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10 Tips for Exploring London on a Budget: A Guide to Affordable Adventures

London is expensive. Here are all of my top affordable things to do in the city, allowing you to make the very most of your budget on your visit to London!


1. Bike or Boat in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens


Hyde Park is arguably one of the most famous spots in London, and for good reason. 350 acres of greenery smack dab in the middle of London, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, separated by "The Serpentine", which is a small lake that lies between them, is a great place to take a stroll and see some sights. Hire a Santander Cycle (costs £2 to rent, and you get your first 30 minutes free) and bike around, looking out for landmarks such as the Peter Pan statue, the Princess Diana memorial, and the always gorgeous Italian Gardens. Alternatively, you can hire a pedalo (paddle boat) for £10 for 30 minutes or £12 for an hour to enjoy the Serpentine from the water.



2. See a Show


No - really! Though tickets to West End shows can be expensive, there are plenty of ways to see incredible theatre at a reduced price in London. The National Theatre offers a limited number of Friday rush tickets for £10, and many of the West End theatres will offer day-of reduced price tickets. And - if you're happy to stand for a production, groundling tickets for a show at Shakespeare's Globe cost only £5.


Not only this, but London boasts some truly amazing off-West end type theatres that offer incredible value for money. Places like The Hampstead Theatre, The Bridge Theatre, or the Southwark Playhouse are great locations to check out for a show.


3. Go to a Museum


The majority of museums in London offer FREE entry! From the Tate Modern to the National Portrait Gallery, to the British Museum with its incredible ceiling and the Rosetta's Stone, to my personal favourite, the National History museum, there are so many amazing offerings of art and history and culture in London, and for the most part, they cost nothing to go and see. If you're interested in a specific exhibit at any of these museums, there will likely be an entry charge, but even then I've always found them to be reasonably priced.




4. Eat at the Markets



One of the best ways to discover the local cuisine on a budget is by visiting one of London's many food markets. From the large and internationally famous (Borough Market, Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Portobello Road), to the smaller and (Maltby Street Market, KERB, Broadway Market, Berwick Street), London does markets WELL. It's at these markets that you'll get to see the full extent of the multicultural aspect to London - there are stalls with foods ranging from every country you can imagine. Many markets also have a bakery and greengrocer stalls, so you can get fresh and local groceries here, as well, which is always a cheaper alternative to eating out for every meal.



5. St Paul's Cathedral


While it costs money to visit the cathedral as a visitor (£17 for an adult), St. Paul's allows guests to attend their daily services for free, and with no booking required.



6. See the View From the Shard or the Sky Garden


While the London Eye is iconic and a great thing to see if you've got a spare £40 and two hours to wait in line, you can get even better views from either the Shard or the Sky Garden - and both are free. The Sky Garden, located in the iconic "walkie talkie" building near Monument tube station, brands itself as London's highest public garden, and is open to the public again through their online booking system. The Shard, which is literally a massive glass building that looks like an upside-down icicle, technically has an entry fee for the "View from the Shard" experience, but what I always do is go up in the restaurant entrance, and buy a drink at the bar in order to admire the views. The drinks aren't super cheap - a fairly small glass of Malbec is around £12, but it beats the £35 entrance fee for the view (plus, you get wine).




7. Explore the Canals of Little Venice


Little Venice and the canal walk that leads into Regent's Canal through Regent's Park and through to Camden happens to be one of my favourite parts of London. You can walk by the water the entire time, sharing the path with runners and people out for a stroll, and peek at the many houseboats that line the banks.



8. Take a Walk Across Abbey Road


If you're a fan of The Beatles (and who isn't?), a walk across the famous Abbey Road is a must-do. Don't go in the middle of the day on a weekend, when it's full of tourists - pick early mornings on week days to snap that iconic album cover photo.


9. Take an Uber boat along the Thames


There are plenty of river tours you can do to see the city, but if you're on a budget and want to view the city from the water, the Thames Clipper Uber boats along the Thames are a super budget-friendly way to get around! An all day unlimited pass is £22.10, but single tickets are around £6-10 depending on where you'd like to go. My favorite trip is from Central London to Greenwich, which passes by loads of famous landmarks, including under the iconic Tower Bridge!



10. Package Your Entry Tickets


There are so many options for buying entry tickets to popular tourist sites as a bulk purchase, like this tour that is a guided walking tour of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. Not only do you get all of the entry prices included, but a knowledgeable tour guide as well. London is such a large city with an overwhelming amount of history, so I think this is a really cost effective way of seeing the best things to see.



Just so you know, some links in this post may contain affiliate links. If you book through this link, it will be no extra cost to you, but I may receive a small kickback from the booking. All opinions and views of these products and services are my own.

 

I hope this was helpful to you! If you have any questions about London or how to plan your trip, please feel free to reach out - and make sure you're following along with all of my adventures over at @elise.abroad!

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