Guest post by Hannah Wenston
London is the largest city and the capital of England, so you know there are a lot of fun things to do. Chances are, you may have splurged a bit on traveling and the hotel, so you want to save money when you can.
Why not find inexpensive things to do while you are in this beautiful city on the River Thames? In fact, the River Thames is one of the cheap attractions in London to enjoy. This guide is full of cheap (and even free) places to see! But you don’t want to bring your shopping parcels or backpacks with you as you explore. Keep them safe at a bargain-friendly luggage storage locker in London first.
Private Tour of Little Venice
For less than £5, you can take a self-guided tour of London and play a game while you are at it. Solve clues that take you on a fun adventure with a tour guide that is your phone. You will see some of the top sites while you are at it including Regent’s Canal, Rembrandt Gardens, and Paddington Waterside.
Camden Town Tour
Another tour for about £5, this one in Camden Town. It is an audio tour, so you can take as much time as you like and enjoy some awesome food as you go. The audio tour on your phone takes you on an exploration of the World Street Food Market. Visit the Diner Camden, Roundhouse, and several others.
Tower of London Tour
For just under £5, you can also get an audio-guided walking tour of the Tower of London. Start at the Monument of the Great Fire of London and see Tower Hill, Trinity Square Gardens, HMS Belfast, the Shard, and London Bridge. You can go at your own pace, with the tour lasting an average of 45 to 120 minutes.
Museums on a Budget
King Charles II ordered the building of the Royal Observatory in 1675, which had a big role in the history of navigation and astronomy with the prime meridian running through it. See the collection of tools like John Harrison’s sea watch, the Shepherd Clock, and a Russian made Fedchenko clock.
The Fan Museum
For about £5, see the largest collections of fans in the world and the first museum dedicated to preserving and showing hand fans. The building itself is a heritage site built in 1721 and it holds over 4,000 fans. The oldest one is from the 10th century. They also have a beautiful Japanese garden with a pond.
Brunel Museum and Engine House Rotherhithe
Designed by Sir Brunel, see the small museum at Brunel Engine House for under £5. The Thames Tunnel was the first underwater tunnel, which opened in 1843. Don’t miss the Grand Entrance Hall which was the first underground theater and featured live theater acts.
Founded in 1824, the National Gallery boasts more than 2,300 paintings dating back to the 13th century. For just a few dollars, you can see The Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca, Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, three paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, two of Michelangelo’s paintings, and more.
Royal Academy of Arts
Check out the Royal Academy in Burlington House, founded in 1768 and housing thousands of works of art. One of the most famous is the marble relief, Taddei Tondo by Michelangelo, left to the academy by Sir George Beaumont. You can also see The Graces Unveiling Nature by West in 1779 and Kauffman’s Composition.
National Portrait Gallery
See the most extensive collection of portraits in the world at the National Portrait Gallery, which was the first portrait gallery in the world. Dating back to 1485 Tudor portraits up to modern works, some of the popular ones include William Shakespeare by Chandos, Henry VIII by Holbein, and a self-portrait by Van Dyck.
Parks and Gardens
Opened in the 1600s as a deer park, Richmond Park is the largest of the royal parks with over 2,300 acres. It features a wildlife preserve with a variety of rare species like bats, bugs, and birds. Take a stroll through the Isabella Plantation, play golf, and watch for some of the many deer living there.
Another fantastic royal park, this one has 183 acres and overlooks the River Thames. You can stand on the prime meridian and take a look inside the Royal Observatory while you are there. Greenwich was the first park to be enclosed in 1428 and boasts many gardens like the herb garden and orchards.
Hyde Park was bought by Henry VIII in 1536 for a hunting ground but opened as a royal public park in 1637 with 350 acres. Refuel at one of the five eateries and stroll along the paths to see the Peter Pan statue, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the Italian Gardens, and Round Pond.
Bonus: Free Things to Do in London
Natural History Museum
Located by the Science Museum, which is also inexpensive, the Natural History Museum has over 80 million items. The collection is separated into zoology, paleontology, mineralogy, entomology, and botany sections. The most popular item is the giant whale skeleton in the central hall.
Opening in 1750, this historic bridge connects Lambeth to Westminster over the River Thames. The foot and vehicle bridge has been seen in popular culture like Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, and James Bond’s Spectre. Its green color is important because it was painted to match the seats of the House of Commons in 1970.
For some more contemporary art, check out the Tate Modern. The collection can be seen for free in the old Bankside Power Station. It is one of the largest collections in the world with 70,000+ items such as War from Paula Rego, A Bigger Splash by David Hockney, and Fountain by Marcel Duchamp.
Be sure to grab your camera out of your luggage before dropping it off because you will have a lot of photo ops. Sometimes your cell phone just cannot capture the essence of a place like a camera can. Either way, get a lot of shots to share with friends on social media.
A quick tip: If you have a layover or a couple of hours before check-in or after check-out at your Airbnb or hostel, consider using luggage storage in London.