London trains are great if there is only one of you. If there is four of you and you’re not going too far it’s actually cheaper in a taxi.
If you do decide to use buses and trains and are staying in London a few days buy a oyster card. If we had done this right from the start we would’ve saved ourselves a lot of money.
Get yourself somewhere to stay that has a kitchen, or at least a kitchenette. Food in restaurants and cafes is expensive, and day trips are made even more expensive if you’re buying breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most meals cost us a minimum of 80 pounds and with the exchange rate from Australian dollars thats over $150au! We managed to have very hot days while in London, in fact it was a heatwave, and having to buy water added to the cost.
If visiting in August/September it is berry season. We had a local that we knew tell us about this and we are so glad she did! Every day we were in London we would go to the local Sainsburys and buy the most delicious blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries. One punnet cost between 1 and 2 pound so $20 Australian dollars got you a lot of berries, and they were legit the biggest, sweetest, best tasting berries any of us have ever had! The kids even had them for dinner one night because they were sick of eating out, and in their words “we just want something fresh!”
London food is actually quite different to our Aussie food, and I have quite fussy kids so to be honest we struggled a lot with finding things that they would eat. A lot of places do not do just fries, and if they do its 10 pounds for a tiny bowl of fries, thats over $15 for enough fries for a snack for one, its totally crazy!
The hop on hop off bus is great, you see a lot of London in one day and you can get on and off to see sights and stay as long as you like, it also includes tickets on the water ferry so you can go down the river Thames. They’re not cheap but we had the best day out and found it the best way to see a little of a lot of things. The only other thing I would suggest is to start early, theres so much to see and do and it all takes time, try to fit as much into that day to take advantage of the ticket while you have it, also if you do it first up you get to see what you do and don’t want to see while you’re there, and they give you a lot of information too.
The museums are all free! Even the National Art Gallery is free! We didn’t want to spend all our time doing museums, but pick one and do it, we didn’t get to do many so I can’t recommend one but just choose one based on your families interests.
Harry Potter was so worth stopping over in London for, the place is mind blowing! My advice though is dont pay for photos in there, theres actually quite a few opportunities later on where you can pick up a broomstick and take your own photo, so save your money. Also it takes way longer then the 3 hours they recommend, take food and water! There is sooooo much you can spend your money on, the souvenirs are everywhere and some of them are amazing, my kids wanted one of everything! While they obviously didnt get one of everything I would factor in at least $100au for a keepsake, even the chocolate frogs and Berties every flavour beans are pricey when you compare it to Australian $$. From personalised trunks to personalised journals, jewellery and clothing they have everything you could ever imagine and you have no choice but to walk through it all, there is no avoiding it! Harry Potter deserves its own blog post though!
If going in Summer prepare for the heat, i was not expecting it to be so hot! Nothing is air conditioned either so the trains and underground are sweltering. On the other hand 2 days later it was cold and raining and we all needed long pants and jackets. Pack for all seasons and thats just in your daypack!
It took our kids the entire four days in London to recover from jet lag. Which means they were tired and cranky a lot of the time especially come early afternoon. They are 7 and 9 and were falling asleep on trains and buses by the end of the day, when getting off you would have to wake them and to be honest it was a nightmare. Give yourself plenty of time, make sure you’re back to your room early so they can have a rest, it was something we did not do enough of in London and our kids were so over it all by the end of the day which made our days in London that bit less enjoyable.
Eggs in London are very very pale and mostly flavourless, we are very spoilt in Australia, especially when you can get them fresh from a farm!!