While you are stationed here, you must visit London. London is not something you can experience in a day. So plan out what you want to see and lookout for special events as it is a busy city. When you do visit, try to keep to one area because places close early and you get the most of your trip.
You can also take the Original Bus Tour around London. It allows you to get on and off anywhere. It is a great way to see all the main attractions without having to walk.
If you only go to London once while you are here, I highly recommend seeing the following walk which is mapped out here: start off at Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guards walk to Wellington Arch onto Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe, and finishing with St Paul’s Cathedral.
Do your research before you go. You can save yourself money out and time by booking ahead.
It is often recommended in FB groups to drive to Stratford and then catch the tube from there. It takes an hour and 14 minutes (when there is not an accident) from Red Lodge. The parking is only £9 for a full day. HOWEVER, I don't recommend this to anyone after doing this on Saturday. We spent the day (10 hours) in London with friends. Then we had to ride the tube 30 minutes to get to Stratford. Then it was an hours drive (I live in Cambridge) and the roads are dual carriageways but not well lit (and not very nice on a rainy night!)and frankly it is tiresome especially after walking around all day! I recommend people getting railcards and taking the train. My husband said we will never do this again. I would much rather the 45 minute train and 15 minute drive from the train station. It is not always about money. I value my time and safety over money and I can save money in other ways than driving all the way to London. That's my opinion!
If you are going to be seeing London, the London Pass could be a great option. It gets you into many sightseeing places without queuing, the price is included in the pass or you get a discount. I suggest that you plan ahead before you go to London and plan to see things that are located next to each other or at least the same side of London otherwise it could be a waste because you will not see as much. I would refrain from getting the travelcard included and get the Oyster Card instead.
The Tube (Underground)
The Tube can be a bit overwhelming for people that have never used a system like this but once you ride it a few times, you will get the hang of it. First you need to know where you are going in order to use it. I have a mini map on my phone and in my diary(planner) which I use to get around.
Remember to stand on the right and walk up the left of the escalator to avoid frustrating other passengers.
Some people will drive to Red Bridge or Epping and take the tube in rather than taking the train
The best way to save money using the tube is to get the Oyster card. You have to pay a £5 deposit to get the card and then you can put some money for your travel on it like a prepaid card. The reason why having the Oyster card saves you money is because it only charges you for the trips that you take and no more than than a travelcard.
For example Jane and I took the tube from Kings Cross to Westminster for £2.00 and Green Park to Kings Cross £2.00. So we saved £3.00 on that day. The good thing is, it will never cost you more than a travelcard but can cost less!
Some people buy a travelcard but hardly use the tube as it can be easier to walk and you miss the sights whilst underground. If the Oyster card wasn't the best way to travel by tube, you would not see all the locals using it. You can also set it up to Auto-top up if you go down to London frequently so you don't need to top up when your card is low.
There is no way that you can convince me that the Oyster card is not the way to go. When you leave cash in your Oyster card and get the deposit and balance back. Read more about it here.
The congestion charge is only for the center of London near Westminster, you can see the area that it covers here. It is only from Monday-Friday from 07:00-18:00.
If you really want to drive to London, you can do it on the weekend and park at the car park near the Tower of London for very cheap. It is full during the week by people who work in London but a great place for the weekend! Although I don't recommend it