As a traveler, I spend a lot of time deciding where the best places to spend my money are. I do my best to save money on travel, as I talk about in my post How To Save Money on Travel, but often these are tough choices. Do I book nice accommodations and try to save money on food? Do I splurge on nice meals and stay in a dorm-style hostel outside the city center or crash at a friend’s place? All of these decisions go into trip planning and deciding which attractions to pay for and splurge on is part of that. Visiting a city as expensive as London comes with many of these decisions, as you can imagine. Are London’s Famous Attractions worth the cost or not? Over my many trips to London, I have learned what things I am willing to pay for and which things I can pass on. I hope this post can help you decided where you do and don’t want to spend money visiting on your next trip to London!
The London Eye: Worth it
So this one is probably one of the most tourist-y things you can do in London, but the panoramic views of the city are completely worth it. But, they are only worth it once. I have been on the London Eye three times. The first time was in 2012 during the olympics and you could see the Beach Volleyball court from the top of the Eye. The next time was with my mom and grandma in 2016 when they came to help me move back to the states after my grad program was finished.
Those two times would have been more than enough for me because the London Skyline hasn’t changed since the first time I was on the Eye in 2012. I did end up going again on my most recent trip so that my friend would not be alone, but I can honestly say I did not need to go again. The views of the city are breathtaking the first time, but after that I would say you can skip this on subsequent trips. I also recommend going at an off-peak time or opting to pay extra for the fast-track because otherwise you will spend a good chunk of time waiting in line.
The Tower of London: Worth it
This is one of my favorite London Attractions simply because of all the history it holds. The Tower of London is full of so much history. It’s the site of countless famous imprisonments and the site of Anne Boleyn’s now-infamous beheading. On a lighter note, it’s also the home to the Crown Jewels which are beyond breathtaking. Be prepared for a lot of walking on the day you visit though! There are a ton of stairs through the tower and you can expect to feel a bit tired by the end of your day. Be sure you pack a good pair of walking shoes (see my recommendations for great travel shoes here)
Westminster Abbey: Worth it
Westminster Abbey is over 1000 years old and is the location where British Monarchs have been crowned since 1066 AD. It is also the burial location for monarchs and other great men and women from British history. The Abbey has also hosted at least 16 Royal weddings including the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as well as that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is also an impressive gothic cathedral with gorgeous architecture. This one is a can’t miss part of London’s history and I highly recommend it.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: Not Worth it(for me)
St. Paul’s cathedral is a beautiful building, but for me it was not worth the cost to visit the inside. I have seen my share of impressive Cathedrals–Florence Cathedral being my all time favorite–so this one has never been able to draw me in. On my trip this March, my friend did elect to pay to enter and said it was beautiful and that the best part was trekking up to the Dome for panoramic views of the London. So if you really love churches and are willing to climb a few hundred steps for a good view, this one might make your worth it list. For me though, this one continues to be on my “not worth it” list.
Shakespeare’s Globe: Worth it to see a show
GO SEE A SHOW. I do not support paying for the theatre tour, but paying to see a performance here is 100% worth it. You can get tickets for as little at £5 if you are willing to stand, and get the chance to see Shakespeare’s plays as they were intended to be seen. You will witness amazing acting and get to see beautiful sets. The theatre itself is right on the Thames and in a wonderful are of the city. Even if you don’t get tickets to a show, it’s still worth it to wander across Millennium Bridge to see the theatre and explore the surrounding area.
A Show on West End: Worth it
I love the theater and, as I talked about in my recent post about the Top Things to Do in London, I make it a habit of getting tickets to a show whenever I can. I have personally seen Wicked, Once(which is amazing but no longer running), Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, Book of Mormon and Hamilton(eeeeekkkk!) all of which were absolutely amazing. Most tickets will cost you around $40-50, but you can get cheap tickets the morning of the show or enter lotteries for a chance to buy low-cost tickets. Keep in mind that the more popular a show is, the more it is going to cost. The goosebumps I get when I watch a live theater show is worth every penny I spend on the ticket and I strongly believe this is an absolute must when you visit London.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours: Not Worth it
This is one of those things that I adamantly believe is a waste of money in a city like London. Sure it’s a convenient way to get between some of the most famous sites in the city and have your requisite double-decker bus experience, but it’s a waste of money. You can simply utilise the massive public transit system in the city and save yourself some money. The Hop-on Hop-off buses aren’t worth the money when you can take one of the many city buses or the Tube to get to your destination for a fraction of the cost.
As you could probably tell from this post, I consider many of London’s famous attractions to be worth the money. One Tip I have if you are on a tight budget: don’t try to do everything. Prioritize which things are most important. For instance, I didn’t see all of these things on my first or even my second trip. I have been to London 9 Times and still have things left to see so if your budget is a priority, opt for one or two of these and then take advantage of all of London’s amazing free attractions!
As always, from one Misguided Millennial to the world, this has been my take on if London’s famous attractions are #worthit or not!