22 Jun LONDON ON A BUDGET
The British capital is one of the most amazing cities in the world. A constant hive of fun activities, amazing sights and its cosmopolitan and frenetic life, is what make that every year millions of people visit it. But, on the other hand, is often seen to be an expensive city to visit, especially if travelling from a country where the exchange rate is not in favour. Ticket prices to the main attractions, meals out, a few drinks… all sum. But don’t let the worries about the cost of things put you off visiting London. I picked up some tips about what to see and do without breaking the bank. Here are some of my top tips for visitors to London. Oh!, and don’t forget to share any of yours in the comments.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Take a stroll along the picture-pretty South Bank
Walking along the South Bank of the River Thames is often one of the visitors’ must do’s due to the high number of landmarks to see, such as the Tower Bridge, the South Bank Centre, The London Eye the Westminster Palace, among others. I recommend walking there when the sun sets down.
Get cultured at one of the many free museums
It’s not a hype to say that London is home to many of the world’s best museums. The best is that most of these are free, so you can see all the marvels they have to offer without spending a penny. An all time favourites are the British Museum, the V&A, the National History Museum and the Tate Modern.
Watch the Ceremony of the Keys
Every night, the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London perform a gate-closing ritual, that has been done for 700 years. A fantastic opportunity to participate in a true London tradition, for free!
Relax in a park
Without going far, you’ll find a park where to spend lazy afternoons. Sit in the grass, catch some sleep, stroll, play football, a guitar, pack a little picnic or whatever. Join the park life and escape the busy life.
London views from the Sky Garden
Situated in the Walkie Talkie, the Sky Garden offers one of the best views overlooking the city. The entrance is free (of course!) but ticketed so make sure to grab your tickets in advance.
Take yourself on guided tour around London
Exist a huge list of companies that do free walking tours that are well worth and known for everybody, but at the end are not totally free. Alternatively, there are a lot of apps that allow you to take a self-guided tour around London, and the best is that these work offline, so you don’t need to use your data. Ones of my favourites are the London Official City Guide and the London Map and Walks.
Explore London’s Best Markets
Although many of the city’s markets have closed over the past half century, you still can find a wealth of covered, outdoor and street markets in London. Many specialise in a particular type of goods or sell different things on different days. My favourites are Borough Market, Brick Lane, Camden Lock and Columbia Road Flower Market.
The Changing of the Guards
Take in another British tradition, be warned that so many people will have the idea to watch it. So if you want a clear view of the ceremony, be there an hour before it starts and stand by the fence since the beginning, especially during the summer months.
Go to Leicester Square
Head over to Leicester Square where you can kick back and relax in the little park smack in the centre of London. This is the perfect place for people watching and is brilliantly lit up at the night! There are also street performers here to distract you having a good time. Also, you should head over to Piccadilly Circus (only 2 minutes away by foot!) to see the huge billboards and the amazing lights of London.
Go window shopping in Covent Garden
Although the shopping here isn’t cheap, the street performers and the main building itself are reason enough to pop into Covent Garden. You’ll also find kitsch shops, restaurant and bars.
EATING AND DRINKING
Some of London’s best-value cheap food you can find is in the city’s ethnic areas -like Chinatown, Kingsland Road, Southall and Bick Lane- and where for less than £10 you can lunch perfectly.
Street food has hit the city too, with food stalls from around the world. There are lots of street food markets but my favourite is the Borough Market, that opens daily except Sundays. Another renowned food markets are Portobello Road Market, Camden Lock, Kings Cross, Charing Cross and the Real Food Market. Just as before, you can eat a complete menu for less than £10.
Lots of chain restaurants offer 2 for 1 on main courses or other discounts – the offers change all the time so make sure to check the Money Saving Expert for the most recent discount vouchers.
My favourite website and the one I think has the best deals, is Book a table. In this one, you can find a lunch or a dinner of 2 or 3 courses starting at £20. I know it may not is that cheap, and less, compared to the options of above, but you’ll dine at a fine restaurant with good service and good food at a budget price.
The Oyster Card is the most cost-efficient way to go any distance in London. You can buy the card for £5 at any Underground station (or online) and pay as you go. Don’t worry about putting too much on the card because if you have money left at the end of the trip you can go to a ticket booth to get a refund. You can also give your Oyster card back and get your £5 reimbursed or save your Oyster Card for future trips.
Walk, walk, walk!
Walking is the best method to connect with a city. It is fine to go with the tube sometimes, but others are better to walk between these, and with more reason, when these are five minutes away from each other, as most of the tourist attractions. You’ve to be careful with the traffic. At every intersection look down and it will be painted on the ground which way you should look for traffic.
Pick up a free map at a hostel/hotel
The free maps at the hostels tend to have the better low-cost recommendations and some restaurants discounts. So grab your map and save some pounds!
It seems that the most expensive part of travelling to London isn’t the things you choose to do, to eat or the transport but the price of staying there. However, here are my recommendations on cheap accommodation: