London is undoubtedly one of the most expensive cities in the world, if the plane ticket isn’t enough to make you shudder just have a look at the prices for hotels, cabs, even just a nice cocktail. However, it is possible to experience all the wonderful things London has to offer on a budget. As a student there’s one thing you need to learn really quickly and that’s how to make the most of your money and traveling is no different.
London has some of the best free activities – from any number of free museums and galleries to quaint, colourful and sometimes hidden neighbourhoods to get lost in.
THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The building itself is a piece of architecture art. With an ever so welcoming dinosaur welcoming you and the grand beauty of the building itself you won’t lack for photo opportunities and it’s free so you can’t beat the price.
The Victoria & Albert Museum neighbours the Natural History Museum and holds a permanent collection of over 4 million objects from Greek statues to Alexander McQueen there’s something for everyone. Although their special exhibitions normally need to be booked in advance, you can just as easily wander through the rest of the museum. The V&A is one of my favourite places to go and forget the world, we visit frequently when feeling the need for an escape.
Oh the iconic Hyde Park, there are days where I dream of strolling through the park to escape my office and for good reason it’s the perfect place to take a break from the city. Whether you fancy a long walk from Kensington Palace down to the Serpentine or want to ride aimlessly around on a Boris Bike it’s a wonderful way to spend a sunny day in the city. If you’re traveling in the winter don’t forget to visit Winter Wonderland!
Although the markets themselves on the weekends aren’t the cheapest they do have a number of good sales if you’re willing to look. Not a shopper, that’s fine, enjoy a stroll down the road any day of the week to see the infamous coloured houses that flood Instagram. Stop off and have a coffee along the way to make a day of the atmosphere and refuel after all your photos before continuing around Notting Hill.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH PONDS
You know that occasional sunny day in London where you wish you could go for a swim but don’t want to pay the pricey entry fee? Try spending the day at Hampstead Heath with a good book in the shade, you can even take a dip in the freshwater ponds and swim with the ducks if it strikes your fancy.
Probably one of the more hidden things on this list, Wimbledon Common is gorgeous and with over 460 hectares you can easily spend the day in the mixed woodlands and open spaces. Divided into three areas, Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath, and Putney Lower Common, I recommend sticking to one area as it can be overwhelming your first day out. A great place to pass the time and most likely see a number of dogs running around. Feeling like a spurge, I 100% recommend lunch/dinner at The Telegraph, you would never know you were in London in this country pub.
BRICK LANE STREET FOOD
I will never forget the first time I went to Brick Lane, I was completely overwhelmed and my senses didn’t know what to do. Off the road you’ll find a series of food stands at all relatively cheap prices and all delicious. It offers a variety of cuisines and is a cheap alternative to eating out in London.
WATERLOO BRIDGE WALK
Fun fact: When I first started visiting London regularly this was the only “tourist” thing I did on my return visits. I would walk across Waterloo Bridge and take in the sights from a distance, looking down the Thames at Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul’s and even the Shard. It beats the heavy foot traffic at Tower Bridge and lets you stop and soak up exactly where you are and appreciate it.
Not convinced you can do London on a budget?
Walk! The easiest and simplest way to save money is to walk so pack your comfiest shoes and start walking. Ditch the tour buses and get lost, you’ll discover more of the city and you’ll see the real London — no better way to spend a sunny day!
Still worried about the price of hotels, try AirBnB! AirBnB has a wonderful selection of houses and rooms all around London just waiting for you. Most of the time these are significantly cheaper than hotels and they give you a more local experience of what it’s truly like to live in London. You’ll be able to cook your own food as well meaning you’ll save even more on food in the long run.
Read this post and other stories on Staci’s personal blog