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article imageSee London from a different angle Special

By Amanda Payne     Jun 12, 2014 in Travel
London - London is a magnet for tourists from all over the world. With its mix of ancient and modern, the vibrant capital has so much to offer but can be expensive. Here's a cheap way to see some of the best sights by air and water.
Most tourists in London will head directly for the well known sights, such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. They may be tempted to cross Westminster Bridge, part with a large amount of money and wait in long queues to go up in the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel that was built to celebrate the new Millennium, for the fantastic views that are on offer. There is an alternative, however, and to reach it you have to head out to London's East End. The best time to travel is after 9 a.m. Buy a one day Travelcard, which you can use on trains, buses and the Underground. The price will vary depending on where you start from but as an example, a three zone Travelcard currently costs £8.90. Catch the Underground to West Ham, swap over to the Docklands Light Railway (an experience in itself) and head to Royal Victoria Dock.
The Emirate Air cable car
The Emirate Air cable car
In front of you will be the 'Emirate Air Line' cable car which crosses the Thames to the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome). It reaches a height of 298 feet (90 metres) and offers spectacular views across the City of London, Greenwich and beyond. If you travel between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m, the cable car takes 10 minutes to cross the Thames, giving you ample opportunity to take photographs. The cars seat 10 people and are wheelchair accessible. There are plenty of staff on hand to help you board. The ride is very smooth and if you show your Travelcard, you will get a discount on the price. A discounted single for an adult is currently £3.30.
View from the cable car
View from the cable car
At the other end, it's a very short walk to the O2 Arena, a venue for all sorts of events from concerts to sports. During the day, you can sit out in the sun (should the British weather be kind to you) or you can go indoors and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants, go to the cinema, see backstage at the Sky Studios, or if you are feeling really brave, you can actually climb over the top of the dome.
The O2 Arena from the cable car
The O2 Arena from the cable car
Once you have explored all the options on offer, follow the signs down to the river, where you will find the dock for the Thames Clipper river bus service. There are many river cruises on offer on the Thames, mostly leaving from Westminster, but the river bus is actually meant more for commuters heading to work. This means its very much cheaper and again if you show your Travelcard, you will receive a discount.
One of the catamarans used for the Thames River Bus service
One of the catamarans used for the Thames River Bus service
The boat is mostly enclosed with comfy seats and a coffee concession, but for the best views head out to the back (or should that be stern?), where you will find some benches. You will be travelling backwards but this gives you time to take photographs as the sights recede. The water bus makes a number of stops. It travels quite fast, so make sure any children travelling with you are safely seated.
Canary Wharf from the river
Canary Wharf from the river
Along the way, you will see, among others, Greenwich Naval College, the Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and London's newest tallest building "The Shard." You can get off at any of the stops but it's worth staying on the boat all the way to Westminster, where you can smile sweetly at all those people queuing for the London Eye.
The Shard from the river
The Shard from the river
This proposed itinerary is a great way to see parts of London that many tourists don't see at a very reasonable price and by more unusual forms of transport. This Digital Journalist for one loved the experience.
More about Travel, London, Emirate Air
 
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