London isn’t well-known as a budget destination for travellers. You only have to google ‘most expensive cities in the world’ and London is usually featured high on the list. But despite its reputation, there’s plenty of things to do in London that won’t break the bank.
We’ve rounded up the best free or cheap things to do in this cool, crazy and beautiful city so you can keep it firmly on your travel bucket list even if that wallet isn’t brimming with cash …
SEE THE SIGHTS!
London is jam-packed with famous landmarks and iconic sights, most of which you can visit for free. Architectural gems like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and The Houses of Parliament shape its dramatic skyline.
Image courtesy of gonegirlsguide.com
Here are some of the cool sights you can check out for free:
- Watch the lifting of the bridge at Tower Bridge
- Visit Big Ben on the hour for the chiming of the bells
- Take a free tour of the Houses of Parliament
- Watch a free lunchtime recital at The Royal Opera House
- Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
- Sit down in and watch an auction at the legendary Sotheby’s
- Walk across the zebra crossing at Abbey Road, just like The Beatles did in 1969
- Watch a film at the Mediatheque at the BFI Southbank
- Take in the London skyline on Primrose Hill
GRAB A BARGAIN!
London’s markets are a real feast for the senses. From delicious street food, to vintage clothes to fresh fruit and veg and bric-a-brac, you can find pretty much whatever you’re looking for. Have a wander around these London institutions to get a feel for the cultural melting pot that is The Big Smoke.
Wander around some of London’s best markets:
- Head to foodie heaven at the newly refurbished Borough Market. Walk from stall to stall and try free samples from each of the vendors … If you’re feeling a bit more flash, Hannah from That Adventurer suggests grabbing a cheap but filling lunch from one of the stalls before exploring Southbank and the River Thames.
- Tourists and locals alike head for a stroll around Portobello Market on Saturdays where you’ll find a mix of vintage clothes and antiques. You’ll recognise the pretty pastel houses from British Rom-Com Notting Hill.
- You’ll find the weird and the wonderful at Camden Market, just a short walk from Clink. Great for people watching and if punk culture is your thing.
- There’s a whole load of markets around the trendy Brick Lane Cruise around the stalls of handmade and vintage clothes, jewellery and crafts and pick up a tasty something from one of the many street food trucks – there seven days a week!
- Head to Broadway Market on a Saturday to rub shoulders with the hip young things of East London.
GREEN IT UP
Did you know that 47% of London is made up of green space? Whatever the weather we recommend you visit at least one of London’s many parks whilst you’re in the capital.
In the summertime why not visit one of London’s barbeque friendly parks, where you can enjoy the sun and some sizzling sausages.
Head to one of London’s gorgeous green spaces:
- Hyde Park is a large green space in central London. Check out some of its famous spots like Speakers’ Corner and the Serpentine Lake.
- Just a stone’s throw from Clink is Regent’s Park. It boasts a famous rose garden, boating area, sports pitches and is also home to London Zoo!
- London Fields is where the hip crowds of East London head to barbeque and soak up the rays in the summer.
- Hampstead Heath is a rambling ancient park that encompasses ponds, woodlands and Parliament Hill, where you’ll find an amazing view of London’s skyline. If you’re feeling brave you can even take a dip in one of the ‘Hampstead Ponds.’
- Green Park is the smallest of London’s eight royal parks. Just next to Buckingham Palace, it’s a great spot to stop for a picnic after seeing the sights.
- Richmond Park is a national nature reserve and is of real importance for wildlife conservation, both for the U.K and internationally. The park’s landscapes have been the location for many TV series and films and have inspired famous artists.
- Victoria Park is just a mile away from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s Pavillion Cafe in the West is a great place to have brunch or stop for a coffee. The park also plays host to lots of gigs and festivals in the summer.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Laura told us: “One of my favourite and completely free things to do is walk across Waterloo Bridge and then along the Southbank, this is where I fell in love with London. You can take in the views of St. Paul’s, Big Ben and of course the London eye. You can people watch, the skaters and the street performers. There is always something going on, like a pop-up bar or in winter they have a pretty Christmas market.”
If you have a couple of quid in your pocket, here’s what Emily recommends: “For a cheaper alternative to the Shard, head up the top of the Monument for just £3, while other budget-friendly places include the Southbank Centre’s daily book market, plus a visit to Greenwich Park.”
If you’re tempted to book that trip to London, make sure you don’t miss out on one of our fantastic special offers!