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Travel tips for visiting London

Use these handy travel tips for visiting London so that you can see a side of it that you may not have seen before.

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This is a guest post by Hugh Beckaner who is an aficionado of all things London, from its pubs to its parks, its palaces and much more. Two years ago, Hugh set a goal to visit every pub in London and blog about it.

After the Summer Olympic Games and the extensive coverage in the media, you might think that you know all about this cosmopolitan and historic city. In fact, London is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the world, for example, the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

But for as much as you think you know about London, chances are you’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. Before you plan your next hop across the pond, keep these fun facts in mind to plan a truly affordable and fascinating trip.

Lodging is Affordable

While London is home to some of the most grand and luxurious hotels in the world, as well as quaint cottage-style bed and breakfast inns, there is a growing contingent of affordable chain hotels popping up all over the city. The worldwide economic downturn has greatly affected London, and hotels have responded by creating affordable, no-frills chain hotels that offer basic, clean and comfortable accommodations for a reasonable price.

While you might miss out on some of the legendary five-star service or historic charm of one of the older, grander properties, staying in a chain hotel will help you keep to your budget and allow you to spend more time exploring the nooks and crannies of London.

Avoid the Tube

If you’ve never been to London, a ride on the legendary subway system is worthwhile just to hear the famous “Mind the Gap” warning when you get on and off the train.

However, the Tube can be expensive, and the stations difficult to get to, with many stairs, so you’re better off to walk. Especially considering that many landmarks are closer together than they appear on the Tube map. So skip the complicated system in favor of your own two feet, and see more of the city while you’re at it.

London: Land of the Quirky Museum

While you might associate London with royalty, formal teas and stiff upper lips, the city actually has a very eccentric and quirky side that can be a lot of fun to explore. Those interested in psychology, for example, shouldn’t miss the Freud Museum, which houses the famous shrink’s collection of antiquities, as well as his desk, chair and the famous couch that he used in his sessions with patients.

If you’re interested in advertising – and have some fondness for British nostalgia – don’t miss the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, which is basically a homage to the best of British pop culture.

If looking at vintage bags of snacks isn’t your thing, head to the Dennis Sever’s house, a townhouse stuffed with Victorian antiques and designed to make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. Another shrine to Victoriana is the Leighton House, also a popular tourist spot and home of the High Victorian artist. At this museum you’ll see a stuffed peacock and rooms decorated with Victorian influences from all over the world.

A Glimpse into U.S. History

As anyone who has sat through a high school American history class can tell you, the relationship between USA and Britain is long –and at times contentious. However, what many people don’t realize is that many of the most enduring symbols of American freedom hail from Britain.

On select days, visitors can actually tour the Whitechapel foundry where the Liberty Bell, the cracked American icon, was forged.

The Liberty Bell isn’t the only British native that symbolizes freedom. Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the most well-known of the Founding Fathers, was born a British subject and spent much of his life in London. Today, his home is a museum and a popular destination for American visitors.

The Food is Actually Decent

You may have heard rumors that English food is, well, less than scrumptious.

In fact, there’s a saying that “heck” is a place where all the cooks are English. While it’s certainly possible to have a bad meal, and some “delicacies” might not be terribly appetizing, it is possible to get a decent meal in London.

Try one of the many Indian takeout joints for an authentic curry, or ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation. And don’t forget to get an authentic order of fish and chips!

An ideal trip to London mixes some of the well-known sites and experiences such as the London Eye and changing of the guard, with a few unusual and offbeat excursions. Only by using these travel tips for visiting London and getting out of the tourist areas will you find the true London, and learn the secrets of this historic city.

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