Miami Herald— EMILY RISTOW
London may have a deserved reputation for being royally expensive, but by taking advantage of the free museums and sights in the historic capital, tourists don’t have to feel like paupers.
MUSEUMS: Most of London’s major museums are free. The British Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert and other state-supported museums have free admission every day.
SIGHTS: If you want to experience the workings of Parliament, you can sit in on debates for free. For a taste of true parliamentary banter, go to the prime minister’s Question Time, which takes place Wednesdays when Parliament is in session; be prepared to wait in line.
To get an up-close look at the Tower of London without paying the US$30 (16.50 pounds) admission, go to the Ceremony of the Keys. You won’t be able to go inside the tower, but you’ll be part of the 700-year-old tradition of locking up each night. You need to submit a written request for tickets two to three months in advance; http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon.
THEATER: London is known for its drama but tickets for West End shows can cost over $75 (50.) To go on the cheap, purchase tickets on the day of the show at the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square.
In summer, take in some Shakespeareat the Globe, where standing tickets will cost about $7.50 (5.) You’ll get to experience the play as a groundling — as they were called in Shakespeare’s day — and have the performance take place around you. But come prepared: You’ll be standing for the whole play — usually around three hours — and you’ll be exposed to the weather at this open air theater.
If Shakespeare’s not your scene, check out the Royal Court Theatre, a two-theater venue dedicated to producing new plays. All tickets on Mondays are about $15 (10). For theatergoers under 27, $7.50 (5) tickets are available every day for plays in the downstairs theater.
FOOD: Pop into a pub for a meal and a pint. You’ll get to enjoy some iconic British grub — fish and chips, meat pies and puddings — at a reasonable price.
London also has a wide selection of ethnic food. For inexpensive Indian food, try the Indian YMCA’s dining hall near Warren Street tube station, http://www.indianymca.org, where you can grab dinner for around $7.50 (5).
GETTING AROUND: The cheapest way to travel is by foot. For the Underground and buses, buy an Oyster card — an electronic card that serves as your ticket. You get reduced fares for a single trip — down to about $3 from $8. Children under 11 ride free.
ACCOMMODATION: Budget hotels are clustered near train stations, especially Paddington, Victoria, Euston and King’s Cross. The Earl’s Court neighborhood is another option. Book early.
If you’re traveling when the universities are on break — roughly mid-June through September — you can rent a room in one of their dorms; single rooms start around $55. http://www.wmin.ac.uk/page-5198 or /kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/admin/facser/conbro/