London city may be synonymous with the 2012 Olympics, but just because the excitement of the Games is over, doesn’t mean the city is any less popular a destination. Traveling to London city isn’t often top of a backpacker’s to do list, but as any visitor will confirm, that’s a big mistake. The infamously expensive city can be surprisingly manageable on a budget and is certainly alive with adventure: the list of things to do in London on websites such as Smartsave.com is there to show it.
For starters, the city is very backpacker-friendly, with lots of inexpensive hostels, bed and breakfasts and cheap hotels spread throughout. The public transportation system of Underground trains and buses whisks visitors almost everywhere they might want to go and travel-passes, in the one or seven day variety, help save money for those who enjoy a packed agenda. Bikes are even available to rent with the city’s Barclay Cycle Hire, an easy to use system that allows anyone to cheaply rent a bicycle for up to 24 hours.
Although eating out can get expensive in any city, London’s many green spaces offer beautiful picnic spots where tourists and residents alike revel in the mild temperatures, verdant landscapes, and local events. Centrally located and expansive Hyde Park is full of activity, yet large enough to comfortably accommodate its many fans; the lake and rose gardens are particularly noteworthy. Another popular spot is royal Richmond Park, home to over 650 tame deer that roam freely. Over 1,000 hectares offer a nature-filled respite from busy city life. Favourite places to buy picnic supplies include countless little gourmet grocery stores, as well as London’s many food markets, of which Borough Market is a food lovers’ dream. And if rainy weather makes picnicking impossible, a hearty pub lunch just about anywhere or spicy curry in the Brick Lane area can satisfy both taste buds and budgets.
Shoppers who are looking for more than food will be pleased to hear that London city is famous for its many markets, of which Portobello Street Market is perhaps most well-known. There antique-lovers can peruse the many stalls and shops for just what they’re looking for. Camden Lock is pitched at younger shoppers, with art stalls, fashion, and trendy little eateries packed together in a labyrinth of activity. And market lovers would be amiss if they failed to visit Covent Garden, a slightly more upscale market first designed in 1632.
If the London city visitor isn’t too preoccupied with eating and shopping, the plethora of free museums and attractions will certainly fill up any leftover time! Almost every interest is catered to, from the relics of empire at the British Museum to the quirks of contemporary art at the Tate Modern, the dinosaur bones housed in the Victorian-era Natural History Museum to the National Portrait Gallery at favourite gathering spot Trafalgar Square.
More costly attractions like the musicals of the West End and the historical dramatics of the Tower of London city usually offer discounts up to 50% through a variety of online vendors and tourist-information kiosks.
And of course many of London’s most famous sites — Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, South Bank, to name just a few — are absolutely free to walk around and admire.