London is a wonderful city to visit, but it’s usually not without a hefty price tag. The best thing about the UK capital is it’s what you make it, so there’s lots of ways to have a cheap and cheerful budget trip to London and here’s our tips for keeping costs down on a Thameside trip.
Get public transport
It’s not free, but it’s great value for money to use an Oyster Card for travel. You can see London from the sky on the Emirates Air Line, take the standard London buses instead of expensive tour operated ones to see some of the same sights without commentary (the No.11 is particularly good for this!) and travel on the London Overground service around the perimeter of city for views of various areas, from Shoreditch to Camden, Kensington to Clapham.
London has some of the World’s best museums, fact, as a couple rank amongst the most-visited, like the British Museum with over 8 million pieces of world art and artefacts, documenting human culture from origins to present. Certain areas and exhibitions of the Tate Modern are free to the public at the iconic modern art museum house in a turbine hall along the Southbank.
Art fans will adore the National Gallery, featuring over 2,000 paintings from the 13th – 20th centuries, whilst adjoining it is the National Portrait Gallery – the world’s first of its kind when it opened in the 1850s.
The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in Kensington is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects whilst there’s also a V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes. Famed for its dinosaur skeletons, kids and adults alike will love the Natural History Museum with its five collections ranging from botany to zoology.
General admission to each of the above is free.
Under-17s get free entry to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, however adults must pay entrance. Well worth spending an hour or two learning about the fascinating, entertaining and interactive history of transport in the capital.
If you’re pinching pennies but don’t want to compromise on flavour, taste all that London has to offer for little or nothing with our tips. Some of the most iconic dishes in the city are literally cheap as chips, including that very double act, fish & chips, as well as salt beef bagels and Indian curries. Brick Lane is a great place for all of the above, a real trendy, melting pot of the city. LondonCheapEats is a great new website detailing where to eat in London for under £8 per person. The Southbank Food Market (weekends only) is a great place for a cheap feed with an international flavour from some of the city’s most established and beloved street traders, all in the shadow of the London Eye.
Take in a show in the West End
Keep an eye on the West End theatres – many offer day tickets at up to half the price, and some even offer cut-price matinee tickets as standard on specific days or dates. TodayTix is also a great site for booking last-minute cheap tickets for some of the best theatre shows in London’s West End, as is LastMinute too.
Visit a City Farm
Yes, London has farms – who knew? From Hackney to Vauxhall, Mudchute to Kentish Town, a portion of country life pop-ups in various precincts of the city. Visit the animals, breathe in the fresher air, walk amongst nature and many also host weekend events and activities.
London has ample green spaces, including many Royal Parks, like the centrally-located St. James’s Park and Green Park. Great to taking the weight off, grabbing a picnic or just have a brisk walk around. If visiting north London, Primrose Hill or Finsbury Park are great, In West London it’s got to be Hyde Park and further East, Victoria Park is your ticket.
For foodies who like to be led by the nose, visit one of London’s burgeoning markets. Each filled with artisan producers and street food traders, Borough Market is the city’s best and most established (open daily, except Sunday). If staying around Hackney, begin a lazy Sunday morning with a walk through London Fields, then peruse the food, drink, fashion, music and books stalls at Broadway Market (and the adjoining Schoolhouse Market and Netil Market) followed by a stop by Columbia Road Flower Market.
Visit London 2012’s Legacy
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been transformed following its hosting duties for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the park is free for all to roam around and see how it’s being used presently for different activities and initiatives. A huge shopping centre, Westfield Stratford, is also nearby.
Beginning a blogging brand from a hashtag, Gastrogays is a blogging duo, Russell Alford and Patrick Hanlon, who have been blogging about food and travel since 2013. With a unique voice in travel, and a slant of food-led travel, Gastrogays have contributed to The Independent, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Gay Times Magazine and several travel titles alongside their blog and social media channels. Based in both Dublin and London, the pair are also regulars on TV and radio. www.gastrogays.com.