The dirty little secret about London is that you can actually do a lot of awesome things without spending a penny…you just need to know how to do it right, and today I am sharing a few of my favourites.
- A lot of museums and galleries are free in London and they are actually well worth your time. From modern art at Tate Modern and dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum to what UK stole from the rest of the world and displays in the British Museum.
- Expensive sightseeing bus tours? Nah! Hop on bus number 11 or 24, take your own tour and save 15 pounds…These lines drive past the famous landmarks like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Bank of England. And they don’t come with that annoying loud guy or the live commentator that makes you awkwardly feel like you have to laugh at the bad jokes. Beware though, buses don’t accept cash, so you gotta reach for an oyster or contactless credit card for which a single bus journey is £1.50.
- There are also free walking tours. I’ve done the Sandeman New Europe free tour a few times and it’s quite entertaining. Don’t sneak off without tipping though.
- Obviously you can watch movies on your tablet/laptop, but if you feel like going to the cinema it doesn’t have to be expensive. During summer there are several free films screenings throughout the city. This July Vauxhall Park is holding free screenings every Wednesday. In winter you can get pretty cheap tickets at cinemas like Peckham Multiplex (£4.99 for a ticket) and the more central Genesis (£3.99 every Wednesday). Keep in mind that they are not uber modern cinemas, but they do have their own charms. Meanwhile The Alibi pub screens cult films every Tuesday, they might not be for everyone but hey … it free.
- Or if you are staying in London for a longer time sign up to Show Film First where you get invites to film and musical previews. It’s a first serve first go, but might be worth checking out.
- Like music? Concerts can be ridiculously expensive, but pubs like Old Blue Last, Shacklewell Arms, the Lexington, Birthdays and 100 Club often put on gigs. You might spot the next best thing and brag about it to your friends that you saw them play in that little venue. Are you more of a classical/opera type? Then head to Trafalgar Square, where occasionally show live performances from the Royal Opera House on a big screen – this could be the only place you could jump in a fountain while watching an opera!
- Every day, TV shows like Graham Norton and X Factor need live studio audiences and you can be part of it! Here are is an overview of where and how. I went to the Graham Norton Show and it’s still one of my favourite things I’ve done in London. Graham is everything you expect and more in real life and with his beard he is even more awesome.
- A free nutritious meal? With cake? Yes! You sure it’s for free? There’s no catch? Really sure? YES! As part of the Krishna Food for Life project they provide free vegetarian meals outside the SOAS uni building everyday at 1 PM – you’ll see the queue and food cart. It’s also on offer at LSE – near Aldwych and Holborn.
- Nice view of London? It’s free from the Heath and Primrose Hill. Put together a little picnic and feel like a true Londoner. You can also sign up for the Sky Garden – but promise me you only would go there for the free view – it’s a bit of a let down if you go there for any other reason!