Royal watchers can head over to London to welcome the new royal princess for literally a song. Online flight comparison service Cheapflights.com.au has sourced return airfares for less than $1,500 (including all fees and taxes) for an immediate departure this week. To keep the budget even tighter, the travel experts at Cheapflights have researched 20 things to do for next to nix – or at least under £20.
1. Go for a drink
Possibly the most obvious thing to do when in London– you’re surrounded by pubs, bars and clubs. To keep it affordable Sam Smith’s pubs are well-known throughout London for their no-frills pub experience: they serve their own range of beers and don’t bother with background music so that they can save on the licence fees.
2. Prince Charles Cinema
This independent cinema just off Leicester Square is beloved by many Londoners. The Prince Charles Cinema offers much cheaper tickets and a wider range of unusual and classic films. Its famous sing-along events, often with accompanying fancy-dress balls, are usually under £20, and a far superior experience to your suburban multiplex.
3. Take a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground
A simple £18 will get you into one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world: Lord’s Cricket Ground. Notably, you get to gander at The Ashes trophy, seeing as it’s always there regardless of which country wins the tournament each year. Fun fact: Lord’s is the only major cricket ground in the world that permits you to bring your own booze. How gentlemanly.
4. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
This re-creation of Shakespeare’s Globe is must-visit for thespian types. Watching plays in London can set you back a lot more than £20, but the Globe, with its uniquely medieval layout, is the exception to the rule. If you get standing tickets in the yard, it only costs £5 to see classic plays starring famous actors. But you may want to bring an umbrella – rain is not uncommon during performances due to the open roof and, of course, the famous British weather.
5. Explore the Olympic Park
Since reopening in 2014, the Olympic Park has been a fresh green space in East London enticing visitors with unusual attractions. There’s a funfair, climbing walls, statues, flags, not to mention all the sports facilities and the network of canals the site sits upon. The crown jewel is the Arcelor Mittal Orbit, the UK’s largest sculpture – for £12, you can ascend the looping oddity and enjoy its views across the capital.
6. Kensington Gardens, the Serpentine Gallery & Hyde Park
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are pretty much one massive park, with the appropriately-named lake, The Serpentine, separating them. Kensington Gardens features the gardens of Kensington Palace and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Hyde Park is made up mostly of playing fields and is often full of people having a kick-about. During winter, it’s the home of Winter Wonderland, a massive temporary German-style funfair and market.
7. Eat in Brixton Village
Over the last few years the indoor market of Brixton Village has become one of the best places to dine in London. Tens of mini-restaurants stand side-by-side inviting you in with inventive menus and quirky decors. Gourmands are spoilt for choice as each restaurant competes in both culinary delight and affordability – you can easily find an excellent two-course meal for £10.
8. The South Bank
South Bank is home to the Millennium Eye, London’s iconic Ferris Wheel, as well as the London Aquarium, the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, the Hayward Gallery, and all sorts of other temporary exhibitions and attractions including street performers and free music. It also features a skate park as an alternative hub for the young generation to express their physical and artistic skills.
9. Go for a shisha on Edgware Road
Edgware Road has been a hub for Middle-Eastern culture since the late 19th century, and today it’s lined with shisha cafes and restaurants, each with tables and chairs spilling out onto the pavement. Several places are open 24 hours a day, with ever-present groups of people smoking shisha and enjoying a spot of mint tea. Most places offer you a pipe for between £8 and £16. Add in tea or coffee and that rounds up to a very pleasantly spent couple of hours for about £20.
10. Primrose Hill & Regent’s Park
One of the best views in London is absolutely free and can be found atop Primrose Hill. It’s on the edge of London Zoo and you can see various animals sniffing around on the opposite bank as well as get a close up of the zoo’s famous aviary, all for zero English pounds. We would totally recommend you visit the zoo too, it has some of the best zoological attractions in the world, but at around £24 for entry, it doesn’t quite fit to the rules of our list. Regent’s Park itself offers a mix of open playing fields, boating lakes and rose gardens and is not to be missed.
11. Visit a city farm
Hidden amongst the grim pollution and grinding corporatism, London actually has several city farms where animals live happily in ecological surroundings. There are around fifteen farms in total, in places such as Hackney, Stepney, Surrey Docks, Vauxhall, and Kentish Town. A visit to any guarantees a mix of free farmyard fun, arts and crafts, and perhaps a cheap delicious meal using milk, eggs and vegetables produced onsite.
12. The Monument
Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London offers a fantastic view of the very heart of London for the satisfyingly reasonable price of £4. Vertigo-sufferers or those unwilling to tackle 311 steps may want to give it a miss.
13. Speaker’s Corner
The last true bastion of free speech in the western world has got to be Speaker’s Corner in Marble Arch. Come down to this corner of Regent’s Park on the weekend and you can argue with people about anything at all without getting arrested. Speakers will quite literally get on their soapbox and sound off about politics, religion, or simply what a lovely day it is just as long as they have someone’s ear.
14. Eat in Drummond Street
If you’re in central London and love Indian food then it’s an absolute no-brainer that you have to visit Drummond Street, a small street that’s a minute’s walk from Euston Station. This modest road is lined with restaurants all offering all-you-can-eat Indian food for the same price, under £7.
15. The Imperial War Museum and the Garden Museum
These two museums near Lambeth Bridge offer a good counterbalance to each other. IWM London is a huge famous war museum full of military vehicles and equipment, with tonnes of fascinating and interactive exhibits about the perils of war, all free of charge. The Garden Museum, on the other hand, is a celebration of horticulture set around a once derelict church. This picturesque oasis costs £5 to visit, or £7.50 if there’s a special exhibition on, but is completely free for children under 16.
16. Go to a market
London has lots of fabulous markets teeming with all sorts: food, fashion, flowers, antiques, arts, crafts, and coffee – lots of coffee. The two most famous are probably Camden and Portobello Road, but the other main ones people love include Borough, Maltby Street, Columbia Road, Exmouth, Spitalfields, Whitecross Street, and fancy-pants Leadenhall Market. Obviously, if you’re trying to keep your visit under £20, you’ll need an iron will, but the sights and smells are all free and glorious.
17. Take the river bus
There’s a fleet of river services covering the Thames from Woolwich to Putney, even Hampton Court during the summer months. Any route you take will cost just £7.15, an absolute bargain considering the views and the break you get from all the road traffic and tube delays – it’s even cheaper if you use an Oyster card.
18. Science, Natural History and V&A museums
South Kensington is home to a powerhouse triumvirate of museums that offer days of both education and entertainment. The Science Museum features several floors of interactive exhibitions and has its own IMAX cinema; The Natural History Museum has a huge zoological and geological collection, and most importantly a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs; and The V&A has pretty much the whole history of fashion and design on show. Some temporary exhibitions and the IMAX may cost you a little money, but the majority of the collections are free to visit.
19. Educate yourself at Gresham College and the Royal Institution
London has a long history of being at the forefront of scientific discovery, and now you can be a part of it too for next to nothing. Gresham College has been giving free lectures every week for around four hundred years, while the Royal Institution’s talks range from free to about £17. As a bonus, you can see real scientists at work too in the Royal Institution while you swan around.
20. Take a walking tour
We’ve been advocating quite a bit of walking already in this list, but none of it so far has been with a proper tour guide. London Walks has plenty to choose from that will be able to entertain you with all the history and culture you might miss if you walk on your lonesome – and each walk costs just £9.