How to visit London during a transit?

This article is designed for those visitors who want to to Visit london during a transit and are on budget. I will provide some tips.

I had a 13 hours stay in London Heathrow airport which I had planned to visit London. There were things that I had planned that did not turnout as I had expected that put my visit in a little jeopardy as I was somewhat lost. For example, the train that I had planned to reach London (Express train to Paddington) was too expensive so I had to take a different one (Day Pass). When I got on this train, I did not know which station to take off. After I took off, my phone GPS did not work and no body seem to interested in helping me how I can reach Buckingham palace :( I even got wrong information from people who were working in Heathrow, so please read on.

What I had expected that went wrong

In my initial research I had planned that I will take a day pass of rail that costs about £18 (This amount was different) which will take me back and froth from London Heathrow to London City and all the monuments that I want to visit. I had expected that this train will take me to Paddington Station (I mis calculated here) where I will find my way to Bucking Palace. I did know know where else I would visit. I had to decide that later. But London eye and Tower Bridge were on my mind.

How much Money do you need?

First thing first, you need local currency to visit attractions and to get to London city itself. When I asked the person at the counter I want to exchange $100 to pounds, she gave me advice that £50 (~$100) is too less as London is expensive. It will take me £19 just to get to London by train and £19 to get back. This is where I had miscalculated! I was expecting £19 would get me a day pass! Well I was right and wrong. I immediately went to change $200 to pounds. A decision that I might regret later but well having a little too much money in pocket is not a bad thing as It will come real handy in emergency.

Ok so found that £19 train ticket that I had come to know was actually an express train to London that takes you there in 15 minutes. I had 13 hours and was not really willing to shed that much money on getting to London. That would mean £19 going, £19 back + local transit would cost me £50 just int travel. That means that lady was not very wrong! But there was cheaper option valuable that is a day pass.

You can get a day pass for under £9 pounds that will take care of all your travel by London, that includes going from Heathrow to London and back!. There is one snags though, this is a local metro (Rails or Subway as we call in US). It is slow. Yes it will take you to London in about 1 hour and 20 min. But that was not a problem for me as I wanted to sight seeing. While most of the Train was underground, I get to see some towns as well. Not that Daily Pass is £19 if you arrive there in peak busy hours before 9:30. After 9:30, it becomes £8.90. I infact waited for 45 minutes to get the cheaper rate!

Which station I need to take off from Rail

Since I had planned the train would go directly to Paddington, I was lost station I will take of since I was on local metro now. Well you need to get off at piccadilly station, I took at one exit over in soho which wasn’t too far either.

Which attractions to Visit

From piccadilly station, you can walk down to Green Park and Buckingham palace. There is a change of Guard Service at Buckingham Palace in the morning around 11:30 am that you must see. It it nice with all the crow and the band!

From there you will notice that you can see London Eye (the giant ferris wheel) so why not just walk there? I walked throw Saint James park to get there. It was a nice walk along the pond and is worth walking. On reaching Thames river, the first thing you will see is the Parliament house which is a big attraction as well and is symbol of London. This was originally built in 1000 AD and reconstructed in 1800s. London Eye is right across the river from it. London Eye cost £20 for a single ride. This is the regular pass. Fast track is £30. This is a lot of money if you are coming from US. You might get an advance Fast Track Pass which might cost £20 and is a good deal. Esp if the lines are really crowded there which typically are. Also find a buy one get one free pass for London Eye. I actually got this offered by one of the visitor and I took advantage of it by sharing the cost!

At this point you have seen Green Park, Buckingham Palace, St James Park, Parliament House and London Eye. There are other local attractions right beside London Eye but that costed money I had plans to visit other historical monuments. I wanted to see Tower Bridge.

To get to the tower bridge, get on the circle line which terminated in tower stop (that was the last stop). Get off at this station and you will be welcome by a nice fort that I had never heard before. I was a bit late here as I had misplaced my day pass card and I had to walk quite a bit because of that. It cost £20 to visit the fort. I think it is worth it as I totally like forts. I did not have that much time though so I had to skip. Walk on right side to take the tickets (left side goes to Tower Bridge). Behind the for is tower bridge, that costs £8 to visit inside. You basically go inside, take the lifts to the top and walk on top of the bridge. I did not go there just because I thought there would not be too much and because I was a bit short on time as well. From this place, you will also see the tall tower Shard which is the tallest in the UK.

Last but not the least, take the train back. You will have to switch trains in order to get to Heathrow as you are not on the Piccadilly line. Take circle line to xxx station, take blue to and then take Piccadilly to Heathrow Aiport. Be mind full that different train goes to Terminal 1,2,3,4 and 5. One goes to 1-4 and there is another one that goes to 5. But you can also take one of the train to airport and then going to other terminals is free from inside the Airport.

I hope this article has help someone one in planning their visit to London during a transit. If it has please leave a comment so I know it was useful to someone. Thanks!

Another fun thing you can do in London is use the City Bikes. They are cheap only 2 for day pass. But remember you will be riding along busy traffic so be careful. I did not use the bikes just because of that and because it was partly raining as well.

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