What to see in London if you only have a tiny bit of time…it’s an impossible question to answer and so different for every person. I’ll cover a few tried-and-true classics in today’s blog, but keep in mind London offers endless options for the traveler. I’m hoping to give you an idea of costs/hours to make your research easier.
Tower of London
Is it worth the 21.50 £ (as of today, that’s $28.33 USD)? Yes. Absolutely. The guided Yeoman Warder tour is included in your ticket, and is an essential part of every Tower visit. The ticket includes the tour, access to the entire complex including the dungeons, the Tower itself, the Crown Jewels, an exhibit on the evolution of the British army, and an up close and personal view of the changing of the guard in front of the Crown Jewels exhibit. I’m not gonna lie, it was worth the price of admission just to see the jewelry. It’s absolutely incredible.
Hours: Tuesday- Saturday 0900-1730, Sunday & Monday 1000-1730
Adult: 21.50 £, child 9.70 £
Website: Tower of London Website
Hours: Mon.- Fri., 0930-1530, Sat. 0930-1330, Sunday closed to general public, open for services only
Adult: 22 £ onsite, 20 £ online fast-track (online ticketing)
Dress Code: The dress code is only specified as “modest.”
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park has a terrific website that has maps, detailed info on seasonal events, information on park restaurants, anything you could need. You can find it here. Open 0500-midnight every day, Hyde Park is a gem in crowded central London and worth a stop – even if only for a nap in the sun. You can walk into Kensington Gardens from here and see the Italian Gardens and Albert Memorial.
A free treasure that may take you several days to explore, this museum focuses primarily on French Impressionist and Italian Renaissance paintings with seasonal special exhibits. The website is here if you want to see details on what’s on display right now.
A visit to Buckingham Palace can be a little confusing when it comes to entry fees. First off- the hours.
From July 22nd to August 31st, the palace is open for visitors from 0930-1930.
From September 1 to October 1, the hours are 0930-1830.
The entry fees are divided as follows (per adult, all prices in the British Pound):
If you JUST want to see the State Rooms and Buckingham Palace: 23 £
If you want to see the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, and the Royal Mews: 39.50 £
If you want to see the State Rooms and the Garden Highlights Tour: 32.50 £
Portobello Road Market
Best seen on a Saturday, the Portobello Road Market is primarily a market of antiques and traditional British items, not food. Get off at the Notting Hill stop on the U, and watch for pickpockets.
Hop-On, Hop-Off Tours
These tours make seeing the classic London sights much simpler. Tickets are usually around 30 pounds and there are various companies throughout London that offer these tours. The official London tourism board recommends buying tickets through this link. These tickets are typically good for 24 hours, include a boat tour, a walking tour, and over 60 stops, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Oxford Street.
As I’m sure you’re seeing, a visit to some of the most integral historical sites on any London tour can run your bill fairly high. The London Pass is worth its weight in gold. It is purchased based on the number of days you want to use it- for an adult, 1 day is 62 £ (75 £ with travel), 2 days – 85 £ (103 £ with travel), and 3 days – 90 £ (118.90 £ with travel). In my opinion, it’s best to just swing for a 3 day pass if you’re going to bother with it at all. For example, if you are only planning on seeing a few things in London and are mainly focused on fine dining and theater, it’s probably best to just take a day for the Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour and skip the London Pass. The Pass includes entrance to the following (and more):
-Tower of London
-Thames River Boat Cruise
-Tower of London Bridge Exhibit
-Hampton Court Palace
-St. Paul’s Cathedral
-Shakespeare’s Globe Theater
-1 Day of the Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour