Being a student abroad, I am always looking for discounted and free activities to do when traveling. London is one of the best places to find cheap activities that still allow you to get a feel for the city. From museums to markets, there is no shortage of places to see. London is also unique in the fact that so many places can be enjoyed by different people. Whether you are a fan of books, music, art, or food, these places are for you!
1. The British Museum
The British Museum is home to millions of years of history. From Greece to Rome to Egypt to Asia, this museum has nearly all. It houses parts of the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, Samurai armor, and more. This is a place anyone can easily spend hours at. I have visited the museum twice and still have not seen it all! Then again, as a big fan of Greek mythology, I keep finding myself lingering in the Greek and Roman exhibits. If you are only in London for a short time, it might be worth checking out their exhibits beforehand online; however, they also have great guide maps that will walk you through the museums greatest treasures.
2. Southbank Book Market
Markets in general are an excellent place to visit in London. I have already mentioned Borough Market in a previous blog about Harry Potter, but that is certainly not the only market in the big city of London. A quick google search will give you plenty of options to choose from, but the Southbank Book Market is one that I just happened upon one day. This is truly a market for everyone; they sell books, art, music, and more. There seems to been end to the merchandise, and if that does not interest you, there is usually a food market just beyond the books!
Theatre is huge in London, and if you can, I highly recommend going to a show. So far, I have been to seven or eight performances and not one has disappointed me. Musical or play, London does theatre right. Thus far, The Book of Mormon has been my favorite show, but I recently saw the play Noises Off for class and that one may have taken the lead. There are also so many different shows that you are bound to find one that is just right for you, and a great thing to keep in mind about London theatre is that tickets do not have to be expensive. You can always check the box office or the TodayTix app for great deals!
Yes, I did just type Harrods. It can be an extremely cheap activity if you have the willpower to not buy anything! Whether you go to shop or just look around, Harrods is such a cool experience. Clothes for all ages, toys, books, jewelry, and food are just a few categories to shop there. I walked through every floor (even the bedding!) and had such a wonderful time seeing everything the store has to offer. I did have drag my friend away from “Shoe Heaven”; shoe lovers, beware the temptation! Tip: if you can plan to go to Harrods during the Holiday season, it is a lovely bonus that will be sure to get you in the spirit.
5. National Portrait Gallery
As I do not have a trained eye for art, the National Portrait Gallery was my favorite art museum to visit. While it does have works by great artists, the focus of this gallery is the people in the paintings. This makes it accessible to not only art enthusiasts but book, music, and history enthusiasts as well. Some of the people featured in the museum are Shakespeare, The Bronte Sisters, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Queen Victoria, Henry the VIII, Virginia Woolf, and Vanessa Bell. It was a great visit because those who cared more about art and art style were able to study those while others were able to go around and search for authors, musicians, chemists, physicians, and political figures.
There you have it, my top five must do’s for anyone visiting London. Whether here for a semester or a weekend these are sure to make your trip!
Cassandra Jones is an English and Secondary Education student at Illinois Wesleyan University studying abroad in London for Fall 2019. Cassandra is a keen Lacrosse player and a lover of literature. She is very excited about finding ways to keep her passions alive in London and sharing them through her blog posts. Keep checking back for more of Cassandra’s blogs here.