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Planning a New Year’s trip is always difficult because you have to co-ordinate it with other people, choose location, drinks, food, music and all the cleaning afterwards… Nah! Not this time! This New Year, Stephen and I decided that we wanted it to be just the two of us. It is our first New Year as a married couple and we picked a destination, we both wanted to visit for a long time.
The reasons are many. We wanted to experience real winter and snow, if possible. Oh well, London is not THAT cold, but it is good enough for the purpose. In addition, there is so much to see there. It is a city full of history, kings and queens and in the same time it is vibrant and modern with all the shopping and the diversity. As Samuel Johnson once said: “By seeing London I have seen as much of life as the world can show.” When I get back, I will let you know if this is true. But before that, here is what I found in my research, which I did from scratch. I am so proud of it! .
I am not going to go into too much detail about hotels in London, because everything depends on your own preferences and desires. However, the transport is a little bit more complicated. We chose to stay at Lily Hotel in Earl’s Court. We chose it based on location and fares. For 11 nights we will pay £880, which is bearable.
If you have planned a holiday like this before, you should already know, that in order to enjoy it and make the most out of it, you need to plan every single detail from your arrival to your departure. You need to consider the weather conditions – like snow and rain, travel cards and tickets, airport transfer and so on.
From London Gatwick to Central London – There is a Gatwick express service running 24/7 from London Victoria Station to London Gatwick Airport. Trains come every 15 minutes and cost around £16,85 (online fare), or £18,90 if you buy it from the ticket office. The journey usually takes no more than 30 minutes and is ideal, if you want to be on time.
Alternatively there is an EasyBus services running from London Gatwick to London Victoria and Earl’s Court stations. The benefits of travelling with this services is that it costs from £2 to £15.
From London Luton to Central London – Unfortunately there us no underground going to and from London Luton as it is a bit distanced from London, however there are regular and cheap EasyBus and National Express Services. They are reliable and even though they are dependent on traffic, there is nothing to worry about. The only disadvantage is that the journey takes more time (~ 1 hour), or so I have been told. They warned me that it might be more due to winter conditions.
From London Heathrow to Central London – They say that London Heathrow is one of the busiest airports not only in London, but in the world. There is an air plane landing or taking off every minute. It should come as no surprise therefore, that this airport is so well connected to the rest of London. Besides the regular EasyBus (we actually bought return tickets for £4 for both of us!) and National Express services, there is a Picadilly Line (tube).
One of the fastest and most convenient ways to travel around in London is with the Underground. There are trains every 3-5 minutes that can take you near the most popular locations and attractions. If you want to get the most out of your journey here is an information about the fares.
That’s one of the first things we will need once we get there! You can purchase a travelcard for every day of your journey. The price for a single Anytime Travelcard (Zones 1 and 2) is £8.40, whereas if you are planning to travel after 9:30 am you can purchase an off-peak one, which is £7.00. For 7 days this will cost you a fortune, though. For this reason the cheapest way to get around in London for the holidays is to buy a 7-day Travelcard for the price of £29.20 per person. This means that for £59,40 two people can travel within Zones 1 and 2 freely, which is still cheaper than anything else.
This is the fun part…
New Year’s in London shouldn’t be just fireworks and count down to 00:00. Instead, we saved money for as many attractions as possible. As Stephen is not into planning trips, here is what I chose for us! I have made a list that I hope will help you, decide too.
1. Madame Tussauds, London Eye, London Dungeon and London Sea Life (the aquarium).You probably wonder why these all come together. I will tell you why. You can buy a combo ticket (for all 4 attractions – yey!) which will help you save up to 40%. Combined together these attractions cost £111 for two people, which is a real bargain.
If you are planning to go to London for New Years make sure you check the opening times for every attraction. For instance, the London Eye is closed after 3pm on 31st of January and on 7th of January until the 19th for annual check-up and maintenance.
2. Tower of London – We will have the chance to see the crown jewels and find out more about the royal family and their history. This attraction costs £20 at the ticket office and £18 if you book online (we already booked ours) – £40 or £36 in total for two. Keep in mind that it works from 9 till 16:30 (last admission being at 16:00) and is closed on 24-26 of December and on 1st of January. Also keep in mind that there is a lot you can see there and it is a good idea to allow plenty of time for the purpose.
3. The Royal Observatory and Greenwich Meridian. Located in Greenwich park, the Meridian is a must-see. There is an admission of £13 for you and your significant other and you will be able to take pictures on the Meridian line and visit the Observatory, as well as the beautiful park.
4. London Zoo – Located near Regent’s Park, this Zoo is amazing and believe it or not is open during winter time too. There is no good reason to skip this attraction in my view, which costs £40 for two people, or £36 if you book online.
5. British Museum – This enormous and interesting museum is absolutely free. I love this part, cause all the free things are following shortly!
6. National History Museum – Just like British Museum, there is no admission fee for National History museum. I think here we will see things brought from all over the world. I will check for some Aussie heritage!
7. National Gallery – Located on Trafalgar Square this gallery contains hundreds of famous paintings and masterpieces and it has a free admission. Not much into paintings, but everyone says we must go there, so why not? If it rains, there is nothing to do anyway!
8. Westminster Abbey – Most recently it was famous for the Royal Wedding of William and Kate Middleton. It is an interesting sight, the admission for which is £32 for two. If you are not fond of paying so much, it is always worth looking at it from the outside.
9. St Paul’s Cathedral. One of the most beautiful churches in London. Tickets are £26 for two adults when booked online or £30 at the ticket office.
10. Sherlock Holmes House. It is worth seeing it if you have read the boos, watched the movies and are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Stephen is a great fan, so we will go there when we visit Madame Tussauds – they are both on Baker Street (underground station) The admission is £12 for two adults, which is OK. I have no idea what we will see though.
So for now, the price for two according to my calculations is ~ £270. If you think that it is too much for your budget, you can always skip those you don’t find so interesting.
I did just now realize, I gave out too much details and information. Well, I couldn’t resist. I believe that planning is the key to success. A smooth journey requires good planning and preparation. and besides we needed to have our budget figured out.
Unfortunately all these attractions close in at around 5 pm so we need to figure something for the evenings. I’ll keep you posted.
Update: More information on our London trip here.
Featured Image Source: SlowRobot