This is a re-post from my former blog. I wrote it last spring for some friends who were going to London and asked what they should see while there. When I studied in Oxford in 2010, I was fortunate to go on day trips to London several times—It’s my favorite city! As a traveling student, my money was very tight while there, so many of the things I did were free or inexpensive. So I present to you, 7 things to do in London on a Budget. I’m in no way a London expert, so this list is in no way comprehensive…if you see item 7, it’s pretty self-explanatory that way.
1. Attend an Evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral
Even if formal worship is not your thing, you have to appreciate the reverence and beauty of these gorgeous, traditional prayers and songs in an absolutely stunning setting. They have an evensong service every evening at 5:00 p.m. which is open to attendees. It’s beautiful, touching, and definitely different from any church service you’ve been to in the USA
Other bonuses: Mary Poppins sings about it (Con, you can’t actually feed the birds. They got too fat in the past and died.). Also, if you whisper something on one end of the Narthex, you can hear it all the way on the other side.
2. ALL OF THE PARKS
There are so many awesome, awesome, awesome parks in London. They are so open and sprawling, have so much history…and are so different from the types of parks we have in the USA. The two parks which stick out the most to me are St. James Park and (my very favorite) Kensington Gardens.
St. James is cool because there is a lovely pond, lots of birds, and a bridge with a great view of things like the London Eye and Buckingham Palace…oh, did I mention that when you wander towards the end of the park, you’re AT Buckinham Palace? Yeah that’s a pretty cool (free) sight to see too.
Kensington Gardens has so many things to love. First, as a major Peter Pan fan, this was on my list because it is the park which holds the famous Pan statue-Something I had always wanted to see. Also on the grounds is Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria (she lived there throughout her childhood until she inherited the throne). I happen to think Queen Victoria is boss. There is also an amazing statue in Kensington which she had mounted in dedication to her beloved Albert… so touchingly beautiful. Favorite royal couple ever. Sorry Will and Kate. ALSO, there’s a really cool playground with a pirate ship-Princess Diana Memorial Playground-in Kensington. Overall, it’s a great place to take a picnic and spend a few hours.
3. Find some cheap tickets…go see the sympony, a concert or a play!
There are always great shows to see in London. It IS London, after all.
Even on a budget I was able to get some cheap tickets and go see “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria and the London Phillharmonic Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall. I had friends, also on a budget, who went to see Pheonix and Vampire Weekend in concert. There’s always something awesome going on and inexpensive seats for sale…. Even bad seats are great seats!
4. The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Cost: 8 pounds per adult
Cost of gift shop/ cheesy photoshoot: free/priceless
Located at 221 B Baker Street, you know you’re headed in the right direction on the Tube terminal when you start seeing the famous Sherlock silhouette with pipe and hat on all the tiny tiles.
5. The Sherlock Holmes Pub
Cost: Varies by what you order
Amazing, authentic environment will make you feel like you have a standing appointment with Sherlock and are meeting him at his favorite establishment. Oh yeah, and Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle might have actually had something to do with its dedication and design….
Here’s a link with address and everything: http://www.sherlockholmespub.com/
ALSO, the big lions are closeby…so afterwards, you can climb them. (Ahem I mean the “Lions in Bronze”)
Speaking of things near there……..
6. Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery
Cost: It’s free to look!
Wonderful, busy place that you have no doubt seen on lots of TV shows (including Sherlock). I love the way this area is a mix between the ancient and the modern. Lots of great cafes and sight-seeing….also dominating this area is an awesome fountain and……..
The National Gallery
Cost: Free (I know, what??? AMAZING)
Enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful/thought-provoking/ historically important art for NOTHING. WHY WOULD YOU NOT DO THIS?
7. JUST Explore. Seriously. This is a city where you want to get lost a little bit. So if you are going anytime soon, I highly recommend that when you get there, you put on some tennis shows, get on the TUBE, ride, get off, and wander.