London is an expensive city for North Americans, especially when the exchange rate favors the English pound. Below are a number of tips to help families do some great London sightseeing with minimal hassles and reasonable cost. Those with an eye on the budget may also want to check out Saving Money in London, by About.com's Guide for London Travel, who also has suggestions for budget-friendly lodgings.
- Museums are Free!
This is a wonderful boon for London sightseers. Kids will love the hands-on Science Museum: plan to spend many hours there and at the adjacent Museum of Natural History. The latter has an amazing collection of realdinosaurs (dead bones, that is, but the real Mccoy). Also not to be missed is the British Museum, with Egyptian mummies, Greek statues, and much more.
- Use the Tube, and Check out Passes
"The Tube", as the Underground is affectionately called, is wonderfully efficient way to get around: you can even take it from Heathrow Airport. Kids under five travel free, and from five to ten years old may be free under certain conditions -- see Free Tube Travel for Children. Also check for the latest type of passes available for the Underground. Fortunately, at many tube stations, there's a real life person who can help you figure out the best pass for your purposes; but even better is to suss it out online before you go.
Bring Your Own Snacks: pad your suitcases with granola bars, juice packs, and the mini-packages of snacks you send in kids' lunches. They'll come in handy when you're out sight-seeing, and they'll save a bundle too: you'll be surprised how much even MacDonald's costs, across the pond.
- Stroll the Thames
The Thames has many areas that are great for strolling, with restaurants, maybe even street entertainers (around the London Eye, for instance.) Nothing beats walking as a way to enjoy the vibe of a place.
- Buy London Sightseeing Tickets Online in Advance
Top London sightseeing attractions are very popular indeed, especially in summer: buy tickets online for the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe, to be sure you see the sights you want; plus, you won't waste time standing in line-ups, er, queues, either.
- Eat In
Stay at a B&B that serves "full English breakfast", an enormous repast; or in an apartment where you can do your own breakfasts and cook a few simple dinners.
- Look for $ for Pound deals
A number of places offer these terrific promotions from time to time: Thistle Hotels, for ex., and the luxury Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments.