London · London Reviews · Other Reviews · reviews · Travel

Visiting London on a Budget


I had a request for this post a while back from a few friends who were thinking of travelling to London.  Unfortunately the trip fell through and I never got the chance to complete and post this article!  I’ve dug through the ‘drafts’ folder, dusted it off and here it is… just for you!    

London is a fantastic city to visit (and live in).  There’s always something going on, something happening, somewhere to be.  I’ve lived here a just under five years now and haven’t been everywhere I want to yet—that’s how much there is to do!  Like everyone else these days, I’m pretty strapped for cash so when I go out sightseeing or what have you the cheaper the price the happier I am.  And if it’s free?  Well heck yes!

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum!

Museums:

Most of London’s major museums are free.  They do ask for a donation but the main galleries are free.  Special exhibits are normally ticketed.  As a general rule when I go into a free museum I leave behind a fiver.  I mean, come on… these are major, famous museums and they’re not charging you a penny to go in and have a wander around.  The Londonist has a fantastic guide to the free museums in London, as well as a list of the paid and free exhibitions being hosted in each.  It’s a pretty comprehensive guide and very handy!  I use it so much that I have it bookmarked!  Visit London also does a fairly good list of free attractions in London which isn’t limited to museums.

Greenwich Park
Can’t beat that, can you?

Parks:

If you’re visiting the city and the weather is nice (I know, right?) I highly recommend heading to one of London’s gorgeous parks—Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath are two of my favourites.  Take a picnic, feed some ducks and just go for a stroll!  Sometimes it’s really hard to believe that London has as much green space as it does!  Greenwich Park, pictured above, offers stunning views of Canary Wharf that you just can’t beat.

Transportation:

If you want to see some of the major London icons (fly-by style) without taking a tour, take a bus instead of the Tube.  London’s buses are fantastic and very frequent (despite my grumblings on Twitter, I promise!) and certain lines are brilliant for seeing the sites!  Routes of note:

  • 4 – Passes Waterloo, Westminster, Parliament, St. Paul’s and other such places.
  • 211 – If you’re a Chelsea fan, this takes you right past their stadium near Fulham Broadway Station.  The 211 goes across Westminster Bridge and gives you a gorgeous view of the river (even more brilliant at night when the bridges are lit up).
  • 11 – This bus follows along the same lines as the above but goes a bit closer to Buckingham Palace and Bank of England.  Finish off in Shoreditch, which is very trendy these days, at one of the cocktail bars or pubs.

There’s loads more… best thing to do would be to check out the TFL Bus Route site and map out your own custom journey based on where you wanna go and what you wanna see!

Borough Market
One of my favourite spots in London… Borough Market

Markets:

Markets are brilliant for cheap buys and delicious food!  I love Camden Market for its bohemian, hippy-ish type vibe.  Borough Market is brilliant if you’re a foodie… there’s so much there to eat that whenever I think of it my tummy starts rumbling like crazy!  Also of note is the used book market near the South Bank Centre.  They’ve got all sorts of books from trade paperbacks to the hard-to-find vintage variety.  Brilliant for a browse or for salivating over.

Meaty...
Meaty…

Food:

London is a food-lovers paradise and I could go on and on for days about where to go and what to eat both in the confines of The City and outside of the hustle and bustle down into South London.

First off on my list of cheap places you must eat is a local favourite for me:  Meza.  Meza, Meza, Meza.  I’ll say it again, with emphasis:  MEZA.  I can’t tell you how much I love this place and how delicious it is. If you wanna try something a bit different or love Lebanese cuisine, Meza is well worth the trip to Tooting.  It’s a teeny tiny restaurant and it’s pretty much essential that you pre-book.  They do take-away now but if you’re not local then the food gets cold and boo… who likes that?  Try the Moutabal… totally delish!

The Stockpot on The King’s Road in Chelsea (there are other locations) is a nice place to eat and serves general comfort food at great prices.  The chicken fettuccini alfredo is lovely!  The Stockpot, like Meza, is also a small restaurant but well worth the wait.

If you’re in town and around Oxford Street, definitely check out Meat Liquor.  I’ll be the first to say it’s not quintessential English fare but hot damn is it amazing.  Try the deep fried pickles and Dead Hippy.

Head down to Brick Lane for a curry and for a spot of shopping.  There’s pretty much a curry house on every corner and while I’ve only tried one or two, they all have pretty good reviews.  Also of note in the Brick Lane area are the beigel (bagel) shops.  N and I recently had salt beef beigels and thought we were going to die and go to food heaven.

So, Londoners–what other spots can you recommend?  Touristy types, have I left anything off?  Want more advice?  Give me a shout!

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1.  Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

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