Living in the South East means that we’re able to pop into London with relative ease, thanks to trains which go directly into the city from our local train station. Husband and I had a rare day together in the Christmas break and we decided to go to London for a bit of quality time together. Being the festive season, we didn’t have a huge amount of spare cash, so we set aside a budget of £75 to see if we could have a great day without spending too much. We’d looked up hotels near the Shard to see if we could find a super cheap place to stay, but it wasn’t in the budget this time.
The first expense was our tickets; from where we live, two off-peak railcards which let us travel in and around London cost £46, which obviously took up a lot of our budget, but this just meant that we had to be more creative about what we did while we were there. Our first stop as Borough Market. We didn’t realise, but we actually spent a good hour walking around before we decided to find somewhere to eat, just taking in the sights, sounds and delicious smells of the place.
We’d heard about The Breakfast Club from someone we know who works in London and it’s just a short walk from Borough Market by London Bridge, so we headed there for their famous “Cabbies Breakfast”, a bargain at £7.50 each. It’s a really quirky, cosy little spot to eat and we really liked the place. It didn’t feel too London, if that makes any sense at all?! The food was delicious and finding a meal of this size for less than a tenner each is pretty much unheard of in London.
By the time we’d finished eating, travel and food had set us back £61 all together, so we needed to find something free or cheap to do in the area. The most obvious choice? A museum! However, we chose a museum with a difference – The Old Operating Theatre Museum.
Entrance to The Old Operating Theatre Museum was just £6.50 each, which was within our remaining budget and we both have an interest in history and medicine, so it was the perfect place to go. The museum is actually located inside one of the turrets of St. Thomas’ Church and contains an amazing array of old medical bits and pieces. After the climb on a very narrow and steep spiral staircase, the spacious area at the top holds the wonders of medicine as practised years ago. We had a lovely time, learning about the history of the place and seeing the apparatus, some of which looked like torture devices!
With just £7.50 left in our budget, we decided to go for a little wander around, doing some window shopping and grabbing a coffee while we walked. After a while, we headed back to the station to begin our journey home, really pleased that we’d managed to have a really full, fun day out in London, on what we thought would be a tight budget. But actually, if you’re thoughtful about where you go and how you spend your money, it’s possible to have a great day out in central London without spending a fortune.
If you know of any hidden gems which are either free or very cheap to visit in London, do leave me a comment below as I’d love to repeat the experience. We may even take the girls with us next time, if we’re feeling VERY brave!