The pints may be pricey but the museums are free in the UK’s vibrant capital city
London is replete with markets, museums and musicals, and plenty more besides. While it’s impossible to cram all the sights of the city into one trip, you can experience plenty in a London city break.
For the first time visitor, the city can be a little difficult to navigate, so it is worth thinking of the sprawling metropolis as a series of interlinking villages. For your first London trip, spend some time in the West End, soaking up the bars and restaurants of Soho, the lights of Leicester Square, the theatres along Shaftesbury Avenue and the shops of Oxford Street and Covent Garden.
Further to the south, pop along to the chic South Kensington area, where you will be spoilt for choice for museums to explore. The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall are all within walking distance and most of the exhibits are free. You can then go and spend the cash you’ve saved in the shops of Knightsbridge or opt for a stroll in the vast Hyde Park.
London is one of Europe’s must-see cities, with a brilliant blend of culture, art, architecture, food and nightlife to keep every type of tourist content. While the city may be a little more expensive than most, there are plenty of free attractions to keep you occupied.
Take a stroll down the South Bank, from Waterloo to London Bridge. This pleasant walk along the river will allow you to take in lots of London’s major sights, including the Imax cinema, the London Eye observation wheel, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Tate Modern art gallery and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. There are also plenty of pit-stops for food, drinks and admiring the many street performers along the way.
When to go?
As the UK weather can get pretty chilly in the winter, you are far more likely to grab a cheap flight. However, spring and summer are the best times to visit London. Plan your trip for July or August to coincide with the many outdoor concerts, theatre performances and the Notting Hill Carnival taking place in the capital.
How to get there?
Most low-cost carriers offer frequent cheap fares to London from Scotland, Ireland, the north of England and most of Europe. If you’re based in the UK, train fares can also be relatively cheap if booked in advance.
London is replete with markets of all shapes and sizes. Head to Notting Hill, Spitalfields, Covent Garden and Camden for crafts and fashions, or pop over to Smithfield and Borough markets to taste gourmet treats. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a sunny day, London’s parks are one of the city’s best attractions, and best of all they are free! Grab a picnic and stretch out on a patch of grass, or attempt a spot of boating on the lake.
Take a walk along the river and cross Tower Bridge to visit the Tower of London for a whistlestop tour of English royal architecture, complemented by bloodthirsty tales of gruesome executions.
In the evening, grab a pint at a traditional English pub, accompanied by a meal of fish & chips or sausage& mash, then round off your trip with a West End show. Cheap tickets are on sale at Leicester Square booths for all the major productions.