Book ahead online
Online ticket prices can be cheaper than buying them on-site (and will also save you time waiting in line)
Many major sights in Britain will actually shave a few pounds off the admission price if you book your tickets ahead online.
This is win-win: No only do you save money, but you also save time since you will not have to wait in the ticketing line once you get there.
(This is a wonderful development, since it used to cost a few pounds extra to book ahead.)
Are reserved tickets necessary?
For many attractions, no. You can usually waltz up to the door and get right in—maybe you'll have to wait all of five minutes in line.
In these cases, I recommend you don't book ahead, as it can cramp your travel style, locking you into too many scheduled events and leaving little room for spontaneity.
However, for a select few major museums and monuments, reserving an entry ticket ahead of time can save you a wait of 30 minutes to an hour in line.
In some cases—especially if it's a sight that allows only a limited number of visitors in at a time—reserving ahead may make the difference between getting in and getting turned away at the door.
- Viator.com - Best one-stop shopping site for all sorts of activities, walking tours, bus tours, escorted day trips, and other excursions. It is actually a clearinghouse for many local tour companies and outfitters, and since it gets a bulk-rate deal on pricing (and takes only a token fee for itself), you can actually sometimes book an activity through Viator for less than it would cost to buy the same exact tour from the tour company itself. (I once booked a Dublin pub crawl via Viator and later discovered that I saved about $1.50; also, the tour turned out to be sold-out, and they were turning away the folks in front of me in line, but since I had a pre-booked voucher I got in.)Partner
- Londonwalks.com - Since the 1970s, the gold standard in city walking tours and museum tours—and cheap, to boot. Just meet your guide at the appointed time and place (usually a Tube stop), pay your £10 (students or over 65s are £8; under 15 free), and prepare for a good two hours of amazing cultural insight and historic anecdotes. If you plan on taking three or more walks, buy a "Frequent London Walker" card for £2 from your first guide, then each subsequent walk costs £8. They also run popular excursions outside London for £18. Note that the fee just covers the guided tour; you pay for any admissions (or, for excursions, travel expenses) yourself.
- Contexttravel.com - This bespoke walking tour company doesn't even call its 200 tour leaders "guides." It calls them "docents"—perhaps because most guides are academics and specialists in their fields: history professors, archeologists, PhDs, art historians, artists, etc. Groups are miniscule (often six people maximum), and most docents can be booked for private guiding sessions as well. They aren't always the cheapest tours, but they are invariably the best. People rave about Context.Partner
- City-discovery.com - Chief rival to Viator (though with a less spiffy interface and often sub-par text descriptions), representing many of the same tours (at the same prices). However, it also seems to cover more destinations, especially secondary ones. When it comes down to it, City-Discovery and Viator have maybe 70% the same inventory, but then 30% will be completely different (some Viator has City-Discovery does not, other vice-versa) so it pays to check through the offerings from both.Partner