From € 3 to € 5
London offers great options for any kind of traveller. Many of the greatest places can be visited completely for free. Our guide how to see London for free shares local tips on what to do and what to avoid, and how to truly experience the city without spending a single penny!
Small tips are expected by housekeeping and hotel porters. In sit-down restaurants it is common to leave a tip of at least 10% of the bill.
Unless stated otherwise, the tap water in London is safe to drink.
Fortunately many museums in London are free of admission. Other museums may well offer discounts – it can be worthwhile to check your situation. To get an idea of the many fantastic museums that are totally free to visit, check out our guide on the best 10 free museums in London.
Public transport in London is represented by a well-developed network of metro, trains, buses, trams and water taxis. There is even a cable car in London. On the official website of Transport for London (TfL), you can search for public transport and plan your journey.
The Oyster Card is the non-contact rechargeable card to use in public transport in London. Generally speaking, fares are cheaper with an Oyster Card than with a paper ticket. A deposit of around € 6 is required to get the Oyster Card. You can recharge the card at ticket offices, at branded ticket machines, at cable car terminals, as well as through the official app for iOS and Android.
A Travelcard can be credited to the Oyster Card and allows for unlimited travel for one day, one week or one month, and so forth. You can also buy paper Travelcard tickets.
London has the world's first metro system, called the "Underground" or "Tube". The underground has its own recognizable logo in the form of a red circle with a blue line, as well as the famous announcement “Mind the gap!” The city is divided into 9 transport zones, with most transport taking place in the zones 1–6.
Most routes operate from 05:00 to 00:30. On Fridays and Saturdays, some lines operate around the clock.
Regular buses run from 05:00 to 00:30, whilst night buses take over from midnight to 06:00. Some buses have a 24-hour schedule. Please note that paying with cash on the bus is not possible. Tickets or travel cards must be purchased in advance. Boarding the bus takes place through the front door.
The red Routemaster double-decker buses are a familiar sight in London. Nowadays, the original ones have been replaced by over 1,000 New Routemasters. They are nicknamed the “Boris Bus” or “Borismaster” as it was the ex-mayor of London Boris Johnson who reintroduced them to the public. The rules are all the same as in regular buses, but there are some noteworthy routes you might consider taking. Route 9 for palaces and museums in London. Route 17 for historic sites and traditional pubs. Route 22 for shopping and galleries. Route 35 for markets. Route 139 for classic London.
The railway system of London consists of the suburban railway called the Overground, the Dockland Rail (DLR) to serve the Docklands and East London, the airport express TFL Rail and the National Rail for long-distance trains.
London has a well-developed water transport system on the Thames. Some routes are purely made for tourists, others are used by Londoners as public transport.
Water transport is carried out by private companies, the largest of which is the Thames Clippers. You can pay for your boat ride with your Oyster Card. The fare will depend on the number of zones you cross. In total, the water area of London is divided into 3 zones – East, Central and West. Tickets can also be purchased online in advance, at a ticket machine, or at a ticket office at one of the piers, as well as in the app for iOS and Android.
The Emirates Air Line was built for the 2012 Olympics. The cable car crosses the Thames and runs from Greenwich to the Royal Docks, with a journey time of about 10 minutes. For Oyster Card holders the one-way fare is about € 4 – when paying in cash it will be slightly more expensive. Have a look at the official website for further information about the cable car and tickets.
London has five different airports, making the city one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world.
London and Heathrow Airport are connected by the Piccadilly line, with trains running at intervals of 10 minutes. Travelling to London centre will take about 50 minutes. Note that there are three stations at Heathrow Airport – one between Terminals 2 and 3, one at Terminal 4, and one at Terminal 5. A ticket for a trip to central London (Zone 1) will cost around € 5.
The fastest way to get from Heathrow Airport to London is the Heathrow Express, which drives you to Paddington Station. The ride is non-stop and will take between 15-21 minutes. The interval between the trains is about 15 minutes. You can pay by Oyster Card, or buy your ticket at the ticket offices/ticket machines. Note that the Heathrow Express is rather expensive with a one-way ticket at around € 30 during peak hour. Find more information on the official website.
You can book a cab right at Heathrow Airport or use an application like Gett. A taxi to London centre costs around € 60. The travel time to London centre is about one hour.
See the official website of Heathrow Airport for further information on the various ways of getting to London.
With a travel time of 30 minutes, the Gatwick Express is the fastest way to get from Gatwick Airport to central London. Note that the departure station is located in the South Terminal. A free shuttle brings you from the North to the South Terminal. The Gatwick Express connects the airport with Victoria Station and runs every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes the rest of the time. A one-way ticket is around € 22. Find more information about the Gatwick Express on the official website.
For about half of the price you can take the ThamesLink train from Gatwick Airport to London centre. The travel time averages around 40 minutes. Have a look at the official website to learn more about the ThamesLink and to book your tickets. ThamesLink trains run frequently and even continue operating through the night.
The cheapest travel option from Gatwick Airport to London centre is the bus. Several companies offer their services, including Megabus, National Express and easyBus. The average travel time is about one and a half hour.
You can book a cab right at Gatwick Airport or use an application like Gett. A taxi to London centre costs around € 70. The travel time to London centre is usually around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
See the official website of Gatwick Airport for further information on the various ways of getting to London.
The fastest way to get from Stansted Airport to London centre is to take the Stansted Express. In about 50 minutes, the train takes you to Liverpool Street in London, from where you can transfer to various lines of the London Underground. Prices start at around € 12. Check out the official website for further information about the Stansted Express and tickets.
The cheapest travel option from Stansted Airport to London centre is the bus. Several companies offer their services, including Terravision and National Express. The average travel time is about one hour and forty minutes.
You can book a cab right at Stansted Airport, using for instance the on-airport provider 24x7 Taxis, which has a reservation desk located in the international arrival concourse. A taxi to London centre costs around € 90. The travel time is usually around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
See the official website of London Stansted Airport for further information on the various ways of getting to London.
From London Luton Airport you'll first need to take a shuttle bus to reach Luton Airport Parkway. From there you can take a direct train to central London, to stations like St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Blackfriars. The average train journey will take 40 minutes. Trains run every 10 minutes at peak times, and even continue working through the night. A one-way ticket costs around € 20 and can be purchased on the official website of the operating companies ThamesLink and East Midlands Railway.
The cheapest travel option from Luton Airport to London centre is the bus. Several companies offer their services, including Terravision, National Express and easyBus. The average travel time is about one hour and twenty minutes.
You can book a cab right at Luton Airport or use an application like Gett. A taxi to London centre costs around € 80. The travel time to London centre is usually around one hour and ten minutes.
See the official website of London Luton Airport for further information on the various ways of getting to London.
London City Airport is on the DLR network, which connects East London with the underground network. Trains leave every 8 to 15 minutes and the travel time is only 7 minutes to Canning Town or Woolwich Arsenal. Oyster Cards and tickets can be purchased at the DLR counter next to the Terminal building. The total journey time to London centre will be around 30 minutes, for total costs of about € 4.
You can book a cab right at London City Airport or use an application like Gett. A taxi to London centre costs around € 30, with an average travel time of around 20 minutes.
See the official website of London City Airport for further information on the various ways of getting to London.
Chinese New Year is raucously celebrated on the streets of Soho every year in late January or early February (depending on the lunar calendar). The event brings a sea of Chinese lanterns, street food, fireworks and lots of music to the streets of Soho. The highlight of the celebrations is a parade through Chinatown, the epicentre of the festivities.
In May, London prepares for the famous five-day Chelsea Flower Show, which has been organized by the Royal Horticultural Society since 1913. As part of this grandiose event, landscape designers and florists from all over the world demonstrate the latest achievements in gardening, create special themed flower designs, and present new varieties of plants. Visit the official website to check for the dates and the latest news. Please note that admission is paid.
Interestingly enough, Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, but the Queen’s birthday is traditionally celebrated on the first or second Saturday of June – when chances of good weather in London are higher. On this special day, a huge number of events take place, starting with the official departure of the monarch and her family members, followed by the horse guard parade and lots of musical performances.
Every year on the last weekend of August, the streets of west London are filled with people enjoying the largest carnival in Europe, the Notting Hill Carnival. Two million visitors gather for the famous colorful parade of Caribbean-style costumes accompanied by Calypso music. Along the parade you will find live music, food stalls, and above all, dancing people. Visit the official website to get ready for this year's edition.
The Open House London is an annually recurring event in September, where you can visit places that usually remain closed to the public. During this event you'll get a chance to peek into exclusive buildings or participate in thematic tours around the city. Have a look at the official website to learn more about the opportunities of this year's edition.
On Bonfire Night at 5 November, the British celebrate the failed attempt of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament and to assassinate King James I in 1605. During this festive night, you will see fireworks all over the city, bonfires in parks, and at some places a puppet of Guy being burned in the fire. The night is also known as the Guy Fawkes Night.
December is an excellent month to see London, as the city bathes in a cheerful atmosphere during the darker days of the year. Streets are decorated with festive illumination, shops organize window dressing competitions, ice skating rinks pop up at the Somerset House and the Natural History Museum, and Christmas Markets like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or the dazzling Southbank Centre Winter Market warmly welcome their visitors.
Riding a bicycle can be an excellent way to see the city, but note that in London you'll need rather strong nerves as you often find yourself side to side with cars and buses. Bicycle sharing can be a convenient option, as you can simply pick only those rides that you want to take. All around central London, you will find neatly parked Santander cycles which you can rent by following the instructions on the terminal screen. The first 30 minutes of use are free and after that you pay a fixed rate. The payment can be made by credit card. Consider downloading their app for iOS or Android for a convenient use of their service and to find available bicycles. Learn more about Santander cycles at the official website.
City bus tours can be a convenient way to quickly see the highlights of London. Various tours are being offered, including night tours for example. Some well-known operators are Big Bus Tours, The Original Tour and The Ghost Bus Tours.
London's iconic black cabs can be hailed on the street, or you can use an app such as Gett, FreeNow or Uber – note that there may be a disruption in the service of Uber due to a licensing issue in London. All taxis in London are metered.
There are Tourist Information Centres all over London, with friendly staff ready to help. Find them for instance at Piccadilly Circus, at main railway stations, or at Gatwick Airport and Heathrow Airport. Have a look at the official website of the tourist office for the full list of information centres.
Windsor Castle is the largest castle in the UK, owned by the royal family as their suburban residence. The castle is located in the city of Windsor, Berkshire, 43 km from London. The residence began its history under William the Conqueror in 1066. Back then it was still a wooden structure, located amidst hunting grounds. Today visitors can explore the greatness of Windsor Castle and its countless rooms. Visit the official website for further information about the castle and tickets.
You can get to Windsor Castle by bus from Victoria Coach Station – for more information and tickets, check out the official website of National Express. Another (more expensive) option is taking a train from London Waterloo Station, or London Paddington Station. Get directions to Windsor Castle.
If you are a great fan of the stories about the young wizard Harry Potter, we recommend to visit Harry Potter World! Here you can take a look behind the scenes of the famous Harry Potter movies. On a fascinating tour you will see how the movies were created, you can walk around famous movie locations, see the props, and, of course, buy magic souvenirs. Note that tickets need to be purchased online in advance – we recommend to use the official website.
From London Euston Station, you can get to Watford Junction for about € 13, in just 20 minutes. A special double-decker bus runs from Watford Junction to the studio every 20 minutes. Single bus tickets cost around € 3 and can be bought from the driver in cash. The expected travel time of the bus ride is about 15 minutes. Get directions to Harry Potter World.
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