LONDON: The capital of England - both geographically and fashion wise. See the iconic historical sites, the English pubs, the cute British royalty (or at least the palace where they hang out). Here we give you some tips on how not to spend all of your money here and still have fun!
How expensive is London really?
It is true that, in general, London is a lot more expensive than the rest of England (and indeed the rest of the United Kingdom). I have a great example to illustrate this: in England, students are given grants to live off whilst they go to university. Those who choose one of the universities in London get given a lot more money, which still isn't enough to cover rent in the grimiest of places!
But, luckily for you, if you're travelling through London you don't need to rent a grimy place. With our tips you can do London in style and not have to max out your credit card..
Depending on where you're visiting from (and hence how much your travel costs are), chances are accommodation is one of your biggest expenses (if not the biggest). London is so vast with so much history and culture you have to spend at least a week there, a weekend on its own won't cut it. A week in a hotel or even a hostel can be super expensive. Don't worry though, we've got you covered:
- House Sitting Yes, even Londoners have pets and go away, House Sitting is your biggest chance of free and luxurious accommodation. If you're on a budget this is the only way to stay somewhere 'classy' and London does class like nothing else. We are with TrustedHousesitters and sits for London come up at least once a week.
- Couchsurfing is another way to completely eliminate any living costs, it won't be as luxurious as House Sitting but as London is so big there's lots and lots of options.
- AirBnB, now this may not be cheaper than a hotel, but it will probably be more comfortable and with access to a kitchen. Furthermore, you may find that hotels are more expensive in certain areas, but AirBnB is not. We found this to be very true when we tried it out AirBnB in Paris.
Food Prices in London
If you look in the right places food prices are cheap because there's so much competition. Avoid supermarkets unless you find a really big one, the rule with supermarkets in England (not just London) is the bigger they are, the more likely they are to stock value/ own/ essential stuff (i.e. cheap stuff). Go for up and coming, independent places - they have a lot of competition and so can't bank on the hipsters overpaying for them.
This is what the rest of this post is about, because once you've sorted your bed and food you can address your other necessity - seeing the world. The great thing about London is that most of the iconic sites are free!!
Big Ben is arguably London's most easily recognisable feature. It was built in 1854 and is 96 metres tall.
Actually Big Ben is the nickname for the giant bell inside the clock. The actual tower itself is called Elizabeth Tower. If you're lost and looking for it though, you're probably better off asking for Big Ben, I don't think everyone knows it's called Elizabeth Tower. Or ask for the houses of parliament - Big Ben is on the end.
You can walk up her for free, but only if you are a UK resident whose booked more than 6 months in advance through your local MP...
So instead take a photo from the outside is just as good!
Right next door to Big Ben is Westminster Abbey, Joey and Chandler have been there (Chandler was Westminster Crabbey) and Prince Wills and Kate Middleton got married there. If those two facts don't interest you (why?) you may like that most Monarchs of England have been crowned here. If you don't like that then I don't know what you'd like to hear, I just like it because it's famous and the architecture is beautiful.
Entry is absolutely ridiculous (£18 for an adult, £15 if you have a valid student ID..) I thought Abbeys were God's house and were free? Humf. Entry to St Margaret's Church which is next door is free. We just settled for a photo outside.
The British Museum is great, they have everything. It was founded in 1753 and has remained open ever since (apart from in world war one and two). It was free back in the day and is still free now (though donations are appreciated). Our favourite part is all the Egyptian stuff:
I wouldn't be surprised if they have more ancient Egyptian stuff than they do in Egypt.. There are rooms and rooms of it. The best bit is of course is the really old, and hopefully dead, mummies:
Even the entrance to the British Museum is beautiful - it's really really white.
Even if mummies and white rooms aren't your thing, I can still guarantee that the British Museum won't disappoint!
The Natural History MuseumThis is the best museum ever. No doubt. If you're a fan of David Attenborough, blue whales or dinosaurs this is a must do for you (and if you're not a fan of any of these what's wrong with you)?! It's absolutely free and is fantastic!
In one room they have a life size model of a blue whale which is actually the biggest creature ever! Who knew. There's another level that's about earth quakes and tsunamis and you can stand in a room where they stimulate an earthquake for you.
Take a Ride on the London Underground
I find the underground really grubby and completely confusing, but I still love it! London is pretty big so I would recommend that you go everywhere on the underground, if you walk you'll see half the stuff and be knackered.
Other 'must do' attractions to check off your list are the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the V and A, Tower of London, Tate Modern, Madam Tussauds, the Aquarium, see a show, Camden markets, Piccadilly, Trafalgar square and so much more! Head to Oxford Street if you want the run of the mill Topshop, Primark type shops - Selfridges is there too which is definitely worth a look. Lonely Planet can help you out there.
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!