London on the cheap? Yes! It can be done. Know where to look, and what to do, and save yourself some cash in the process.
- Parks. London has many beautiful parks, well worth exploring. Many of the larger parks are already familiar, but what about less known spots, like Battersea, Holland, Syon and Richmond Parks? Not nearly as well visited, but full of green walkways, hideaways, rabbits and other wildlife, offering a chance to relax or picnic (a cheap activity of itself).
- Shopping. Yes, Shopping. Even amid London’s often astronomically-priced shops, inexpensive consumer opportunities can be had. The key is to look off the beaten path, exploring the city’s flea markets and street markets. From the large to the small, every market offers bargains, and a visit to any one of them can be a bit like visiting a museum of the curious and bizarre. Covent Garden Market is perhaps the city’s most famous market, comprising many smaller markets, and its huge size may seem confusing at first. Young people may find goods more to their liking at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with its selection of crafts and imports. On the South Bank, Bermondsey, or New Caledonian Market, is open only on Fridays, with a selection as good as the more famous Portobello Market, and prices which are usually lower.
- Places to stay. Cheap hotels in London can be found, if you know where to look. Prices can be variable, based on the season, so when looking for a cheap hotel, London websites can often offer deals on hotels and B&Bs in nearly any neighbourhood.
- Art Galleries. If the hidden treasures of the street markets don’t inspire you, you might find your taste for art satisfied by one of several galleries that offer free admission. The National Gallery and both the Tate Modern and Tate Britain are free to visit. Considering their sizes, the better part of a day could easily be spent exploring just these three sites.
- Museums. Like the galleries, many museums are also free of charge, including Science, Natural History and Imperial War Museums, The British Museum, The John Soane Museum of London. Even museums that do charge a fee often have free admission days.
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- Food. Eating in London can be expensive. Many museums and galleries offer small restaurants, and a portion of what you spend there helps keep the museum in business. The takeaway industry is thriving in London, and a picnic in one of the free parks is a good option. Crazy Salads has several locations in the city and offers a variety of takeaway food at a relatively low cost. The Stockpot near Picadilly Circus and the Haymarket is another inexpensive option for lunch and dinner.
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