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2020-05-28 00:00:30

Everything you need to know for an independent trip to London

Everything you need to know for an independent trip to London

Around the British capital there are many stereotypes regarding prices, life and entertainment, and in many ways they are not entirely true. The article will tell you what a trip to London in 2020 looks like.


A tourist visa means that your main and only purpose of travel is travel. The collected package of documents should not be “older” than one month. On the site of visa support, you must fill out a form, then pay the fee. On the appointed date, you will need to personally visit the visa center. You can upload documents on your own or with the help of employees. After submitting documents, the application is considered within 15 business days. Employees do not provide advice - whether you have collected the documents correctly or not, your package of documents will be accepted without comments and recommendations.

What documents will be needed

Documents must be translated into English, notarization is not required.

  • international passport
  • Certificate of employment indicating the position, salary and time of work in the company
  • Evidence of sources of income if you are unemployed (housing rental agreement, sponsorship letter from relatives confirming kinship)
  • Bank statement on the account balance
  • Bank statement on the movement of funds on the card (account details)
  • Certificate from the university
  • Certificate of fluorography and the absence of tuberculosis, issued in a special clinic. This requirement is only for visas of the category of long stay in Britain, for regular tourist visas (even long-term), a certificate is not needed.

Sometimes they add to the package a certificate from the work, documents on the availability of property (apartment, car, cottage, land), previous passports with an expired date.

Housing: which area of London is better to stay

The British capital is divided into 32 districts and the City of London, as well as into 6 transport zones. The fare depends on the number of zones that you will cross - for these reasons, it is more profitable to choose zones with a large number of attractions for your stay. The most interesting zones for tourists are Zone 1 and 2, it makes no sense to choose housing in other zones for the purpose of saving: all the money saved will go to pay for travel, which is far from cheap. Here is a list of areas suitable for living:

  • City
  • Westminster
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Lambeth
  • Camden
  • Islington
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets.

Attractions with a list of hotels


City - the center of the capital, the largest financial center: here is the London City Hall, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Museum of London. Good options are within walking distance from Motel One London - Tower Hill, Crowne Plaza London - The City, Apex City of London, and The Chamberlain.


  • The historic center is located on the left bank of the Thames. The most famous sights of Britain are located in Westminster: Big Ben, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the Parliament Building and Westminster Abbey. Westminster is divided into large areas, including Soho, Paddington, Covent Garden
  • Hotels in central Westminster, equivalent to Times Square and Red Square, are some of the most expensive: The Sanctuary House, Conrad London St. James, Royal Horseguards and St. Ermin's Hotel - Autograph Collection
  • Soho - a colorful area and the center of bohemian life - is recommended for tourists who want to be in the center of events. Pay attention to The Z Soho, Nadler Soho hotels, Sanctum Soho boutique hotel, good budget hostel SoHostel
  • Covent Garden is suitable for people who value comfort and distance from the tourist crowd. From here it is far from top tourist places, therefore prices are more affordable. Covent Garden is known for shopping and as a theater center (the Royal Opera, the Royal Theater is located here). SMAPSE experts recommend to consider the hotels Smart City Covent Garden, Covent Garde
  • Mayfair is suitable for those who are used to traveling with chic. It is famous for boutiques, luxury hotels, there are most five-star hotels here, such as Four Seasons London at Park Lane, Marriott Grosvenor House, London Hilton on Park Lane, Claridge's.
  • In Paddington there is a huge number of hotels with a wide price range. In addition, an express train runs between Paddington Station and Heathrow Airport: you can reach the airport in just 15 minutes. Available hotels: Darlington, Delmere, Cleveland Square.

Kensington and Chelsea

Living expenses will be lower: the administrative district is located far from the center. But tourists will have something to do - for example, take a walk in Hyde Park or visit Kensington Gardens. Good options: The Montana Hotel, London Court Hotel, Ampersand Hotel, Fraser Suites Queens Gate.

Hammersmith and Fulham

There are no iconic places in the area, but it is easy to get to any destination from here. Advantages: quiet district, Fulham football stadium, low prices. Hotels Near Subway: Shepherd's Bush Boutique Hotel, Holiday Inn Express London - Hammersmith, The Brook Green Hotel.


Convenient location allows you to walk to places of worship in the central part of the city. There is something to see in Lambeth: the Lambeth Palace, the Royal National Theater, the London Eye. The prices here are not the lowest, which is offset by saving time and spending on the subway. Hotels: Novotel London Waterloo, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.


The district is famous for museums, flea markets, universities and stations of St. Pakras and Kings Cross, which offer additional opportunities to visit other cities of the kingdom. Where to stay: Generator Hostel London, Ambassadors Bloomsbury, Megaro Hotel.


Ideal for those who do not chase tourist places and want to live the life of measured London. There are many parks, shops, galleries, and the prices are quite reasonable. Good options in Islington include Finsbury Apartments, Kandara Guesthouse, the Hilton London Islington hotel chain.


The oldest county in Britain with interesting sights. Convenient hotels: ibis London Blackfriars, London City Hotel, Mercure London Bridge.

Tower hamlets

Touristic center with acceptable hostel and hotel options: The Ship Inn, Wombat's City Hostel London, Monopoly Accommodations.


Even with a modest budget in London, you will not stay hungry - the city is full of budget cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, markets:

  • Food stalls scattered throughout the city offer a wide range of products at low prices. Near the metro there are tents with shawarma and Asian cuisine.
  • Food markets. SMAPSE experts recommend visiting some markets not only for gastronomic purposes, but also for cultural ones. So, Borough Market was created back in the 18th century - there is a huge selection of fresh products with a wide price range.
  • Supermarkets are a place of inexpensive food and regular discounts, no matter what country you are in. Especially in the evening, when food expiring here expires, it is therefore quite possible to get a hearty dinner for a penny. Inexpensive supermarkets: Waitrose, Sainsburies, Tesco.
  • Pizzerias. In the list of budget food options, pizzerias should be singled out separately: firstly, they are widespread, and secondly, prices are really not high here.
  • Pubs. Another English attraction in which you can not only knock over a beer or a glass of whiskey, but also a hearty dinner. Prices for a dinner of cod in batter with french fries will delight you! Great Themed Pub - The Sherlock Holmes.
  • Inexpensive restaurants. Yes, it’s possible to find a budget restaurant in London! Especially if you give preference to national cuisines, for example, Indian.

SMAPSE experts have scouted the list of the best restaurants at affordable prices and are in a hurry to share it with you! Dinner in these restaurants will cost up to 20 £ - the minimum price in London:

  • Bonnington Café Vegetarian Restaurant Near Vauxhall Underground Station
  • Spanish Cuisine Boqueria
  • French restaurant Brasserie Zédel, quarter Soho
  • Mediterranean Cuisine Fish In A Tie at Battersea
  • Pizza Pilgrims Located All Over The City
  • Turkish Restaurant Gökyüzü, Harringay
  • The Heron in Paddington, type of cuisine - Thai
  • Asian Restaurant Roti King, Euston.

Ways to get around the city

London tops the list of the most expensive capitals in the world: you will find high prices in supermarkets, choosing housing, traveling by public transport. Despite this, to answer the question "How much does it cost to travel in London?" not so simple: travel time, payment method, your age are of great importance. Below SMAPSE experts have collected information about the main modes of transport, how you can save on travel.

  1. Buses Bus - an affordable form of transportation, but not as fast as the subway. But you can see the whole city from the second floor of the red double-decker bus. The fare is fixed - 1.5 £.
  2. Underground. The metro is more expensive, but you will definitely get to your destination on time. The fare is not fixed and depends on the distance. To save money, buy an Oyster Card, a plastic transport card. For example, for the distance from King's Cross station to Bond street in cash you will pay 4.9 £, and with an Oyster card - only 2.4 £.
  3. Trams. London trams run in the south of Greater London through the areas of Wimbledon, Croydon, Beckenham and New Addington. Fares are the same as on the bus: 1.5 £ on an Oyster card
  4. Trains Railways cover the whole city and connect it with the suburbs, they can get to all airports in London. The famous Eurostar train connects London with Paris and Brussels.
  5. River trams. There is a regular river service in London: you can avoid traffic jams on the river tram and ride along the Thames, but such a trip is not cheap. You can save with Oyster Card
  6. Black cab is not the cheapest way to get around. Cheaper to order a taxi through mobile applications. The minimum fare on the cab will be 2.4 £ (but this amount is a rarity, it’s worth focusing on 10-20 £)
  7. UBER With the advent of the mobile application, the life of Londoners and tourists has changed a lot: if earlier the prices for taxis and public transport were disproportionate, then now a trip by company to the city center by taxi will cost the same price as the metro
  8. Cable car. Emirates Air Line cable car runs over the Thames and is causing increased interest from tourists. Funiculars depart from the Greenwich Peninsula and finish at the Royal Docks. The duration of such a trip is only 6 minutes, and the cost is from 3.5 £ for adults and 1.7 £ for children.
  9. Bicycle rent. Bicycle stations are located throughout the city: bike rental will cost 2 £ per day.

What to look for:

  • London buses canceled payment in cash - you can pay by credit card or Oyster Card
  • Oyster Card pays for metro, ground transportation, trains and river buses
  • At peak hours (6:30-9:30, 16:30-19:00) public transport will cost more
  • Oyster Card is available for free, but a security deposit of 5 £ is required. You can issue a card only in London, and recharge in electronic terminals located at metro stations, airports and shops
  • Buses make stops on demand: to stop the bus, raise your hand up as it approaches, and to exit the bus, press the red Stop button on any of the handrails.

Estimated cost of the trip, expenses and how to save

London Weekly Budget:

  • Visa: 83 £
  • Flight (Domodedovo - Stansted): 130 £
  • Minibus ride from Stansted to London: 2 £ - 6 £
  • Room rental not far from the center: 35 £ - 50 £ per day
  • Meals: 40 £ - 60 £ per week
  • Oyster Transport Card: 23.8 £
  • Minimum cost of stay: 539 £ / week.

What can you save on

You can save in London, but for this you will have to give up some amenities:

  • Budget Housing: Couchsurfing and Airbnb
  • Transport: walking or bus
  • Food: buying food in supermarkets and cooking yourself
  • Entertainment: State museums, parks and free tourist tours.

Attractions, parks and free tours

SMAPSE experts recommend you start exploring the city with free attractions:

  • British museum
  • National gallery
  • Museum of london
  • Royal academy of arts
  • National history museum
  • Science museum
  • Iwm london
  • Tate modern
  • National Portrait Gallery.

Free tours are another way everyone can walk around the city. A wide selection of free tours is available on and

In second place in terms of accessibility and popularity are parks:

  • Hyde park
  • Regents park
  • St james park
  • Hampsted heath.

Of course, you can’t miss the top iconic sights of the city, even if you have to pay a few pounds - they are worth it:

  • Westminster Abbey (10 £)
  • London Eye (27 £)
  • Buckingham Palace (23 £)
  • Palace of Westminster, Big Ben (18.50 £)
  • London Tower (24.75 £).

Do not worry that rainy weather can ruin your plans. Take with you only the most necessary and comfortable shoes, and in crowded places beware of pickpockets!

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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