- Currency: Great British Pound
- Airports: London has a number of airports. When booking flights always research the cost of travel between the airport and the city centre to compare ticket prices. Some of the airports are located very far from the centre of London and transport may add up.
- Transport: Double decker buses and the underground tube. Pick up a tube map at any station to keep in your pocket. It is also worth investing in an Oyster card if you plan on using public transport each day. Inquire at any station ticket office.
If you want to cover a lot of the main sites in one day, such as Big Ben, Tower of London, London Eye, museums, galleries, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and more, it’s a good idea to buy a ticket for the ‘hop on, hop off’ bus which allows you to get off and spend as much time as you like at all of the main points of interest. All of these sites are too spread out to walk between in one day and public transport can end up costing more than expected. You will save money by booking your tickets for the bus tour online and it usually costs around 25 Pounds for a 24 hour ticket. It also includes a river cruise on the Thames and discount entries to sites. See here for more info.
The National Gallery, Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery are art galleries that are open every day and are free of charge to enter.
Covent Garden in central London is located just off the West End and is a hub for shopping, restaurants and theatre. Even if it’s only window shopping that fits in the budget, wandering around this famous area is worth the experience. There are also markets held here every day.
Leicester Square is the gateway to Londons West End and is often compared to New Yorks Time Square for its lit up signage, crowds of people and buzzing atmosphere. Make this a starting point for a walk through the Soho area.
Harrods is a luxurious department store that serves as a landmark and monument in its own right. Although there may not be anything worth purchasing that comes in under budget, it is an interesting place to wander around when you are seeking shelter from the cold weather. Everything from clothing to jewellery, toys to electronics and exotic foods are on sale across the many levels of this giant store.
87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
The Shoreditch area in East London is notorious for its Bangladeshi population and restaurants specialising in Londons best curries. Although it was once associated with crime and poor communities, this area has now become trendy with a gritty sort of edge to it and is popular amongst young crowds for its nightlife and bar scene. Warehouse galleries and night clubs, street graffiti, markets and festivals means there’s always something to do and see in the area whether it’s during the day or by night.
Little Venice gets its name from the intertwining rivers that make up this neighbourhood just north of Paddington. Colourful boats float their way down the canal past waterside cafes and bars making it the perfect spot to stop for a coffee on a chilly day or cool down with an icy beer.
off Blomfield Rd, Little Venice, London.
The Thames Path is a trail that leads along the river bank and is a nice track to walk or run when the weather is mild. You can see many sites and bridges as you go. Get the details here.
Outdoor Ice Skating rinks are set up during the colder months and the one at Somerset House is a favourite among tourists, locals and celebrities alike. At night there are even DJ’s and bars set up for your skating pleasure. Get the details here.
Pillow Cinema is the outdoor film concept that includes comfy bean bags, pillows and blankets for your perfect date night out in London. Check locations and screenings here.
Markets are in abundance all over the city. Pick your neighbourhood and enjoy an array of cuisines, fashion, crafts and antiques:
Notting Hills Portobello market is perhaps the most famous in London and claims to be the largest in the world with over one thousand stalls. Portobello road itself is only about 1.5 km long, but you could spend the entire day wandering up and down it because there is so much to see. Lined with brightly painted terraces, boutique stores, pubs and cafes, on market days this strip is buzzing and packed with tourists looking for a unique souvenir to bring home. See details for market days and times here.
Portobello Road, London, London, W10 5TA.
Borough Markets are famous for their food stalls offering every cuisine under the sun and all for very reasonable prices. If you work up an appetite this is a prime lunch destination that will keep you under budget and is open every day except for Sunday.
8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
East Londons Broadway markets are located in Hackney and held every Saturday from 9AM-5PM. With 135 stalls you will find a huge variety of things on offer and a lively atmosphere for your Saturday.
Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ.
North Londons Camden Markets are totally different to the traditional markets that you will see in most neighbourhoods. This trendy and alternative area creates an atmosphere that’s somewhere between goth and punk that is unique to Camden. Look one way and you’ll see stalls with leather pants and biker jackets, look the other way and you’ll see a tattoos and piercings store right next to an arrangements of Turkish rugs. You never know what you might find in Camden but it is a fun and vibrant area that shouldn’t be missed on a trip to London. The best time to go is on the weekend.
54 – 56 Camden Lock Pl, London NW1 8AF
Escape the hustle and bustle of London in one of the many tranquil parks dotted around the city:
Hyde Park is the most visited park by tourists in the city. There are many famous statues and monuments dotted throughout the park and it is worth visiting even in the winter. See the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the beautifully groomed rose garden and the Serpentine river. There is also the Winter Wonderland park that is nice to visit when it’s lit up at night.
London Fields is a large park in North-East London where locals go to relax in sunny weather, play sport and go running. On the weekend there are often markets held in the park.
Hampstead Heath is another large slice of open grassy space in the North of London. It has one of the highest view points in the city from the top of its grassy hill where locals like to sit and take in the sun. In summer there are popular swimming ponds restricted to female and male bathing areas. The latter are notoriously gay and are a social scene on warm days. BYO wine and it becomes a party in the park where bikini tops are optional! In the winter it is still a lovely place to escape the busy city, take a walk and explore the different trails. The heath is so large that you could spend hours walking through it.
Day trips can easily be made from London to places like Brighton for 5-7 Pound by bus which takes just over 2 hours or by train for 20-40 Pounds that only takes 50 minutes. Brighton is a seaside town that is easy to visit if you are lucky enough to have some nice weather. There is a lovely marina to walk around with plenty of cafes and restaurants.
It is also possible to travel to the Cotswolds by train which takes about 1.5 hours and costs around 20 Pounds. The Cotswolds is a picturesque country side area of England that is famed for its rolling hills, wildlife and scenery, dotted with quaint villages. There are plenty of markets, walking trails and wildlife parks to explore. See here for more info.
London is a big city with an endless number of things to do and see. The things you want to tick off your list will largely depend on where you are staying. Base yourself closest to the attractions you consider as must-sees because the underground ‘tube’, although fast and convenient, tends to add up cost wise.
There are endless opportunities for accommodation in this big city although not so many that stay under budget. Obviously Couchsurfing is always the best option for free accommodation, but if you are following The Gap Map itinerary and stay in the city for more than a couple of days, it is a good idea to find yourself an apartment so that you can have access to a kitchen. This will save you a lot of money on eating out. Get a discount on your Airbnb booking by using this link.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel is in a great location in the Kensington area, walking distance from High Street, lots of shopping and bars. There is free wifi, fully equipped kitchen and dining room. It’s a very social hostel with a common area and options to go on organised pub crawls, movie nights and dinners with other hostel guests. Dorm rooms start at around 26 Euro a night.
191 Queensgate, South Kensington, London, England
Queen Elizabeth Chelsea Hostel is also in a convenient location in Fulham just off the Kings Road which is one of the most fashionable streets in London with expensive boutique shopping and cozy cafes. There is no kitchen and wifi only works in select rooms but there is a buffet vegan breakfast for just £1.50. There is also an in house bar with cheap drinks to kick off your night out in London. Dorm rooms cost around 15 Euro a night.
58 Bagleys Lane, London, England
Pub Love @ The Green Man Paddington is a hostel situated directly above a pub on busy Edgware Road. Located right next to a tube station there is direct access to public transport which takes only 20 minutes to get to all of the main sites. Dorm rooms are around 16 Euro with breakfast and free wifi included.
308 Edgware Road, London, England
Baozi Inn is located in Sohos China Town and serves their much loved baozi (commonly known as pork buns) with a range of fillings that cost only 1.60 Pound. Dumplings and main dishes such as noodles and rice range from 4.50-7.50 Pound. Fresh, good quality Chinese dining for a very affordable price.
25 Newport Court, London, WC2H 7JS
Bi Bim Bap in Soho specialises in the Korean dish that the venue is named after. Bi Bim Bap is a rice dish mixed with your choice of toppings including meat, veggies and a variety of sauces. This hearty meal ranges between 7-9 Pound depending on what additions you choose. It’s a warming dish that will keep you going all day. See the menu here.
11 Greek Street, London, W1D 4DJ
Brasserie Zzdel features French food at a fraction of the price. Go for lunch and find a set lunch menu of two courses for just 9 Pound. Site
20 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED
Lanzhou Noodle Bar is right in the center of Covent Garden and serves steaming hot noodles floating in a home made broth for 5 Pound. This is one of the very few places where you can watch the chef kneading and stretching the noodles by hand. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Get warm on a winters day in this little cafeteria style Asian haven.
33 Cranbourne Street, London WC2H 7AD
Tokyo Diner has a lunch special for those days when you’re craving a Japanese fix. Options include Japanese curries, noodles and miso soups starting at 6 Pound. They also do a further discount of 1 Pound if you dine between 3-6PM. See the lunch specials on page 10 of their menu.
2 Newport Place, Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7JJ.
Well Being Kitchen is a well kept secret by London locals that come to take away an Asian feast on their lunch break at work. Centrally located in Covent Garden this place is popular in winter for it’s delicious Korean soups and Japanese mains that can be yours for just 5 Pound.
232 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EG
Sagar is an Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian dishes. There is a large menu on offer here and a number of locations around London, including one at the very central Covent Garden. The lunch specials are outrageously cheap starting at just 3.50 Pound and including papadums, curry, rice and dessert. Get the details here
Kati Roll Company in Soho does one of Londons favourite lunch time meals for 4.70 Pound. Like an Indian version of the Turkish Kebab, a Kati roll is made from a home fried wrap bread similar to a crepe and filled with flaming orange chicken tikka. Get stuck in!
24 Poland St, London W1F 8QL
City Caphe at Mansion House regularly has a queue outside for one reason… the Bahn Mi. At just 5 Pound, this is a London lunch where you can get some real bang for your buck. If you’re not familiar with Bahn Mi you need to know it’s probably the tastiest sandwich you’ve ever had. A freshly baked bread roll stuffed to the brim with Vietnamese style beef, salad, herbs and sauces.
17 Ironmonger Lane, London EC2V8EY
Food Village (under cover for rainy days) and Pump Street Food market are two places in Shoreditch where you can get your street eat pleasures for cheap and cheerful prices. Everything from Mexican to African can be found here and it’s open 11AM-11PM so your cravings can be met at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
168-187 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6HU
Beigel Bake on East Londons famous Brick Lane is packing bagels full of salted corned beef for just 3.50 Pound. This hole in the wall bagel joint is open 24/7 and is an irresistible bargain that will keep you full all day (or night).
159 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB, UK
E Pellici is popular with locals in this area for their family run service and simple well priced meals. The full English breakfast for just 6 Pound is great value and the food always comes with a joke or a cheery chat with the owner.
332 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AG.
Lahore Kebab House in Whitechapel makes such good curries that people are willing to wait in line outside when it gets busy on weekends. You can smell the aromas of strong spices floating down the street before you even reach the door. Expect tender meat that falls off the bone and fresh naan made in house. An open kitchen provides dinner entertainment while you watch chefs hurry between steaming pots and chopping cucumbers at the speed of light. Mains cost between 6-10 Pound. See the menu here
2-10 Umberston Street, London, E1 1PY.
Cereal Killer Cafe
Get your breakfast fix at Cereal Killer or purely indulge in your favourite milky snack at any time of day. With one hundred different types of cereal to choose from, imported from all over the world, along with an endless variety of milks and toppings, this is more than your average bowl of cornflakes.
139 Brick Lane
Pizza Union in Spittafields is a casual, self service style eatery with a bargain not to be missed if you’re in East London. Pizzas are only 4-6 Pound so two people can easily have a meal with drinks for a grand total of 15 Pound.
25 Sandy’s Row, London E1 7HW
The Famous Curry Bazaar
East Londons Brick Lane is famous for its multiple curry houses. All of the restaurants on this strip boast trip advisor ratings and various awards so the choice can be daunting. The Famous Curry Bazaar has a small dining room and large menu with a variety of curries ranging from mild to dangerously spicy. The array of celebrity photos proudly displayed on the outside window is a testament to their popularity and quality of service. Plenty of vegetarian dishes are also available. Don’t miss the cheese naan and butter chicken.
The Good Egg is known for its Middle Eastern inspired brunches serving up all sorts of breakfast/lunch hybrids including home made pita breads, spicy chicken and baked eggs. The menu changes often and uses fresh produce. Eat your fill for about 10 Pound a head.
93 Stoke Newington Church St, London, N16 0AS.
Granary Square is a street food location in Kings Cross offering a range of outdoor vendors open at lunch time from Tuesday to Friday. All of your street eat favourites are here including burgers, fried chicken, tacos and even Hawaiian poke bowls.
Check the site for details.
King’s Boulevard, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AA.
Queen of Hoxton has become a favourite venue in Shoreditch. With three levels you can get sweaty on the dance floor downstairs, play vintage pinball with a cocktail on the ground level or enjoy views of East London from the rooftop. The Rooftop is open all year round so you can soak up the sun in summer or cozy up under a blanket by the heater in winter. There are always different events going on including an occasional rooftop cinema. Either way, this is a unique venue that is worth visiting in a vibrant area of London. See what events are on here.
1-5 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX
The Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch also has a multilevel concept offering a different music style on each so that the RnB lovers and the techno ravers can party in harmony.
62-68 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY.
Bar Kick is the best place for football fans to go and watch the game in Shoreditch. Complete with large plasma and foosball tables there is plenty of room for everyone.
127 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JE.
You’ll be out of your seat playing ping pong at this fun bar before you finish your first drink. A big venue that offers a different experience than your average London pub. Visit the website to see their events and deals. Certain days offer set menus featuring two course meal, cocktail and pool tables for 29 Pound.
241 Old St, Greater London EC1V 9EY, Regno Unito
With an outdoor courtyard that has its own original Banksy artwork on the wall, outdoor BBQ and live music, this club is a hidden gem in Shoreditch. Happy house is Monday to Friday from 5-8 PM and offers your choice of 2 cocktails, 4 beers or a bottle of wine for 10 Pound. Hosting big name DJ’s and ticketed events, visit the website to see what’s on.