Going to London for the Olympics? Plan to drop a lot of dough! It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world. But even if your trip across the pond isn’t until long after the Olympic flame has been extinguished, there are a few ways you can take the edge off your travel budget. Here are eight tips:
- Book a city tour your first full day in town. Someone else can drive and arrange admissions to the top sights. Gray Line and Golden Tours will show you the highlights – and you go to the head of the line everywhere you visit. It helps orient you and you’ll get great visitors’ tips from your guide. It’s a smart way to get the lay of the land.
- Do not miss the British Museum, the National Gallery and other top museums. Drop an optional donation at the door, but they’re FREE, technically. The British Museum is really a world museum, reflective of that nation’s dominance of the globe at one time. Treasures include Egyptian mummies and the Rosetta Stone. Paintings in the National Gallery range from Michaelangelo to Picasso.
- The London Eye? Overrated and possibly the most expensive (and slowest) Ferris wheel ever. Better bets: The fascinating Tower of London and incredible Westminster Abbey. Both well worth the price of admission.
- Catch a play. In this theater capital of the world, you really could go to a different play every night for a month. Tickets are pricey, but you can sometimes find discount tickets at such spots as the booth at Leicester Square.
- World cuisine is at your fingertips in this melting pot. But to get the best prices, get off the beaten path. Ask your hotel desk clerk or cabbie where the locals eat.
- Use a credit card when you can, for the best exchange rate (ask if yours charges an exchange fee). And DO inform your credit card company that you’re traveling so they don’t stop the card because it’s suddenly being used in another country. Frequent visitors often take a debit card to be used at an ATM.
- Be prepared: A decent hotel will cost upward of $300 a night. Anything less? Well, bring your own washcloth.
- Ride the public transportation. Taxis are expensive, partly because traffic is so congested, so it can cost $20 for a short ride. Two all-day Underground passes costs about the same and you can ride it everywhere, as often as you want. It’s stuffy and too warm on the Underground, but the rides typically don’t last long. Once you get your bearings, you’ll be able to navigate your way around town. Buses cost the same as the Underground, but they have to fight traffic. And plan to walk – a lot. Much of what you’ll want to see is in close proximity.