Instructables

How to travel to London, England - and have a great time!

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Having family in England, I try to go there each year to visit. This is how I plan my trip.

When I have picked my travel dates, I visit various on-line travel sites, such as Expedia, Kayak, etc., to find the best deals on flights. However, it is also a good idea to double check the prices against the individual airline web sites, such as American, Virgin and British Airways, because sometimes you can get a better deal if you go to them directly.

By the way you will need a current passport! So make sure you get one in plenty of time before your trip (or renew if it is expiring soon) US citizens do not need a special visa for vacations or business trips in the UK if the visit is for less than six months, (although I heard that the Brits are considering changing this time frame to three months some time in the future.)

http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
 
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Step 2: Hotels, relatives and jelly beans...

England 2005-2 097.jpg
England 2005-2 096.jpg
Once I have my flight booked, I will go on line to make hotel reservations if I need any. Of course if you are like me and have relatives and friends over there, you will be able to stay with them some of the time, thus saving a lot of money in hotels and meals! The trick however, is not to overstay your welcome with your friends, usually 3 days is long enough, both for me and for them. It is also nice to take over a few inexpensive presents to thank them for their hospitality! Jelly beans and other typically American candies are always a favourite and don’t take up much room in the suitcase. You can always treat your friends and relatives to a nice dinner during your visit as a mark of appreciation.
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lfors13 months ago

I have been through your smartphone booking tickets, hotels, travel. Now a traveler without this gadget does not do. Example, the application

http://www.carrentalsmarket.com/android/

allows you to rent a car in any city in the country. Very comfortable.

steveastrouk3 months ago

Love the Flanders and Swan quote

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford


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ber3gf2 years ago
Thank you. I have some friends in London and now I am planning a travel, i live in colombian Coast,(a paradise for me) see you.
mrfusi0n4 years ago
I'm very happy to see this guide, I just wish I had seen it sooner. I'm currently near the end of a three week stay in London for business (after which I'll be returning to Maine). Since I've been staying in a hotel near St. Paul's Cathedral, I've spent quite a few hours wandering around various places via the tube and buses but also quite a bit in this area. If you're up for a good 2 or 3 mile walk, I would highly recommend the following route: 1) Start from and check out St. Paul's Cathedral (or follow this list in reverse). 2) Head south and cross the the Millennium Bridge. 3) If you like modern art, check out the Tate Gallery of Modern Art at the south end of the bridge. 4) Head east (and a little south) to Borough Market for amazing variety of food, wine, cheese, fruit, etc. 5) Now go north east to the Thames river and follow the walking path at the river's edge east. 6) This walking path will take you to the WWII ship HMS Belfast. A little further is city hall. I don't know if there's much to do there but I was lucky enough to find a free theater performance going on out front. 7) Slightly farther east you will find the Tower Bridge. I'm sure you would have noticed this back at step 5. 8) Cross the Tower Bridge back to the north side of the river 9) When you reach the north end of the bridge, you can check out the Tower of London which will be on your left (north west). 10) Extra step. If you want to make this a complete circuit, you can head north west to the Bank of England on your way back to St. Paul's. That's it! Lots to see and experience in just a 2 or 3 miles walk, if of course, you don't mind all the walking!
ratgod4 years ago
Nice pics, but northern England is much cleaner and nicer :) but then again I'm a Mancunian so I would be a little biased on the subject :)

My mum come from London though so we visited a lot.

Did you see the H.M.S Belfast while you were there?
randomhand4 years ago
Londons Hidden Gem - The Cheshire Cheese
parts of it from the 13th centuary, rebuilt after the great fire(1666). renound drinking hole of Dr Samuel Johnson - genuine living history, perfect beer and Ludicrously cheep price £1.90 a pint.

Its in the middle of fleet street hidden around the corner of the banking district and not far from st pauls.

http://www.pubs.com/main_site/pub_details.php?pub_id=154#

its my favorite pub. :)

And charles Dickens. i forgot.
gareth994 years ago
Hi.

I have always booked my Airport Taxi with Hummingbird Cars as they are a Licensed Private hire London Airport Taxi company. They provide Taxi services from and to all London Airports Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City Airports. They have very good fleet of cars and also very experienced and well mannered drivers . They also provide 5 % discount on all return journeys.
http://www.hummingbirdcars.com
SkinnE4 years ago
The traffic being on the left means that usually, you need to look to your right to check for any immediate threats when crossing.  Helpfully, most cities now paint instrucitons on the tarmac at crossings indicating which direction to look for traffic. 
SkinnE4 years ago
No, the steering wheel is on the "right" side, just look.  See, right side.  :p  It was a British car after all... 


Nice 'ible,

E
lemonie5 years ago
This is quite comprehensive!
You might like to add a UK-based train guide to it:
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

L

(I have family near Woodbridge)
stinkymum (author)  lemonie5 years ago
You are right. I never thought of that. The trains drove me mad, with all the special rules and regs on buying cheap tickets. Luckily I had purchased my rail card before I went which saved me mega bucks and I could travel any time on any train.
F1X0R6 years ago
Wow I see a lot of people are bad mouthing london. Great! go away, we don't want you here. I might (as I have a lot of time off) make an instructable on getting around and places to visit in London, from a Londoners point of view. Some of the great places that you don't see in the tourist travel guide. With regards to photography on the tube. I have a few nice pictures of my friends and I standing on a platform at Temple station, and Angel Islington station. The met or city of london police may get a bit picky if you've got a big DSLR and are taking a lot of photos, but I've never been stopped. They can not make you delete your photos, remember that, some officers (tend to be new) have in the past tried to (with varying success) tried to make people Delete photos. You are no longer permited to smoke in any enclosed public space any more, though it will be marked with a nice big no smoking sign, makes my day better anyway. My biggest tip is, don't drive, london is very busy, so you won't get far, try to avoid traveling in rush hour, Buses, trains, Tube trains, DLR services, they all get packed out. Buy a 1 day (or I think you can buy 3 and 7 day ones too) that give you access for that day to all the above services. and the one day one is GBP 7 so about $13 or so for an adult and 2 pounds for a child under 16, just don't make my friends mistake and carry your driving license and then buy a child ticket! London is great really, Huge cultural melting pot, there are a lot of people from very different backgrounds here. Very modern, and old buildings, a lot of interesting history, most museums are free or have a very nominal entry fee, the Natural history museum and Science Museum are both pretty great and free.
stinkymum (author)  F1X0R6 years ago
I agree about not driving in London. Beware the "dreaded Congestion Charing Zone" My husband and I got caught entering it a few years ago when it was fairly new - we had never heard of it, and the car rental place didn't warn us! However we fought the fines imposed and won! We just paid the basic fee, which was fine with us.
F1X0R stinkymum6 years ago
You want to ask the locals that have to deal with it everyday (and don't forget its bigger with the western extension, but that may be scrapped) and well, the replies would only be aired after the watershed. My Dad when traveling into it nearly got a fine because the guy that printed up the original "pass" got his number plate wrong by one digit. They did let him off though. It is something that is very unpopular with everyone in London. Given the motorist has to pay Road fund license anyway. /rant But try to avoid actually driving, partially if you are not used to driving on the left. In other words it may take some time to get used to a car where everything is the right way around!
stinkymum (author)  F1X0R6 years ago
Too right!
londons new mayor has delared it his mission to get rid of the bendy busses, so you shouldnt have to see them for too long +
F1X0R thinker6 years ago
Yeah Boris Johnson says a lot of things. He said he'd bring back routemasters, so they were wheelchair friendly (they were scrapped because it is hard for them to be used by wheelchair users) and make them hybrid powered, now after he gets into office "That might be too expensive" which roughly translates as, ain't gonna happen.
Apparently we invented ping pong and called it wif waf if i remember rightly...
stinkymum (author)  thinker6 years ago
Hooray - I hate those things. The double decker is a London icon. It's a shame you see more of them in New York City and Toronto. To quote Flanders and Swan from their song Transport of Delight! "That 30-foot-long by 10-foot-wide Inside that monarch of the road, Observer of the Highway Code, That big six-wheeler scarlet-painted London transport diesel-engined 97-horsepower omnibus."
johnomi5 years ago
I live here, not to offend anyone but i dont see why people come here. Theres only a few attractions and no not everyone speaks like on the tv shows. Why not go to NY or Dubai or somewhere else nice, thats only my opinion. Feel free to visit!
stinkymum (author)  johnomi5 years ago
Perhaps they do go to NY and Dubai and lots of other places - and London too! (I don't think I fancy Dubai myself though!)
wibbble6 years ago
Yeah, but don't take pictures inside or of the outside of Tube stations. That's not legal any more and the Met will probably shoot you in case you're a terrorist. Don't go to London! It's a horrible, horrible city. Dirty, overcrowded, and miserable.
stinkymum (author)  wibbble6 years ago
I note you are from Edinburgh - now that is a beautiful city - like London!
I try to spend as little time in London as I possibly can - I just don't see the appeal. Edinburgh's much nicer, but so is Glasgow, or Birmingham, or any other city I've been to! There's also something of a cultural issue: the vast majority of the UK media are based out of London and there's an inherent assumption in most of the major newspapers and all the TV broadcasting that their main audience is in London. Which is hellishly annoying when you live very far away from London. FWIW, my comment about photographing the Tube is correct - a BBC news crew got moved on by the police for trying to use a Tube station as a backdrop. You need to get a permit or face getting your camera taken off you.
London isn't all bad, just 99%... glasgow's good, I liked it alot, Edinburgh is prett nice as well... Another suggestion for the anti London is Windermere by lake Windermere in Wales, it's lovely in the summer and they have these little boats, a leatherman takes two minutes to allow you full throttle... Or Kendal aswell... But you come back sick as a dog, all the sweety shops... I live in belfast and would only suggest it for a couple of days if you already live in the UK, it's not massively different to some places... However if you're an American you'll love Belfast, it happens to have everything within walking distance of the hotel - A bar, A tonne of resteraunts, a bunch of landmarks, chocolate shop (americans don't get decent chocolate), trains station, ach you get the idea... I always wanted to see an American walk in to a tescoes, their reaction...
American, here to answer your not-quite-asked query:

The first Tesco that I walked in to was in Bangkok. It was not very bewildering and reminded me of a large Fred Meyer. Okay, technically it was a Tesco Lotus...

The second Tesco I saw was in Prague, where I greeted it as a beacon of convenience after too much time grocery-shopping in Italy.

And the third Tesco was actually in London: I giggled at the precooked pasta and sauce in plastic containers, pitying the poor English that ate those for lunch (again, too much time in Italy). I haven't spent enough time shopping in London to really understand the difference, foodwise, between Sainsbury's and Tesco, but it is sure to be vast.

And lastly, Americans do get decent chocolate. You may have realized that Cadbury's and Mars are pale shadows of their anglo-versions and are better avoided, but have you tried San Francisco's Ghiradelli chocolate chips, widely available in supermarkets? I would also point any visiting foreign chocoholics to shop at Trader Joe's, where the chocolate is as delicious as it is foreign. Oh yeah, and Whole Foods, how can I forget...

My own request is what are small, cheap, and fairly light-weight "hostess" gifts from the United States that would be appreciated in the UK?
giggled at the precooked pasta and sauce in plastic containers, pitying the poor English that ate those for lunch (again, too much time in Italy) - After italy my mum had no idea when I'd be back, she cooked pasta and I actually felt disgusted by it and found out the only other option was a ready meal, lasagne...

Tescoes, they would be the everybody food, cheap and cheerful, ASDA (Walmart owned) are the cheaper but quite often better choice for decent food, Marks and Spencer are the overpriced and slightly better tasting super market. Sainsbury's are somewhere in between tesco and M&S. LIDL, pretty much trader joes, mainly german, rock bottom prices but quite often have the best cheese, chocolate and nice things in them.

I've missed supervalu but that's because they're falling away slowly.

Agreeably I was being a bit too brash about american chocolate, you are still able to have a good dark chocolate just the same as ours but some things like green and blacks just blow the standard stuff away, imported stuff will always help I suppose but when it comes to milk chocolate to grab at the shop it's an issue, most of the americans I know that live here now took a year gaining weight because they were acclimatising to cheap chocolate that's different from their own...

Umm cheap little gifts from america, think things you didn't get in the souvenir shop, granted a little lady liberty or an I love wherever T-shirt is good.

Fancy bringing me back some antlers?
LOL
Tesco are actually a world-wide chain. They have them - under different branding - in some parts of the US and have them under 'Tesco' branding in, for example, China.
I knew that but americans and british tescoes would be interesting, it's like a dept. store but with just groceries and a few other bit's depending on which one...
Eh, it would be amusing for them to see all the different 'Brit' products, but not a particularly new experience per se. They have supermarkets in America!
The experience is different, people wise as well as the products...
stinkymum (author)  killerjackalope6 years ago
Actually lake Windermere is not in Wales, it's in the English lake district in Cumbria and it is beautiful. I went there for my honeymoon - back in the dark ages! By the way I was born in England and lived there for 37 years. I would love to visit Belfast and Dublin and sadly have never visited Ireland yet. I agree with you about the chocolate by the way. I don't understand the bit about Tescoes though. Tescoes is great but there are great supermarkets over here too.
Oh I got mixed up, it was on a trip throughout everywhere and I had forgotten when wales ended... No I mean it's not small for use but the idea of it not having the other sections might be weird... As a suggestion for next time pick up some green and blacks chocolate...
jlms wibbble6 years ago
Again, you don't know what you are talking about. Professional photography may be regulated in some places for diverse reasons (even in Canary Wharf you need a permit for this, even though it would seem like a public space). The regular public is at complete freedom to take pictures as long as one does not make a nuisance of himself. London is one of the top cultural centres in the world. Classical and pop music, museums, teathre, cinema, literature are all well represented by regular visits of world top class performers. London is also host to many sports events like regular Premiership matches (the best league in the world, there are always 6 or 7 teams in the top flight), Wimbledon tennis tournament, one official NFL game and many others. Foodwise London is unbeatable. For 3 or 4 quid you can go to a takeaway and buy Chinese, Indian, Turksih, Lebanese, Japanese, Italian or many other kinds of food, or sit down in a proper restaurant and sample delicacies from anywhere around the world (including haggis mind you). Finally how the media behaves has nothing to do with the objective qualities of London as a place. You can't seriously transfer your dislike of the media attitude against London i general. It simple is not objective.
wibbble jlms6 years ago
Canary Wharf is private property, as is made explicit by the sign on the walkway across the dock which goes to great lengths to point out that it's not a public highway and by allowing you access they're not granting you any other rights, blah, blah, blah. Technically the Tube is too, although that might not occur to most people. I'm not going to respond to the rest for the simple reason that opinions do not need to be objective.
jlms wibbble6 years ago
Opinions do not need to be objective, but the relative merits or demerits of London have nothing to do with the prominence the media decides to give to it. Trying to disparage about London because you disagree how it is portrayed on the media is frankly childish and irrational. Sticking to verifiable facts is still the best way to inform a conversation about something. Even in private property, if you are not informed explicitly that you can't take pictures, you can snap away and it is up to the owner to inform you if you need to stop (and even then they can't force you to delete the pictures).
wibbble jlms6 years ago
Look, just because you don't like my opinion doesn't mean that it isn't valid. I have many reasons for disliking London beyond the horrendous media bias - but that's not really the point, is it? You don't like that I've said 'mean' things about a city you like. (Presumably you're a Londoner?) That's unfortunate, but not my problem.
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