#London is the capital city of the UK and it’s largest; it is the epicentre of the country, showcasing the best Britain has to offer in culture, architecture, entertainment, sport, and more. The city, renowned for its black cabs, Royals, and theatre has so many attractions and things to do for local and tourists alike. Visiting all of the attractions London has to offer would be impossible in a hundred lifetimes – to coin a phrase, “…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” ~ Samuel Johnson – but, just seeing the main attractions could easily burn a big hole in your bank balance, but there are still some ways to make the most of this fantastic city.
Free Tourist Attractions
Although London is a pretty expensive place to live, there are plenty of places to go for the more thrifty tourists – it would probably take spend a few weeks to visiting all of the city’s free attractions. The British Museum has been at the heart of London for more than 200 years, it is home to some of the most famous artefacts in the world, including Egyptian mummies, Parthenon sculptures, and the Rosetta Stone.
If it interests you at all you could contact your MP (or a Lord) to arrange free tickets to attend Prime Ministers question time at the Houses of Parliament. Other Parliamentary debates are also open to the public if you queue (outside the Cromwell Green entrance), although a wait of a couple of hours is common and many debates struggle to keep the MP’s and Lords awake so it might not be the most exciting experience available in London!
If you would prefer to see London from the outside there are a number of great spots for a little people watching including Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly circus and The Mall (which leads down to Buckingham Palace).
If parks are more your thing, then spending an afternoon in Hyde Park is absolute luxury. With thousands of trees, ornamental flower gardens, a meadow, tennis courts, children’s playground, restaurants, cafes, and the Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park can make you completely forget that you are in the middle of a capital city. Regents park is another gem well worth a visit. London Zoo is based in the park and many of the animals are visible from the pathways that surround it. The zoo actually straddles the Regents canal and the pathway alongside it offers more great views of the animals – OK, you’re not going to be up at the bars, but you can get a very good view for free!
The National Gallery is home to paintings from some of the most renowned and respected artists, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Rembrandt, and from Van Gogh to Renoir. A visit to London has to include an art gallery, and the National Gallery is a great choice as it also has audio visual programmes and events for children. Tate Modern (on the Southbank) is also very popular and if you’re happy to just look you can also see the Globe theatre next door and the London eye a short walk along the river!
Paid Tourist Attractions
By restricting your trip to London to just the free attractions could mean that you miss out on some of the city’s best sights. However, the cost of these visits can soon add up, but by spending a bit of time searching for great deals, offers, and discounts, you can see all of London for a fraction of the cost.
One great way to way to see London is with the London Pass, this pass offer tourists free entry to more than 50 attractions with no waiting in queues. You will also get an extra 30 special offers, a free guidebook and free public transport around the city. A one day pass for an adult is just £54, and goes up to £139.10 for 6 days.
You can’t visit London without going to some of the biggest sights including the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, and the London Dungeon. The Discount London website offers consumers bundle deals on London attractions, saving families hundreds of pounds on entrance fees.
Travelling for Cheap in London
You can of course purchase the London Pass including travel which gives you access to the London public transport network. If you’re looking to save a bit of cash and get around the capital, consider the ‘Boris Bikes’. This is a public bike sharing scheme by Barclays designed for shorter trips for both London Cycle Scheme members and casual users.
After paying the access fee, which is £1 for a day, or £45 for an annual membership, the first 30 minutes with the bike are free, thereafter charged between £1 for an extra 30 minutes and £50 for up to 24 hours.
If you don’t fancy cycling around London you could buy One-Day off-peak Travelcard which will allow you to travel on the Tube and buses after 9.30am.
Restaurants and Eateries
Eating out in London can cost an arm and a leg, but if you head to the right places it’s quite easy to get a decent meal for less than £15 per person. A cheap dinner doesn’t have to mean an ‘all-day breakfast’ from a back alley greasy spoon (although the Mediterraneo Cafe in Camden is great if that’s what you want!), it can be from some of London’s coolest restaurants.
The Gourmet Burger Kitchen took a simple burger and turned it into something really special, the atmosphere in any of the 19 outlets is hip and trendy, and would suit groups of friends or families. Dining here will set you back no more than £12 per person excluding drinks.
For something a bit different, try out Ping Pong – it’s cheaper alternative to Wagamama. The restaurants have been kitted out with modern and stylish interiors, but still offer a really good dim sum for lunch. A meal here is likely to cost around £14, but because can order dim sum it could easily cost less!
These are just a couple of options for dining out in London, keep on the lookout for early bird dinners too, as eating before 6pm is often much better value for money – 5pm.co.uk can also come up trumps on occasions so it we worth a look.
|Written by :|
|Jemma is a news & research reporter for compareandsave.com.
Having worked as a journalist on a number of personal finance websites; she now spends time researching and commenting on UK personal finance stories and investigating new ways to help our readers save money.
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