Category Archives: England

15 Things to do in Liverpool On the Cheap

Albert Docks | Things to do in Liverpool

Visit Liverpool – it’s one of England’s friendliest cities. This northwest English city has the right balance of cheese and class with things to do for every type of tourist, traveller, and city breaker.

Put on the map as the birthplace of the Beatles, a visit to their story is definitely a must-see, but there is so much more to Liverpool than just the Fab Four.

Here are my tips on things to do in Liverpool, some of which will help you swerve the stag parties.

The majority of the following cheap Liverpool activities come in at under £20 so they won’t break the bank.

Although we can’t be responsible for the bar tab!

Fun Things to do in Liverpool

1. Albert Docks

Take a stroll along the docks while popping in to see the Fab Four at the Beatles Story, Andy Warhol’s work at the Tate Modern and look out for the 18-foot Liver Birds which soar high in the sky.

The female bird is watching out for the sailors at sea and the male is gawking at the pubs in the city!

Albert Docks | Things to do in Liverpool

2. Ferry ‘cross the Mersey

Sorry, now you have that song in your head.

An informative boat trip across the River Mersey cruises past Liverpool’s ‘Three Graces’, the Port of Liverpool Building, the Cunard Building and the iconic Grade I Liver Building at Pier Head.

A narrator shares stories over the speaker of Liverpool’s industrial and cultural past. A boat ride is definitely one of the recommended things to do on Liverpool docks.

Those interested in boats should check out the Maritime Museum too.

  •    Address:  Liverpool L3 1BY
Ferry | Liverpool Things to do

3. The Beatles Story

The Strangers, Gerry and the Pacemakers and of course The Beatles, Liverpool is home to the beat so no trip to the city would be complete without some kind of music-related activity.

Since Merseyside was the hotbed (and stage) for bands in the ‘60s there are many options for music fans.

Don’t forget to pack your JBL clip travel speaker US / UK for your apartment party!

A visit to the Beatles Story is one of the most popular things to do in Liverpool and it will not disappoint.

The walk-through audio museum lets you plug in and zone out as it talks you through the band’s life, from the Quarry Men to the present day.

Beatle fanatics can even visit Paul McCartney’s childhood home in the suburbs at 20 Forthlin Road.

  •    Location: Britannia Vaults, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AD
The Beatles Story Liverpool

4. Beatles Walking Tour

You can also learn more about the Fab Four and the shenanigans that went down on Matthew Street during this 2-hour walking tour!

It only covers 1K in distance so your dancing feet will be primed for the night ahead.

The magical mystery tour takes visitors to the outside of the infamous Cavern Club where the Beatles played just under 300 times.

Other bands such as Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Merseybeats and national treasure, Cilla Black also took to the stage here.

5. Twist and Shout at the Cavern Club

The Cavern Club is a cheesy choice in the centre of Liverpool. It was made famous by those who graced the dance floor as well as the acts that performed on its stage which makes it one of the prominent points of interest on every Liverpool itinerary.

The Cavern on Mathew Street is open seven days a week with free entry in the morning.

Visitors can get sweaty while listening to cover bands playing songs from the sixties as well as other genres.

The Grapes pub, the popular haunt for the sixties celebs, is over the road from the Cavern.

Note: this is stag and hen party central.

  • Address: 10 Mathew St, Liverpool L2 6RE
The Cavern Club | Liverpool at night

6. Take a Selfie with Cilla

Lennon, Star, McCartney and Harrison are not the only musicians to come out of Liverpool.

The host of the original Blind Date and two UK number one hits, Cilla Black, stands waiting outside of the Cavern for a snap – one of your free things to do in Liverpool.

If you are in Liverpool this September you can catch Cilla the Musical at the Empire Theatre.

Cilla Black Liverpool Statues

7. Boozy Brunch in Liverlpool

Duke Street, and the streets surrounding, is a cool area for bars and restaurants including the only place to eat the most important meal of the day, Brunch Club.

This hipster cool café has doors for wallpaper and does tasty breakfasts with a glass of mimosas, perfect hair of the dog.

Brunch Club | Liverpool Restaurants

8. Visit Liverpool for the Food

Brunch is not the only meal to look forward to. Liverpool’s food scene caters for every taste and one of my favourite meals was the least expensive, Japanese food at Tokyo at 7 Berry Street.

The portions are massive.

Other popular restaurants include Mowgli Indian Street Food (Bold Street or Water Street), One Fine Day (Cotton Exchange, Old Hall St) and Ma Boyle’s for British food (7 Tower Gardens).

Tokyo Japanese Food Liverpool

9. Look at the Loos…

…of the grand ornate pub, The Philharmonic. It’s not uncommon to see girls nipping into the men’s with cameras.

  • Address:  36 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BX
The Philharmonic Liverpool Pubs

10. Sneak to a Speakeasy

Hidden down an alley, you may think there is something a bit fishy about Jenny’s Bar at first glance but once you are through the front door you will be faced with a 70s cool bar that serves potent yet tasty cocktails.

Live DJ spun music at this ‘disco drinking den’.

  • The Old Ropery Fenwick Street, Liverpool L2 7LS

11. Sip and Soak up the Sun

There are quite a few beer gardens or bars with rooftops in Liverpool where you can enjoy a pint in the sunshine. Kazimier Gardens is centrally located and bustling.

Across the road is a great cocktail pub that does 2-4-1 during the day!

No stag or hen parties in sight.

  • Address: 32 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BE
Kazimier Gardens Beer Gardens Liverpool

12. Karaoke in Liverpool

One of my favourite things to do in Liverpool at night is hit the mic!

While Mr Ho’s karaoke joint has closed its shutters, MBox offers private

13. 24 Hour Party People

The party never stops in Liverpool, unlike Manchester or Edinburgh the disco continues after the chip shops close. Heebies Jeebies (80-82 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BH) is a fun split-level nightclub open until 4am and the bottom floor plays all things indie.

I’d like to apologise to the DJ for continually giving him an earful for only playing male indie, still not acceptable mind you!

Many of Liverpool’s gay bars are open until 4am/5am including GBar (1-7 Eberle St, Liverpool L2 2AG).

14. Baltic Triangle

‘Two years ago you would not be walking along this street’, a local tells us.

The Baltic Triangle, which takes in Jamaica Street, Greenland Street and Upper Parliament Street, is a gentrified area of Liverpool located a 15-minutes walk from the city centre.

Shops, restaurants and a local modern-day market are tucked into containers and warehouses, filled with art, music and cool-looking people.

Liverpool is now my tenth visited UK city and it has gained a firm top 3 position as one of my favourites, Glasgow and London are just too hard to beat.

I honestly cannot describe how friendly the city is, the music runs through its veins from Mathew Street to the Baltic Triangle and the variety of food and drink options make choosing a challenge!

15. Liverpool Stadium Football Tour

Visit behind the scenes inside one of the world’s most iconic stadiums, Anfield, during this 1.5-hour tour.

Run through the Player’s Tunnel, visit the changing rooms and learn about the history via an audio guide

Tours include entry to the Club’s interactive museum, The Liverpool FC Story, and you also get to see all six European cups.

A must for football fans.

Superfans might prefer this Anfield tour with former player Q&A.

Getting to Liverpool

  • Liverpool’s Lime Station has great rail links to London (2 hours), Manchester (30 mins) and Edinburgh (4 hours).
  • Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport has a 24-hour bus to city connection.
Liverpool Points of Interest

Getting Around Liverpool

You are rarely more than 8 minutes away from your next destination (according to Google Maps), making by foot the best way to get around the city.

If you like to get your bearings and learn about the city before diving into your independent Liverpool itinerary, there is a hop-on/off bus that drives around Liverpool attractions as far as Penny Lane.

Hotels in Liverpool

City centre Liverpool hotels range from £85 for the cool cruise ship-style hotel, the Liner at Liverpool, up to £500 at the Z Hotel.

Hostels in Liverpool

Like every city, there are hostels for those on a tighter budget or looking to socialise.

Hostel dorm beds in Liverpool range from £22 at the Liverpool International Inn – 8.3 rating, light breakfast included (weekend rates, weekday prices are cheaper) to £36 at the YHA Liverpool, bar onsite – 9.0 rating, check out the best rates and availability here.

There are 15 hostels in the city, check out Hostelworld for more choice.

For availability and the best rates click here

Pin to your Liverpool board to save for later!

Things to do in Liverpool including the Beatles, beer and boats | Visit Liverpool

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Tower of London Guide: Tips for 2021

Tower of London guide. flags, blue skies

The Tower of London is an historically important London activity visited by thousands of locals, tourists and school students every year.

While the experience of visiting London’s attractions has changed of late, there are still lots of fun things you can do in the Big Smoke including a trip to see the UNESCO World Heritage White Tower and the exquisite Crown Jewels!

Here’s our Tower of London guide so you can prepare before visiting. As always, we packed in budget and time-saving tips so you can get the most out of your trip.

Read next | How to get to Harry Potter Studios in London

1. The Tower Of London Is Not Tower Bridge

This is a huge mistake that people make!

Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London is a 1000 year old living fortress located at St Katharine’s & Wapping. 

Tower of London and London Bridge

Tower Bridge is a Bascule and suspension bridge over the River Thames. An iconic image in London’s skyline but not where you’ll find the famous ravens.

2. You Can Visit By Boat

While there are three tube stations within walking distance, a unique thing to do in London is arrive at the Tower of London by boat!

Boats arrive at Tower Pier from Greenwich, Westminster and London Eye piers. Tower Pier is next to the main entrance.

The journey lasts around 30-40 minutes and takes in other London highlights too. A great timesaver.

You can also get to the Tower by public bus, hop-on/off sightseeing bus or cycle but there is no on-site parking.

Tower of London and London Bridge Map

3. Yeoman Warders aka The Beefeaters

There are two different types of people in uniform you will want to visit during your trip to London. 

Firstly, the foot guards who protect Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. These are the people in the redcoats and the big furry hats called bearskins.

It’s highly unlikely you’ll see them smile.

Secondly, the Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London also known as Beefeaters. 

Their uniform typically consists of a red watch coat, Tudor bonnet and a sometimes a cheery disposition!

The Yeoman Warders are officially called Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.

There has been talk that these guards may face redundancy as the Tower, run by Historic Royal Palaces, a self-funded charity, has been hit like much of the tourism industry in the UK.

Love London? Check out our London gift guide

London Guards and Beefeaters

4. Meet The People Who Live INSIDE The Tower Of London

The Yeoman Warders aren’t just in the Tower to tell you about it. 37 live in the Tower with their families. 

Men and women with over 22 years experience from the Armed Forces can be sworn in as a Beefeater.

This tradition has taken place since 1485 and there is a Chief Warder too.

Previously, the Warders policed the prisoners at the Tower and also the famous crown jewels.

Today, they are there to act as ceremonial guards. 

Tower of London Beefeater Guard

5. Yeoman Warders In Action

For over 700 years the Warders have shouted ‘Halt! Who goes there?’ every night as the keys to the fortress close the Tower for the night. The Chief Warder carries the keys.  

This performance is called the Ceremony of the Keys and has taken place since 1340 when Edward III was annoyed that he could simply walk into the Tower without any hassle. He instructed that security be improved.

Mary I was also paranoid about security and put pressure on Warders to man the fortress by foot, day and night.

Other ceremonies include The Constable’s Dues where the Constable of the Tower receives dues (barrel of wine, brandy or rum) from ships mooring at Tower Wharf. 

6. The Largest and Purest Diamond Lives Here 

The Crown Jewels includes a 530.2 carat diamond; security is tight around it as you can imagine!

Remember, the Tower guards are real and they are armed.

The crown jewels collection also includes 23,578 gems.

Visitors can also see HRH The Prince of Wales’s Investiture Coronet which is a 24 carat gold crown with the 4 Crosses Patées and the 4 fleur-de-Lys.

Head to the Jewel House to see the Royal Collection bling.

7. Tower Of London Executions And Imprisonment  

The Tower Of London was not built as a prison, however hundreds of sorry souls who were seen as a threat to national security found themselves imprisoned here.

Edward I built a Traitors’ Gate for prisoners to pass through to avoid any security breach at the other entrances.

Some prisoners were sentenced to death at the Tower. If the axe was carried facing backwards during the convoy from Wesminter, the prisoner was to meet his death.

10 people were beheaded on Tower Green, three of which were former queens of England!

Today at Tower Green you will see this quote at the memorial.

Gentle visitor pause awhile: where you stand death cut away the light of many days: here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life: may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under there restless skies.

8. Ravens Rule The Roost 

Legend has it if the Tower of London ravens leave the Tower then the building will crumble and the monarchy will collapse.

King Charles II passed a law to say there must be six ravens at the Tower at all times.

Ravens aren’t the only animals at the Tower; this fortress was once home to the very first zoo in London (1200s to 1835).

Today you can see installations of the poor animals who couldn’t survive the cramped conditions.

Tower of London Raven

9. The Tower Of London Opening Times 

Currently, The Tower of London is open from Wednesday through to Sunday from 10am to 6pm with last entry at 4:30pm.

Most areas are open to the public.

This includes the Crown Jewels, Bloody Tower and the White Tower. 

Tower of London guide. flags, blue skies

10. The Tower Of London Tickets 

Now is the best time to visit the Tower of London.

For safety, there is a limited number of visitors allowed inside the Tower each day so reserve a ticket before you travel.

Since the ticket office is not open at the time of writing, pre-booking online is essential.

While we’re talking about spending money, did you know that the country’s mint used to be made at the Tower?! 

Final Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Tower of London tips and facts. You may also find out London on a budget post useful.

Save for later! Pin to your London board

Tower of London, things to do in London, London activities, London itinerary, what to do in London, Tower of London photography, Tower of London history, Tower of London Crown Jewels, London bucket list, London photography

This post was created in partnership with GetYourGuide. We personally use GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. We have been partners with GetYourGuide since 2018. Many thanks to the company for looking out for content creators and treating them with the respect they deserve.

How to Get to Harry Potter Studios London? [SOLVED]

Hogwarts street sign and lamp

If you are an avid Harry Potter fan, then you will have read the books and seen the films. You don’t ever want that magic to die, so what’s next? Now it’s time to visit the Harry Potter Studios. London is a mecca for those who love all things, Harry Potter, and fans can even visit the set! This guide details how to get to Harry Potter Studios from London. 

» You may also like: 7 budget travel hacks for London

Harry Potter model with wand

Why Visit Harry Potter World?

This is the only place to go and see the making of Harry Potter and experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Behind the scenes, you will be able to wander in the footsteps of the actors who were made famous by these films, and a wee inside secret for you, often you can bump into these actors who love to revisit these studios again and again. 

Some of the extras who were in the films, are now guides for the tour and are full of information that you have always wanted to know! As you wander through the film lots, you will be on a treasure hunt for Golden Snitches. 

You can learn to ride a broom, have your pictures taken in Hagrid’s Hut, watch in wonder as the Dragon breathes fire at any who try to steal the treasures of Gringotts and see the spiders in the Forbidden Forest. 

Is it just for kids? 

No! I am a 40 something and I have done the Harry Potter Studios Tour in London, five times now. 

Each time I go, there is something new to see, but don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself. Muggles and No Majs welcome!

» Can’t make it to London? Why not try this virtual tour of Harry Potter?
Find out more in my virtual tours guide!

Where is Harry Potter World?

Traveling to and finding Harry Potter World London, is an adventure in itself. The studio is located 20 miles outside of central London in a place called Watford. 

Most visitors don’t want to hire a car and attempt to drive on the ‘wrong side of the road’ and on top of that try to navigate the biggest car park in Britain, more commonly known as the M25. 

With this in mind, I have put together a list of ways to get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter leaving you plenty of time to explore and enjoy the Making of Harry Potter, London.

Harry Potter glasses and book

How to Get to Harry Potter Studios UK

London is a huge city, with more train and tube stations in the heart of it than you could imagine. 

Navigating these can be somewhat of a magical puzzle if you are visiting. A simple way of avoiding these busy places is to go by coach. 

Here are a few options for you to choose from. 

Harry Potter Studio Tours from London

1. Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour and Transfers

Taking the Harry Potter bus from central London for this magical full-day tour of the Warner Brothers Studio, you are taken to the studios and then brought back to the original pick up point. 

This ticket includes your round trip transportation and your entrance ticket. Board the bus at 4 Fountain Square, 121-151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SH

From $109 or £85. This depends on how far in advance you book your ticket | Check availability here

As this tour is likely to sell out, there is a slightly more expensive option and also from Victoria Station in London.

2. Harry Potter Tours from Victoria Station

With this tour, a luxury coach will collect you from Victoria Coach Station in London, take you to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford, then take you back to the point of origin. 

The ticket includes your round trip and entrance ticket. Buses depart from Victoria Coach Station, 164 Buckingham Palace Road. 

From $110 or £86 again depending on how far in advance you book your tickets | Check availability here

With both options, when you arrive you will have your entrance time all booked. 

This ensures that there is no waiting in lines to get in and begin to explore the magical world of Harry Potter.

If you are traveling as a family of 4, you can opt for the following.

3. Harry Potter Family Package with Transfers from London 

Taking the bus from central London for this full-day tour of the Warner Brothers Studio, you are taken to the studios and then brought back to the original pick up point. 

This ticket includes your round trip transportation and your entrance ticket. Board the bus at 4 Fountain Square, 121-151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SH. 

For two adults and two children under 15. Prices are $460 or £360 | Check availability here.

Another option for getting to the Warner Brothers Tour London is a private transfer.  

4. Harry Potter Studios and Private Transfer from London

Experience the magical world of Harry Potter on a tour of the Warner Bros. Studios north of London. Benefit from round-trip transport by private car rather than on a coach.

You meet in front of Starbucks Coffee on the corner of Baker Street and Porter Street, London.

You will be able to recognize the car by the GetYourGuide logo on the window.

This tour includes your entrance ticket as well as your transportation to and from the Warner Bros studios.

Price per person: $173 or £135 | Reserve your private car here.

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Image credit: ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.’

Public Transport to The Warner Brothers Tour London  

For those of you who wish to use the extensive public transport, this will help you navigate the train stations and give you the information needed.

Harry Potter Tours from Victoria Station

Getting to the Harry Potter Studios tour from Victoria Station can be a little more complicated. 

You need to take the Victoria Line from Victoria Station to Euston Station (both stations also have underground stops that are well signposted), which should take six or seven minutes.     

From London Euston Station

From there you get a train to Watford Junction. 

The trains depart from London Euston station every 30 minutes. A return ticket from London Euston to Watford Junction costs around $27 or £21. 

From Watford Junction to Harry Potter World

From Watford Junction, there is the Harry Potter Shuttle Bus, which will take you there and back. 

These buses run every 20 minutes. The cost is $4 or £3. 

You must have a valid day ticket from the Studio Tour to use this service. 

Harry Potter World Prices

The Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour is the pinnacle of all things Harry Potter. As you wander around what can only be described as the Harry Potter museum, you can see all the props, costumes and parts of the sets used. 

The Harry Potter Studios tour ticket pricing is as follows:

  • Adult: 16+ $57 or £45.
  • Child 5-15 $47 0r £37 (must be accompanied by an adult)
  • Family. 2 adults & 2 children OR 1 adult & 3 children. $186 or £148.00.

The Hogwarts ticket purchased in advance, you choose the time which suits you, so there is no waiting to get in.

» Read next: London inspired gifts, including Harry Potter presents!

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» You may also like: everything you need to know about Tower of London

About the author – Ruth is a school teacher and a travel fanatic with a bucket list that’s getting smaller.

7 Travel Hacks So You Can Enjoy London On a Budget

London Eye

I love London but my bank balance definitely does not. Always creating inspiration with affordable travel on the mind, I’ve pulled in London expats, Charlie and Kristina from MapTrotting, to share their London on a budget track hacks with us so you can enjoy the Big Smoke without a big bank statement.

London On a Budget Tips

1. Visit London Attractions That Are Close Together

This might sound like an obvious one, but planning your time in London will really help to take the stress out your trip.

There are loads of things to see and do, with attractions spread far and wide across this sprawling metropolis.

It’s easy to fall into the old trap of trying to see everything in a short time and burning out.

Plan to visit two or three attractions per day which are close to each other to minimise your travel time.

There’s no point in zigzagging across London via transport when many sights are within an easy walk of each other.

Just focus on one area each day and you’ll have a much more relaxed London experience. Attractions can usually be ‘bunched’ together into areas to make things simple.

Here are a few of the main ones:

  • Kensington – 3 amazing free museums (Victoria and Albert V&A, Science Museum, and National History Museum – 7 days a week), Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park.
  • Westminster – Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and Buckingham Palace. You can take a free tour of the Houses of Commons (Gemma actually did work experience, read about it here).
  • London Bridge – Tower Bridge, Tower of London and St Paul’s.
  • South Bank – Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and Borough Market.

2. Use an ‘Oyster Card’ Instead of Cash

The London Underground (metro) system is a great way to get around the city and travel between attractions. It’s one of the biggest mass transit systems in the world, not to mention the oldest, with the first trains running in 1863.

An average of 1.37 billion journeys are made per year via the Underground, affectionately known by locals as ‘the tube’, so it’s good to gen-up on this before visiting.

Another one of our suggested London travel hacks is to obtain an ‘Oyster Card’ to use on the Underground, buses, and trains.

It’s basically a plastic card which you pre-load with credit and then tap on the readers at stations to pay your journey fare. Getting an Oyster Card means you don’t need to stand in line at ticket machines, plus you’ll pay much less per journey than using cash.

For example, just one adult journey in Zone 1 & 2 where all the main attractions are found would cost you £4.90 in cash. Ouch.

The same journey with an Oyster Card is £2.40 (£2.90 4-7pm) and your charges will be ‘capped’ off at a maximum daily rate. Double win!

You can grab an Oyster Card at any Underground Station or in advance with the London Pass, more on that later…

3. Pedal Your Way Through London

Why not stretch your legs and get around cheaply with London’s hire bike scheme aka ‘Boris bikes’.

Visitors can collect a bike from any of the docking stations and hire for as little as £2! There are over 750 docking stations with over 1000 bikes.

Santander London Bike Scheme Docking Station

4. Seek Out the Free Stuff!

London is notoriously expensive to visit. If you’re not savvy then the costs can soon mount up, with some of the big attractions costing £20+ per adult to visit.

Thankfully there are loads of free places in London to visit at no cost to you.

So, you can save your pennies for that tacky Beefeater hat you’ve always wanted.

Here’s a quick list of a few free, or donation only, places to seek out.

Some might have private exhibitions to visit but the main collections should be free to visit.

  • Tate Modern – massive modern art gallery on the South Bank of the River Thames.
  • Science Museum – discover something amazing in their interactive exhibitions, great for kids.
  • V&A – large museum of fashion, architecture, and design.
  • Natural History Museum – explore the world’s natural wonder, also great for kids.
  • City of London Churches – whilst St Paul’s costs to enter the nearby churches are free and contain some true London hidden gems.
  • Royal Parks – amazing green spaces to chill out in and create a picnic.
  • South Bank Stroll – a great walk from the London Eye to Tower Bridge alongside the river.
  • Festivals and Events – loads of exciting free events all year round, check ahead.

While some tours are not free they are worth the investment to learning about culture in London.

Check out Black History Walking Tours and Uncomfortable Art Tours (National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Queen’s House (National Maritime Museum).

5. Explore Beyond the Centre

Most visitors only wander around close to the attractions of Central London but there is time to be saved if you head to London’s other neighbourhoods.

Another bonus is that you can escape the crowds and see a different side of the city past the tourist hotspots.

Sidenote –  Do expect to see an explosion of cultures and a mix of locals and ex-pats, London is a melting pot.

  • Richmond – (Zone 4) is a charming royal borough of London with a massive park and lots of riverside pubs to eat and drink in.
  • Greenwich – (Zone 2) is just a 30-minute boat ride east from Tower Bridge. Here you can enjoy the large royal park with a stunning view across London from the top. Also, don’t miss the daily market and handy visitors centre close to the Pier.
  • Shoreditch – (Zone 2) is now London’s hipster central and tech startup hub. As you’d expect there are lots of funky bars, restaurants, and entertainment to match plus the classic Brick Lane packed with delicious curry houses. This is Gemma’s favourite area, her business partner from Make Traffic Happen (Laura) lives there.
  • Stratford – (Zone 2+3) is the home of London’s 2012 Olympic park and the massive Westfield shopping mall. The London Aquatics Centre is now a public swimming pool if you fancy a dip.
  • Hampstead – (Zone 2+3) stroll on the epic Hampstead Heath and pretend to be in an English costume drama.

6. Secure Discounts in Advance

If you’re going to visit a few of the famous London attractions during your stay, things can quickly become expensive. Many of the most popular sights will cost between £20 and £30 per adult to enter.

Thankfully there is a simple way to save some time and money whilst you explore the sights, get yourself a discount visitor card.

A good example would be the London Pass card. Put simply, you pay a set price for the card (or now smartphone app) and can then use it to enter as many places as you like.

Doing some quick math, if you were to buy tickets for a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour, the Tower of London, London Zoo and the View From The Shard it would cost £107.79 total.

You could buy a 1 day London Pass for £66, saving you £41.79. If you buy a Pass for 3 or even 6 days the saving could really add up. Nice.

For more info on the discount card, costs, savings and suggested itineraries check out this full London Pass review.

» Harry Potter fans: here’s how to get to the Warner Bros Studios

7. London Budget Cheap Eats

It is safe to drink the tap water in the UK so buy yourself a sustainable water bottle (great for the environment too) and download the free Refill app to see which establishments let you fill up for free.

A great way to keep food costs down is to visit one of the many markets that run throughout London.

You can try cuisines from all around the world every Sunday at Brick Lane – poutine (Canada), arepa (Peru) and curries (from varies countries).

Filling your belly without lightening your budget!

London’s largest market, Camden Market, is also popular with locals and visitors.

It’s open every day from 10am and has over 1000 stalls filled with food, art, crafts, clothes and records. Buskers keep the vibe alive too.

Frank’s Cafe can be found nestled behind the Tate Modern and sells ‘lethal fry-ups, an excellent hangover cure.

A secret ex-pat tip is to follow the workers in suits at lunchtime to find the economic sandwich shops before heading to one of London’s many parks for a picnic.

London Budget East Brick Lane Market

 » » Going green? Check out Two Scots Abroad’s go plastic-free products review « « 

8. Cheap Accommodation In London

I know it sounds like the UK’s city that doesn’t sleep but you will need to rest your feet and lay down your head to re-energise for the next day of sightseeing but at first glance, you may be thinking, damn accommodation is expensive.

Here are a few hacks to help you out:

1. Consider a cheap hostel in London with the Youth Hostelling Association’s (YHA) six hostels. They are in central areas such as Oxford Street and St Pancras.
2. Not a fan of dorm beds? St Christopher’s At The Village has cool capsule beds so you can sleep in private in a multi-bed dorm. Private rooms also available but more expensive. Click to see.
3. Airbnb in Zones 2 and 3 are your most economical option. Be cautious of noise though (Gemma stayed near Brick Lane and doesn’t recommend it!)

London Packing List

  • A waterproof coat like this Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Comfortable shoes – Salomon Ellipse trek shoes stylish and comfy US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Anker battery pack US / UK
  • Osprey bag cover US / UK
  • Eco water bottle as there are heaps of places to fill up for free – the practical Tree Tribe US / UK
  • Or Water to Go Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK, especially if doing food markets/trucks
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some London bar hopping!

Final Thoughts

Getting to London doesn’t have to be expensive either, check out the overnight buses leaving from all over England and even Scotland – sleep while you save!

Megatrain can also provide some steals for day trippin’ in and out of London. Visitors to Europe shouldn’t be put off by London’s expensive reputation. It is possible to visit the city on a budget with these seven travel hacks.

Charlie and Kristina are the founders of Maptrotting and all-around curious travellers. Since meeting in 2009 they’ve transformed from stressed and depressed 9 to 5 types into travel-centric explorers. They are now on a mission to encourage others to ‘travel beyond the obvious’.  Catch them at Maptrotting, on Facebook and Twitter.

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How to visit London on a budget | how to save money in London | London travel tips | budget travel in London | how much to spend in London | cheap travel in London | best things to do in London for free | free things to do in London

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11+ Cheap Things to do In Newcastle

BALTIC Newcastle Great Exhibition of the North

If you’ve not visited Newcastle upon Tyne in a while you won’t recognise this northern city in England! Most Brits associate a trip to the Toon as an excuse to get tanked up in the Bigg Market but the city, and its neighbouring town Gateshead has so much more to offer than just a party (albeit socialising still makes up a big part of the city’s vibes). Craig and I (Gemma) had the pleasure of venturing down south to catch a show at the Sage Gateshead, check out the museums and have a few drinks at the cool Ouseburn neighbourhood. This guide details cheap things to do in Newcastle, we’re all about affordable travel at Two Scots Abroad!

Newcastle River Tyne

Cheap(ish) Things to do in Newcastle

It is easy to spend 2-3 days in Newcastle and Gateshead. We arrived on the Friday evening and left late on the Sunday, giving us two nights and two full days.

There is a great mix of history, art, culture, sports, music and socialising to be done in Newcastle so pack your comfiest city shoes.

1. Holy Jesus Hospital

For 700 years this building looked after the needy and sick but today it is only to open to the public on National Heritage Days (we have Open Doors Days in Scotland, I love behind the scenes opps aka time to have a nosy).

This Grade II building was not only a hospital but also a base for Henry VIII’s Council and a museum in the 70s.

  • City Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2AS

Holy Jesus Hospital Newcastle

Across the road from the hospital is stairs down the Quayside which are hidden amongst lots of trees, plants and a derelict historic building. Can anyone help me out – what is this called?

2. Get High

As always, we seek out the best rooftop bars in cities and Newcastle’s The Botanist was our go-to.

Recommended by our Facebook followers, we hiked the 76 steps to the top floor, opening the door to what looks like the Garden of Eden. The views of the city are subtle, nestled among plants and rustic wood.

Smoking cocktails come in pots and planters, very Instagram worthy – I ordered the Apricot and Peach Smash (and then two other punters followed suit).

This rooftop is roofless so if the typical British weather pours head downstairs for live music and a park in a pub vibe.

  • Address: Monument Mall, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7AL

3. Ouseburn

One of the best things to do in Newcastle is to wander around the hipster Ouseburn (Oose-burn) area down towards the water and along the Quayside, stopping for a few drinks at the bars along the way. For a bustling outdoors, pull up a pew under the big sheep street art at the Ship Inn (screens for sports indoors) or grab an empty spot of cement or grass across the road at The Cluny.

Ouseburn Newcastle

Take the path along the water, admiring the street art along the way, to The Tyne Bar for live music and end your Ouseburn pub crawl with views of the River Tyne at the Free Trade Inn (free jukebox to boot).

It goes without saying that each of these establishments offers an array of craft beers, I even managed to find a raspberry one, hooray!

The Tyne Bar Newcastle

4. The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle

This art gallery is located just before the cool Ouseburn neighbourhood and is home to the largest independent arts, craft and design gallery in the UK.

The former Victorian warehouse also hosts private parties, meetings and craft fayres. There are four exhibitions per year which exhibit approximately 250 artists each quarter so even if you’ve been before it’s always worth another look.

The Factory Kitchen serves fresh food and nice views of the city.

  • Address: 16 Stoddart St, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE2 1AN

5. Victoria Tunnel

The most interesting UK cities have a historical story underground and Newcastle joins the ranks with its award-winning Victoria Tunnel.

The Tunnel located in Ouseburn Valley used to allow the passage of waggons transporting coal from the 1840s-60s then used again during WWII as an air raid. the tour takes you underground and explains what stands above including Hadrian’s Wall!

Pre-booking is essential.

  • Address: 55 Lime Street, NE1 2PQ

6. University of Northumbria

It’s worth taking a detour through campus to see the likes of Burt Hall and the 18th century Sutherland Building (below).

Burt Hall, formally the Minors’ Association Building, was named after Thomas Burt, General Secretary of Northumbria Minors, MP and then Secretary of State of Trade.

7. St James Park

Have you ever heard of a football stadium smack bang in the middle of town? Well, that’s how they roll in Newcastle.

Newcastle United’s stadium offers tours for football fans which includes a guided tour through the changing rooms, down the tunnel and into the media room.

Since the Toon Army’s pitch is up high you also get a great view of Tyneside thrown in!

  • Getting there: 10-min walk from city centre or 5-minute walk from Monument Metro.

8. Grainger Market

Swing by Grainger Market (Mon-Sat 9am-4pm) to see local vendor sell fruit, vegetables, fish and crafts in the Grade I building standing since 1835.

If you like markets, stroll down to the Quayside on Sundays for art, fashion, plants and snacks.

Newcastle and Gateshead’s Museums

9. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Head over the Millennium Bridge to Gateshead’s contemporary art museum, BALTIC.

Just like Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, Gateshead’s BALTIC is the cool place to be.

This is by far my favourite museum in Newcastle, I knew it would be before we set foot in it for two reasons.

Firstly, it is located in a converted mill, I’m always drawn to those orange bricks and love to see buildings with history being used for something new.

Secondly, at night an installation by Tim Etchells lights up which reads ‘go with the flow/swim against the tide’ – this calls to me.

As we entered, Craig makes a Dad joke about needing a coat since it is going to be ‘baltic’ (cold) inside…

Staff advice is to start from floor five for the best views of the city and then to work your way down the exhibitions.

BALTIC Newcastle Great Exhibition of the North

My favourite floor was four, titled ‘Idea of the North’. For me, the main focus was on how the North of England is perceived by people and artists.

I really enjoyed ‘A Northern Dream’ by local graphic designer, Jimmy Turrell which is his interpretation of the daring Tyne Deck.

In the 1960s, architects Ryder and Yates initiated talks of creating a large deck to develop the decrepit Tyne riverside and unite the city of Newcastle and the town of Gateshead.

The deck would include a large concert hall (before the Sage was born) but the idea was flushed away and deemed unrealistic.

Today, seven bridges do unite the two areas, the Sage Gateshead (that big silver armadillo) which sits by the water is the city’s plush concert hall and plans to create a £200m arts and leisure centre have been unveiled.

Maybe Northern dreams do come true, just not over the water!

Jimmy Turrell Baltic Newcastle

Other exhibitions include images of The Station, Gateshead’s underground music scene by Chris Killip, a massive dome-like house which homes in on sustainable resources by the MaterialDriven collective and a storyboard about the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison who is buried in Morpeth.

BALTIC is a good starting point for the art and innovation trail too.

  • Address: S Shore Rd, Gateshead NE8 3BA

10. Sage Gateshead

The Sage Gateshead, BALTIC’s next-door neighbour, has the shape of Glasgow’s SECC but aesthetics of the Scottish Parliament wearing a snazzy tinfoil jacket.

Don’t be fooled by Sage’s music performance status, there are no sticky floors in this venue.

The plush Sage One seats just under 1700 and this is where we attended the once in a lifetime show – The Great Northern Songbook hosted by charming Northers, Field Music.

The Great Northern All-Star Band also included special guests such as Paul Smith from Maximo Park, Futureheads singer, Ross Millard, Mercury award nominee Kathryn Williams and the punk legend, Pauline Murray who sang an array of songs by Northern artists from The Police (Everything She Does is Magic) to Lindisfarne (Fog on the Tyne).

Other Sage events during the Great Exhibition of the North include a week of live music (June 22nd to July 1st) by acts such as Roisin Murphy and Vessels (Leeds), all hosted by Sunderland born, Lauren Laverne.

Great Exhibition of the North | Sage Gateshead

11. Great North Museum

Great North Museum is reached walking past Grey’s Monument and through the park at St Mary’s Place.

There are a few green spaces around Newcastle that make you forget you are in what was once a heavy industrial city.

The Which Way North exhibition held at Great North Museum celebrates the Northern pioneers from inventors to engineers, scientists and designers.

Space geeks, like Craig, will be impressed to see the spacesuit worn by the first British astronaut in space… a woman (Sheffield-born Helen Shaman). I was also happy to see Barbara Castles, the cabinet minister responsible for the UK Equal Pay Act, memorabilia.

  • Address: Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT

Great North Museum

Get the Guides

Newcastle Restaurants

For an easy lunch close to the shops head to Olive and Bean which serves salads, sandwiches and tray bakes like bookends.

City centre eats were also recommended (by a trustworthy local) at the vintage Tyneside Cinema.

Head of Steam down by the Quayside has a ridiculous amount of craft beers on offer as well as pub grub.

For an award-winning Sunday roast (choice of beef, sausages or vegetarian) dine at Tanners Arms in Ouseburn.

This pub has a nice front with seats for warmer days. Outdoor seating and vegetarian options are available at the Ship Inn also in Ouseburn as well as a Sunday BBQ at the Trade Inn.

Weekend brunch has been recommended at Ernest (close to the Biscuit Factory) too.

Tanners Arms Newcastle

Newcastle Accommodation

There is a variety of accommodation in Newcastle from hostels dorms to boutique hotels so there is something for every budget.

The city itself is easy to navigate by foot so location is not as important as it may be in say London.

Newcastle Hotels

We stayed at the modern yet affordable Motel One Newcastle on High Bridge which is close to the action of the Bigg Market yet avoid the noise on a Saturday night.

The Quayside is a 10-minute walk from the hotel with Ouseburn around 30 minutes away by foot. High Bridge street has lots of restaurants, bars and the Stand Comedy Club.

Rooms are compact with a large TV, hot water and free WiFi. There is a bar onsite and continental buffet breakfast is available for £10.

Newcastle Hostels

The last time Craig was in Newcastle for a boozy day out he crashed at the Albatross on Grainger Street because it is a 3-minute walk from Central Station.

The hostel was voted the best hotel in England by Hostelworld customers themselves. Dorm beds are priced at around £27 per night. There really isn’t that much choice for hostels in Newcastle.

Getting Around Newcastle

We discovered the city by foot (easily) but there is a metro underground system and bus service.

Bus tours are often a great idea for those on limited time.

This Hop-on/Off City Sightseeing tour includes 18 stops for £8 and this includes an audio guide, panoramic views (on a dry day!) and flexibility.

Mobikes are the nifty city bikes that don’t require any docking station so you can pick them up and leave them anywhere in the preferred locations!

The bikes are tracked by GPS and unlock through an app. Charges start at 50p for 30 minutes after an initial deposit of £1.  A wheely good idea.

Newcastle Beach Quayside

Getting To Newcastle

Newcastle International Airport is 6.5 miles from the city centre and connected by the Metro (approximately 25 mins) and bus service.

There is also a free bike park for cyclists. Train services operate from all major UK cities (train from Edinburgh to Newcastle is less than 1.5 hours and can be booked for as little as £12.30 in advance).

Essential Information

Newcastle upon Tyne is in the northeast of England and the town of the Gateshead is located over the River Tyne, the two are connected by the Seven Bridges of Newcastle.

The currency used in England is the British Pound (GBP £).

ATMs are widely available and most shops, restaurants and hotels accept all credit and debit cards. Locals are known as Geordies and speak English with a Geordie accent. Don’t forget your travel insurance.

We use True Traveller, I had to claim out in Canada after getting sick in Vancouver and they paid out promptly with no issues. Check to see if they are right for your trip here.

Two Scots Abroad Ouseburne Newcastle

Final Thoughts.

I honestly feel like Newcastle and Gateshead has hit a turning point and I’m happy that we are at the forefront of advertising this development.

Hopefully, we’ve encouraged those who have been before and those that have yet to visit that the ‘new’ Newcastle has more to offer than just a Saturday night for a stag party.

Comments or questions?
Please leave them below

Disclaimer: We were invited by Newcastle and Gateshead to review the Exhibition. As always, opinions are our own and we were genuinely excited.