Thought a trip to the UK capital was going to be bank-breaking? Think again with our top tips on how to enjoy the Big Smoke on a budget.
August is the best time to find bargain breaks, when the natives flock abroad in search of sunshine. Cheap hotel stays can be found throughout the summer, as well as over Easter and Christmas when school holidays and a lack of business travellers mean hotels are willing to be much more aggressive with their room rates.
Most of London’s best museums and galleries are completely free. Hop off at South Kensington tube and enjoy exhibitions at the Natural History Museum, V&A Museum and the Science Museum without dipping into your pocket once. The National Portrait Gallery, close to Trafalgar Square, and the Tate museums along the river are also well worth a browse. For a scenic day of strolling, hop off the tube at Waterloo and walk along the Thames to London Bridge to take in the sights of the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and St Paul’s across the river, with plenty of street artists and performers along the way.
Steer clear of the throngs of shoppers hitting the high street stores on Oxford Street and opt to explore some of London’s best markets instead. Check out Portobello Road on Saturday mornings for vintage finds and chic antiques, Camden for quirky clothing and Spitalfields on Sundays for home-made crafts, clothes and jewellery.
While there are plenty of upmarket restaurants in the capital, gourmet delights don’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Pop along to Borough Market on a Saturday morning, where local foodie artisans tout their home-grown wares, with cheeses, meats, jams, chutneys and cakes all on offer at bargain prices. Perfect picnic fodder to enjoy in one of London’s many impressive parks.
While there are oodles of fancy wine bars in London, for a true taste of the capital, try out one of the musty old man’s pubs languishing on street corners all over town. While they may not have pushed the boat out on expensive décor, what they lack in bling is more than made up for with cosy atmosphere and cheap pints of beer. A good excuse to swap the usual cocktail for a tasty pint of real ale.
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