English author Samuel Johnson once famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Saunter around and even the biggest cynic will find himself agreeing with Johnson. Yet it remains one of the most expensive cities in the world so here I am presenting to you some things you can enjoy without shelling a pound.
Trafalgar Square: Designed by architecture John Nash in the 1820s and constructed in the 1830s, Trafalgar Square is one of Britain’s greatest visitor attractions. Adorned by statues and sculptures, at its centre is the Nelson’s Column, guarded by four Narnia-like lions. Trafalgar Square is a favourite spot for political demonstrations. On a busy day, simply sit on top of the square and see the world go by.
Street Performers: London’s street performers are some of the best hidden talents of the city. Just opposite Trafalgar Square, you would see some incredibly talented magicians and performers enthralling the audience. What’s more? Sometimes you can become a part of the act. The West Piazza of Covent Garden Market is another spot to catch some street performers.
Art Galleries: Tate Modern and Tate Britain houses some of the finest artworks in the world. While Tate Modern has an enviable collection of modern art, Tate Britain focuses on British Art from 16th century onwards. The National Gallery on the northern side of Trafalgar Square has some of the best works from Western Europe from 1250 onwards. Masterpieces include Botticelli, Titian, Raphael and Michelangelo.
Museums: London’s museums are some of the best and free attractions. My pick is the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. This Victorian building houses some of the weirdest and wonderful things of the natural world while the Museum of London brings London’s past from the Roman period to today colourfully alive.
Westminster Abbey: The Abbey is a large, mainly Gothic church that attracts and welcomes people from all faiths. A treasure trove of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts, Westminster Abbey is where some of the most important people from Britain’s history were buried or commemorated.
Parks & Gardens: Undoubtedly, London has some of the best parks and gardens in Europe. My favourite is the St. James’s Park due to its close proximity to Buckingham Palace. A perfect spot to soak in the warm summer sun (we wish!) and get re-acquainted with your inner self, the vibrant flora and leafy vegetation can bring a sense of calmness to the most agitated soul. Hyde Park and Kensington gardens are other favourites.
Street Markets: London’s street markets are a study in individual style and people behaviour. All markets have a unique vibe about them and offers a good chance to indulge in shameless people watching. Camden town, Portobello, and Brick Lane are some of the famous ones.
British Library: Its mighty walls attract scholars and geeks all the time. But did you know that it also displays literature as diverse as Magna Carta and original Beatles lyrics? Two small galleries off the main foyer also present ever-changing temporary exhibitions on literary themes. Surprise, surprise.
Free Walks: The best things in life are free as is the famous cultural walk. Explore the South Bank and the Bankside areas of London. Start at Waterloo Station and walk towards the London Eye. Overlooking the river, you will see Westminster Bridge, London Eye and County Hall. Walk further and you can see Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern art gallery. It’s the cheapest culture studies you can ever get.