4 Great FREE Experiences for the London Student
So you’ve just moved to London to pursue your studies. For many of you, it’ll be the first time moving out and doing whatever you like, and what better place to do that than in London? Unfortunately, having the freedom also means that you may have to spend more to keep things exciting. However, fret not. There are still plenty of things to do and see in London that will not burn a hole in your wallet, and best of all, some of them are FREE!!
If you’re looking for a refined and culturally stimulating day out, then one of the big museums in London could be the place for you! Many of London’s world-renowned museums are located in South Kensington. The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum are all conveniently clustered together leaving you spoilt for choices.
There is also the famous British Museum situated near Tottenham Court Road, which is free to enter and occasionally even runs free exhibitions. Not far down the road, there is the relatively unknown Hunterian Surgical Museum located near Holborn, where the Royal College of Surgeons is, for those who can stomach looking at preserved human and animal specimens.
For art lovers, there is the Tate Modern (closest station – London Bridge) offering several floors of contemporary artwork from well-established artists as well as emerging ones. There’s plenty to see and the exhibits change so frequently that it’s worth coming back every now and again to see what’s new! If you still have a thirst for more, there’s also its sister gallery Tate Britain at Pimlico. The world-renowned Saatchi Gallery which houses its fair share of controversial works of art and exhibits, is another place to observe new talent from around the world.
The National Portrait Gallery in the heart of Trafalgar Square is more of an art museum containing historical paintings (mainly portraits) of famous or important British figures. With over 10,000 paintings, it’s sure to keep you enthralled for the day.
My first time walking down the different markets in London was an amazing experience because I never knew the how much a blending pot of cultures they were! If you’re looking for a food market to satiate your palate, the Borough Market (closest station – London Bridge station) is probably one of the best. As well as offering fresh produce for grocery shoppers, there are also flower shops, food stalls, a preserves market and the odd stall selling crafts and household décor. Two of the most popular stalls are Kappacasein with raclette as its most popular dish, and The Wright Brothers, one of the best places for oysters! Having tried them first-hand, I can definitely tell you the long queues are worth it!
If you’re looking for the more exotic, then Greenwich and Camden markets are more up your alley with both offering more choices of foods, merchandise and souvenirs all scattered around the area. The interesting thing about Camden is the diversity in the several small markets that form it. They’ll surely keep you occupied!
For the more edgy, Bricklane and Spitalfields are the places to be. These markets lie closest to Liverpool street station and there’s a plethora of stalls segregated in multiple areas once you walk towards where the main stores are. The stalls are interesting because they have things that range from products that people skillfully make themselves to vintage clothes and antiques.
Speaking of which, if you’re more interested in looking at items of antiquity then there is the Portobello market at Notting Hill. As well as there being stalls with antiques, there are also shops filled with historical items, which in themselves can be interesting to have a look at, somewhat like an open air museum, the difference being you can buy the exhibits!
Lastly it’s important not to forget London in Christmas! Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, a combination of a carnival and a market is one of the busiest places around during the Christmas season. Alternatively there are also two markets adjacent to each other in Southbank. While the one by the Thames is similar to Winter Wonderland in terms of food and products, the one behind the Royal Festival Hall is more of a world foods market.
4. Parks and Skylines.
Perhaps you’re looking to snap the perfect panorama of London, or you just want a nice view to go along with your date. Whatever the case, gazing at the skylines of London is something you should have done once in this life, whether or not you live in London!
Greenwich Park lies in East London. It’s a great park to wander around in the summer or spring and has the Royal Observatory for those interested in astrology. At night, there is a green laser beam marking out the Meridian line, but what takes people’s breaths away is the amazing view of London’s famous building all laid out like on the postcards sold in the tourist shops dotting London. Nearer to the City, there is Primrose Hill, which is a short walk away from Regent’s Park. The stunning view and quiet atmosphere amidst benches and trees make this the perfect place for dates.
I shouldn’t even have to mention Hyde Park as its notorious status has reached even those outside of London as the location for venues and festivals for its sheer size and convenience right in the center of London. You can get to it from many different directions ranging from Paddington to South Kensington, and there’s even the novelty of the Serpentine Gallery positioned right in the center if you suddenly feel like exploring a gallery whilst strolling through a park!
With such a vast list of things to do in London, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes and preferences though it’s also worth mentioning that you should try everything once before you decide. You never know, perhaps you’ll develop a liking for something you never thought you would!