— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

London Eye | Lee Kindness / I, Wangi / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
The London Eye is one of the stops of the Thames river boat cruise that comes free with the London Pass. (Lee Kindness / I, Wangi / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Wikimedia Commons)

For months I’ve been wish-planning a trip to the UK and putting together my “London List” — things I want to do and places I want to see in the English capital. London is not the cheapest city in the world, so while many of my personal must-dos are free — taking walks through Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park, for example, or listening to a free lunchtime concert in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square — I knew I’d have to choose among the attractions that aren’t free.

The Tower of London was a shoo-in for me, as I wanted to join a Yeoman Warder tour and later witness the Ceremony of the Keys; Westminster Abbey has witnessed too many fascinating moments in history to pass up; however, the Tower Bridge probably wasn’t going to make the cut, and I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I probably can’t afford a Thames River Cruise even if I really want to go on one.

But THEN! I recently found out that all four — and a whole lot more — are included in the London Pass, a sightseeing card that offers free entry to over 60 attractions in London plus discount vouchers for London attractions and London tours. The price of a one-day pass (£49) can sound a bit steep but it seems to actually be a pretty good deal. Here’s a moderately ambitious one-day itinerary:

  • 10:00h – See Westminster Abbey (£18).
  • 11:30h – Use the Thames River Cruise’s hop on-hop off River Red Rover ticket (£18) to take the boat from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier (and maybe eat takeaway lunch during the boat ride).
  • 12:30h – See the Tower of London (£20).
  • 15:20h – Take the cruise boat (to see the riverside sights and rest surely tired feet) from Tower Pier to Greenwich Pier and back to Tower Pier.
  • 17:30h – See the Tower Bridge Exhibition (£9), have dinner, and go back to the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys.

(Note: I haven’t actually tried this yet and — even the best laid plans… — the amount of time I’ve allotted for each attraction may not be enough, or I may not be able to catch the boat I want, etc. I’m planning on doing this when I get to London and I will definitely write about the experience.)

The 6-day pass (£108) is probably the best value of all, as it gives you 6x more days to explore the free sights at only a little over 2x the price of a one-day pass. Here are the London Pass attractions I would really love to visit if I get a 6-day pass:



Tower Bridge | Myrabella / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL / Wikimedia Commons
Tower Bridge | Myrabella / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL / Wikimedia Commons

1. Westminster Abbey

2. Tower of London

3. Tower Bridge

4. Kensington Palace

5. Hampton Court Palace

6. Windsor Castle — though not, technically, in London — is also included in the London Pass and, together with neighboring Eton College, would make a wonderful day trip.



Kew Gardens | Diliff / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Kew Gardens | Diliff / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
  1. Kew Gardens

  2. London Wetland Centre

  3. Chelsea Physic Garden



Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club (Source:
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club (Source:
  1. Best LDN Walks: Royal London

  2. National Theatre Backstage Tours

Music fans can also go on the Rock n Roll Walk, while sports buffs will want to tour the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club, the Arsenal Stadium, the Chelsea FC Stadium, and the Wembley Stadium.



Thames River Boat Cruise by CityCruises (Source:
Thames River Boat Cruise by City Cruises (Source:
  1. Thames River Boat Cruise

  2. Jason’s Original Canal Boat Trip

24 Responses

  1. I’m big on riding sight-seeing tour buses & the hop-on hop-off buses. It sounds corny but they’re an efficient way to travel through the city for cheap. I do one complete ride to “see it all” which makes me feel like I saw the city and then I begin getting off and on. When I was in London I wasn’t able to hop off & on because I was there for such a short time. I did get to do a complete ride though and going across the Tower Bridge was super cool. London deserves more time and your itinerary is just perfect, that’ll really help somebody like me see more & stay organized next time I get there(If I get there).

    1. Hey! Thanks for dropping by! I haven’t done a hop-on hop-off bus tour, but I have gone on the Batobus in Paris, which is kind of the same thing except it’s on the river. It may seem touristy to some, but I definitely agree it’s a great way to get a sort of overview of the city. Afterwards you can go on foot and explore those places that caught your eye. Here’s hoping you get to return to London!

      1. I thought those bus rides were too touristy and refused to try them for years! Unfortunately I broke my foot during a solo vacation in Boston and couldn’t get around easily and ended up on one of those buses and I loved it. I’ve used them ever since and I know they look geeky. I’m all for them!

      2. My sentiments exactly. Same for tour boats, they offer a unique view. Often riverside buildings were designed to be viewed from across the water, with their best side facing it and an unobstructed view of the whole afforded. And if you have time, St.Paul’s is an icon of architecture and full of history.

      3. I would love to go to St. Paul’s too. I love the hop on-hop off vehicles both for their sightseeing possibilities and also because sometimes if you’re tired you can just sit there, not have to make too much effort, and still get to see all sorts of interesting things. I just remembered the vaporettos are good for this too.

      4. Yeah boats are a good idea, that’s how you get those post card views! And usually there’s some free boat ride that comes with the bus tour ticket anyway, I’ve taken advantage a few times. Sometimes I get seasick but ferries are usually alright. Not sure I’ll ever get to do Venice. Thanks for the recommendation, St. Paul’s it is.

  2. I also recommend checking out Bath. It’s a really quaint town not too from London, I remember having the best roast beef meal at a pub nearby.

  3. I love the hop-on hop-off’s .. use them everywhere for an overview..and to see the “iconic landmarks”… then it’s off to explore local life and back streets by foot or bike..:) Great post..will have to try the itinerary in the spring..:)

  4. Good tips, even though I’ve started advising against visiting Westminster due to overcrowding (better to go to Temple, if you can find it open).

    Another good place to pop in (or, rather, onto) for free is Primrose Hill, famous for being featured in a Blur song (and, believe it or not, that’s how I got to know it). It’s a nice hill north of Baker Street and Regent’s Park. It offers a stunning view of downtown London, from West to East. Or viceversa!

    Also, another tip I feel inclined to give is to get yourself a bus pass. It takes a while to understand the bus network but, once you’ve cracked it, it’s great: buses take you everywhere, cost a fraction of the Tube, are nowhere near as crowded/hot/smelly, the % of weirdos is lower and the exact reasons why they’re so annoying to commuters (they stop everywhere and go in teeny tiny roads) are great for tourists. Plus you can seat on the upper deck and have a look at what Londoners are up to in their houses (and since many of us don’t use curtains ’cause we’re too cheap it’s a good view).

    1. Hey, thanks for the tips!

      I’m planning on doing a lot of free stuff in London, like going on walks through your parks. I’m glad you mentioned Primrose Hill — I’ve read about this walk that I can take from Camden Lock to Little Venice, and I think it will take me past/near Primrose Hill, so now I’m definitely going to stop by.

      The bus pass sounds interesting. I looked it up right now and it seems 1- and 3-day bus+tram passes are no longer available (at least according to but maybe there’s some other way…I will read up on it some more.

      Thanks again! 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t be able to go to London next year because the ticket for Hamlet was already sold out. Anyway, probably in 2016.

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