Over the next few months, we will have visitors of several sorts, including cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. The emails have begun as we dole out advice about what to do, how to do it, and which London hotel is in the best location. We love to show people our fair city, and make sure they get the most out of their precious time. But it is inevitable as I think about the highlights of London to automatically counter with key places to avoid. If you’re headed my way, here is my short list of overrated attractions in London.
I’ve decided that in general, it’s not worth it to pay good money to see a city from high above. My other experiences of this have been widely ho-hum, and quickly forgotten. The London Eye is everything I abhor about the city-with-a-view phenomenon. It takes roughly one hour to revolve the full way around, which is too long to stand around looking down. It costs £30 for a general adult ticket. That’s $50…for a ferris wheel. Add to that, the queue is one of the worst I have ever seen, literally hours long on a nice day. No thanks.
In a city with dozens of museums, why does a wax museum draw the biggest crowds? Is it the life size sculpture of Brad Pitt? Or the more recent instalment of One Direction? I pass by this museum most days and am consistently blown away by the hundreds of people who willingly queue up for the pleasure of looking at wax. Here’s some truth – I actually went here when I was 24 because I got a ticket online for £5 and there was no line. Under those circumstances, fine, go look at the wax. But the twisting row of tour buses just make me shake my head. No I will not pay £30 for this (or £65 for a VIP ticket which allows you to skip the line). Never.
Unless you specifically have tickets to an event during your visit, showing up at the O2 ‘just for the fun of it’ is definitely NOT worth your time. This relatively new and massive entertainment complex contains bowling alleys, cinemas, tons of space for concerts and events, dance clubs, restaurants and bars, and an excursion where you can walk to the top of the main structure (kinda like the famous bridge in Sydney, Australia, but less cool). It’s also on the edge of London, not exactly a place where you would find yourself with some down time. It also reminds me of a mega shopping mall I went to once in Florida. I’d skip it.
This will be a controversial addition to the list, but let me put this bluntly. I don’t pay money to go into churches. Ever. If a church charges for entry, I just skip it. There is no church cool enough for it to be worth it to me. St. Paul’s normally has an entrance fee of £17, which gains you entrance to the main hall, crypt, and galleries. You can always enter for free to go to a service, but during ‘off hours’ there is a charge. Obviously I’m not the first person to complain about this because their website even has an explanation for why they charge. My advice: just take a few pictures of the outside and move along.