Travelling can be an expensive affair, more so when you visit an international hub such as London. Known the world over to be extortionate, London can pretty much charge what it likes…quite frankly people will pay. But if you find yourself travelling to the English capital on a budget, there are plenty of enjoyable things you can do.
Horse Guards Parade
There is nothing more British than a bit of pomp and ceremony, its what we are known for and it is something that we do with flair and gusto. Daily from May through to August, visitors can take in the bearskin delights of the ‘Changing of The Guard’. The mounted Queen’s Life Guard changes daily at 11am on Horse Guards Parade (or 10am on Sundays), whilst The Queen’s Guard change at 11.30am at Buckingham Palace, just a 15-minute walk down The Mall.
The Key Ceremony
Every night, at the Tower of London, the Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters as you may know them) perform a 700 year-old ceremony, called ‘The Key Ceremony’. The ceremony itself is quite evocative and is concluded with a bugle performance at 10pm, emanating from the battlements. Entry is free of charge, however, you will need to apply for a ticket in writing six weeks in advance.
London boasts some of the best museums in the world. Most are free to enter, although some exhibitions charge a fee. Whatever you are into, there is probably a museum for you across the breadth of the city. Do not miss the British Museum, which houses some of the most incredible ancient artefacts from across the world. If jewels are your bag, then a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum is essential; their jewellery room is coveted by enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Complementing the museums is a vast range of art galleries, from the world renowned TATE galleries, to smaller, independent venues.
Towards the end of the summer, music lovers descend on London hoping to win free tickets to the annual iTunes festival. Housed at the Roundhouse in Camden, iTunes plays host to a month of musical talent, with some of the worlds biggest musical talent headlining. Over the years, the Roundhouse has seen its steel girders lit up by the likes of Scissor Sisters, Florence & The Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga and Mumford & Sons, all free gigs that the audience enjoy with undoubted rapture.
If being cooped up inside isn’t your thing, take advantage of the beautiful scenery that London has to offer. With an undoubtedly breathtaking skyline, best viewed from South of the River Thames, take advantage of the weather with a stroll down the Southbank. Setting off from the London Eye, a walk down the Southbank takes you past some of the great historic landmarks of the city, from the well-known vista of the Houses of Parliament, to the domes of St Paul’s and the age-old bricks and mortar of The Tower of London. Venturing further out of the city centre, a ramble across the grounds of Kenwood House, owned and run by English Heritage, is something to consider.
Food in London
Potentially the costliest of any trip is the sustenance. Food in London is in essence pricey, but there is a wealth of options when dining on a budget. There are countless deals to be had when eating at the majority of the chain restaurants operating around the city, with a whole website dedicated to collating them in one place (vouchercodes.co.uk). There are restrictions on most of these, usually limiting diners to Sunday-Thursday.
Visiting London on a budget can be done; it doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. Buy a guidebook and be your own tour-guide, and look for the deals that will maximise your expenditure. Oh…and one last tip: if you intend to take the tube…buy an Oyster card! You even get your £5 deposit and any remaining credit back once you have finished with it!