Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London EyeOf course, you will want to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and walk over Westminster Bridge to admire the view. Don’t forget to consider a trip on the London Eye – an enormous wheel on the banks of the River Thames that gives you a fantastic view over the city. It costs about £20 but is definitely worth it for the experience.
|Try to go when there is the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony (you can also see this ceremony at Whitehall). This happens in the morning (approx. 10am – 12am) – you need to get there early if you want to get a good place to watch from as there are often a lot of people. |
To check the schedule or for more information look at changing-the-guard
Parks in London
|London is famous for its beautiful parks.|
St James Park – very central and good to rest your tired feet after a morning’s shopping!
Green Park – with Buckingham Palace on one side and Piccadilly, the Ritz Hotel and Fortnum and Mason - a wonderful shop for all food products - on the other.
Regent’s Park – if you want to visit London Zoo.
If the weather’s nice, you could visit Hyde Park (Hyde Park, Speaker’s Corner on a Sunday morning is a great English institution - the home of free speech ! ! !) and have a picnic there, and Kensington Gardens too. There’s usually lots going on - music etc and it’s worth a visit. Sunday is a good day to go.
|Madame Tussaud's waxworks museum in Baker Street is a must. You may have to queue to get in but it's worth it. Did you know Mme Tussaud was a Frenchwoman, born in Strasbourg?|
The Science Museum
With something for everyone and lots of hands-on exhibitions this museum is a good place to go on a wet day! ...and it's free!
The National Gallery has some wonderful art– one of the best collections of Western European paintings in the world – and it's free too!
The Natural History Museum – also free!
There are lots more museums and art galleries to see. Have a look at these websites to find out about some more.
ShoppingAs far as shopping’s concerned, you could go to Oxford Street and Regent Street- all the big shops are there. You may find that a bit tiring, especially at the weekend. Try to pop into Liberty’s, just to admire the beautiful old building. The children will enjoy Hamley's on Regent street - the biggest toy shop I've ever seen with lots of demonstrations of new products. It's easy to get in but not so easy to get out!
Don’t forget Harrods in Knightsbridge - probably the biggest department store in Europe. The Egyptian Room and food halls are a must!
Alternatively, go to Covent Garden. There’s so much to see. Lots of street entertainment - acrobats, musicians, children’s entertainers, jugglers, magicians - and no cars!
There’s a good Arts and Crafts Market in Covent Garden on Saturdays and Sundays.
Covent Garden Life
|If you want to go to one of the big shows one evening (Leicester Square, Covent Garden etc), you could get tickets at the Box Office in Covent Garden or Leicester Square.|
MarketsLondon has great markets - you can sometimes pick up a few bargains - try Portobello Road and Petticoat Lane. There’s a super atmosphere - but watch your bag!
Camden Market is worth a visit to see some of the more extreme examples of London fashion.
Camden Lock Market
(photo courtesy of David Aldeia: http://www.tutoshop.com/crespo/archives/16131)