London on a budget?

So you’re in London with barely enough money for a pint of beer and some fish and chips… what can you do to entertain yourself for the day?

I recently found myself in just this situation while I was visiting London for a weekend trip. I had a Saturday afternoon to spend doing whatever I wanted, but it had to be on a budget. After a little looking around, I discovered that there is an amazing number of things you can do in London for free. My Saturday afternoon was going to be fascinating after all.

My first stop was the Portobello Market in Notting Hill, and on Saturday afternoon, it’s packed with people looking for a bargain, or people just wandering and sight seeing.  Getting there is actually easy, especially if you take the Underground – you only need to go to Notting Hill Gate Station, and then just tag along with the crowd. The market is only about five minutes walk from the station, and you really can’t miss it as pretty much everyone seems to be going to the market on Saturday. The best part about using the Notting Hill Gate station is that as you head north, the market street is all downhill from the station.

© londoncyclist – flickr.com

The cool thing about the Portobello Market is its diversity. You can find so much here from antiques to brand new things, and even high fashion. My favorite section though was the second hand stuff I found between Cambridge Gardens and Goldbourne Road.  This was at the far north end of the market, and it’s loaded with some excellent second hand bargains that the tourists never seem to discover since it seems that they never make it down this far. My bargain was a lovely second hand jacket for 5 Pound – a perfect fit, and something that I needed on the cool day.

The market was a busy and crazy place, so I decided to end my day with a visit to Primrose Hill. I had two choices, take the Underground or a bus. I debated a bit – I could take the number 31 bus, or get on the Circle Line at Ladbroke Grove. I opted for the Underground and went as far as the Regent’s Park Station. From the station, I headed north on foot through Regent’s Park and on up to Primrose Hill… where I was surprised to discover one of the best views out over the city I’ve ever seen on my trips to London, and best of all it was completely free.

London is an amazing city, and you really can have a great time when you visit, especially if you are able to discover one or two of those memorable spots like Primrose Hill.

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