Want to get the most out of London while barely breaking a sweat, let alone the bank? From helpful apps that get you free stuff to top-secret tourist-trap alternatives, these 7 travel hacks will save you time, money and confusion. So what are you waiting for? Crack the code to the capital with this handy guide and make your next adventure in London easier, cheaper and more fun.
1. Skip the Heathrow Express
The Heathrow Express will get you into central London in 15 minutes, knocking you back £36 for a return ticket. If you’re flying into Heathrow, you can take the Piccadilly Line instead. For less than £5, you’ll be in the city in around 50 minutes, saving yourself a pretty penny. Alternatively, if you’re staying in the West End, you can almost certainly get a taxi to your hotel for cheaper than the Heathrow Express, plus you’ll get to tick an essential London tourist experience off your list right away.
2. Give hop-on, hop off buses a miss
London bus tours are popular with visitors looking to take in the capital’s iconic sights. But from £20 a ticket, there’s a much cheaper option. For less than a fiver, you can hop on one of the city’s famous red buses for a DIY sightseeing tour. Route 11 is your best bet – it starts in Liverpool Street (not far from Spitalfields market and Brick Lane’s famous curry houses), passes by St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, and Chelsea, ending up in Fulham Broadway.
3. Avoid peak times
Pay-as-you-go fares are doubled during rush hour (weekdays from 6.30–9.30 and 16.00–19.00). The tube can be manic at these times, so avoiding it will save you stress as well as a good £5 on a day’s travel card.
4. Make the most of the high life
High on every visitor’s list, The Shard is London’s tallest viewing platform, with spectacular 360-degree views from the top that allow you to see for up to 40 miles on a clear day. But at £26 a ticket, it’s a little pricey. Why not pop in to GŎNG, on the 52nd floor, instead? There’s a minimum spend of £30, but you’ll enjoy next-level cocktails along with the same glorious panorama. Just remember to dress smart as they won’t let you into the bar if you’re wearing trainers.
5. Get your caffeine fix cheap
The Giraffe restaurant chain does takeaway coffee for 50p before 10.30 on Wednesday mornings, while myWaitrose card holders can enjoy a free tea or coffee whenever they pop in for groceries.
6. Know where to access free Wi-Fi
Make the most of free Wi-Fi networks at Starbucks, Pret a Manger, EAT, Caffe Nero and McDonald’s, as well as throughout the city’s financial district. You’ll have to register with The Cloud, but that only takes a second.
7. Don’t pay for drinks
Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the fierce competition between London’s fantastic drinking spots. Download the Drinki App to get cocktails in exchange for a Facebook check-in, or use the Match Pint App to claim your free pint or discount at a range of London pubs.
Jacinta Butterworth is a content marketer at #tagvenue, the London venue experts changing the way people discover and book spaces for their events. You can follow them on Twitter @tagvenue.