While shelling out pounds in the UK is a little tragic for us Americans used to the dollar, I was pleasantly surprised at how much excellent sightseeing I was able to do during my trip to London without spending a cent. Err, pence. From fabulous art to fantastic food markets, here’s 5 of my favorite London stops that were completely free:
The Tate Modern
A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without at least one museum, and the famous Tate Modern takes the cake for not only housing exquisite pieces of art (helllloooo Jackson Pollack), but for being positively free on top of that. Make sure to visit the balconies for a lovely view of the city.
Home to the famed Peter Pan statue as well as the Princess Diana Memorial, not to mention the lush gardens, Kensington Gardens was by far one of my favorite strolls. It’s quite easy to wile away an entire afternoon here, so pack a picnic and cross fingers and toes it doesn’t get too terribly rainy. Bonus: the lovely Serpentine Gallery is located inside the gardens, and is completely free, as well.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to visit a giant department store as a way not to spend money, Harrods is to London like Macy’s is to NYC: an institution. Plus it’s a great way to get inside and escape whatever rainstorm is surely happening at the moment.
After a leisurely stroll along the Thames River (taking in the Tower Bridge, of course), wind your way into Borough Market. I stumbled upon this foodie’s paradise completely on accident, and relished in more free cheese samples and little pieces of bread dipped in a myriad of olive oils than can possibly be good for the waistline. Yes, it’s possible to have a proper snack without spending a cent. But if you are in the mood to purchase some food, you’ll be pleased to know the market has every cuisine you could possibly imagine. I finally settled on London-made pumpkin ravioli tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese that set me back only 5 pounds.
While the palace is a great site to see anytime, I especially encourage you to go during the changing of the guards. Currently happening at 11:30am (although be sure to check the time before you go), this ritual is a classic sight to behold and completely city specific…kind of like waving to the Pope while visiting Vatican City, or waiting outside your favorite Broadway theater for the actors to sign your Playbill whilst in New York.
After all the money you’ve saved sightseeing, you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing cocktail at one of the best bars in London, or really splurge and do afternoon tea, a true English past time.