Worried that a trip to London might break the bank? Well there are actually plenty of free or inexpensive things to do while you visit the capital and here are a few tips on how to experience London on a budget.
First money saving tip is on transportation. Traveling around London is easy and there are several modes of public transportation, between the underground, buses, bicycling, or just walking. There are several ways to get access to these, one is by the Oyster Card. London is your oyster, so explore it! A visitor Oyster-card is pre-loaded with any amount of your choice, ranging from $15 to $75. If you find yourself low on credit, you can easily top up the Oyster card at over 3,000 Oyster outlets around the city. You save about 50% on transit when you use the oyster card. It is accepted on the underground, most over ground trains, and on London Buses. Another option is to get a London Visitor Travelcard. This card allows you to customize your pass by choosing unlimited uses for one day through Zones 1 &2 or a much as a seven day pass that cover all zones, 1-6. Again, with this pass, you will have unlimited travel on both the London buses and underground, within the zones you have selected. Tour buses are another option in London, but they can get pricey, if you get on the No. 11 bus, you will pass St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, all for just $3 with your Oyster Card. It is always best to try and grab a seat on the second deck, as it offers the best views of the landmarks. If you have a bit more money to spend, get a Transit pass. If you purchase the London Tourist Pass, you could end up saving up to $750.00! There are over 55 attractions covered on the pass, including the entrance feeds to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kew Garden, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. A bonus with this pass is that is also allows you to take advantage of “front of line” privileges, so your wait time will be cut down significantly. The pass also includes offers and discounts to restaurants, theatres, and even free guided tours.
If you look hard enough, there are plenty of free things to do around the Capital. To start, all National Museums including the world famous British Museum offer free admission. A few of the small museums also offer free admissions such as the Sir John Sloan Museum or the National Maritime Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Army Museum are great for family and are both free. As well as many of the art museums offer free admission such as the Tate Modern or National Portrait Gallery. Keep in mind that their might be a fee for a special exhibit, but those are all optional. Also, if you wander into the British Library, there is a brilliant and free exhibit that holds the treasure of the British Library. These treasures include the Magna Carta, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland manuscript, works by Leonardo da Vinci, and even authentic Beatles memorabilia. Parks are other free things that Londoners and visitors take advantage of. London is home to eight royal parks and many are filled with historical monuments or memorials. Kensington Gardens is a great place to spend the day with a cheap picnic and make sure you see the Peter Pan statue and The Albert Memorial. Right next them is the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park and the Richmond Park is great for deer-spotting. If you are brave, visit the Brompton Cemetery, which is regarded as one of the finest Victorian Metropolitan cemeteries in the country. It is also a royal park and it is great to take a shady walk and observe the 35,000 historical monuments throughout the cemetery.
If shopping is on your list, but you do not want to break the bank with Burberry or Brighton, then take a look at some of London’s famous street markets. London has many markets to offer, all varying from food to antiques. There are two big markets, the Borough Market and Portobello Road Market. At the Borough market you will find fresh meats, cheeses, vegetables, and maybe even a familiar face. A lot of famous celebrity chef’s frequent this market such as, Jamie Oliver. Portobello Road Market is the most famous of street markets and not just because of the movie “Notting Hill.” The Road, which is over four kilometers, is a hot spot for antiques, clothing, books, food, etc.
Another great thing about London is the food! There are so many diverse cultures represented in the Capital and you can get a lot of food for practically nothing. No matter what you are craving, you can find something on a budget. Pizza Express is great for Italian, The Real Greek is great for Greek food, Café Rouge is great for French food, La Tasca is great for Spanish tapas, and if you just want a good ole’ burger, check out Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Of course, you have to have the authentic fish ‘n’ chips while in London and on almost every corner, there is a pub with a reasonably priced plate. If you are on the go, Pret a Manger or Café Nero offer cheap selection of sandwiches, soups, snacks, and drinks.