Since I received a lot of very helpful tips from friends before starting my trip, I’ve decided to archive some of my own suggestions here so other people can benefit from them.
Since I was backpacking and trying to travel as inexpensively as possible, most of these tips are directed at younger people like myself. But I hope everyone else will find them helpful as well.
- London is expensive! Don't plan on eating or drinking out a lot if you don't want to end up broke.
- If you're doing the hostel thing, stay at The Generator. Only 12.50£ a night for a dorm bed, free linens, and a pretty friendly staff. They also have their own bar with 1£ beer specials every night and huge cafeteria-style meals for 3.50£. They also put on a damn good party...
- Definitely go to the British Museum and the National Gallery. I thought the National Gallery was actually more fun than The Lourve in Paris. Smaller and more densely packed with good art, they have tons of more contemporary works by artists like Monet.
- Probably the best way to see the city is to take one of those open-top tour busses. I went with the "Original Tour" and was glad I did. Its kind of pricey at 16£, but you can hop on and off as much as you want for 24 hours, they have great guides that tell stories about the city, and it also includes a river boat tour down to Grenwich. I know I know, its extremely touristy but it really is worth it.
- Marks & Spencer. You'll invaribly find that you didn't pack enough underwear, shirts, etc. Marks & Spencer is a great place to pick up some cheap store-brand clothes that are actually quite nice. And the Marks & Spencer "Food Court" (in the basement of most stores) sells a ton of cheap M&S-brand food that is a great value.
- If you're looking for cheap Internet access, there's a place on Charing Cross right near the Leister Square tube station that is 1£ for as long as you can sit in one place. Not exactly the nicest, cleanest, or safest Internet cafe, but its cheap and you can usually find an open station.