HOW TO ENJOY YOUR STAY IN LONDON WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
London is often considered to be an expensive city to take a break in. UK holiday rentals in the capital are pricier than similar properties in other areas – this is due to the popularity and magnitude of this great city. With so much to see and do you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s just too costly to take a vacation in London. But not everything here costs the earth! There are UK holiday rentals in the capital for all budgets and plenty of free (yes, that’s right – free) attractions and events to keep you busy whilst you are here. So, let’s explore what the big city has to offer, leave your wallet in your pocket – the best things in life are sometimes free.
A Day (or Night) at The Museum
London has over 250 museums and many are free to enter – walk through the doors and be transported to the past. Head to the Natural History Museum – brave the earthquake simulator and say hello to the enormous T-Rex. Marvel in the fine-looking antiquities on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A as it’s known). Find out all you could possibly ever want to know about the city at the Museum of London and check out the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum. There are large museums and small museums, some are very well known, such as the Imperial War Museum (take a look at the Spitfire and Harrier Jump Jet), and some are a little more obscure – be sure to look out for the skeletons at the Grant Museum of Zoology. A few of the museums even hold late night opening so you can enjoy a stroll around the exhibits following your dinner.
A Stroll in The Park
With plenty of green spaces to break up the high-rises and commercial units, London has its fair share of parks and recreational areas. There are eight royal parks and a whole host of other places where you can throw down a picnic blanket and while away an afternoon. One of the most well-known is Hyde Park, near to Kensington Palace. The Grade I-listed park sits proudly in Central London, split in two by the Long Water and the Serpentine.
If you like the idea of sharing your green space with the local wildlife then you must pay a visit to Richmond Park and Bushy Park. Both are home to deer (there are over 300 at Bushy, and they enjoy roaming freely around the park).
St James Park also has its share of visiting creatures – you can expect to see owls, woodpeckers and bats flying around – if you happen to be visiting at 2.30pm keep an eye out for the pelicans, they are fed each day at around this time. Looking for something a little more low-key? Wimbledon Common has ponds and a windmill, there’s also a nature trail for you to explore. If you have packed your trainers take an energetic stroll of go for a calorie-burning jog (time to burn off a few those pounds picked up whilst enjoying the delectable cuisine on offer in the capital), enjoy the sights and fresh air as you make your way around the greenery.
Don’t Forget the Kids
Those of us with children in tow know the problems associated with vacations – a constant stream of “Can I have?” “I want/need/must have,” and endless questions about “Are we nearly there yet?” and “What are we doing today?” Children can be adorable to holiday with, but they can also be very expensive travelling companions! Arm yourself with a few freebie ideas that are sure to delight the youngsters and give your wallet the day off!
First off head to one of the inner-city farm parks. Mudchute Farm and Park and Vauxhall City Farm both offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with an assortment of creatures (Vauxhall has ferrets, bunnies and even alpacas)! Next stop is Kings Cross, there are trains a plenty and the buzzing atmosphere will keep you all on your toes, but you’re here for more than that – you’re here to see Platform 9 ¾. You’ve read about it, you’ve seen the movies and now your children can discover this special entrance to a magical world in real life. A word of caution – don’t let them get carried away and run at it with a particularly heavy luggage cart! It’s worth mentioning there is a gift shop here (full of wands and Hogwarts school jumpers, amongst other mystical goodies), so this trip might not be as free as you hoped if you venture inside!
Need more inspiration? Playgrounds offer the perfect place for your children to let off steam and get away from the electronic gadgets and gizmos that seem to be permanently attached to their hands.
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground has an enormous wooden pirate ship (we’ve heard a rumour it belonged to Captain Hook), send your child on a voyage of discovery as they sail off into the sunset! If you like the idea of getting back to nature visit the Tumbling Bay Playground – there are rickety bridges to negotiate (safe but lots of fun) and rock pools to splosh in, oodles of entertainment for zero cost!
Must See Events and Attractions That Are Totally Free!
There’s lots going on in and around the capital, Buckingham Palace has the immensely popular (and free to watch) changing of the guard ceremony – a visit to London would not be complete without witnessing this spectacle. Take a moment to watch Tower Bridge rise up and open to allow boats to pass through and pet the lions that languish in Trafalgar Square (don’t worry they are made from stone and perfectly harmless)!
Pay a visit to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, designed to express Diana’s spirit and love of children, the fountain sits in the Southwest corner of Hyde Park and was opened by the Queen on 6th July 2004 to commemorate the life of the People’s Princess. In the mood for something a little more serious? London is home to the Supreme Court (the final court of appeal within the UK) and if you fancy flexing your legal brain you can go along and watch one of the cases as it unfolds.
It’s also worth checking out what’s on in terms of festivals and events around the city. The Crystal Palace Festival is a yearly celebration of arts, heritage and culture, located in a pleasant area in the south of London. Or take a look at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, where you can enjoy five days of innovation in the form of practical activities and interesting talks.
Take in The Views
Whilst you’re in London try and absorb as much as possible, the city looks very different depending on where you are viewing it from, so check out different vantage points. Amble up Parliament Hill (at the top of Hampstead Heath) and take in the amazing vista or take a stroll through Greenwich Park and sample the view of the River Thames and the heart of the city.
Keep in mind that London is a diverse and vivacious city, you can see so much by merely wondering through the streets and neighbourhoods. Visit the markets, browse the stalls and pause to watch the entertaining street performers. Soaking up the atmosphere of the capital is a past-time you can’t afford to miss.
Endless Free Fun For All
There are so many free things for you to do that we simply can’t list them all here! Walks through the city (pay a visit to Brompton Cemetery and pay your respects at the grave of Suffragette Emily Pankhurst), stroll through Epping Forest (look out for rare plants and odd insects), relax in the Barbican Conservatory -complete with its exotic fauna, and sample a moment of pure calm at the Kyoto Japanese Garden located in Holland Park. Lose yourself in the ruins of St Dunstan Church, which was bombed during the blitz, or marvel at the magnitude of the British Library – where you will find a copy of every book printed in the U.K and Ireland (plus many that have been printed overseas). That’s a whole lot of books!
London really does have it all and although we can’t promise your trip will be cheap, we can promise that once you are here there’s plenty on offer if you want to have a fantastic time – and stick to your budget.