Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Top ten ways to have fun in London on a budget

The city of London is one of Europe’s most luxurious. However, travelers who make use of the city’s excellent public transportation, several free museums, relatively cheap performances, and lively food markets and bars will find it considerably more reasonable. Here are some of our money-saving recommendations for London.

Picnics, street markets, and pubs

Picnics, street markets, and pubs

The most evocative budget eating choice is pub fare – moderately priced substantial staples like meat pies and fish-and-chips served beneath old timbers. London is brimming with street markets, many of which include the latest and trendiest food booths – the ideal antidote to the city’s exorbitant restaurant pricing. Carryout alternatives for picnics range from Eat and Pret à Manger — which sell fresh sandwiches and salads — to Marks & Spencer department stores and its subsidiary M&S Simply Food.

Theatre

Theatre

When compared to Broadway pricing, London’s theatre might be a steal. Seek out the standalone TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discounts ranging from 25% to 50% off prime tickets. Purchasing same-day tickets straight from the theatre box office might save you a lot of money. The finest theatrical deal in town is a bargain (under $10) “groundling” ticket to a show at Shakespeare’s Globe. Tickets at the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park on the city’s north side cost about $30.

Avoid the London Dungeon at all costs. Despite the large wait at the door, it’s gimmicky, pricey, and a horrible deal. And, sadly, the cost of the journey to the top of The Shard, Western Europe’s highest building, is even more magnificent than the vista.

Buy Tickets Online

Buy Tickets Online

Tickets for many of London’s most popular and expensive attractions, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye Ferris wheel, can be purchased online in advance, not only saving you time standing in ticket lines but also saving you a few pounds per ticket.

Tours at a Good Price

Tours at a Good Price

The London Walks tours with expert guides are one of the finest values available (about $15). It’s worth noting that the guides for the “free” walking tours are not compensated by their firms and rely on gratuities – we’d rather pay upfront for an effectively led trip. Tours by bike, boat, and bus are also available at reasonable prices.

Other Freebies

Other Freebies

There are other free performances in London, including lunchtime music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and summer’s movies in the Scoop amphitheatre outside City Hall. The rants at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the people-watching spectacle in Covent Garden, sumptuous displays at Harrods department store, and the colourful alleyways of the East End are all free to enjoy. Viewing the court proceedings at the Old Bailey and the legislature at work in the Houses of Parliament is free. And Greenwich is a low-cost day trip: many of its attractions are free, and the train ride is reasonable.

Free Churches

Free Churches

Most churches admit worshippers (and tourists) without charge, while some may want a payment. The large, well-known churches, like St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, demand substantial entrance prices yet provide free evensong services almost every day. Most Sundays, Westminster Abbey also hosts free organ performances.

Free Museums

Free Museums

My favourite museum in London, the British Museum, is free, as are the Museum of London, Sir John Soane’s Museum, National Army Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum, Wallace Collection, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, and British Library. About half of these museums want a nominal payment, but whether you donate is entirely up to you.

Budget Sleeps One of the few areas where we’d contemplate staying in a chain hotel in London. Choose an interesting neighbourhood and read reviews on a hotel reservation website. Check out auction-style websites that connect tourists with unoccupied hotel rooms, typically at far lower prices than standard rates. Alternatively, book through Airbnb or a similar site: we’d rather rent a magnificent room or flat a 20-minute Tube journey from downtown than spend the same for a filthy, inexpensive motel at the city’s center.

Transit Passes

Transit Passes

London’s black taxis are famous, but for the price of one ride, you can get an Oyster card transit pass that covers a week’s worth of bus and London Underground rides.

If you do your research and take advantage of London’s many freebies and offers, you’ll return home with joyful memories rather than a disappointingly empty wallet.

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