1. Sip on a glass of bubbly at Tower 42
While The Shard might be taller, and the London Eye boasts a fantastic view of the Houses of Parliament, Tower 42 wins at value for a view of the city that is just as stunning. It’s free to head up there as long as you have a reservation at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar on the top floor, and spend at least RM 60 (GBP 10). We hear it costs RM 150 ++ (GBP 25) just to feast your eyes on ‘The View From The Shard.’ If you’re unwilling to splurge, Tower 42 is the choice for you.
Address: 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HN, United Kingdom Phone Number: +44 20 7877 7842 Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 6pm. Closest Tube stations: Bank, Liverpool Street Prices: A flute of champagne starts at RM 84 ++ (GBP 14) Visit their website here
The glittering Tower 42 offers a fantastic view of London. Photo credit: Thinkstock
2. Spend a day at the Natural History Museum
There are plenty of free museums in London, but our favourite is the Natural History Museum. This magnificent building will sure to amaze you with its collection of delights and oddities, from a full-size whale replica to the egg of an extinct elephant bird. The museum is known to host the Wildlife Photographer Exhibition annually, which is a definite must-see, while every winter the immensely popular ice-skating rink is set up on the grounds. We recommend you avoid visiting on weekends as it can get incredibly crowded.
Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7942 5000 Hours: 10am – 5:50pm daily Prices: Admission is free Nearest Tube station: South Kensington Visit their website here
Drink in as much knowledge as you can at the Natural History Museum of London. Photo credit: stephen boisvert / Flickr
3. Delight your tastebuds at Borough Market
London has no shortage of amazing markets, but Borough food market is certainly one of the best – no doubt because of all the free samples! Wander around and stuff yourself silly with bits of cheese, as you soak up the vibrant atmosphere and admire the wide range of goodies from across the globe. We recommend you check out the oyster bar! If you’re still feeling peckish after that, drop by Elliot’s Café nearby for scrumptious dishes created with ingredients sourced directly from Borough market itself.
Borough Market Address: 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7407 1002 Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, 10am – 5pm. Friday, 10am – 6pm. Saturday, 8am – 5pm. Prices: Admission to Borough Market is free Nearest Tube station: London Bridge Visit their website here
Elliot’s Café Address: 12 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7403 7436 Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm. Saturday, 12pm – 4pm and 6pm – 10pm. Prices: Mains range from RM 30 ++ (GBP 5) to RM 90 ++ (GBP 15) Nearest Tube station: London Bridge Visit their website here
Admire the vibrancy of colours at Borough Market. Photo credit: Victoria Rachitzky Hoch / Flickr
4. Get a dose of art at the Tate Modern
Previously the Bankside power station, the massive Turbine Hall used to house enormous power generators. Now, however, it’s home to Britain’s most highly acclaimed art gallery, featuring installations such as The Weather Project, a setting sun that wowed visitors in 2003. The Tate’s main collection is free to enter and boasts artworks from an impressive repertoire of artistic luminaries, including Picasso, Matisse and Rothko. Spend a whole day here getting your dose of culture!
Address: Bankside, London SE1 9TG, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7887 8888 Opening hours: Monday – Thursday & Sunday, 10am – 6pm. Friday & Saturday, 10am – 10pm. Prices: Admission is free, except for special exhibitions Nearest Tube stations: Southwark, Blackfriars, St Paul’s Visit their website here
Marvel at masterpieces by great artists the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Rothko at the Tate Modern. Photo credit: InvernoDreaming / Flickr
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5. Get high up at Tower Bridge
Oft confused with London Bridge (a less glamorous bridge further west), Tower Bridge is so much more than just a way to get to the other side of the River Thames. The walkway across its top was initially intended for pedestrians to use when the bridge’s middle section is raised, but was quickly shut when it was transformed into a haven for prostitution. It has since been opened again as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which features a newly installed glass floor that offers a view of the traffic below to make your knees go weak, as well as a view of the nearby Tower of London.
Address: Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2UP, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7403 3761 Opening Hours: April – September, 10am – 5:30pm. October – March, 9:30am – 5pm Prices: RM 49 (GBP 8) for adults, RM 24 (GBP 3.90) for children Nearest Tube station: London Bridge Visit their website here
The majestic Tower Bridge is more than just a way to cross the River Thames. Photo credit: Thinkstock
6. Take a walk along the South Bank
Depending on the time of your visit, the South Bank can be either enchanting or a nightmare. Avoid the section near the London Eye during summer weekends, as it gets overcrowded with tourists and is almost impassable. At dusk, however, watch the strip in front of the Royal Festival Hall come alive as the lamps illuminate against the stunning backdrop of the city lights. Simply magical! If you’re taking a stroll in the day, have a quick browse at the pop-up book market in front of the British Film Institute. While you’re there, we also recommend catching a classic film.
British Film Institute Address: Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7255 1444. Opening Hours: 9:45am – 11pm daily Prices: Tickets go for RM 71 ++ (GBP 11.75) for non-member adults & RM 36 ++ (GBP 6) for Youth under 16 Nearest Tube stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross Visit their website here
South Bank is open 24/7.
Stroll along the South Bank for a charming tour of London. Photo credit: Thinkstock
7. Paint the town red in Hoxton and Shoreditch
If you’re looking for a wild night out on the town, make as the locals do: head down to Hoxton and the nearby Shoreditch. The area is famous for its painfully hip bars and restaurants. For some quality grub, check out one of the many Vietnamese joints on Kingsland Road, affectionately called Pho Mile, such as Cây Tre or Mien Tay. Try your hand at table football at Bar Kick or for a more unique experience, check out The Bridge, a café adorned with heavy red curtains and weird statues popular with late-night revellers after 11pm.
Bar Kick Address: 127 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JE, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7739 8700 Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 11am – 11pm. Thursday, 11am – 12am. Friday, 11am – 1am. Saturday, 12pm – 1am. Sunday, 12pm – 10:30pm. Price: Mains start at RM 36 ++ (GBP 6) Nearest Tube stations: Shoreditch High St, Hoxton, Old Street, Liverpool Street Visit their website here
The Bridge Address: 15 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8AA, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 34892216 Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday and Sunday, 12pm – 1:30am. Friday – Saturday, 12pm – 2:30am. Prices: Approx. RM 120 ++ (GBP 20) for two Nearest Tube stations: Shoreditch High St, Hoxton, Old Street, Liverpool Street Visit their website here
Check out Hoxton and Shoreditch for a rolling good time.
8. Hang out with the pelicans in St James’s Park
Hyde Park might be larger and Regent’s Park has its own open-air theatre, but St James’s is probably the most beautiful. If you’re looking to get away from the frenzy of tourists outside Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, step into the tranquil oasis of St James’s and maybe have a cup of tea or two while watching the birds. The park is famous for its resident pelicans, which were gifted to the United Kingdom by a Russian ambassador in 1664. They’ve been known to sit on the benches next to visitors, so watch out, you might just lose your lunch!
Address: St James’s Park, London SW1A 2BJ, United Kingdom Phone: +44 300 061 2350 Opening Hours: 5am – 12am daily Prices: Admission to the park is free. Nearest Tube stations: District, Circle, Victoria Visit their website here
Enjoy the beautiful view of Horseguards in St James’s Park. Photo credit: Thinkstock
9. Have a spot of tea at a posh hotel
This definitely won’t be cheap, but it’s well-worth the price for a luxurious afternoon indulging in a well-loved British pastime. The Ritz is famous for its afternoon high tea spread, which comes with classic English sandwiches and scones. Unfortunately, it will set you back about RM 303 ++ (GBP 50) per person. However, just next door at The Wolseley, you can find similarly stunning surroundings and fantastic silver service for almost half the price. Many other hotels also serve afternoon tea, just don’t forget to book reservations in advance!
The Ritz Address: 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7493 8181 Opening Hours: Tea is served from 11:30am – 7:30pm Prices: Afternoon tea set goes for RM 303 ++ (GBP 50) per head Nearest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus Visit their website: The Ritz
The Wolesley Address: 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7499 6996 Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 3pm – 6:30pm. Saturday, 3:30pm – 5:30pm. Sunday, 3:30pm – 6:30pm. Prices: Afternoon tea set goes for RM 154 ++ (GBP 25.50) per head Nearest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus Visit their website The Wolseley
Indulge in some top-notch silver service as you sip on your afternoon tea.
10. Hop on a Duck
There’s plenty of options if you’re looking to get onto the River Thames. One of the cheapest – and probably fastest – is to board the Thames Clipper, which costs around RM 30 (GBP 6) and is payable with your Oyster card. But if you’re looking for a more fun alternative (albeit slower), hop on the London Duck Tours, a tour company that runs a fleet of amphibious vehicles called Ducks. Fun fact: these vehicles were originally used in World War Two! The tour begins on land, introducing you to famous London landmarks, which then ends with a dramatic splashdown into the Thames and a fine tour of the river.
Thames Clipper Address: Clipper House, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14 0JY, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7001 2200 Opening Hours: 6am – 12pm, departs every 20 mins from major piers Prices: RM 29 ++ (GBP 5) Nearest Tube stations: Waterloo, Embankment Visit their website here
London Duck Tours Address: 55 York Rd, London SE1 7NJ, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7928 3132 Opening Hours: 9am – 5:30pm daily Prices: RM 145 ++ (GBP 24) for adults, RM 96 ++ (GBP 16) for child/youth under 17. Nearest Tube stations: Waterloo Station, London, South Bank Visit their website here
These amphibious vehicles have served England for well over 70 years! Photo credit: Martin Pettitt / Flickr
Read more: 5 tips for a budget-friendly trip to London
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Originally published February 2016 and updated on August 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.
Adapted from an article originally written by Lewis Packwood for Skyscanner.