One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, London is a true megalopolis of people, culture, history, and entertainment. The capital and largest city of United Kingdom, London has something for everyone, with grand museums, dazzling architecture, a lively music scene, and historic splendor that goes all the way back to the Roman Empire. A high density, sight packed destination, London urban environment has its share of green get-aways and secluded corners. A finance capital that never slows down, London offers so much to see, you’ll find it hard to take it all in just one visit.
London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, and cost of living is far higher than the rest of Britain. The main expense for any visitor will be accommodation’ which will cost you a minimum of £25 per night for a hostel dorm, up to at least £60 for a room of your own, and further to £120 for a room you will actually want to spend any time in. Try booking in advance, as most hotels will offer reductions on the room prices if you’re staying for more than a few days.
Currency: The pound sterling (£) is British currency, and it is also known as Great British Pound, or GBP. £1 is divided into 100 pence (singular: penny). Notes are £5, £10, £20 and £50. Coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence; £1 and £2.
Everyday prices: A single trip in the London tube (zone 1) will cost you 4.5£, but you can cut the cost down to 2.1£ if you pay with an Oyster card - a plastic smartcard which replaces paper tickets – instead of cash. You can also purchase a travelcard for 7 days (30.4£ for zone 1 & 2), a month (116.8£) or a full year (1,216£). A single bus ride will cost you 2.4£ (1.4£ with an oyster card), and a weekly pass is 19.6£. A decent sandwich will cost you around £3, and a good meal for two with wine is usually around £80-£100 mark, and up to £150 and more for one of the city’s leading restaurants. You’ll be pleased to know that all the state-funded museums are free, so you can spend a lot of time in some of the world’s best exhibition spaces and galleries for absolutely nothing (although it will be nice to make a donation to help keep them free, with £3 as a suggested amount). Entry fee for some of the other sights are a bit more expensive, ranging for 10£ to 20£ per person. Entertainment, likewise, does not come cheap, with cinema tickets that can cross the £10 threshold, and the big-name gigs ranging from around £20 upto £150 for a superstar at Wembley or Earl’s Court. Clubbing can also set you back, with an entry fee of 20£ on a Saturday. But don’t be alarmed: some of the best clubs in town are free or very cheap. Flyers with discounted entry rates are usually available all over the West End in music and fashion stores. A beer in a local bar can cost you from 2.5£ to 5£, but usually around 3.5£ for a good draft.
Tipping: Tipping is appreciated in London, but it’s usually not customary. Many restaurants add a ‘discretionary’ service charge to the bill, but in places that don’t you are expected to leave a tip of 10% -15% (unless the service was unsatisfactory). Cab drivers expect to be tipped about 10% of the fare. Bartenders do not expect to be tipped for pouring beer or mixing cocktails, but they often return change in a little metal dish, expecting some of the coins to stay on it. Well, it’s you’re call.