London is my favourite playground – it really is. 16 years in this city and I am yet to tire of it. Its architecture is ever evolving, its arts scene incredibly vibrant, the food trends really funky and the fashion amazingly creative. It tattooed itself on my heart.
As I travel, people remind me how lucky I am. Their eyes sparkle. Then they sigh. London is such an expensive city to visit, they add. Yes, the main museums are free but the main attractions come at quite a price. There are little secrets, though. Deciding to be a tourist again in my own city, I saved over £12 by booking a ticket combining entry to the London Eye and Saint Paul’s Cathedral with London Discount. Brilliant!
Come along, let me show you how fantastic a sunny day is in London.
2 pm: London Eye
This incredible giant joined the London skyline as part of the Millenium celebrations. It has this soothing presence, its spectacular capsules turning so gently, you barely realise they do. Spacious, super stable, they offer quite an extraordinary journey. Once on board, you marvel a little more with every passing minute. Suddenly, you see it all. Saint Paul’s, the Shard, Westminster. You literally feel on top of the world, a sudden intensity that makes you smile ever so brightly you forget your camera for a while.
Tip: short for time? Get the Fast Track option when booking your ticket on London Discount. It may cost £14 but on high peak days, it can save you a full hour queuing. I indulged: from the ticket office where I exchanged my voucher to stepping on my capsule: less than 5 minutes. VIP treatment indeed!
1 pm: strolling along Southbank
Want to make the most of the experience. Don’t take the tube between the London Eye and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Nor a bus. Follow the Thames. Listen to the buskers, slide on one of the Southbank Centre’s funky benches, admire the many sculptures along the way, see skaters practising have a glimpse at the new production stages being designed (for free!) from the National Theatre’s backstage walkway, do some shopping at the Oxo Tower and if it’s low tide, take a stroll on the sandy beach at Gabriel’s Wharf… You can walk quite a way from there and meet with history enthusiast doing a little mudlarking – chat with them, they have many stories to share ! I usually go back up by the Tate Modern and check the latest exhibits in the galleries then cross over the Millenium Bridge.
Tip: Look down when crossing the Millenium Bridge. No, really, do. You will see tiny, colourful paintings made by a guy named The Chewing Gum artist. There are dozens of them! Kids love spotting them.
3 pm: Saint Paul’s Cathedral
London Discount’s combined ticket with Saint Paul’s made it quite easy. Everything was already paid, already arranged, I could get easy access to the cathedral. No picture is allowed inside the building but grandiose does apply. If you have a chance, do stay for a mass: the way the notes rise from the organ and fill the whole space is sure to move you. Another challenge awaits: getting to the very top! There are a few hundreds of steps to go through (528 to be exact) but what a reward when you read the Golden gallery…
As you are closer to the City here, London appears quite futuristic, a little as if the towers had risen overnight. The more classical architecture looks almost toy alike… Equally amazing is how little you hear the traffic from up there but how clearly you can hear a busker sing by the Millenium bridge. If you have a zoom on your camera, use it! Look out for details on the bell towers around, One New Change rooftop, Paternoster square. There is always something fun happening.
Tip: Do pay your respect to the architect, Christopher Wren, which grave is in the crypt. The galleries there are beautifully arranged and also are home to a luxurious tearoom, should you wish to enjoy scones and cakes…
Want more? There are so many options with London Discount and the more you combine, the more you can save. Choose from Madame Tussauds London tickets, a cruise on the Thames… and make the most of the city and your budget.