London is one of the most expensive cities in the World. There’s no real way around it right? Well, actually as a frugal human being and someone who loves a good challenge I’ve decided after a dozen or so trips to London it was time to share my favourite free options for the city!
Now obviously if you don’t live in London then getting there will cost you something. I’ve not ever lived in London (cue the sticker shock at housing prices) so for me if & when I want to go to London it does cost. But it isn’t an arm & a leg. Using services like Mega Bus or Sn-Ap bus you can find fares for 10.00 return in a day still making the trip into the city relatively cheap! If you use Sn-Ap bus use the code SHEWHOWANDERS for a free return journey!
1- Portobello Market
Running nearly the entire length (North to South) of Notting Hill these markets are home to countless eclectic stalls selling everything from vintage maps, fresh herbs & spices, sweet treats & vintage clothing to fill anyones closet. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the markets themselves, with the hustle and bustle you’ll get a whole new vibe for this part of London and who doesn’t love a few coloured houses along the way right
2- House Hunting in Notting Hill
If you’re checking out Portobello market then you’re already in the perfect spot to do some #housegoals house hunting. Made even more dreamy due to a little film with Hugh Grant & Julia Roberts and a little blue door, houses in this part of London go for millions of pounds, and while you may be on a diet of pasta & rice to make the most of your travels looking at these beauties is absolutely free and make for some good house inspo for your dream pad one day.
3- River Strolls
When you think of London you likely think of amazing architecture, double-decker buses & likely the crowds. London is one of the most visited cities in the World (for good reason) but sometimes you just need to escape the hoards, hustle & bustle. If that’s the case then look no further than the canals. Specifically the waterways that stretch from Camden Lock (and market) along to Little Venice. Enjoy the peace that awaits you out of the market and stroll behind the London Zoo taking in the amazing house boats and paddlers enjoying a summers day as you make your way out a spot that will have you transported to another world (maybe actual Venice) with cafes, restaurants & pubs all on boats, swan watch & slow down before heading back to the crowded city.
4- Eye up the Royals & their gardens
Buckingham palace, aka the Queens Crib (when the flag is up of course) is a must see if even only to try to catch a glimpse of a handsome prince or tiny princess. While it costs to gain entry and take a tour, there is no cost to has a nosey around the outside of the palace. And same goes for Kensington Palace & Garden, Hyde Park, & Regents park just to name a few. Bring a picnic and set up shop on the Garden greens over the summer where you can take in buskers, performers or just soak up that illustrious English sun.
5- Bridge Hopping
Instead of “The Big Smoke” London’s nickname should be the “City of bridges”, with 20 + there will always be one close to check out. A few must see’s include- the iconic London Bridge, embrace your inner nerd on Millennium Bridge ( Harry Potter lovers will recognize this ASAP), Tower Bridge is basically a castle & a bridge, Blackfriars Bridge & Westminister just to name a few more. There's a bridge for everyone in London!
6- Take in a show at Trafalgar Square
But doesn't that cost money? Well, of course seeing something on the big stages of London's West End can cost you dearly, but have you seen the artists and performers that line up in Trafalgar Square? From floating Yodas (seriously how do they do that?) to some insanely talented musicians and dancers , on any given day/night you never know what you'll get. I personally have heard some of the best unsigned artists belt their hearts out with a loop pedal and guitar or no instruments at all! You'll be in awe as the sunsets behind the square that you paid nothing (unless you feel compelled to donate) to see such talent.
7- Museums Museums Museums
The Natural History Museum, British Museum, National Gallery, The Science Museum, Tate & Tate Modern, Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum. I could go on and on, because there are a ridiculous amount of free museums & galleries in London. For a country that produces some of the rainiest weather in the World (melodramatic? I think not) the fact that there are so many free entry museums make you rainy days a little less disappointing when you can see amazing art or feel like Ben Stiller in A Night at the Museum.
8- Street Art at it’s finest
From Shoreditch to Soho, Camden to Brixton street art is not in Short supply in London. Sneakily done up in the alleys of Neals Yard you’ll find the most adorable Princess Diana piece, In Shoreditch you’ll find brick walls covered in all different styles by all different artists. Whatever your taste is whether it be incredibly detailed portraits, vibrant colourful murals, or something completely different and unique, the streets of London have been graced by some of the Worlds best. And even better, the local street art community seems to be thriving with new pieces appearing all over the city sometimes over night, so it's always best to peer down the lane-ways and sneak down those alleys because you never know what you'll find!
9- Watch the wheel
While a ticket on the London Eye will run you upwards of £30/person who says you need to ride it to enjoy it? Personally I love the city skyline with a view of the massive ferris wheel, no matter the weather it’s always such a great focal point situated along the South Bank of the Thames surrounded by so much going on that you’ll never be bored. Sunset is by far my favourite time to see the London Eye, talk about putting on a show!
10- Changing of the guard
While dates for this change (so do yourself a favour and check before you plan) it’s one thing that is definitely a must see for those visiting London. This military ceremony has made England even more famous for it’s immaculately dressed guards doing their things to music at Buckingham Palace. Do yourself a favour and get their early to make sure you get a front & centre view of the experience.
(Above images from Lindsey of @SevenDayWeekender from https://www.sevendayweekender.com/blog/)
11- Get your Market on
Ultimately when visiting a market, especially one with food (if you’re anything like me) may pull at your purse strong to buy something. So that being said, take this or leave this but you can definitely visit a market and spend no money. If you’re into photography they can be great places to snap shots of people experiencing the market or the market stalls themselves (cue Borough Market and it’s glorious building). From Old Spitalfields, to Borough Market, Columbia Road Flower Market, Camden Market and Covent Garden Market there is no shortage around the city to get your fix.
12- Greenwich Park
What was once a former hunting park, now turned public park this lush green space is the perfect spot for a stroll, a picnic or just to watch the city from afar (and above). On top of the park and basically smack in the middle is the Royal Observatory and while you do have to pay to go inside it gives you a fantastic vantage point looking back towards the city from above giving you a whole new perspective and appreciate of London.