1.) Take the Thames Clipper (boat) up River Thames
This is way cheaper than the river cruises and a great way to see a lot of sights across the Thames in London. Of course, it doesn’t come with a tour guide talking to you about what you’re seeing but that may not be a bad thing… Warning – it is quite comfortable and on a hot day, if you’re like me, you will probably end up taking a nap so stay alert! 🙂 (Then again, most people don’t fall asleep as easily as I do…)
2.) Visit the Museums:
Unlike most places in Europe – they’re free!!! And they’re some of the best in Europe so spend a day or two or however many you like perusing some of London’s finest Museums. My personal favourite is the Natural History Museum.
3.) Buy a ticket to the Globe Theatre
This is the very theatre Shakespeare used to hold his plays in (he was also part owner) so you can not only enjoy the theatrics (geddit? Hehehe!) but you’re also immersing yourself in history! Okay the original was burnt down in a fire, rebuilt, opened and closed and then recently rebuilt but it’s all been on this very same site! This isn’t free but with tickets as cheap as £5 (standing like ‘peasants’ used to back in the day or if you’re feeling fancy, you can rent a cushion to sit on), there’s absolutely no excuse for not catching a show there! You may need to book a little bit in advance but at £5 you can’t really complain.
4.) Get Vouchers for Tourist Attractions
There always seem to be 2-for-1 Madame Tussauds and London Dungeons deals all the time (to mention but a few) and it always pays to check for these deals before booking. It can pop up in random places like behind receipts or you can get them when you book your travel. In any case, you can, in most cases, get to do these stuff without ever paying full price.
5.) Visit famed London markets
The two main ones that spring to mind are Borough Market (for food – great for free tasters too! and Camden Market (for everything really – food, clothes, vintage furniture, suitcases… seriously, everything!). These markets are always surprisingly good fun and even more so when you bag yourself a bargain or something really tasty!
6.) Visit the Tate Modern
This is the most visited modern art gallery in the world and is easily one of my favourite spots in London. It’s free for the most part and you get to see actual pieces by famous artists like Matisse, Picasso and Monet! You also get a great collection of art by contemporary artists and a few pieces that kinda go over the top of my head (e.g. one is a mirror and one a slashed canvas – I’ve read what they’re about but all I still see are a mirror and a slashed canvas… *scratches head*) I’d also recommend grabbing some food here as the restaurant has amazing views over London (including a great view of St Paul’s Cathedral)
7.) Rent a Boris bicycle and go cycling in the park
I say cycling in the park and not the streets as cycling in London can be a bit manic (I think)! Plus it’s absolutely unnecessary if you’re just visiting and aren’t used to the roads yet. In any case, with costs as low as £2 for 24 hours N.B.: Most Londoners informally call them Boris bikes but they’re officially Barclays Cycle Hire. To pay one £2 for 24 hours, you do need to use the bikes in 30 minutes intervals (i.e. take the bake and return within 30 minutes and unlock it again almost immediately to carry on) – seems like a hassle in theory but it’s so easy! The stands are everywhere and it beats paying more money if you hold on to it for an hour for instance (albeit the amount you pay as extra is equally quite low!).
8.) Take the London Bus Route 4 or 88
Like the Thames clipper at number one, these buses are a great way to see the main sights of London for a fraction of the price. The routes cut through Central London (88 is the better of the two) and are a great way to see the sights and hop off when you want to spend more time in that area. Remember, you can’t pay by cash on London buses anymore from July 6th 2014 but can use your Oyster card or your contactless debit card (if you have one).
9.) Get a Taste card
These are amazing! They offer 50% off your meals or 2-for-1 in major restaurants in London (and indeed across the whole of the UK!) and usually offer you a free trial of between 1 – 3 months to start so you can always arrange to have one arrive at your hotel/bed and breakfast/friend or family’s home before you arrive in the UK and enjoy amazing deals on food! At one point, this was even cheaper than cooking at home and so I ate out for 3 months solid! #bargain
And there you have it folks! Do let me know if you do (or have done) any of the suggestions on the list and what your experience were like! 🙂