Pinching those Pennies in London

Travel Ideas

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Posted by Sarah

Lynda’s post has really got me thinking: London has so many great attractions on offer, but if money is certainly an object – and for most people, it is – a trip to the big city can be fairly restrictive. But that’s no reason not to visit! Whenever I find myself in central London with a few spare hours to kill (not something that happens too often, unfortunately), there are a few trusty freebies I love to fall back on.

My favourite without a doubt is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. I find something so satisfying about the fact that, although it costs over £15 for one ticket to get into the Queen’s humble abode, watching this great British ritual is free for all! Basically, the Changing of the Guard sees London’s famous red coat and furry hat donned guards swap places with a new guard in ceremonious fashion. It can be hard to catch – it takes place at 11am every alternate day most months and daily from April to July – but is really a sight not to be missed.

It’s no secret that the capital simply overflows with great museums and art galleries, but people often forget that so many of these offer free admission. You’d be surprised by how many of my friends who have been born and bred in London have never once set foot in the British Museum – and (excluding the special exhibits) it doesn’t cost a penny! I first visited on a primary school trip to see its Egyptian exhibits in the 1980s and the memory has been burned into my brain.

My personal favourite, however, is the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s officially the world’s largest art and design museum, home to a mind-boggling 4.5 million objects – and it’s right here in South Kensington. One of the V&A’s most famous – and in my opinion, most interesting – recent displays was its Kylie Exhibition last year, a show charting the Aussie pop star’s changing image throughout the last two decades. I absolutely adored it; I never guessed that I’d see those famous gold hot pants in the flesh (so to speak).

If you’re really tightening your belts, preparing a packed lunch and eating it in one of London’s many open parks is really a great way to spend some time. I really treasure the moments I spend in St James Park; few things make me happier than eating a prawn and mayonnaise sandwich, sipping a coffee and reading the Guardian’s Saturday travel supplement on its steps.

But my opinion on free delights in London is by no means the definitive one – do you know of any hidden gems in the capital that won’t cost a penny? Let us know and I’ll be sure to test it out as soon as I can. I’m sure Lynda will have plenty to share with us too as she gets to know her new surroundings – good luck in your new home Lynda!

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