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Top tips for enjoying London on a budget

Even as Londoners, it’s a challenge to take advantage of all London has to offer. While people often say that London is an expensive city, there is so much that you can do for free (or next to nothing), as you can see...

Traditional London

Seeing the sights

Give the open-decked tourist buses a miss. Instead, hop on the top-deck of a No 11 bus and enjoy a real Londoner’s tour of the city’s landmarks (You won’t get soaked in a downpour either). View the No. 11 bus route here

Changing of the Guard

Watch the handover of the royal guards (together with the stirring sounds of the Guards Band), which takes place at 11.30am throughout the month. royal.gov.uk

Ceremony of the Keys

The nightly locking up of the Tower of London’s gates. This 700-year old ceremony is very popular, so be sure to book online first. http://bit.ly/2uAuYql

 

“Sign up to promotional emails to receive notifications of the best deals across London; Myunidays, NUS and Time Out London are a great place to start, as they will send you weekly offers and exciting ideas”

Charlotte Perfect,  LLB Law (2018)

Feed your mind…

Meet other great thinkers

Whatever your interests, London is a city where you can join other great minds at a free talk and share inspiring ideas and connections. For example, the Royal Institution’s traditional monthly Friday Evening Discourse has been going since 1825, where famous scientists (including Nobel Prize winners) share their latest research with the public. rigb.org

Westminster Abbey

The Abbey choir’s Evensong service is one of the most beautiful musical experiences you’ll have. Surround yourself with over a thousand years of history, while you try to spot where Prince William and Catherine Middleton stood on their wedding day. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 5pm or Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. westminster-abbey.org       

Lunchtime concerts at St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Hear tomorrow’s classical music stars for free every Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 1pm. stmartin-in-the-fields.org

Say hello to mummy

Most of London’s museums and art galleries are completely free. One of the most famous is the British Museum, founded in 1753, which houses – among many other extraordinary things – an incredible collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts (including a mummified cat…). Its spectacular two-acre Great Court is the largest covered public space in Europe. britishmuseum.org

Give a speech in Hyde Park

You’ve probably heard about Speaker’s Corner, famous for debates since the 1800s. Why not try giving one yourself? royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park

…and your body

Borough Market

A great place to eat if you are visiting Tate Modern or walking along the Southbank. This is the place to try some of the best food in London! The full market is open Wednesday–Saturday. boroughmarket.org

Image by Pittaya via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Kerb street food markets

London street food at its best: you'll find Kerb at West India Quay (Wednesday–Friday), the Gherkin (Thursday) and London Bridge (Wednesday–Friday). Great food from the forefront of London’s food revolution. Kerbfood.com

Brick Lane

A walk away from QMUL, Brick Lane is legendary for its 24-hour bagel shop and its Bangladeshi curry houses. You can almost eat your way around the world here: Ethiopian, Chinese, Thai and Mexican food (and plenty more) are all on offer. visitbricklane.org

Do something different…

Put yourself on an album cover

The Beatles made the Abbey Road zebra crossing famous worldwide. You can follow in their footsteps. freetoursbyfoot.com/how-to-get-to-abbey-road-crossing-in-london

Go (a little bit) wild in the country

Feed the chickens at Stepney City farm: open from 10am–4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday. stepneycityfarm.org

Visit Platform 9 and ¾, Kings Cross train station

Grab your camera and get a photo of you pushing a trolley at a wall to board the Hogwarts Express. You can also visit the station's Harry Potter shop, which is modelled on Ollivander's wand shop. harrypotterplatform934.com

Be in the BBC audience

Show your mum you’re ok by appearing on TV. There are a good range of BBC shows to apply for – and it’s all free! bbc.co.uk

Sit in judgement

Take a seat in the public galleries of London's most famous criminal court, the Old Bailey and watch a trial. Open Monday to Friday, 10am–1pm and 2pm–5pm. old-bailey.com/visiting-the-old-bailey

Have a picnic on Parliament Hill

Spectacular panoramic views of London (and a nearby Lido) make this a lovely spot on a hot summer’s day (Hampstead Heath is good for celeb spotting too). cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

And with all the money you’ve saved…

Go shopping

London’s almost as famous for its shops as it is for its culture. Westfield Stratford has restaurants, a cinema, bowling alley and is only a short tube ride away, while old favourites like Camden Lock and Portobello Market are still great places to browse and people-watch.

Three of the 10 most-popular museums and art galleries in the world are in London: the British Museum, the National Gallery and Tate Modern
– and they’re free! (Source: theculturetrip.com/ALVA)

“I have learned that the museums here are – for the most part – free (Take note, America… )”

Miriam Jaffe, Scripps College, spring 2017

Image by Paul Hudson via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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