World on a Budget: London
London is known all over the world as an expensive city filled with jet-setters and royalty. Exploring London might cost visitors a pretty penny, but there are always budget-friendly things to do in this royal city. Some of these free jaunts might be a pleasant surprise, as clearly, the saying “The best things are free” rings true in good, old London.
Changing of the Guard
An event that is truly associate with London, if not England, the Changing of the Guard should definitely not be missed. It won’t cost anything and it is a wonderful ceremonial show for families. Picnics can be spread out at the grounds for a leisurely time while the guards are performing their traditional march. The actual ceremony takes place between Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks.
Art for Art’s Sake
Perhaps one of the best things about London is that most of its world-class museums can be toured for free! London’s most-visited attraction on Great Russell Street, the British Museum, holds antiquities from ancient empires and exotic civilizations within its stunning neoclassical walls.
As the world’s largest and most-visited modern art museum, Tate Modern should be in every tourist’s must-see list when visiting London. After enjoying the views and snapping up photos at the Millennium Bridge, take a short walk to Tate Modern where hundreds of international modern and contemporary art is stored and displayed.
Another free-admission museum, Tate Britain hosts the finest British artworks from the 16th century to the present day. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are both in popular Trafalgar Square. After some serious shopping at Oxford Street, head to The Wallace Collection for free admission.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Take a breather in between tours at London’s most beautiful gardens and the renowned Royal Parks. St. James’s Park is the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks and has millions of visitors annually. The Horse Guards Parade and The Mall are just a quick stroll away. Tourists can also get a great view of Buckingham Palace from St. James’s Park.
Take the kids to see the Kensington Palace, Peter Pan Statue and the Diana Memorial Playground while touring Kensington Gardens. On the other side, Hyde Park also offers plenty of tourist spots within its 350 acres, such as the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Speaker’s Corner, and Serpentine Lake.
Walk it Off
After gorging on freshly-baked pork pies and custard tarts, burn the calories by walking along the South Bank area. Numerous London landmarks dot the banks of the River Thames, giving tourists a whole package without spending anything. The world-famous London Eye, London Dungeon, SEA Life London Aquarium, Tower Bridge, and Tower of London, can be found in this easily, walkable stretch.
The Golden Hinde, a full-scale reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s celebrated galleon, is ideal for families. Also in the Bankside area is the WWII cruiser HMS Belfast, which offers free entry for guests under 16 years old.
A Bustling Square
Trafalgar Square is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. Plenty of photo opportunities can be had at Nelson’s Column or at the statues of General Gordon, George IV, and Charles James Napier to name a few.
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, church of the Admiralty and royal parish church, is also within Trafalgar Square. Famous for its Corinthian portico, the church receives a huge number of visitors for its guided tours, brass rubbings, and its Café in the Crypt.
Side by side, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery allows visitors to marvel at thousands of paintings without paying a dime. Craft stalls and specialty shops can be found at Covent Garden Market, a quick walk from Trafalgar Square. The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace. Parliament Square, Whitehall, and Big Ben are also minutes away.
Wander along East End’s various bars and you won’t need to pay to chill out to a top DJ. Free movies can be enjoyed at the Roxy Bar & Screen at Borough High Street. Free concerts are held Mondays to Saturdays starting at 5:45 p.m. at the National Theatre on Southbank. Head to the Westminster Abbey at 5:30 p.m. to listen to the choir and check out the Abbey’s gothic architecture for free.
Free Walking Tour of London
Learn all about the wonderful city of London with a free walking tour from Sandeman’s New London Tours. The tour starts at 11 a.m. from Wellington Arch and roams through Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace.