The ultimate London itinerary for King’s students on the tightest of budgets
Yes, it is actually possible to have an enjoyable day out in London for only £10
The sound of people moaning about the excruciating expenses of London has become a common sound in the city and no one ever seems to have a solution. So, as the semester winds down along with our maintenance loans, you may be left wondering how you’re going to have a relaxing day away from studying with the minimal scraps of change you have left in your pocket.
While there’s no way you’re able to single-handedly prevent the inflation of a Freddo, you can enjoy a day out in London without splashing the cash. In fact, £10 may be all you need to have yourself a merry little study break.
Where to begin?
For practical purposes, let’s assume we’re starting from the King’s Strand campus. The first thing anyone should do in order to save yourself some money is to pack a lunch. It’s always wise to not spend your whole day’s budget at Brunel. To get the biggest breadth of culture, you’d want to do as many free things as possible and spend the £10 budget on the tube, which has a daily max of £8.10.
Daytime activities (Tube fare + optional £4.50)
First thing on the ballot for the day is a scenic walk along the Thames and across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern. Depending on your views on modern art, this could take anywhere from 45 minutes at a steady stroll all the way up to three or four hours.
At this point, you’re probably hungry for lunch, in which case there’s two options: That packed lunch I mentioned earlier or a cheap treat for your hard work at the Tate. If you’ve already got lunch then head back to campus where you’ll be able to sit at the eighth floor terrace in Bush House. Here, you can enjoy some panoramic views of London while devouring your packed lunch and waiting for the Michelin critics to come by.
If you’d rather spend your money for today on food then a short walk from Bush House is the famous Seven Dials Market, which is home to a plethora of cuisines from around the world and a generally jovial atmosphere. While there’s plenty of good food here, from Yum Bun and Oshpaz Dumplings to Stakehaus and El Pollote, I think the best bang for your buck is Bad Boy Pizza Society, where you can grab a massive slice of a 22″ pizza for £4.50.
If you think you have enough will power to brave the autumn cold then it’s time for the first tube of the day! Walk through the Victoria Embankment Gardens to Embankment station and take the Northern line southbound to Battersea Power station.
From the station it is a short walk to Battersea Park, the most underappreciated park in London and a great place to take in the afternoon sun. Here you can make the most of London’s depressingly early autumn/winter sunset and the painfully early 3:30pm golden hour. After decompressing in one of the many lush green spaces provided by the park, you could stop by the Rose Garden and Duck Pond on your way back to the tube station.
Exploring essential English culture (optional £6)
If you’re lucky enough to have a Student Oyster then an excursion to Battersea and back wouldn’t have dipped too far into your pocket and you can take the Northern Line back up to Charing Cross, or if you skipped the nature retreat to Battersea, then you’re already nearby.
Meandering a couple blocks away from Charing Cross station is Chandos Place, home to some of my favourite pubs in London. But don’t just take my word for it, The Harp is regularly voted as one of the best pubs in London and is laid out like a shoebox; jam-packed full of people fresh out of the office. Outfitted with a variety of cask ales and Guinness, it makes for a great spot to watch locals and experience some true London culture.
Make it a mini pub crawl
Meanwhile, The Marquis is only a couple of doors down the street, and boasts a completely different vibe. Generally filled with a younger crowd and spinning eclectic jams on the turntable (ranging from dad rock to Tame Impala), it doesn’t just feel like a hotspot for artists and musicians, it is one. Charles Dickens frequented the establishment in his time, but more recently it has played host to the likes of Oasis, and Ed Sheeran has even been rumoured to make the occasional appearance.
After a surely entertaining visit to Chandos Pl. you can weave through the streets and restaurants a few blocks over for a night-time visit to the National Gallery. These collections could keep you occupied for hours, even days, depending on your museum visiting style, but if you get bored you can always head over to the National Portrait Gallery right next door. Visiting these galleries at nigh is truly magical, as if you’re part of a new instalment of The Night at the Museum. There’s something about these museums after dark, they feel truly magical.
Embracing the holiday season (FREE)
Hopefully at this point you’re satisfied with the amount of ground covered on your day out, and you haven’t gone too far over budget. A final stroll through the theatre district from Leicester Square back to Strand makes for a nice end to the evening, and a stop by the St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, or Strand Christmas light displays will surely fill you with plenty of festive seasonal cheer.
A bonus destination on this day out would be the Southbank Centre Winter Market, set up around this time of year every year. The market boasts a whole host of wintery street foods from around the world, including some festive mulled wine and cider and the most exquisite Dutch pancakes. It would, however, be impossible to visit here without going over budget.