10 Inexpensive Things to See and Do in London

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London is known for being one of the most vibrant, interesting and, ultimately, most expensive cities in the world, and The Bloke and I are lucky enough in that we get to visit several times a year.

There are certainly no shortage of things to experience, but many of the more popular attractions can be quite costly. Last weekend, as our budget was tight, I decided to plan an adventure around the city that consisted of free or inexpensive things to see and do. It turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve ever had!

Note: The key to saving money is to plan specifically in advance what you would like to do and see – buying tickets for things or aimlessly wandering around until you find something will usually result in spending money that you hadn’t budgeted for. It may also be a good idea to pack a lunch in advance to save money on food during your trip.

1. Breakfast at The Cereal Killer Cafe

I’d seen a number of articles across social media about this place and was dying to go along and check it out! With over 120 different types of cereal from all over the world, combined with 30 different varieties of milk and 20 toppings, The Cereal Killer Cafe was the perfect place to go and have breakfast (although it can be enjoyed for lunch and dinner too!). There are now two cafes, one on Brick Lane and the other on Chalk farm Road in Camden, and The Bloke and I visited the Brick Lane establishment. I had the ‘s’more than words’ (Golden Grahams, marshmallows and chocolate milk), followed by a pop tart, just because I could.

Total spent: £5.50

2. Street Art in Shoreditch

I’ve developed a fascination with street art and graffiti over recent years, so we walked around the streets in Shoreditch to find some of the more famous pieces. We weren’t disappointed – I managed to find some Banksy, Gregos and ROA on my travels! Note: There are free walking tours that are given around this area, but I often prefer to find out where things are myself and create my own – this means that I can spend as much time as I like in a particular place.

Total spent: £0.00

3. St Dunstan-in-the-East

Located on St Dunstan’s Hill, between London Bridge and the Tower of London (just around the corner from Monument tube station) is St Dunstan-in-the-East church. It was largely destroyed during The Blitz in the Second World War and all that remains is the tower, steeple (designed by Sir Christopher Wren) and north and south walls. It was turned into a public garden in 1971 and is truly one of the most unknown and beautiful places to visit in the city. Stunning.

Total spent: £0.00

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4. Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden

Neal’s Yard is a small alley, situated between Short’s Gardens and Monmouth Street in Covent Garden. There are a number of small stores and cafes, but what I loved about it was quiet and calm atmosphere and the colour and beauty of the architecture. I was also surprised to see a blue plaque for Monty Python, and discovered that in 1976 Palin and Gilliam bought these offices as studios and editing suite for Python films and other projects.

Total spent: £0.00

5. The Thames

With so many of the bigger tourist attractions along the Thames, it’s a fun (and completely free) way to do lots of sightseeing without spending any money at all. The Bloke and I have done this many times and we always manage to find something new, including lots of little parks that are situated alongside the river. For those who are keen photographers, it is the perfect place to get some fantastic shots too!

Total spent: £0.00

6. A Museum, Gallery or Library

London has lots of free museums and art galleries, with payment required only for specific exhibitions. We’ve been to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, The British Library and The National Portrait Gallery to name a few, and have been able to see some incredibly famous works of art, artifacts, manuscripts and journals. Note: while entrance to these are free, we always give a donation, although this is optional.

Total spent: £0.00 (but we always give a minimum of £5.00)

7. Hunt for English Heritage Blue Plaques

I love doing this, and there are always one or two new ones that I deliberately go and find each time I visit. Last weekend I found Margot Fonteyn’s residence, and I have a huge trip planned at the end of July which will involve discovering lots of them. You can find a list of all of the locations of blue plaques here.

Total spent: £0.00

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8. The Great Fire of London Monument

Many tourists are unaware of this monument in the city, a Doric column designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke which commemorates The Great Fire of London. It is situated at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, just 62 metres from where the fire began on Pudding Lane in 1666 and is made of stone, with a guilded urn of fire at the top. There is also a viewing tower at the top which offer panoramic views of the city, although this is currently closed to the public while essential maintenance work is taking place. Situated next to The Monument Building, I loved the contrast between the old and new architecture.

Total spent: £0.00

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9. Platform 9 and 3/4

For any Potter-head, this is an absolute must. In homage to the famous platform in the Harry Potter series, a trolley and bird cage can be found embedded into the wall near Platform 9 of King’s Cross station. When The Bloke and I visited, there was an enormous queue of tourists waiting to get their photographs taken (which can then be purchased from the Harry Potter store next to it), but I found that with good timing I was able to take my own picture of it for free!

Total spent: £0.00 (although I had to use lots of willpower to avoid spending all of my money in the store afterwards!)

10. Create Your Own Walking Tour

Many of the large tourist attractions, particularly the Royal establishments, are all found within Zone 1 on the Tube map, and with careful planning and comfortable shoes it is possible to see many of them within a day, and I know this because I have done it. You don’t have to go inside the building to appreciate the splendor of the architecture itself!

Total spent: £0.00

What about you guys? Have you got any useful hints and tips to save money when visiting London?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

 

All images are my own

39 thoughts on “10 Inexpensive Things to See and Do in London

  1. well specifically I’d aim people at the south bank for their Thames stroll including the view up to St Paul’s from the Millenium Bridge. If the tide has turned browsing for pottery on the Thames beaches, one of which is accessible near Gabriel’s wharf by the National Theatre for instance is fun. Even though you need to book a date, the Sky Gardens in 20 Fenchurch street (the Walkie talkie builiding) are free and on a clear day the views spectacular. Eating the free samples in Borough market (best days Thurs thru Sunday) is a foodie must.

    • My European friends are always gobsmacked at the cost of things over here… It’s so much more expensive for every day things, and that’s even before alcohol and cigarettes!

  2. Reblogged this.
    Here are a couple of things I enjoyed last time I was there: the Tate Modern Museum (free), St Pauls Cathedral (free), Speakers Corner in Hyde Park (free), the Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory at Greenwich (0 longitude)(free) and Cutty Sark (ship)(this one was fairly expensive for what you got), Victoria and Albert Museum (free).

  3. Pingback: 10 Inexpensive Things to See and Do in London | Capt Jills Journeys

  4. I really wanted a picture at the train station but the queue was massive so didn’t bother. With not having much time we paid for the bus tour to see a lot of the sights. I’m hoping to go back before the bash next year to spend more time wandering around and seeing stuff. Will certainly look out for the stuff you mentioned apart from the cereal killer cafe as i dont like milk so dont eat cereal lol x

    • Haha! There was an enormous queue when we were there but I couldn’t be bothered standing in it, so I waited until the tourists were swapping over, pushed some really eager Chinese parents out of the way and took a picture…

  5. On Sundays, along the fence of Hyde Park on Bayswater Road, artists set up and display and sell their creations. There are up and coming artists and maybe even established ones and it’s like walking along a free outdoor art gallery. You don’t have to buy anything!

  6. Fab post– made me so excited for our trip to London this July. I am DYING to go to Platform 9 3/4 but the hubs says he doesn’t want to wait in the giant line. We are going to see The Cursed Child, though, so I guess I can’t complain too much! 😉 Definitely going to check out the Cereal Cafe, and the street art, and really, really try to convince Hubs to go to King’s Cross.

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