London, the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, with its rich history, aesthetic architecture, and dynamic presence is a poet’s refuge, a shopper’s paradise, and a lover’s dream.
Albeit, one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, it has something to fulfill everyone’s taste and budget. And there’s little wonder as to why every soul should visit this constantly evolving and astounding city at least once in a lifetime.
Table of Contents
- Pubs and Restaurants
- Tourist Destinations
- Night Life
- Final Words
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While most people would think that a luxurious city like London would have few accommodation options for those with a slightly less budget, the truth is far from that. There are a variety of hotels, apartments, and hostels that one can choose from depending on their pocket size and tastes.
Among the swanky hotels are Blakes Hotel, Cadogan Hotel, The Lanesborough, The Ritz, The Savoy, The Regency House, and Claridge’s. Each of these guarantees a quintessentially English experience rich in history with subtle touches of modernity. With stunning décor and flawless service, each promises to make your stay unique, memorable, and magical.
For those who cannot afford a royalty lifestyle, there are hotels that offer an unforgettable experience at a more affordable price. These hotels include The Gore, Beaufort Hotel, Ibis Budget Hotels, and Hampstead Guest House.
You could also stay in one of the many hostels offering rooms for extremely affordable prices. Dover Castle Hostel, The Queens Hostel, and Astor Kensington Hostel are just a few of them, and they can be booked on Booking.com. Additionally, you can find lots of affordable places on Airbnb.
Summer Hack: Some university dorms in London offer affordable accommodations during the summer. Since students usually move out during the summer break, student residences rent out these rooms to travelers. Just do a search for “London residence summer stay” and you’ll find a few options. Prices may range from £35 to £80 per night with access to kitchen facilities.
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Pubs and Restaurants
As one of the key tourist destinations in the world, London is full of world-famous landmarks, museums, shopping streets, theatres, and restaurants.
To truly enjoy this majestic city and its wonders, one needs plenty of ample time. London pubs can be found on every corner. However, unlike American bars, British pubs usually limit their offerings to drinks at the bar (no food) and tipping is not expected.
If you’re in the mood for a tasty English breakfast, head over to the Regency Cafe near Westminster. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the Regency Cafe offers breakfast, lunch, and evening specials for less than £7.50.
Craving international food for less than £10? Check out this list with some of the best cheap eats in London.
As a multicultural city, London offers plenty of trendy restaurants to choose from. The good news is that in the UK, your restaurant bill will usually include tax and service, so no need to do any mental gymnastics after a long dinner with friends.
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If you plan to stay in London for a few days, get the Visitor Oyster card. With this pre-loaded smartcard, you’ll be able to use the London bus, Tube, and other public transportation.
There are daily caps of approximately £8-10 per day depending on where you go, so you will never overpay for these services.
And, if you still have some money left on the card by the time your London trip is over, you can get a refund. Just make sure to plan ahead and get this card before you arrive in London.
Also, avoid spending £40 on a London tour bus. Take London bus #9 to see London’s main attractions (Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, and more). It will only cost £1.65.
If you prefer to walk and explore, there are plenty of places in London where you can do that. Just plan on wearing comfortable shoes because you’ll be spending a few hours exploring all the sights. Whether you choose to explore on your own or join a free London walking tour, this beautiful city will surprise you.
No trip to London is complete without visiting Buckingham Palace. Sadly, it is open to the general public only from July to October. It is however completely worth the wait. The public is allowed access to the Queen’s Gallery and the 19 State Rooms including the Throne Room and the Ballroom. The Queen’s private apartments, swimming pool, and garden are unfortunately off-limits.
Westminster Abbey is one of Britain’s finest Gothic buildings. It has played host to coronations, funerals, and marriages of British monarchs and is a must-see tourist location.
Here you can also find the royal tombs of 30 kings and queens including Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots, King Henry V, and many others. Tickets to visit Westminster Abby are £24 for students and £27 for adults.
Another architectural landmark that you cannot miss is the Clock Tower. Also called Big Ben, this famous building was completed in 1859, but is currently undergoing the biggest conservation in history.
London Eye and Other Landmarks
Other landmarks include the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and The London Eye, which is the world’s largest observation wheel that allows you to view the city in all its glory. It will cost nothing to admire all these landmarks from the street, however, riding the London Eye usually costs around £38 per adult. Families will pay less.
If you’re looking for a free alternative to the London Eye, then head over to the Sky Garden. Featuring 2 beautiful restaurants and bars, the Sky Garden offers some of the best views in London. You can also reserve free tickets online.
London Museums and Galleries
London is full of museums and art galleries, and most of them are completely free. The British Museum, which exhibits works from across nations and times, is also one of the best and most affordable places to experience a typical British Afternoon Tea.
At the British Museum Great Court, you will find traditional tea sandwiches, scones, pastries, and macaroons. There’s also a variety of teas, wine, and other beverages to choose from. The cost is approximately £24 for this experience, and it’s open daily from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm.
All national museums and galleries, including the British Museum, are free to the general public.
Other museums to see include the National Gallery, which houses one of the greatest collections of European paintings; the Tate Modern, which houses modern art; and the Science Museum, which is dedicated to the scientific developments of the past 300-odd years or so.
And, of course, you’ll find Madame Tussaud’s, the world’s largest wax museum housing wax statues of prominent personalities from across the world.
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London offers one of the best shopping experiences in the world. Head to Carnaby Street, a pedestrian shopping destination in the city of Westminster where you can find a variety of shops, restaurants, and pubs.
Also, you could choose from the 2km long Oxford Street, which is probably London’s busiest shopping area, to Regent Street to the more upscale Knightsbridge, Mayfair, and Chelsea areas.
Of course, if you want to keep your costs down, window shopping might be the way to go. And London offers some of the best window shopping experiences around the world.
Harrods and Harvey Nichols are undoubtedly the most popular departmental stores in London. Soho is the area to shop in for music-related products, and Bond Street is perfect for designer clothes and other expensive items.
London is also world-famous for its bustling markets, where people go not only to find rare, genuine bargains but also just for the experience. Camden Passage, Chapel Market, Leather Lane Market, and Portobello Road Market are just a few of the many markets that this city is filled with.
After a day full of exhausting sightseeing and shopping, you need some rest and one of the best ways to do this is to party in one of London’s many clubs and bars including Fabric, Cargo, and 93 Feet East.
But if partying is not your style, you could spend your evening watching a performance in one of London’s many theatres or laugh your guts out in one of the many comedy clubs here or simply enjoy a quiet meal in one of the cafes across town.
London truly offers a multifaceted experience. Its streets merge the past and the present into a beautiful, rich fusion. Vibrant, exciting, and beautiful, London is THE place to be.
The truth is London is not the cheapest destination in the world, however, exploring this exciting city should not cost you a fortune. Just try to book affordable accommodations, join free walking tours, visit free museums and galleries, and take advantage of all the cheap attractions. You’ll have an amazing time!
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About the Authors: John Thenappan is a Londoner and true travel lover. He was also a chief editor for his website London Stopover, where you could find London tourist information. Denisse Romero is the founder of MacQuil.com. As a frequent traveler, she’s always looking for the best travel opportunities.