So, you want to see London but think you can’t afford it? Well, I have good news for you. There are several ways to experience the best of London either free of charge or by low costs. Read on further to learn how you can realize your dreams of a London vacation.
Sightsee by walking
Sure, you can pay to use the bus and tube transportation in London, but it doesn’t cost anything to walk around in London and see the famous landmarks and historical sites. Not only is walking good exercise, but it also provides a good way to experience the London locals and their culture. London is a big city and it packs a great number of interesting structures to sightsee such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. If you arrive at the gates of Buckingham Palace by 11:30 in the morning, you can get a good view of the traditional Changing of the Guard. Additionally, you also have the option of renting a bike and cycling around London. Though not free, it is much cheaper than public transportation and certainly more fun.
London boasts many gorgeous, old cathedrals that are well worth visiting. For tours, the churches often charge an admission, but if you attend the worship services, you can get in for free. The famous Westminster Abbey is a perfect example.
London’s public parks are free and offer attractions as well. In the famous Hyde Park, you can stroll along the Serpentine Lake. Admire the stunning scenery of Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park. Head over to St. James’s Park to get great views and photos of Buckingham Palace. Next door to St. James’s Park is Kensington Gardens where you can let the kids play around at the Diana Memorial Playground and check out the Peter Pan statue.
Another way you can save money sightseeing London is by purchasing a London Pass. For one affordable price, you can get into museums, attractions and use public transportation. You can also visit tourism offices in London to pick up sightseeing brochures that include coupons on admission to many attractions as well as restaurants and pubs.
Visit the museums and art galleries
Many of London’s museums and art galleries offer free admission, sometimes charging for special exhibits. Some of London’s most popular museums include the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
You will find that many of the art galleries in London stay open late at night. If you want to see paintings by master artists like Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci, check out the National Gallery, which is nearby Trafalgar Square. If you visit between 11:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon, the gallery offers a free one-hour guided tour. At the Marble Arch, you can get in free to see the likes of antique pikestaffs, weaponry and armory as well as porcelains and portraits.
Eating in London
You don’t have to spend a fortune on food while visiting London if you know where to eat. Some of the more affordable restaurants are located in neighborhoods like Carnaby and Chinatown. You can get a large pizza for a great value at the Italian Coffee Company. If you enjoy Indian cuisine, you will find a quality fast food restaurant in the Soho neighborhood called Mooli’s. If you prefer a hearty English meal, you will find one for affordable prices at the Stockpot.
Many of London’s great theaters offer discounted standby admission for returned or unsold tickets. If you see a performance you would like to see, simply inquire at the theater about their standby policy and you just might get a bargain. Additionally, some of the opera and play houses will offer free admission during their rehearsals. The Royal Opera House is a good example.
If you head over to Trafalgar Square, one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, you are more than likely to discover something fun and free going on whether it be a concert, sporting event or festival. Speaking of festivals, London features several wonderful annual events that you can attend without it costing you as much as other forms of entertainment. For example, the three day August event, the Notting Hill Carnival, features live music, parades and street parties. If you visit during January, Chinatown hosts its annual Chinese New Year with vibrant festivities and parades. From the banks of the lovely Thames River, you can watch the famous University Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford every April.
A must do is a visit to the Covent Garden. Here, you will enjoy the free privilege of watching talented street performances like amazing stunt acts, acrobats, jugglers, comics, musicians and more. All of these performers are guaranteed to entertain you because they have to pass an audition to perform here.
If you want to do some bargain shopping while in London, you should not miss out on the street markets like Spitalfield, Camden and Portobello Road. You can find good deals on a wide range of goods from fresh produce to clothing and jewelry to antiques and homemade crafts. Even if you don’t buy a thing, browsing these markets makes for an enjoyable adventure. Chinatown also is a great place to find interesting souvenirs for affordable prices while also taking in the lively atmosphere and culture.