First time to London? Things to do and places to see

London is without doubt, a 24-hour city brimming with West End theatre productions, pubs, museums, beautiful architecture and lots for everyone to see and do.  Samuel Johnson once said in conversation, ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’.  Considering that that was said in 1777, it is so much more the case now!

You will never see everything you wish to on your first visit, unless you are a student and taking a ‘fashionable’ gap year.  With that in mind, we have the following suggestions of must-sees that are either free or fairly cheap:

  • London Eye.  Take a 30 minute trip and enjoy the 360 views..  Between GBP17 and GBP25, depending on whether you book them online or once there.  Online is cheaper.  London Eye Info and tickets online.
  • Oxford Street is the perfect place for a morning stroll.  You will find a few ‘cheaper’ curio shops in amongst the high flyers in the retail industry.
  • View the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  More information on changing of the guard.
  • The British Museum.  This one is free and has such a lot to see.  You will still not see everything, so get a catalogue and opt for what you are most interested in.  British Museum website
  • Tower of London.  Tickets can be booked online.  Please note that not all the museums inside are included in the price.  The queue to see the crown jewels can be quite long.  They have a rolling film of the Queens coronation to keep your mind off the paid-for wait.  The White Palace is included and a definite see for the history-lover.  Tower of London website

On Arrival

Overseas visitors can expect an in-depth questioning as to your reasons for coming.  Make sure you have back-up documentation on you, should it be required.  Accommodation, proof of funds and so forth.

The tube trip from Heathrow into central London is approximately 45 minutes.  The tube system is phenomenal in terms of on-time service and user friendly signage.

Getting Around

If you are arriving in peak time, our warning is to stand at least a meter back from the yellow lines when waiting for the tubes.  This is for your own safety and peace of mind, as the Londoners jostle each other to get on board.

General London Transport

London Tube


Buy a travel card for zone 1 and 2 before you leave your own country.  It will be of use.  Heathrow falls outside of these zones and you will need to buy a one-way from there to the centre of London as well.

One of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ ways of seeing London, is using your travel card to take busses within the specified zones.  Of course, there will be no running commentary on board, but you will see all you need too, in your own time.

Within easy travelling distance (overland train services) are Hampton Court Palace (birthplace of Henry VIII), Stratford-Upon-Avon, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace to name a few.

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