City cheats: How to do London on a budget
After all the fun and celebrations at the end of last year, our bank balances are still recovering! If you’re hibernating under your covers and spending all your free time at home bulking up your pockets again – stop! We don’t think you need to be spending any more time indoors because London has plenty to offer, without spending a fortune. Whether you’re looking for a night out or a casual way to spend your Sundays, we have something you can do for next to nothing.
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD
Visit the Natural History Museum to discover the stories behind their collections, the fascinating work of their scientists, and the latest exhibitions – for free! The museum offers loads of exciting, interactive exhibits to make learning fun. Popular exhibits include the Dinosaurs gallery (our favourite!), the Mammals display with the unforgettable model blue whale and the spectacular Central Hall, home to the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton. The Museum offers a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions and events, so there is always something new to go and see. You can keep up with the events taking place here.
Image: Garden Visit Website
Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace, SE20 8DT
Here’s one for all of the family! Enjoy a day exploring Crystal Palace Park, one of the largest parks in South London and known for being beautifully designed by Joseph Paxton. Spend the day walking around the gardens, have lunch at the café, and take a trip down the dinosaur trail which features full-size dinosaur models built by the Victorians. You can even enjoy a free audio guide while exploring this mini Jurassic park! There’s also a sports centre, a free children’s farm, a playground, a big garden maze you just can’t wait to get lost in, an outdoor concert stage and plenty of open space for the kids to play. More than enough for you to keep you and your family entertained for an afternoon!
Image: Sky Garden
1 Sky Garden Walk, London, EC3M 8AF
The Sky Garden, designed by Gillespies, is a unique public space set over three storeys at the top of London’s ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building, offering stunning 360 degree views across the City of London. You can wander around the beautifully landscaped gardens, observation decks and open-air terrace of London’s highest public garden, free of charge. There is the option to treat yourself to one of their fine-dining experiences at the Fenchurch Restaurant, Fenchurch Terrace, Darwin Brasserie, City Garden Bar and the Sky Pod Bar. A limited number of free tickets are available each day so book your time slot in advance here.
Image: The Nightjar
129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB
The largely popular Nightjar, which opened in 2010, is a gorgeous, low-lit room with comfortable seating that you can enjoy from just £4. This hidden slice of old-school glamour has a great atmosphere filled with live Jazz and Blues music each night. They have an extensive cocktail list, of which they are known for, complete with rare and redesigned concoctions. The list is divided into four sections spanning the glorious history of cocktails: pre-prohibition, prohibition, post-war and nightjar signatures. If you’re feeling peckish, the bar offers a selection of delicious tapas too. To experience the cool vibe at Nightjar book in advance here, as reservations are booked very quickly. Don’t leave it down to chance, The Nightjar has a no standing policy which means you need to make a reservation – but it makes it so much more worthwhile!
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
London E20 2ST
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has loads of fun things to do and is free to visit every day of the week. It’s home to the London Stadium, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the London Aquatics Centre, the Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre – as well as extensive parklands, waterways, playgrounds and cafes. Explore the grounds using free trail guides, walk through beautiful gardens and let the kids loose in the playground. It’s also worth seeing the variety of 28 cultural sculptures located around the park.
Take a trip up the ArcelorMittal Orbit to view the beautiful City of London where sights including Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and the O2 are visible. And why not abseil back down or race down the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide? After working up an appetite you can also enjoy a bite to eat in The Podium or the Timber Lodge Café. You can go to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and experience sports, events and iconic venues – or – just relax, and take in the views!
Where is your favourite place to explore in London for less? If you visit one of our budget suggestions, let us know in the comments below!
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