How to Get From Gatwick to Central London

If it is your first time flying into Gatwick, it can be a bit daunting to try to figure out the best way to get from Gatwick to Central London. It is actually extremely easy to get from Gatwick to Central London!

Gatwick is the second largest airport in London only behind Heathrow. It has two terminals that are linked by a free monorail service that only takes two minutes! Gatwick is a well-organized airport that is extremely easy and convenient to navigate.

There are a number of different ways to get from Gatwick to Central London, and there are some options that are better than others for certain people.

This post will walk you through all the different ways you can get from Gatwick to Central London and give you an idea of what option may be best suited for you.

Taking the Train from Gatwick to Central London

There are two ways you can take the train from Gatwick to Central London. They are both convenient, and the difference is mainly in the price. Both options drop you off at Victoria Station and have a similar travel time.

The Gatwick Express

The Gatwick Express is a newer train that runs directly from Gatwick to Victoria Station. It takes approximately 30 minutes, and it costs as little as £17.80 when you book online in advance.

The tickets are cheaper the further in advance you purchase them, and you get a 10% discount when you book directly through the Gatwick Express website or app. Tickets are available for purchase up to three months in advance.

You purchase a ticket for a specific date, but it does not have a specific time. This allows you to get on the train whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about changing your ticket if your plane is delayed or if you arrive earlier than you anticipated. It is a great feature!

You can purchase a return ticket online, which makes it convenient for people who want to pay for their transportation before they get to London and not have to worry about it when they get there.

You are also able to use your Oyster card to tap in and out of the Gatwick Express. This is extremely convenient for people who already have an Oyster card or purchased the tourist Oyster card.

Gatwick to Central London London Airports

Travellers Who May Prefer the Gatwick Express:

The Gatwick Express is a great option for people who want to pre-pay for their trip to and from the airport. It offers the flexibility of getting on the train at any time it is convenient for you.

The Gatwick Express is also great for people who want to know they’ll have a great seat and not have to worry about standing. The train is extremely comfortable and has lots of baggage storage space.

Southern Train/Thameslink

The Southern and Thameslink are two separate companies that run trains from Gatwick to Central London.

Both trains take between 30 and 40 minutes to get from Gatwick to Central London and only have two or three stops along the way. The costs is between £16.50 and £17 one-way.

You purchase your tickets at the station in Gatwick when you land either through an automated ticket machine or at the ticket window. You are also able to use your Oyster card or purchase an Oyster card to use.

I always take the Thameslink into London when I fly into Gatwick. The trip doesn’t take much longer than the Gatwick Express, and it is less expensive. The only downside is that you sometimes have to stand on the train because there isn’t enough space to store all the luggage.

Buckingham Palace London England

Travellers Who May Prefer the Southern Train/Thameslink:

The Southern Train/Thameslink is, in my opinion, the best way to get from Gatwick to Central London. It only takes a few minutes longer than the Gatwick Express and is less expensive.

It is the perfect option for people who want to get into the City quickly without having to purchase tickets in advance or spend the extra money on the Gatwick Express.

What Train Should You Choose?

I always recommend taking the Southern Train or Thameslink. I think it is well worth saving a little extra money to make a few stops along the way. The ride is honestly not very much longer than the Gatwick Express, so I can’t justify spending the extra money on the Gatwick Express.

The Gatwick Express is a better deal than the Heathrow Express in my opinion, but it still isn’t my preferred method of transportation. I simply don’t think it offers any convenience over the public trains. It is more expensive and only takes a few minutes less.

The Bus

There are two different operators that run buses from Gatwick to Central London. The National Express runs ever hour and easyBus runs from 4:25am to 1:10am everyday. Both buses drop you off at Victoria Station- the same as the trains.

The National Express costs £8 with an 85 minute journey time and the easyBus costs £4 with a 65 minute journey time.

You can purchase bus tickets online in advance, and they are normally less expensive than paying the driver when you get on the bus.

The only downside to buying your ticket in advance is that you have to pick a departure time. You need to pick a time far enough in advance that you are able to get through security, get your bag, and find the bus stop. I would also recommend leaving a buffer of time in case your plane is delayed.

The bus is a great option because there is guaranteed space for your luggage and it is comfortable. The major downside is that it takes at least twice as long as the train does.

London Transportation Big Ben Bus Buckingham Palace

Travellers Who May Prefer Taking the Bus from Gatwick to Central London:

Budget travellers who don’t mind spending a longer time in transit will probably enjoy taking the bus. You can’t beat the price of the bus!

The bus is also a great option for people who tend to get motion sick on the train. It tends to cause less motion sickness than the train. Although it is a longer transit time than the train, so you need to take that into consideration as well when considering motion sickness.

So How Should You Get from Gatwick to Central London?

There is really no bad option to get from Gatwick to Central London. Each option has its pros and cons.

They all offer some sort of convenience. Whether it is the convenience of pre-buying tickets and taking a train with no stops with the Heathrow Express, saving some money and still have a quick train journey with the Thameslink/Souther Train, or the affordability of the bus.

However, I would suggest the Thameslink or Southern Train. It is the best combination of affordability, convenience, and time efficiency.

You can’t go wrong with whatever option you choose. I would suggest that you make sure you purchase your tickets in advance for the Gatwick Express or the bus. This will save you some money.

No matter how you choose to get from Gatwick to Central London, you will end up at Victoria Station and have to take the London Underground to your hotel. Be sure to know how to get from the station to your hotel to save you the headache of trying to figure it out when you get to the station!

5 Things to Know Before Your Buckingham Palace Tour

Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic sights in Europe, and touring it should be on your London bucket list!

It is home to the British Royal Family and has been since 1837. While you normally can only see the outside of the palace, you are able to take a Buckingham Palace tour during the summer. 

The palace is normally open form mid-July to mid-September, and you can find specific dates at the Royal Trust Collection website. You can sometimes take a Buckingham Palace tour in the winter months depending on whether the Queen will be in residence of not. You can find information regarding winter dates on the Royal Trust Collection website. It is open every summer when she is in Scotland though.

Taking a Buckingham Palace tour is exciting! You get a glimpse into how the British Royal Family lives, and it is an experience like no other. It is a super fun way to spend a few hours, but there are some things you should know before you go! These five tips will help you plan your trips, easily get into Buckingham, and follow the rules, so you don’t get kicked out!

1. Book Your Tickets Online in Advance

You should purchase your tickets online in advance. As far in advance as possible! Buckingham Palace tour tickets are extremely popular and normally sell out in advance. 

You are able to select an entrance time when you purchase tickets online. The earlier you purchase tickets, the more likely you are to get an entry time that suits you. You run the risk of getting an entry time that is inconvenient or overlaps with other plans if you do not purchase tickets in advance.

You must arrive for your Buckingham Palace tour at the time listed on your ticket. It is not possible to enter the palace if you’re late, so make sure to be there on time!

I purchased my Buckingham Palace tour tickets five months in advance. My first choice in time slots on the day I was going was sold out, so I had to select my second choice. Obviously it isn’t a big deal to get a ticket for a half hour later, but that was five months in advance! You will have a very limited selection if you purchase only a few weeks before your tour.

Combination Tickets

You have the option of purchasing a combination ticket when you purchase your Buckingham Palace tour ticket. Combination tickets allow you entry to multiple attractions run by the Royal Trust at a slightly reduced fare.

You are able to get a combination ticket for other attractions such as the Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery.

You should consider purchasing a combination ticket if you plan on visiting multiple royal attractions. It won’t save you a lot of money, but you will save some!

2. Arrive Early

Since you’re not able to enter the palace if you’re late for your time slot, you want to get to the palace early. It is better to be a bit too early than to be late! It would be horrible to miss your tour and waste your money just because there was a delay in getting to Buckingham Palace.

You have an entry time on your ticket, but you should arrive at Buckingham Palace 15-30 minutes before your entry time. There is always a long queue to scan tickets and a security procedure that takes quite a while.

There are two sides to security in a tent after you scan your ticket. One side is for the current time slot and the other for the next time slot. You will be told what line you should join when your ticket is scanned.

The security guards are well-trained, so as long as you’re there with enough time to spare, you will have no problem getting to the proper security queue or getting into the palace on time.

Buckingham Palace London England  Buckingham Palace Tour

3. The Entrance is on the Right-Hand Side of Buckingham Palace next to the Queen’s Gallery

The entrance for the Buckingham Palace tour is not at the front of the palace where the changing of the guards takes place. If you are facing Buckingham Palace with the Queen Victoria statue at your back, the entrance for the tour is to the right around the corner.

The entrance is part-way down the street when you turn right. If you reach the Queen’s Gallery, you have gone too far.

From my experience, there is normally a long queue of people waiting to enter Buckingham Palace and take their tour. You will likely come across the queue shortly after you turn right at the end of the palace. People often don’t believe the queue is for the Buckingham Palace tour because it is so long, but it is.

There will be a security guard walking up and down the queue occasionally calling for people with specific entry time tickets. If you’re at the back of the queue and you’re time gets called, let the security guard know, and s/he will bring you to the ticket scanning area.

People often show up to the tour way too early for their tour and will stand in the queue even if their tour isn’t for an hour. I guess people think they can get in early if they are there, but they can’t, so they end up standing around waiting for their time slot.

You should only leave the queue if you’re time slot is called, and you’re told to go to the front.

Closest Underground Stations

The London Underground is the most common and efficient way to get to your Buckingham Palace tour. It may be more efficient to walk to Buckingham Palace depending where in London you are staying, but, for the most part, you will likely take the Underground to the palace. Don’t forget to get an Oyster card to make using public transportation in London a breeze!

The 3 Underground stations that are closest to Buckingham Palace are:

  • Victoria
  • Green Park
  • St. James’ Park

They are all relatively close and are less than a 10 minute walk from Buckingham Palace.

The station furtherest from the palace is St. James’ Park, but it has the most scenic walk. You walk through the gardens at St. James’ Park, and it is a very nice way to get into the mood for a royal Buckingham Palace tour. If you have the extra few minutes, I would recommend getting off at St. James’ Park.

London Transportation Big Ben Bus Buckingham Palace

4. Know What You’re Not Allowed to Bring on Your Buckingham Palace Tour

You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are quite a few things that you aren’t allowed to bring into Buckingham Palace.

Items You Can’t Bring into Buckingham Palace

  • Liquids
  • Food
  • Luggage
  • Backpacks
  • Scissors
  • Pen Knives

Items that are not allowed into the palace will either be confiscated or checked and returned to you when you exit the palace.

Items such as food and drinks will be confiscated and items like luggage and backpacks need to be checked.

The security process goes a lot quicker if you have already gone through your personal items to ensure there are no banned items inside them. I had a protein bar, and it was confiscated, so the security guards take their job seriously and are through when they inspect your bags.

Other Banned Items

  • You are not allowed to smoke or vape on your Buckingham Palace tour. Being caught smoking in the palace or in the gardens is grounds for removal from the property.
  • I visited Buckingham Palace on a very rainy day. People with large umbrellas were asked to check them and retrieve them when they exited the tour. I had a small umbrella that fit in my purse and had no problems. You should make sure to have a small umbrella that can easily be put inside a small bag, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of checking it and retrieving it when you leave the palace.

5. How the Buckingham Palace Tour Works

The Buckingham Palace tour works the same as all the other Royal Trust tours. You get an audioguide that has in-depth information about the palace, and the tour is self-paced.

The tour is self-guided in the sense that there isn’t a tour guide personally showing you the palace. But there is a designated route you have to follow during the tour, and you can’t deviate from it or go back to another room you have already visited.

There is a lot of information provided on the audioguide, so you will be standing around quite a bit in each room. It is worth listening to all the information and not rushing through the tour. You paid a lot of money for the tour, so you should take advantage of every piece of information they give you!

There are also secondary parts to the audioguide. In every room you have the choice to go more in-depth on a specific item and learn more about it. The items are normally pieces of art or furniture.

You can skip these parts of the audioguide if you’re not interested in it. The core of the information is contained in the main portion of the audioguide.

London England United Kingdom Everything You Need to Know About the Oyster Card

Conclusion

You get to see a very limited number of rooms on the tour. The rooms you get to see are mainly common areas and banquet halls. You don’t get to see any personal rooms so don’t expect to sneak a peak into the Queen’s bedchamber!

The rooms you are allowed to tour are spectacular and well worth the ticket cost.

The Buckingham Palace tour is the perfect option for any royal fan that is visiting London during the summer months. It gives you a small peak into how the royal family lives, and you leave with a lot more information than you had before you entered.

You need to make sure you follow the palace rules and arrive early to make the most out of your tour! You will also have a much more enjoyable tour if you purchase your tickets online months in advance. It would be a shame to not be able to take the tour just because tickets were sold out!

All in all, I would highly recommend the Buckingham Palace tour for any royal fan! It is truly the height of royal tourism and worth every pence you spend on it.

Everything You Need to Know About the Oyster Card

You will undoubtably be taking the Underground and other forms of public transportation when you’re in London. The Oyster card is a pre-paid card you can use to make travelling on London’s public transportation extremely simple.

There are a lot of advantages to getting an Oyster card and not really any disadvantages, so you should pick one up when you’re in London!

I’m going to give you all the information you need to make the most out of your Oyster card while in London. You’ll be using the Oyster card like a pro by the time you’re done reading this post!

Types of Oyster Cards and Where to Get Them

There are two different types of Oyster cards:

  • Standard Card
  • Visitor Card

Standard Oyster Card

The standard card is what locals in London use when travelling on public transportation. You can get the standard Oyster card at any Underground station, at the airport, and at some newsstands throughout the city.

Visitor Oyster Card

The visitor card is specifically designed for tourists. You have to order the card online in advance, and it will be delivered to you home, so you don’t have to worry about getting a card when you get to London.

The visitor Oyster card also has a few added perks like small discounts at tourist shops and restaurants. You can view a list of the perks here.

You should not choose to get the visitor card just because you get special offers because the offers aren’t that great. If you choose to get the visitor card, make sure you get it because it is convenient for you.

London England United Kingdom Everything You Need to Know About the Oyster Card

The Deposit

A £5 deposit is required whether you choose to get a standard card or a visitor card. You will pay the deposit online when ordering your card or at the booth when you purchase your card in London.

You get your deposit back when you return a standard Oyster card, but you do not get the deposit back with a visitor card. This is one of the major differences between the two types of Oyster cards.

You can return your standard Oyster card at any place where you can purchase a card. This includes Heathrow and Gatwick, so you can take the Underground to the airport and return your card there. It is a great system!

It isn’t a lot of money, but if you’re never planning on going back to London and using your Oyster card again, you are probably going to want to get your £5 back.

Getting a Refund

You can get any money you have left on your card back before you leave London. You can get your refund at any automated ticket machines or at any manned ticket booth.

The refund will only be in small bills and coins if you get your refund at a ticket machine. You should go to a ticket booth if you have a lot of money remaining on your card, so you don’t have a lot of pence that you can’t convert back to your home currency when you get back from London.

How to Use Your Oyster Card

It is very simple to use your Oyster card. You simply tap it on the yellow card reader when you enter the metro station and tap it on the same yellow card reader when you leave.

You have to tap it both times so be sure to remember to tap out when you leave!

Your Oyster card automatically deducted the appropriate amount from your card based on how how far you have travelled.

Topping Up

You can easily top up your Oyster card at any station by using the ticket machine. The ticket machines accept cash, credit cards, and debit, so you can top it up with whatever method best suits you.

You choose how much you want to add to your card. You can choose between adding £5, £10, £15, £20, and £50.

I recommend topping up with a smaller amount, so you don’t have to worry about trying to get a refund when you leave. It is easy to top up multiple times if you need to. The process is very quick and takes less than five minutes.

Tower Bridge London England

The Oyster Card Gives You Cheaper Fares

The biggest advantage to the Oyster card is that you pay less per trip than you would if you purchased single tickets. A trip in zone one with a single ticket costs £4.90. The same trip costs just £2.40 with your Oyster.

That adds up to significant savings over the course of your trip. You will likely use the Underground at least twice a day, but you could easily use it more often depending where in London you are staying. If you’re in London for five days, you will save £25 per person! Most people use the Underground more than twice a day, so you can potentially save even more money!

It doesn’t make sense to spend extra money if you don’t have to so make sure you get an Oyster card!

Capped Fares

The maximum fare you can pay per day with the Oyster card is capped at £7! This can lead to a lot of savings for people who use the Underground a lot in one day.

You don’t get to cap your fare if you purchase single tickets, so this is another great advantage of the Oyster card.

The card will automatically stop taking money from your card when you tap out when you have reached the cap. You still need to tap in and out of the station like normal even if you are capped for the day though!

St. James' Park London England

Conclusion

The Oyster card is an essential accessory when you visit London. It saves you both time and money, so it is a no brainer!

You save time because you don’t have to stand in the queue to purchase a single ticket each time you take the Underground. There isn’t normally a line in the smaller stations, but there can be long queues at main statins like Victoria- especially during peak times.

The true advantage of the Oyster is how much money it saves you on your vacation. The savings add up quickly, and it is well worth it to get a card.

The biggest decision you will have to make is whether you want to get the standard Oyster or the visitor Oyster. They both have their advantages, so you will have to decide which one fits your needs.

I personally prefer the standard Oyster card because it gives me the ability to get a refund on my deposit if I ever choose to. I frequent London, so I always keep my Oyster rather than returning it for a refund.

You can’t go wrong with either version of the Oyster card. They will both save you time and money, which is the most important part!

How to Get From Heathrow to Central London

Most international flights that land in London either land at Heathrow or Gatwick. Heathrow is the most popular airport in London, but it also the largest, so it is easy to be overwhelmed. You need to know how to get from Heathrow to Central London before you arrive in London to avoid stressing about figuring it out when you land.

There are some airports where you can wait to figure out how to get to your hotel until you land, but Heathrow is not one of them.

There are 4 ways to get from Heathrow to Central London. This post will only discuss 3 of them because the fourth option is not practical. All 3 methods of getting from Heathrow to Central London have their pros and cons. You may find that one option will fit your travel style more than the other 2, so you should choose whichever option makes you feel most comfortable.

The fourth option that won’t be discussed in depth is to take a taxi. This option isn’t advisable because it is extremely expensive and not very quick. It takes almost as much time as options 1 and 3 and is slower and more expensive than option 2.

You should choose one of the 3 options below to get to Central London and not even look into taking a taxi. It simply isn’t practical.

1. The Underground

The London Underground is a great option depending on where you stay in London. If you are staying along the Piccadilly line, the Underground is the best way to get from Heathrow to Central London. You won’t have to transfer, so it is very convenient. You will have to transfer if you aren’t staying along the Piccadilly line, but transferring is very easy even if you have bags to haul around.

The Underground is the most cost effective way to get to Central London from Heathrow airport. It only costs £6 if you purchase a standard ticket or £3-£5 if you use your Oyster card.

The downside to taking the Underground from Heathrow to Central London is that it takes a long time. It can take over an hour, and this may not be what you want to be doing right after a flight- especially if it is a long-haul international flight.

The Underground is very busy during peak hours, so you may want to consider what time you will be travelling into London when choosing if the Underground is right for you.

You May Want to Take the Underground to Central London If:

  • You are on a tight budget
  • The hotel you are staying at is along the Piccadilly line
  • You don’t have a time constraint
  • It is not during peak time

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Method If:

  • You have to transfer multiple different times to get to where you are staying
  • It is during peak time and the Underground will be extremely busy
  • You have a tight schedule and need to get into the City quickly
  • There is a person is your group that has mobility that won’t be able to stand on the Underground if necessary or can’t walk through the the stations or climb stairs if necessary
London England United Kingdom How to get from Heathrow to Central London

2. Heathrow Express

The Heathrow Express is a fast-paced train that goes directly from central Heathrow to Paddington station. Central Heathrow is considered terminals 2 and 3, so if you land at a different terminal, you will have to first go to central Heathrow then board the train.

The Heathrow Express only takes 15 minutes and is by far the fastest way to get to central London! It is quick, efficient, and comfortable.

This transportation method is great for people who are in a rush or are staying near Paddington station or along the Underground lines that services Paddington.

You are able to get on the Circle & District, Bakerloo, and Hammersmith and City lines at Paddington. If you are staying along any of those lines, you should consider taking the Heathrow Express.

The downside to the Heathrow Express is the price. It can cost up to £25 if you don’t purchase tickets in advance! That is a serious cost and is something you should consider before choosing this option. The price does decrease if you purchase your tickets in advance.

The lowest standard ticket price is £12, so you are only spending double what the Underground would cost. That is an easier price tag to handle than £25 so be sure to purchase your tickets online 90 days in advance if you know you want to take the Heathrow Express. It will save you a lot of money!

You May Want to Take the Heathrow Express to Paddington If:

  • It is important you get from Heathrow to Central London quickly
  • You don’t have a ticket budget and can spend the extra money
  • You are staying near Paddington or along an Underground line that services it
  • Someone in your party has mobility issues. There is ample space to store your luggage of the Heathrow Express and enough seats that you won’t have to stand

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Option If:

  • You don’t have a time constraint
  • The Heathrow Express is not worth the extra expense
  • You would have to transfer multiple times on the Underground to get to where you are staying
London England United Kingdom Queen Victoria

3. National Express Bus

The third option is to take the National Express bus to Victoria Station. This is the least popular option, but it is still a great option. It costs £6-£10 depending on whether you purchase your tickets in advance or not. The price is comparable to taking the Underground, so it is another great option for travellers on a budget.

The bus drops you off at Victoria station, which is along the Piccadilly line. It is a great alternative for people staying along the Piccadilly line close to Victoria. The bus is a stress-free option. Your bags are under the bus, so you don’t have to worry about them, and you know you will have a seat and not have to stand.

The National Express, on average, takes approximately 10 minutes less than the Underground to get from Heathrow to Central London. This, of course, depends on the traffic. The bus can take much longer if there is a traffic jam or accident.

One of the downsides of the bus is that it leaves as designated times, so you may have to wait around a while until the next bus departs.

If you are purchasing tickets online, you should build time into your schedule to account for getting through immigration, picking up your luggage, and walking to where the buses depart. You should book your bus time for 45-60 after your plane lands to allow for this.

You May Want to Take the Bus to Central London If:

  • Your hotel is located near Victoria station or along the Piccadilly line
  • You enjoy the ease of not having to worry about your luggage and relaxing on the bus
  • Seeing the scenery is appealing to you
  • It is okay if you are delayed due to an unforeseeable delay on the roads

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Option If:

  • You need to get from Heathrow to Central London quickly and can’t risk a traffic jam delaying your arrival
  • Your hotel is not along the Piccadilly line, and you would have to transfer multiple times on the Underground
  • Someone in your party gets sick on buses
Tower Bridge London England 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

How to Get the Best Ticket Price

Once you have decided how you are going to get from Heathrow to Central London, you should figure out how to get the best deal on your transportation.

You should get an Oyster card if you are taking the Underground. The Oyster card can be purchased at Heathrow before you get on the Underground. You get a discounted rate when you use the Underground, and it can be used throughout your entire stay in London. Even if you aren’t taking the Underground from Heathrow to Central London, you should still get an Oyster card for your time in London. It will save you a lot of money!

You should purchase tickets in advance and purchase roundtrip tickets if you take the National Express bus or the Heathrow Express. There is always a reduced fare when you purchase a round-trip ticket, and tickets are normally cheaper the further in advance you purchase them.

It is worth spending a few minutes to figure out the most cost effective option for whatever mode of transportation you choose. It can save you a lot of money- especially if you have multiple people in your group. As stated earlier, you can save £13 on Heathrow Express tickets just by purchasing them 90 days in advance. That’s a huge savings!

St. Paul's Cathedral London England

Conclusion

All 3 methods of getting from Heathrow to Central London have their pros and cons. The Heathrow Express is the quickest and most expensive method. The Underground and bus are comparable in both time and expense and come down to your preference.

You should take into consideration what type of travel experience you want to have and what your priorities are. You can’t go wrong with any of the options, but there will be one that is more suited to you.

The location of your hotel should be a factor in what transportation method you take. You won’t save much time if you take the Heathrow Express to Paddington then have to spend 30 minutes on the Underground to get to your hotel.

Alternatively, it may be worth the extra money to take the Heathrow Express rather than the Underground or bus if you are staying near Paddington. You will save a lot of time, and it will be a lot more convenient than having to transfer on the Underground.

There is a lot to consider when choosing what transportation method is best for you. You should take the time to figure out what method is best for you, so you have a good experience and don’t have to haul your luggage around too many Underground stations.

It is really easy to get from Heathrow to Central London, but it is something you will want to figured out before you land in London. It will save you a lot of stress to have everything sorted before you land and tickets purchased in advance if need be.

Where to Stay in London, England

It can be difficult to decide where to stay in London. The city is huge, and there are sights to see in every neighbourhood.

Having a general idea of where to stay in London when booking your accommodation is a huge help. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the choices because there are so many great options to choose from.

My Favourite Neighbourhood

I always stay in Earls Court when I go to London. To me, it is the perfect London neighbourhood for tourists. It is along the Piccadilly line on the London Underground, so it has easy access to central London and Heathrow Airport.

Earls Court London transport zones 1 and 2, so you are charged the cheapest fare when travelling within zone 1 from Earls Court and charges a zone 2 fare when travelling to Heathrow. It is a great way to optimize your money while in London. Don’t forget to get an Oyster card to save money on public transportation in London!

Earls Court itself is a great neighbourhood. It is filled with great local places to eat, and it is far enough away from the centre of London that it isn’t busy.

The hotel prices in Earls Court are extremely reasonable for central London hotels. You can often book a room for $100-150/night.

You get the best of everything in Earls Court. It is central, less expensive than other neighbourhoods, safe, and is more relaxed and quiet than other neighbourhoods.

Earls Court is a great neighbourhood in the heart of London that also has a local, quiet feeling. You will love staying here on your next trip to London.

Great Earls Court Hotels

Stay Along the Piccadilly Line

If you don’t stay in Earls Court, I recommend staying along the Piccadilly line. The Piccadilly line basically runs diagonally through central London.

You are guaranteed to be staying in a central location if you get a hotel close to an Underground station on the Piccadilly line in transport zone 1.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a great area to stay in. It is very central and walking distance to nearly every major London tourist attraction. It is a smart neighbourhood, so it is generally more expensive than Earls Court.

This neighbourhood is filled with amazing parks, great pubs, and high-end shops. It is great for people who want an upscale trip to London without being in a super touristy area.

The Hyde Park area has a great combination of tourist attractions while not feeling overly touristy. You walk a few blocks away from the parks, and you start to feel like you are experiencing an authentic part of London.

Hyde Park London, England Where to Stay in London England

Great Hyde Park Hotels

Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square

The Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square area is the place to stay if you want to be in the heart of London’s tourist attractions. You won’t get an authentic London experience if you stay here because you will be surrounded by tourists and businesses.

This is a great location if you have a short time in London and want to walk everywhere, but it is quite expensive. You will be able to find lots of places to eat and do if you stay in this neighbourhood.

This location is right in thee heart of the West End theatre district, so it is prefect for people wanting to see a lot of shows while in town. You won’t have to worry about taking public transportation home because you will be able to walk.

Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square Hotels to Consider

West End Theatre London England Where to Stay in London England

King’s Cross/St. Pancras

King’s Cross is one of London’s busiest train stations. It has an Underground station as well as domestic and international trains departing from it. Just like Earl’s Court, it is on the edge of transport zone 1.

King’s Cross is close enough to the heart of London that getting around is easy, but it far enough away that it is quieter. It is still busier than Earl’s Court because of the major train station, but it is less busy than the Piccadilly area.

This is a great location for people that are taking early morning trains that leave from Kings Cross or the Eurostar to another part of Europe. It saves you a commute on the underground if your hotel is walking distance from the train station you depart from.

The Kings Cross area has a number of great restaurants. You can find both independently-owned restaurants as well as chains.

Kings Cross is my second choice for location behind Earl’s Court. It is the perfect mix of being close to tourist attractions while still being able to have some quiet.

Great Kings Cross Hotels

Victoria Station

Victoria station is another great location even though it is not located along the Piccadilly line. It has access to 3 Underground lines and is a busy coach (bus) terminal.

Victoria station is close to Westminster, so you can easily walk to the majority of central London’s most popular tourist sights. Since it is such an important transportation hub, you are guaranteed to find lots of great restaurants and coffee shops.

It is also a great location if you’re looking for a less expensive location in central London. The Victoria station area has prices similar to Earl’s Court, so it is a great location to get a great hotel in the middle of the city without paying as much as you would in the Piccadilly or Hyde Park areas. It is slightly more expensive than Earl’s Court, but you can normally find a good deal.

Great Victoria Area Hotels

St. James' Park London England Where to Stay in London England

Conclusion

London has an amazing transportation system. No matter where you stay you will be able to easily travel from place to place and sight to sight either by the Underground or the bus system.

If you choose to stay in one of the neighbourhoods I’ve suggested, you will be ideally stationed in the city to have easy access to all of the top sights London has to offer.

For a central hotel that still has an authentic London vibe and is relatively quiet, consider Earl’s Court or Kings Cross.

If you’re only in the city for a few days and want to walk to all the sights, Piccadilly/Leicester Square is the place for you.

People who are looking to stay in a high-end neighbour hood will love the Hyde Park neighbourhood.

London is an amazing city, and where you stay has an impact on what type of experience you have while on your vacation. No matter where you choose to stay be sure to research what the neighbourhood has to offer and explore it while you’re there.

5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

You will use the London Underground when you’re in London. It is incredibly efficient, and makes your trip so easy and efficient.

You can travel basically anywhere in London by using the Underground. If you’re travelling to certain far-away suburbs, you may have to use the Overground, but for the most part, the Underground will serve all of your transportation needs.

Using the London Underground is easy when you know what you are doing. These 5 London Underground tips will help you use the Underground like a local and save time and money in the process!

1. Get an Oyster Card

Getting an Oyster card is essential. This card allows you to tap in and out of the London Underground without having to purchase a ticket each time. You pre-load the card with money, and your card is deduced every time you use the Underground. The card can be re-loaded with money at any station if needed.

You can purchase an Oyster card when you land at the airport, or you can get your Oyster mailed to your home in advance. You have to purchase your Oyster card at a ticket window. But after your initial purchase, you can use the machines to top it up.

There is an option to purchase a Visitor Oyster card. The Visitor card has to be ordered before you leave with enough time for it to be mailed to you. You get a number of discounts if you purchase the visitor Oyster. So you will want to review the discounts to see if pre-buying the visitor Oyster is beneficial to you.

You have to pay a £5 deposit when you get your Oyster card. This is refundable if you return your card when you leave the city. You can get a refund for any money on your card if you return your card when you leave. If you don’t return your card, the money stays on the card, and you are able to use it next time you visit London.

Benefits of using an Oyster card:

  • You don’t need to purchase a ticket for each trip.
  • It save you money by giving you a reduced fee each time your ride. You save £2.50 per ride on average when you use the Oyster card.
  • Your daily fee is capped. After you spend a certain amount of money on the London Underground in a single day, you are not charged anymore.

2. Avoid Peak Hours

It costs more to ride the London Underground during peak hours. You save approximately 50 pence each trip when you ride during off-peak times.

Peak-hours are different depending on whether you have a visitor Oyster card or a regular Oyster card.

For people using the visitor card, peak times are between 6:30 and 9:30am and 4 and 7pm. All day on weekends and Bank holidays are considered peak as well.

Peak times are the same for a regular Oyster card; however, weekends are not considered peak times.

That means you may end up paying more if you choose to get a Visitor card rather than a regular Oyster.

Avoiding the London Underground during peak times will also make for a more comfortable journey. The Underground gets very busy during peak times, so it will be very crowded, and you will have no personal space. It can be an uncomfortable ride- especially if you are going a long distance. You can have a less crowded and more enjoyable ride when you ride the London Underground during non-peak hours.

Tower Bridge London England 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

3. Know Your Platform

When you go down to the Underground platform, there will be two different platforms to choose from. The platforms have trains going in the opposite direction of one another, so be sure you know what platform you need.

You can tell what platform you need by reading the signs at the entrance to the platforms. These signs list what stations each train stops at. You need to find your station then go to the corresponding platform.

London Underground Bonus Tip:

You will most likely enter the platform in the middle, but you should move all the way down to the end. The end of the platform is always the least busy, so you will have fewer people in your car then you would if you go onto a car in the middle of the platform. This is especially helpful during peak times.

London England United Kingdom 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

4. Stand on the Right

If you’re going to stand on the escalator, always stand on the right. People walk on the left-hand side of the escalator, and they will ask you to move to the right if you are standing on the left.

London is a fast-paced city, and people regularly walk up the escalator. So please stand on the right in a single-file line. You will make the locals so much happier because you will be one less tourist they need to ask to move.

It can be easy to forgot to stand only on the right if you come from a society where it is acceptable to stand on both sides of the escalator. You should watch what the locals are doing and follow their lead. You may not thing this is a great tip, but it is. Trust me.

St. Paul's Cathedral London England 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

5. Consider Walking

You should consider walking if you are going from one place in central London to another. The London Underground is great, but it is sometimes quicker to walk than to take the Underground.

I suggest walking if you’re in central London, and the place you are going is less than 3-4 stations away. The distance between stations is often short, so walking the equivalent can mean only having to walk 5 or so blocks.

Westminster station and Leicester Square station look like they are far apart on the London Underground map. However, they are only a 10 minute walk away from one another. You can easily walk from one station to the other in less time than it would take to use the Underground.

You get to see more of London and save money when you walk rather than take the Underground. If you plan your days strategically, you can walk to most places rather than take the Underground from sight to sight.

London England United Kingdom 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

Conclusion

You will use the London Underground when you are in London. There is no way around using it, so you should know how to ride the Underground efficiently and like a local.

Getting an Oyster card is the most important thing you need to do when riding the London Underground. You also need to know how to save money by walking and not riding at peak times.

If you know where you are going and what platform you need, you have a stress-free experience on the Underground and seamlessly blend in with the locals.

It is easy to ride the London Underground even if you have never used public transportation before. Each station has clearly marked signs, and employees can help you if you have questions.

You should pick up a free paper London Underground map, so you can easily plan your journey before you go down into the station. This will help you easily navigate where you need to go without getting in anybody’s way.

The London Underground is great, and I know you will have no troubles figuring it out!

Westminster Abbey vs St. Paul’s Cathedral

If you’re going to London for the first time, you’re probably considering visit one a London cathedral. The two most popular choices are Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

This post will hopefully help you choose which London cathedral you want to visit if you only have the time (and money) to visit one. It can be a difficult choice, so I hope lying out the pros and cons of each will help you make your choice.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey London England  London Cathedral

Westminster Abbey is filled with centuries of British history. Kings, Queens, poets, scientists, and many other historical figures are buried in the Abbey. It is also a popular venue for royal weddings- it has hosted 17!

Getting There

Westminster Abbey is the most conveniently located London cathedral. It is right in the heart of the City.

If you take the Underground, get off at either Westminster station or St. Jame’s Park station. Westminster is the most convenient stop and can be accessed from the Jubilee, District, and Circle lines. St. Jame’s Park station can be accessed from the District and Circle lines. And don’t forget to use your Oyster card to save money on public transportation in London.

Follow the signs for Westminster Abbey when you get off the Underground, and you will be able to see the cathedral as soon as you get to street level. All you will have to do is walk across the street, and you will be at the Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is centrally located, so you are able to walk to it if you’re in Piccadilly Circus, the West End, or at Buckingham Palace.

It’s location is extremely convenient, and there are lots of tourist sights nearby.

Admission

No matter what London cathedral you go to, entry is expensive. That is one reason people only visit one of the two main London cathedrals while on holiday.

Entry to Westminster Abbey is £20 if you buy tickets in advance. It costs £22 if you buy tickets at the door.

The Abbey is always busy, so buying tickets online is a good idea assuming you know when you want to visit. It will save you money and time standing in line.

What You Get to See

Westminster Abbey has lots of unique things for you to see.

You are able to see the tombs of Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Sir Issac Newton, and Queen Elizabeth I. There are over 3,300 people buried or commemorated in the Abbey, so everybody is guaranteed to find someone they are interested in.

You also have the opportunity to view the Coronation Chair that monarchs sit in when being coronated. It is near the exit and definitely a must-see!

You also get to wander through the gardens. They are filled with beautiful flowers and are extremely peaceful. When it isn’t too busy that is.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral London England London Cathedrals

St. Paul’s Cathedral is also steeped in history. Martin Luther King once spoke at the cathedral. The Suffragettes even had a plan to blow the cathedral up.

Getting There

You can get off the Underground at the following stops for easy access to St. Paul’s Cathedral: St. Paul’s, Mansion, Blackfriars, and Bank. The most convenient is to take the Central line to St. Paul’s and walk from there.

You will not be able to see the cathedral when you exit the Underground station, so be sure to check a map at street level to make sure you are going the right way. You will not need to walk more than 3 blocks to get to St. Paul’s. If you feel like you’re walking a long ways, you are probably heading in the wrong direction.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is not as centrally-located as Westminster Abbey, but there are still other tourist sights in the area. It is close to The Globe, Monument, and the Tate museum. So there is definitely a day’s worth of sights to see close to St. Paul’s.

Admission

Just like Westminster, it is expensive to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral.

If you buy tickets online in advance, the entrance fee is £17. Same-day tickets purchased at the door are £20.

Entrance to the dome is included in the price of admission.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is normally not as busy as Westminster Abbey, so you are more likely to not have to wait in line if you’re buying your ticket on the day you are visiting the cathedral.

What You Get to See

You get to climb the dome when you go to St. Paul’s. The views from the dome are my favourite in all of London. You will get a unique view of London from the sky from the top of St. Paul’s.

You also get to see the High Alter. It is a particularly stunning piece of architecture. My favourite part of any cathedral or church is the organ, and St. Paul’s has a huge one! Sometimes they are even played while people are wandering through the nave.

Similarities and Differences

St. Paul's Cathedral London England London Cathedral

This is an extremely difficult question to answer because they are both historic sights that deserve to be seen. They do, however, offer two very different experiences.

Similarities

  • Both cathedrals cost basically the same
  • They both have historical significance
  • An audioguide is included in the price of admission at both cathedrals
  • They are both convenient to get to

Differences

  • Westminster Abbey has more royal history
  • You get a bird’s-eye view of London at St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey is home to the tombs of some of the most influential people in British history
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral is arguably a better piece of architecture

Trying to decide where to stay in London? Check out this article!

Which London Cathedral Should You Visit?

West Minster Abbey London England London Cathedral

The London Cathedral you choose to visit on your trip is ultimately your choice. I can’t tell you which one you will enjoy more.

If you enjoy royal history and historical figures, you would probably prefer Westminster Abbey.

If you enjoy architecture and seeing London from above, you would probably prefer St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I feel one visit to Westminster Abbey was enough for me. However, I would go back to St. Paul’s Cathedral multiple times. This is due to the viewing area from the dome. You will always be able to see something new from the top of the cathedral. The London skyline is always changing, so every time you went up, you get to see something you didn’t see before.

I enjoyed visiting both cathedrals. They both have something unique and worthwhile to offer.