Cheap Things to Do in London
When people think of London, they imagine an expensive city in which everything costs a small fortune. Fortunately, many of London's top attractions are either free or surprisingly cheap. It just takes a little planning and some sense of adventure to make the most of London with very little money.
Art Galleries and Museums
Many of London's most exceptional museums and art galleries are free. That includes all the Tate galleries (Tate Modern and Tate Britain) and the National Portrait Gallery. If you're craving history, the Museum of London will give you an overview of the history of the city back to the Roman times. Or you can head to the V&A Museum for some art and design that includes everything from furniture to sculpture. The Science Museum, one of the oldest in London (dating from 1857), showcases everything from old steam engines to the history of space exploration. Some of the most special exhibits include Veterinary History, Science in the 18th Century, Docks and Diving and a series of hands-on galleries.
London is home to some of the oldest pubs in England. History was forged here, with figures from Monmouth Rebellion and the Bloomsbury Group showing up regularly at the pubs; even Charles Dickens was a regular. The Prospect of Whitby, one of the most recognized names, has been around since 1543 and has a floor made of flagstone. The Lamb, on Lamb's Conduit Street, is a classic Victorian pub. And The Ten Bells, on Spitalfields, was the favorite stop for many of Jack the Ripper's victims. These and other pubs offer a great glimpse into London's history and heritage, and while you will probably end up spending some money on drinks, this is still one of the cheapest ways to get into the spirit of old London.
Changing of the Guard
London's most famous sight is completely free. It's held at Buckingham Palace every day at 11:30 a.m., but visitors start gathering outside the front gates much earlier to grab a good spot. While the actual change takes only a few minutes, this is a great point from where to launch a short self-guided sightseeing tour of the surroundings, including Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament and Piccadilly Circus. Unless you have your heart set out on it, skip the long lines and just take photos from outside to save even more money.
Claire Taylor is a health, wellness and travel writer with credits in publications such as "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." Taylor is also a seasoned independent traveler, as well as a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant.