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Visiting London On A Dime

Updated on April 2, 2009
London Eye, London England
London Eye, London England
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London England
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London England

It's difficult to put London on any kind of budget travel list. Even with a recent depreciation of British currency, London still is one of the most expensive cities in the world. London inexpensive hotels and cheap restaurants are still not that cheap and inexpensive compare to its peers in Europe and the USA. Well, you can not avoid certain travel expenses such as transportation, accommodations and food. But, the good news is that London has plenty of things to do for tourists and many of them are for free or don’t cost much. Name the most popular London tourist attractions and you will realize that to see them doesn’t cost anything. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch and TowerBridge, Changing the Guard at BuckinghamPalace and Hyde Park – the list of free things to do in London is huge. Strolling streets of the center of London is the best way to explore the city. Tired to walk, take a ride on the iconic red double-decker bus - doesn’t cost much and a must thing to do when in London. Explore London’s famous neighborhoods Notting Hill and Covent Garden, walk in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, climb to the top of Parliament and Primrose Hill for breathtaking panoramic views of London – all of these activities are absolutely for free. Most of London’s museums are free and London has great number of museums worth a visit. Churches and cathedrals including the most famous Westminster Abbey are for free. Free comedy clubs and music concerts, free cinema and roller skating – when it comes to things to do in London on a budget, London can satisfy taste of any budget traveler. And of course, even if you are traveling to London on a budget, there is no reason why you shouldn't still enjoy London's pubs. Just make sure that you go there for happy hours!

Buckingham Palace, London England
Buckingham Palace, London England

Best Free Things To Do In London

Start exploring London from one of the most famous square in the world – Trafalgar Square. Home to great London attractions such as Nelson's Column and the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square is perfect place to sit back, relax, enjoy the atmosphere of the city and watch people. The National Galley, once being home for the National Collection of Art, now houses one of the greatest collections of Western European painting in the world. All the pictures belong to the public and entrance to see them is free. However, the gallery does charge an admission fee for some special exhibitions. From Trafalgar Square you can easily walk down to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben or to Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British Royal family where you can admire the beautiful façade of the Palace and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is free display and probably on every traveler’s list of things to do in London.

The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London England
The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London England
The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London England
The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London England

London has a great number of parks and gardens, with the Royal Parks are most impressive ones. Hyde Park, one of the Royal Parks of London and finest historic landscape, covers 350 acres (140 hectare) and originally was designed to satisfy a royal passion for hunting. But over the years it became a place where people have pursued other pleasures. With a variety of trees and flowers, alleyways and horse riding trails, a lake and meadows, it is great place for relaxation and sport activities. Most of the beautiful features you see today in Hyde Park were created in the 18th century by a keen royal gardener, Queen Caroline. It was her, who established a new landscape fashion and made a large lake the Serpentine here, the first lake in England which was artificially created but designed to look natural. The Serpentine separates Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens, and the Serpentine Bridge forms the boundary between them. South of the Serpentine is one of the recent famous attractions of Hyde Park - the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial, an oval stone ring fountain opened on July 6, 2004. Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, are fenced and more formal than Hyde Park, and were long regarded as the smarter of the two parks. Covering 275 acres (111 hectares), Kensington Gardens is planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds. It is home to Kensington Palace, beautiful Italian Gardens, the Albert Memorial, Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine Gallery. Serpentine Gallery is one of London’s best-loved galleries for modern and contemporary art and open for visitors for free.

Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, London England
Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, London England

London has many neighborhoods, all of them with different architectural details, characters, and spirits. Exploring London famous neighborhoods is great way to learn about history and the city. Or it could be simply very entertaining:  just go to Notting Hill and try to recall scenes from the eponymous 1999 movie. Notting Hill, with a reputation as a fashionable area in London, is also home to Portobello Road Market, one of the most famous street markets in the world. The main market day for antiques is Saturday, but fruit and vegetable stalls are open throughout the week. The area is full with attractive Victorian townhouses, and on a sunny day it can be quite lovely to walk in the neighborhood, browse antique market and eat a fresh fruit or two.

Covent Garden, London England
Covent Garden, London England

For theater and music lovers, London offers free concerts, music festivals, opera recitals and comedy club performances. Covent Garden, once being a fruit and vegetable garden, now is a popular area to hang out in London. Street performers and entertainment facilities, shops, cozy cafes and restaurants, Covent Garden hotels and new real estate developments attract each year about 30 millions visitors to this area. Opera lovers are very familiar with the place, thanks to Royal Opera House. And Royal Opera House organizes a lot of free events and recitals, and in the summer The Royal Opera House's free, open-air screenings of ballet and opera are essential events in London. Also, in Covent Garden at the West Piazza you can watch street performers every afternoon. And don’t think they are just regular street performers, most of them are pretty good and gather huge crowds and all of them are licensed and have passed an audition to perform there.

What is your favorite free activity in London? Please share with us your London experience.

Comments

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    • profile image

      London Discussion Forum 

      7 years ago

      Really London is a definite place to see and many places with historical monuments are there.

    • FGual profile image

      FGual 

      8 years ago from USA

      This bring back memories. Ten years later I remember Portobello Road well, and Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace, and more. Hoping to return someday.

    • Wanderlust profile imageAUTHOR

      Wanderlust 

      9 years ago from New York City

      ManekiNeko, thank you for your tip. Great information and I am sure that not only budget but all travelers to London would appreciate the half price theater tickets.

      Ethel, thank you for stopping by. You are right, I forgot about Camden Markets, we can easily add it to the list fun free activities in London.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      My brother lived in London for quite a while so I now it a little. I love the place but my Hubby is not keen. Far too busy for him. I enjoyed Camden Market.

    • ManekiNeko profile image

      ManekiNeko 

      9 years ago

      Great hub! London is one of my favorite cities to visit and you listed lots of free activities that I haven't done yet.

      I have a tip as well -- it's not free but it's a good deal: For the West End shows, you can usually get tickets the day of the performance that are cheaper than the half price ticket sellers around Leicester Square (including the official TKTS booth). For example, I got a front row seat to see Wicked by going to the theater the morning of a show (I think the box office opens at 10 am). They're easier to get on weekdays, but it's doable on weekends as well if you show up early.

    • profile image

      sofia 

      9 years ago

      if you really want to achive something , then dam sure that you can get it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a wonderful fact filled hub with good photos to boot! I had no idea that there were so many free things available in London. Thanks! A big thumbs up!

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