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London: Oodles of Bargains If You Know Where To Look

By Genevieve Richards

They say that trying to find a bargain in London, recently named as the second most expensive city in the world, can be like looking for a needle in a haystack – unless you know where to look, that is.

If you are like me and want to soak up a little culture during your holiday, London has oodles to offer - much at bargain prices, some at no cost at all.

Unlike most other cities in the world, most of the big galleries including the National Gallery, TateGallery, and Tate Modern; and museums such as the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the British Museum, to name a few, are free to the public. You can visit as many as you like, as many times as you like during your stay. For further information about London’s museums and exhibitions visit www.netlondon.com

Buckingham Palace

For a glimpse into the annals of history visits to the numerous palaces in and around the city is a must. Buckingham Palace, situated at the end of the Mall, is the official London residence of the Read Jamaica hotel reviewsQueen. Kensington Palace, in the heart of Kensington, is probably my favourite of the royal residences.

The gardens are magnificent (it is situated on the grounds of Kensington Gardens) and the palace, which has been a royal residence for more than 300 years, is lovely. Parts of the palace, once home to Diana, Princess of Wales, remain a private residence to members of the Royal Family today.

Another of my favourites is, without a doubt, Hampton Court Palace. Situated outside London in Surrey, Hampton Court is hailed as the “the Greatest Palace in Britain”. Visits to the Tudor Kitchens (set up as if preparing food in the 16 th Century), the Georgian Rooms and Henry VIII’s State Apartments are included in the tour and give insight into the life of pomp and splendour experienced by England’s past King’s and Queen’s.

The Tower of London

The palace gardens are also not to be missed – there are over 60 acres of gardens to explore, including the world-famous Maze and the recently restored Privy Garden.

Tower of London

Another of London’s must-see paying attractions is the Tower of London. According to official Tower of London literature, the Tower “has been the setting for many great events during its 900 year history as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, arsenal, mint, menagerie and jewel house”.

See the Crown Jewels, take a tour with the word-famous Yeoman Warders, known as the “Beefeaters” and visit the Scaffold Site and Tower Green where three British Queens were executed, Anne Boleyn among them.

Although you will need to pay an entrance fee into both Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London, each costing £10.80 at the gate, you can buy joint tickets to both for £17.50 (roughly $31.50). Visit www.hrp.org.uk for further information.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Walking Tours

Because London is so deeply steeped in history almost every street in the Capital is of historical significance. Walking tours are a good way to see the City and learn more of what this exciting city has to offer – the history, the architecture, the geography and whatever else is of interest.

London’s oldest walking tour company, The Original London Walks, offers – among others - the following walks: Shakespeare’s London, The secrets of Westminster Abbey, Darkest Victorian London, Ghosts of the West End, and Jack the Ripper Haunts.

Most walks last around 2 hours, cover roughly 2 km (1 mile) and cost £5.50 (roughly $9.91). There is also a discount walkabout card for numerous walks. Visit london.walks.com for further information, or if you feel adventurous enough to undertake self-guide walks visit london-footprints.co.uk

Culture and History

The city’s abundant churches also offer a peek into the rich culture and history of religion in the UK. Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral are the two most celebrated examples, and All Hallows London Wall and St. Andrew are two lesser known churches but of equal historical importance.

One of London's famous double-decker buses

All Hallows London Wall is bounded by one of the few remaining sections of the original London Wall; and St. Andrew is the largest parish church built by St. Paul’s Cathedral architect, Sir Christopher Wren.

Personally, I always take a tour of every city I visit, usually by bus, as soon as I arrive. This way I am able to get a general feel for the city without being overwhelmed by how much there is to see. This is also a great way to plan your visits to each attraction – as you go by on the bus (and listen to the commentary) you can decide whether or not this venue is worth a more in-depth visit in the future.

The Bus Network

Getting around the city via the London bus network, despite the traffic, is a good way to see how the city is laid out, how it is all connected – and this is especially important in a city such as London where there is an entire underground transport system.

Tube stops that are on different tube lines may seem miles apart while in reality they are within easy walking distance, and although London seems immense you will be very surprised by how easy it is to walk from, say, Covent Garden in the West End through Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Green Park all the way to Knightsbridge.

Travel cards can be bought at all London Underground stations and selected newsagents, and are for use on both the Underground and all public transport busses. To save a few extra pounds buy daily, or even weekly, travel cards. Go to the Transport for London website on www.tfl.gov.uk for all bus and tube travel news.

Diverse Cultures

The city’s numerous markets are also a great way to experience the diverse cultures of the city, or to perhaps pick up a small holiday keepsake. The most well-known and eclectic markets include the internationally famed Portobello Road antiques market (which in addition to antiques and coins also specializes in food, vegetables and clothes); the fashionable Brick Lane market; foodie-heaven Borough market; and the Spitalfields fashion market. For further information on these markets, and others, visit www.londonfreelist.com

While London is undoubtedly the most expensive city in the European Union, not all holidays here need break the bank. There are so many “bargains” to be found in London, and all it takes to find them is a bit of diligent searching and the determination to enjoy all the city has to offer, be it at a nominal charge, or for free.



Genevieve Richards




Genevieve Richards
was born and educated in South Africa and has lived in London since 1995. A graduate in public relations and journalism, she is
now a freelance writer.



 

 

 

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