This is a weird post- filled with things to do in London that you really don’t need to do. I spent time doing them so I can for sure tell you that you can skip them and spend your days doing better and more enjoyable things. Without further ado, here is my skip list:
1) Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guards is one of the must-do in every guidebook but I beg to differ. Thousands of tourists are herded like cattle behind metal fences to stand behind the gate in hopes of catching a few glimpses of the show. Most tourists are busy taking phtos with super long selfie sticks and videos that they will never watch again. Your view will be behind the palace wall and gates limited the view even more. The band marching in was cool but that was about it. BC and I were both happy when it was over. Oh yeah, and it is London so there is a good chance it will be raining for this 30 minute ordeal.
Come back another time when Changing of the Guards is not happening and get a good look at Buckingham Palace and those who guard it.
2) Weird architecture museum aka Sir John Sloane’s Museum
My Fodor’s Guidebook starred this place as a must-see so now I question my taste in guidebooks. I like art and architecture. Sir John Sloane was a famous London architect who build his house like it was a work of art. Therefore, I should like the Sir John Sloane Museum. As we were going through it BC and I were both saying “really, Fodor’s? This place is the best of London”. We saw the creepy sarcophagus in the basement, decided his Halloween parties would be amazing, and did our fastest speedwalk around the rest of the place. Luckily this place has free admission or I would have been mad at myself.
No photos were allowed but trust me, you didn’t miss much.
3) Tate Britain
The Tate Modern is a wonderful museum. The Tate Britain is only okay. Nothing is wrong with it but the British Museum, Victoria and Albert, the Tate Modern and the National Gallery far surpass the collections of the Tate Britain. But make time for every other museum I just listed- they are amazing. Entrance is free to the Tate Britain too if you find yourself with nothing to do on a rainy day and you’ve exhausted your other free museum options.
Jolly Ranchers on parade:
4) St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is gorgeous! You should definitely go visit. But the 18 pound entry fee ($23.50 USD) is a lot to pay to walk around a church for 30 minutes (which is my normal in/out time). Plus the awesome Whispering Gallery was closed when I was there.
Luckily you can walk inside St. Paul’s Cathedral and get a good look and access to a prayer chapel before paying the entry fee. Stop outside the ticket takers and look at the grand space before moving on. Also it is free to worship at St. Paul’s if you are so inclined- a much more authentic visiting experience for sure.
Honor Roll: Westminster Abbey
Technically I did not visit Westminster Abbey- one of the most historical buildings in all of Europe. I walked up to the door but the 22 pound ($29 USD) entry fee I could not bring myself to pay, also my cash was running low! Once at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game I refused to pay $12 for a beer- that was my tipping point. Apparently $30 is my tipping point for church admission as well. Yes, Westminster Abbey is much more than a church but still. One must definitely pay entry fees to some London sights but the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Westminster are all very expensive and was hard to justify them all.
Here is my list of what to skip in London. Have you been to any of these places? Did you enjoy them? What is your tipping point on entrance fees (or anything)?