Monday, July 14, 2008

Accommodation and day trips

Q: We intend to come into London on 1st or 2nd August and we will have free time until Tuesday 5th August.
Do you have any suggestions for good but inexpensive accommodation in or near London My wife and I would be interested in possible tours or a Thames cruise in or around London.
We have seen some of the obvious attractions like St Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey Tower of London, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Possible points of interest could be Cambridge or Windsor Castle. We can consider events which involve modest costs To put you in the picture I am a retired Anglican clergyman age 71. We are able bodied but anything involving strenuous excercise would be beyond us.
We look forward to your advice.

A: In terms of accommodation, I'd recommend staying on the south side of the river near the south bank or bankside. There are a few hotels in this area and I suspect they would be a lot less expensive than the ones on the north side.

For example, there are two fairly new hotels just on the south side of southwark bridge, really good location for siteseeing, just behind the Tate Modern. I think one might be called the London Rose or something like that.

To do a Thames cruise, rather than paying loads for an organised one, go to Westminster Pier and ask for a return ticket to Greenwich on the regular ferry service. Naturally, you won't get the running commentary on the journey, but if you don't mind this, the regular service is I think much cheaper. (Check return times for boats though.)

A day trip to Windsor is nice. I would say there might be more to enjoy there than at Cambridge, though both are worth visiting if you have the time. I think you can get a train to Windsor from Waterloo station (easy walking distance from the south bank, if you were to stay in that area.) Windsor is nice, and so is Eton, nearby.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Motorcycle tracks in London

Q: Is there a motor cycle speedway track in London, If so where is it.

Location Australia

A: I'm not aware of any in London but there are two that are only a couple of hours drive away:

- Donington Park

- Silverstone

Here's a link for more info,

Group day tickets

Q: Thank you for your site with friendly suggestions. As a teacher, I will visit London with a group of 30 students and I was surprised by the expensive tickets for tube.

We are staying 4 days. Can you tell me more about Group Day Tickets (for groups of 10 or more). Is it a good idea ? Can we buy in advance ?


Location Belgique

A: Yes, group day tickets seem to be good value, especially if you intend travelling on the tube more than once a day.

I'm not sure you can buy them in advance but you should at least be able to buy them once you get to London, from any tube station.

London at Easter

Q: I liked your site! But I wounder if Easter is a good time to visit London? I saw that you liked it! Thats how I found your site but I suspect that everything is closed during Easter? Museums and shops? My husband and I are planning to go the 20-23 of March. But are there anything open then? I would like to visit the Roof Garden if possible. Are restaurants and bars closed? Do you have any recommendations?

A: Yes, easter is a very good time to visit London in my view - its not too cold and not too hot (though sometimes it is rainy), and you avoid the big crowds of summer.

And no, most shops and museums are open even on easter Sunday. The only day most places are usually closed is christmas day, so if you visit at easter you should find enough places open to keep you entertained, fed and catered for!

Oyster cards from overseas

Q: The Oyster pass for the trains/buses. Can you buy one in London or can you only buy online? Online is hard for me as they want a UK address and I don't have one.

Location New Zealand

A: You can buy an oyster card for immediate use from any tube station when you arrive in London.

Getting into London for the bus tour

Q: Hello... First off, I VERY much enjoy and appreciate your excellent web site. Not so the sites for National Express bus or British Rail. On 10 March I would like to come to London from the vicinity of Fordingbridge, Hampshire, and spend a day taking your wonderful bus tour. To take the bus would occupy half the day getting there and returning. Apparently there are not really any express busses. I can get nothing but errors from the British Rail web site. Any advice? Which station should I aim for, in London, by train or bus, to be closest to a stop on your tour? Waterloo, perhaps? What would you do about this situation? Thank you VERY much for any help with vexing problem. I have been to England several times but have not visited London before.

Location USA

A: I'm not very familiar with the area where you will be staying but from google maps, it appears you might be near Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.

If so, then I believe you could get a train into Waterloo, which would be fine for joining the bus tour.

From Waterloo, you could actually walk to the London Eye - and begin the bus tour by joining the number 12 at Westminster.

Tea for a group

Q: I will be in London with 25 of my students in mid-April. Looking for inexpensive ways to explore with them so that they can EXPERIENCE London - rather than just do the "tourist" thing...

Also looking for a nice place to have tea with my young ladies... any suggestions would be most helpful and appreciated.

Many thanks!

Location USA

A: I think the best, easiest and cheapest way of experiencing London is by foot - simply walk around the different areas of interest. In April, the weather should be perfect for doing this.

As for having tea, if you mean "English high tea" and you have the money to afford it, perhaps its worth booking afternoon tea at the Ritz hotel.

the RV1

Q: Hello and thank you for designing a low cost bus route. I do have a shortened time frame and wondered if the bus RV1 operated in both directions. In other words, can I board RV1 at Covert Garden and take it to Tower of London? Or does it only operate the other way? Thank you very much!

Location USA

A: Yes, it does. You will usually find the bus stops for each direction more or less opposite each other (unless they go down one way streets.)

This map shows the route of the RV1 bus.

The London Pass

Q: I've read about the London Pass, online. It's 117 euros with travel (tube regions 1-6)for 6 days. Would this be somehthing worth purchasing? I don't know how much a tube trip costs... so.. :-) Thanks! Location missouri, usa

A: Understanding London's public transport fare structure would probably be considered a degree level course in some countries. There are loads of different types of tickets, different zones, different times of travel and so on.

The easiest thing to do is to consider where you are likely to travel to, what time of day and how many trips you are going to do per day. If you are only going to be seeing London's central tourist sights and not using the underground to travel out to heathrow (zone 6) then its likely you would only be travelling within zones 1 and 2.

And if you are happy not to travel on the underground before 9.30 am on weekdays (a wise decision in my view, unless you want to be crushed by commuters!) then you could use an offpeak ticket.

Putting that together, you could buy a one day travelcard each day for unlimited travel in zones 1 - 2 after 9.30 am (to midnight). This would cost you £5.30 per day, or £31.80 for 6 days' worth.

Not sure of the currency exchange but I suspect this is much less than 117 euros

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New years Day

Q: We will be arriving in London on New Years Eve and wonder if there are any attractions/shops/museums open in London on New Years Day.

A: Yes, most places should be open in London on New Years Day, though if you have some specific museums in mind it might be worth checking on their websites.

You may however find that some places operate Sunday opening hours so for example, might not open until after lunchtime.

London Pass v Oyster Card

Q: When comparing the London Pass + travel to the Oyster card - which repreesents the best value for money? We are a family of 5 (youngest is 12)

A: You don’t say how long you are going to be in London for so let’s assume you’re here for 3 days for price comparison purposes.

You can currently buy a 3 day adult London Pass including travel for £73. Given the London Pass without travel is £54, you are basically paying £19 for a 3 day travelcard for one adult. (Or £6.33 per day.)

Compare that against using an Oyster card. You have to pay £3 per card, and then you put credit on it. Once done, you can use it as a one day travelcard for only £4.60 a day for within zones 1 and 2 (per adult.)

However, the London Pass also includes the train journey to Windsor, as well as all Underground zones within the price. To use the Oyster Card for zones 3 – 6 the price is slightly higher than £4.60.

All in all, I guess it depends on where you intend to travel to and what you plan on seeing. If you don’t intend visiting many sights and you’re sticking to central London (zones 1 and 2), an Oyster card for each of you is probably my recommendation. But if you do intend seeing lots of tourist attractions, maybe going on a trip to Windsor and so on, probably buying the combined London Pass with Travel is a better deal.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

UK Currency

Q: What is the currency used in London? I see every that the Euro is referenced, but I thought London used GBP? I have never been to Europe before, and I am trying to understand everything, or at a little before I get there Thank you.

A: Yes, the currency in London is Pounds Sterling (GBP). I think the exchange rate is around US$2 = £1.
However, London being a major European city, you will find some places that accept Euros (and US dollars) - typically hotels rather than shops, though.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lord Mayors Show

Q: I will visit london during 9nov-13nov, how's the weather during this period? is this a rainy season? do i need to bring wind-breaker? when is the lord mayar day, i know usually is during nov but what date?

A: The 2007 Lord Mayors show will be on Saturday 10th November from 11am. More info here
The weather during early November is not normally too cold, but you might get some rain. Yes, I'd bring a wind breaker.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A bus trip for a 5 year old

Q: I am taking my 5 year old granddaughter to London for the first time in October. We only have about 2 hours for sightseeing before going to the theatre. She would love to ride on a bus. Any suggestions for a bus tour.
A: This will depend a bit on which part of London the theatre is in but I'd suggest she might like to ride on one of the few remaining routemasters. The famous double decker buses still run on these routes:

Heritage Route 15 Trafalgar Square - Strand - Fleet Street - Ludgate Hill - Cannon Street - Eastcheap - Tower Hilll (Operator - Stagecoach)

Bus Route 9: Royal Albert Hall - Kensington Road - Knightsbridge - Piccadilly - Trafalgar Square - Strand - Aldwych (Operator - First)

Perhaps the number 15 from Trafalgar Square to Ludgate Hill and back might be a nice trip to do. As far as fares go, these are normal London bus routes so you can travel on them using a London transport travelcard, oystercard or buying a ticket at some of the stops.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Windsor Castle and GAY

Q: Can i travel to windsor castle just for 1/2 day? is there a bus tour for this trip? what are cheapest hotel near the victoria coash station? where is GAY pub?
1 - Travelling to Windsor Castle, and bus trips there
You might find some chargeable organised bus tours from central London to Windsor Castle but I think the cheapest way of getting there is to go by train and then walk to the castle. As its an hour or so from Waterloo to Windsor by train, a half day trip might not do the visit justice. But I guess it depends how long you want to spend there.
2 - Hotels near Victoria coach station
Unfortunately, I don't know any to recommend to you but there are loads of hotels along the side street leading to the coach station, and I think there's an accommodation booth in the station itself.
3 - GAY pub
The GAY pub (actually a bar) is in Old Compton Street (Soho). The GAY nightclub is on Charing Cross Road, up near Oxford Street.

Monday, August 27, 2007

From Victoria to the US Embassy

Q: I`m visiting london on september 4th because in the up-coming months I have an appointment at the american embassy in london to get my visa to go back to america,so I just basically need to know how far it is from the national express coach station at victoria station to the embassy on foot as I`ll be walking,and if there are any cheap hotels nearby as I may have to stop over..thankyou for your time There are quite a few cheap hotels around Victoria, on the roads surrounding the station. I've not stayed in any but I think there is also an accommodation booth in the station concourse.
A: I think you should probably allow half hour to walk from Victoria to the American embassy (its in grosvenor square, isn't it??) To get there, I'd go from victoria across St James park (passing the front of Buckingham palace), up to Piccadilly, cross and then go up old Park Lane and Audley Street.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Beatles places in London

Q: I used to have a list of Beatle places you could do a self-guided walk of, i.e. Abbey Road, the store, etc. Do you have a link to anything I could use for this? I can't find my list and we leave next week...aaahhh... Thanks! Peace.

Unfortunately not at the moment. However, I believe you can still buy a map and self-guided walk booklet from the shop at St Johns Wood station, and the walk starts from there anyway.

Walking in Chelsea

Q: Any interesting walks around Chelsea, Knightsbridge?

A: Try this walk - from a different site to mine.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One day tour from Waterloo station

Q: Is it possible to board and pay for a bus tour from Waterloo Station to visit some sites in London during a one day layover? We will be arriving via the Eurostar at 09:30 am and flying out the following morning, and we would like to check our luggage at Waterloo, then visit a few sights before making our way to the Comfort Hotel at Heathrow.

A: I'm not sure you can pick up a bus tour from Waterloo station but you are ideally placed for easily seeing lots of London sites.
From Waterloo station, it is a short walk to the river, where you can walk east along to Tower Bridge. That would take you past places such as the London Eye, the south bank centre (entertainment area), the Globe theatre, Tate Modern, borough market, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge. (Have a look at my cultural walk).

Or from Waterloo, once you hit the river you can walk west, then across Westminster bridge to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and through St James Park to Buckingham Palace. Also Trafalgar Square and number 10. (Have a look at my royal and political walk).

Then you could make your way back to Waterloo station and take the underground to Paddington station, where you can catch the Heathrow Express to the airport.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cheap bus tour and places to rest

Q: Hi I'm going to London this weekend with my husband and
one year old son. We want to take the free bus tour (which looks great).
The thing is we usually carry my son in a back carrier - very handy for buses.
Could you tell me if there is a handy park or quiet hotel near the the bus
route that if he was going to sleep for an hour on a blanket we can relax
and have a drink? - I know this is probably a very awkward question.

A: Just one point of clarification as I'd hate you to be disappointed when you
arrived - the bus tour isn't completely free (you need to buy one day travel
cards for both your husband and yourself, these cost about £3 I think and you
can buy them from most grocers / newsagents and any underground ticket
offices.) But its a lot cheaper than the organised bus tours, which cost
about £16 per adult I think.

To park areas on the bus route: there are many.

Firstly, you have Kensington Gardens, near the Albert Hall. Princess Diana
used to live in a house there, and the gardens are lovely.
Then you also have Trafalgar Square - not exactly grassland but
pedestrianised and a nice place to rest.

And there are also lots of park areas near Tower Hill and along the South
Bank - anywhere along the south side of the Thames, really, between Tower Bridge
and Westminster.

So you should easily spot places to rest when you are on the bus tour, and
simply jump off at the next stop, etc.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Buying London Transport Visitor tickets online

Q:Would you please tell me where the shops are to purchase bus saver tickets? Am I able to purchase them online? We arrive late on a Saturday so won't be able to buy them until the Sunday. This is such a great site and has been so helpful for planning our short 3 day stay. Thankyou.

A:Yes, you can buy London Transport tickets online from some countries. I suggest you have a look at this web page for Transport for London. It provides information on the various types of visitor tickets available.
Judging by your email address, I am guessing that you are in Australia. Here is the link to how to buy tickets online for Aussies.
You can also buy tickets when you arrive, from most newsagents and from any tube station. I think you could even buy them from the airport when you arrive. Or simply go to the nearest tube station on the Sunday morning before you start your sightseeing.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Beatles Tours

Are there any truly comprehensive Beatles tours which include all of the highlights of their collective careers, especially where they were in London?

The most comprehensive Beatles tours I am aware of are provided by this company.
I haven't actually done them so can't comment on just how comprehensive they are but this group have been doing Beatles tours for a while, from the shop near St Johns Wood station.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Shortened "free" bus tour

Q: I am absolutely thrilled by your bus tour of london as I have been looking for something like this. One thing I want to ask. I want to take my elderly mum on the tour next Tuesday and she can't walk far. I don't know these places and I wanted to ask if the walks in between bus stops are long...she can walk 5-8 minutes in between rests. also, any idea how long the whole tour would take? I look forward to hearing from you.
A: The entire journey - if you do it all - would probably take around 3 - 4 hours, largely dependent on traffic and on waiting times between buses. Tuesday there is likely to be more traffic, though buses should be more frequent than over the Xmas period.
If your mum isn't up to doing the whole tour, can I suggest you do the following shortened version, cutting out the parts that go west to Kensington and north of Piccadilly.
The shortened tour would be as follows (starting and finishing at Trafalgar Square):
Bus 15 from Trafalgar Square to Tower of London
Change at Tower of London for bus RV1 (you may need to walk around the corner and join it at the top of Tower Bridge)
Bus RV1 from Tower of London to London Eye
Walk along the river front to the end of Westminster Bridge, cross the road and wait outside St Thomas hospital for bus number 12
Bus number 12 from London Eye to Trafalgar Square
That tour would probably take around 2 hours, I guess - again, depending on traffic and waiting times.
The distances between stops at all changing points on the whole tour have been deliberately selected to be as close as possible together, so you shouldn't need to walk more than a few minutes to get from one stop to another at each point.