7 cheap things to do in London

Think you've seen London? Handwritten Beatles lyrics, cat mummies from Ancient Egypt and the world's most whimsical department store. 

 

Train tickets to London

1. Read John Lennon’s handwritten Beatles lyrics at the British Library

The best band the world has ever seen? Probably. The Beatles changed the face of popular culture in the ‘60s and created some of the 20th century’s most enduring songs.

Their appeal has endured from one generation to the next. And now you can see the original lyrics as written by Lennon and McCartney at the British Library.

Scrutinise early versions of hugely important Lennon songs like In My Life and Strawberry Fields Forever – both of which reflect his Liverpool childhood – in the author’s own, unmistakeable hand.

See how these iconic songs took shape and evolved as they went from pencil scrawls to studio recordings.

 

Where is it? 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB – just  a few minutes’ walk from King’s Cross

How much? FREE! 

2. Get misty-eyed over Lego at the Museum of Childhood

Lego holds a special place in our hearts. Whether you’re a child of the flower power ‘60s or the yuppie ‘80s you’ll most likely have played with the colourful conjoining bricks.

Same goes for the thirty-somethings of today and their own children. Boxes of Lego have been passed from one generation to the next in many families.

No wonder it was named Toy of the Century at the turn of the Millennium. Embrace the nostalgia with a look at the vintage Lego on display at the Museum of Childhood – part of the V&A.

When you’re done check out the space hoppers, Corgi cars, Hot Wheels and heaps more.

 

Where is it? Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PA

How much? FREE! 

3. Meet the spooky cat mummies at the British Museum

Much is said about the British Museum’s mummies of Ancient Egypt but perhaps less well-known are their feline companions.

That’s right, cat mummies. Cats ruled in Ancient Egypt, they were considered sacred with links to tan important goddess.

Cats owned by important people were often mummified, and the British Museum exhibit shows a cat that has been wrapped rather elaborately. You’ll never look at your pet moggie the same way again.

When you’ve had enough of the cats, explore the world-famous human mummies – there are over 80 from the land of the pharaohs.

 

Where is it? Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG

How much? FREE! 

4. Browse Liberty, the department store in an eccentric country house

Liberty is a department store with a difference. From the outside it looks like a country house from the Tudor period – all black and white wood panelling and leaded windows.

Step inside and it’s rather magical. Small wood-panelled rooms tumble into one another – full of nooks and crannies and bursting with all manner of decadent products. Browse high-end fashion, homewares and beauty products from some of the best brands around.

For all the genteel elegance, there’s an off-kilter, slightly eccentric feel too. Its timbers come from navy ships, and its founder was inspired by Eastern Bazaars.

It’s perhaps best known for its own distinctive Liberty prints though – which adorn everything from shirts and dresses to cushions and stationery.

 

Where is it? Regent Street, W1B 5AH

How much? FREE! (to look) 

5. See the world’s most famous bed at the V&A

The Bed of Ware is an incredibly large bed that lives at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Curators call it ‘One of the V&A’s greatest treasures,’ and it was even mentioned by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night! So what’s so special about it? Well, it’s 3 metres wide for starters – with enough room for 4 couples (ahem).

It was built in 1590, and was known for attracting tourists to an Inn in Ware in Hertfordshire – hence the name.

It became a bit of thing to have slept in it, and visitors began to carve their names into its heavy oak frame – perhaps that’s where the phrase ‘another notch on the bedpost’ originates?

 

Where is it? Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL

How much? FREE! 

6. Sup a pint in a pub built by Sir Christopher Wren

London is full of old pubs with magnificent histories.

Take the Bell Tavern on Fleet Street – built by renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren to give people working on his St Bride’s Church designs somewhere to get a drink.

Wren, who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral, was rebuilding the capital after the Great Fire of London had wiped much of it out in 1666. 

By the 1700s Fleet Street was home to the nascent newspaper industry and the early hacks and printers were soon making the Bell Tavern their own.                                                                         

You won’t see many hacks there today, but you will find a solid pint and an authentic atmosphere.

 

Where is it? Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH 

How much? The price of a pint 

7. Snap a selfie at world-famous Piccadilly Circus

The huge, iconic advertising boards have made Piccadilly Circus in London’s West End one of the world’s most recognisable places.

Known as the Piccadilly Lights, the advertising boards have carried the slogans of everyone from Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to Samsung and Burberry – Coke has been there ever since 1955!

The lights are incredibly high tech these days, with a new screen dubbed the Curve – a 103 metre, full-motion display.

But Piccadilly Circus has been lit up by advertising since the early 1900s. Why? Around 71,760,000 people walk past Piccadilly Lights every year.

Snap a selfie in front of the lights after a day’s shopping on Regent Street.

 

Where is it? Central London, W1D 7ET 

How much? FREE!