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Exploring London

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Entertainment options in London are endless with affordable theatres, live music, escape rooms, day trips and museums. We couldn’t possibly list them all here, but if you have any questions please ask us or new friends whom you’ll meet in the cours

But before we talk about what London has to offer, let's delve into ways to move around in London. Depending on where you live and how frequently you have to travel, the amount of money that you will spend on public transport can range from £50-150 per month. The fare for different forms of public transport with an oyster card is as follows:

  • Tube >£2.30 per trip

  • Bus/Tram £1.50 per trip

  • National Rail >£5 per trip

You can apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard (here) after you have enrolled with the Uni. The 18+ Student Oyster card entitles you to up to 30% discount on Travelcards or when you travel at a particular time (e.g., travelling at off-peak hours). To get further discounts on travel, you can apply for a 16 – 25 or 26-30 Railcard (costs £30/annum). The railcard gives a 30% discount on National Rail travel; it is useful when you travel within the UK.

You can get additional discounts by pairing the railcard with 18+ Oyster card. Apply for a railcard at at or actual age does not matter as long as you are a student).

You will need to get the application form either from the train station or online. After the filling the form you will need to get it stamped at the Student Centre before submitting a scanned copy of the form online. Keep this scanned form so that you can renew your card the following year. We recommend getting a digital copy, so the railcard is available immediately on your phone via the app. Alternatively, cycling is also a popular way to travel around in London.

Tip: Sometimes it may be cheaper to travel without the monthly Travelcard (most of us don’t own one); we advise you to calculate your monthly expenditure on transport before buying one. Also, we prefer using the City Mapper app to Google Maps.

What does London have to offer?

The Victoria and Albert Museum and Natural History Museum are quite near to one another although we do not think it is possible to fully explore both museums in one day. The Royal Festival Hall – South Bank Centre tends to have affordable performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, shows and exciting talks. For more information on reduced fee tickets or student membership with individual museums, please visit this website (here) created by UCL Union for further details. Most of these venues are accessible too.

We recommend getting the Student Art Fund pass (here). For £5/annum, you get either reduced price or free entry to shows like the Van Gogh exhibition at Tate Britain and historic houses for anyone interested in art and exhibitions. 

Open House London runs annually in September where different buildings open their doors to educate the public. This is a fantastic opportunity for an education in history and architecture. Once, I managed to tour the bell tower of St. Paul Cathedral, which is usually off-limits to the public (and it’s free)!

While the Museums, theatres and galleries are great for rainy days (there are a lot), the various outdoor and green spaces of London are good places to appreciate the distinct beauty of London and get a breath of fresh air. Here are some of our favourite parks and short getaways from London.

  1. Hyde park

  2. St. Johns Park

  3. Richmond Park

  4. Box Hill Park

  5. Primrose Hill

  6. Regents Park

  7. Kew Gardens

  8. Hampstead Heath (you can even swim in the pond if the weather is not too chilly!)

Most of these parks are huge, with water bodies, running and biking trails. Some parks with hills are great to get a good view of the London Skyline – such as Primrose Hill. For a day of hiking close to London get your boots on and head to Box Hill Park, Lulworth Cove, Durdle door, The Seven Sisters Cliff walk among others.

Besides the wonderful hikes there are lovely small towns where you can go for day trips. 

  1. Brighton

  2. Cambridge

  3. Oxford

  4. Warwick Castle

  5. Cheltenham

  6. Bath, Stonehenge

  7. Stratford upon Avon

  8. Weymouth, Dorset

  9. Canterbury, White Cliffs of Dover

  10. Salisbury

You can book these day trips via Golden Tours or Student Tours. Alternatively, get in touch with your buddies/ classmates for other local suggestions of places that are a must visit. 

* The article was first featured in UCL International Trainee Resource Pack 20/21.

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