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England’s historic capital can be notoriously expensive to navigate, so here we share tips that’ll make your cash go further in good old London town.
London’s comprehensive underground transport network (aka the Tube) is fast and efficient. The most economical way to get around is to buy a visitor Oyster card, a smartcard which you add credit to. You can use it on the Tube, London buses, trains, Emirates Air Line and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
Join a free walking tour
Companies such as Free Tours by Foot and Strawberry Tours offer informal and informative guided walks around the city’s main visitor districts including Westminster, Soho, Kensington and Chinatown, as well as themed walks. You’ll get to tick a lot of visitor sights off your list whilst learning about London’s fascinating, often turbulent history from knowledgeable guides. Whilst these tours are free, it’s customary (and highly appreciated) if you tip your guide at the end of the walk. How much you tip is entirely down to you!
See the city from the sky
The Shard and the London Eye both offer spectacular views across London, though you’ll have to pay for the experience. A more budget friendly alternative is the Emirates Air Line (£4 for adults or £2 for under 15s). To enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city free of charge book an advance slot at the Sky Garden, located at the top of the famed Walkie Talkie building on 20 Fenchurch Street. You’ll enjoy wonderful 360 degree views of the city skyline from the scenic rooftop gardens.
Free to enter museums and galleries
Many of London’s world class galleries and museums offer free entry to visitors. One of the best is the Natural History Museum, where you can square up to a T-Rex, marvel at an enormous blue whale and check out an earthquake simulator. At the British Museum, encounter Egyptian Mummies and the controversial Elgin Marbles. The stunning National Gallery houses a superb art collection spanning the 13th to the 20th centuries. Enjoy masterpieces by Degas, Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Picasso, and Botticelli. Don’t miss the V&A for fashion, jewellery and furniture collections, and the Tate Modern for contemporary art including paintings, photos, sculptures and installations.
Enjoy London’s green open spaces
Almost 20% of London is covered in public parks and gardens, and the capital became an official National Park City in 2019. In vast Hyde Park you can row a boat or swim in the Serpentine, rent bikes or simply wander the 350 acres of tree lined walkways and gardens. Adjoining Kensington Gardens houses the excellent Serpentine Gallery. Watch daily pelican feeding at St James’ Park, also home to woodpeckers, bats, ducks and moorhens. For sweeping vistas of the city, head to upscale Primrose Hill where you might spot a celebrity (the well-heeled neighbourhood is home to many actors and musicians) or stretch your legs on Hampstead Heath’s Parliament Hill.
A fab food scene
London boasts a superb international food scene, its myriad dining options ranging from no-frills street stalls to exclusive Michelin restaurants. Vibrant Borough Market behind London’s South Bank is a culinary paradise, boasting an array of artisan stalls and restaurants dishing up Spanish Tapas to Whitstable oysters to Jamaican goat curry. Head to bustling Chinatown for good value Chinese restaurants alongside Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Malaysian eateries. Synonymous with youth culture and the alternative music scene, lively Camden Market is famed for its quirky, independent shops and stalls. Here you’ll find a huge range of international street food, and eateries ranging from Lebanese to Hawaiian.
Explore characterful neighbourhoods
London’s historic streets brim with distinctive, unique corners ripe for exploration. Walk the Regents Canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock past colourful houseboats and elegant Regency townhouses. Explore bustling media hub Soho and check out hip restaurants and bars, theatres, and the thriving LGBTQ+ scene around Old Compton Street. Watch street performers in Covent Garden’s pedestrianised piazza and discover cobbled alleyways and quirky shops around Seven Dials and Neil’s Yard. For high end window shopping, head to Harrods in affluent Knightsbridge, or Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly. Stroll alongside the Thames on the arty South Bank, and cross the iconic Millennium Bridge from Tate Modern to majestic St Paul’s Cathedral.
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