London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so it is essential that the frugal tourist take advantage of the bargains. And there are bargains.
The Oyster card
In my opinion, one of the best deals for the frugal London tourist is the Oyster Card. This transit card (obtainable at tube stops including Heathrow) comes with a £ 3 deposit (this deposit is refunded when you return the card) and can be loaded with the required amount of money (any excess also will be refunded).
The beauty of this card is that it calculates the best transit deal for you. It is limited to the rate of daily passes. That means you can spend the day on one of those red London double-decker buses, exploring neighborhoods, hopping on and off at stops like Marble Arch, Harrods (for window shopping) or Portobello Market (for antiques).
Changing of the guard
Of course, while in London, a tourist must go see the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. The closest the average tourist can get is to get to the gates of Buckingham Palace and when it is better to do it than during the changing of the guard.
Every day at 11:30 am, the guards change at Buckingham Palace in a rich and colorful ceremony. This free event is usually packed, so get there early (activities start at 10:45) or you will just see the change of Bearskins (those distinctive hats the guards wear).
British suits are known throughout the world for their style and quality. However, new, they are a bit pricey for the frugal traveler. One option is the many charity (consignment) shops scattered throughout the city.
The quality of the charity shops depends on the quality of the neighborhood. Some stores are full of designers, haute couture fashions, and even outfits worn by Hollywood stars.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery in famous Trafalgar Square houses more than 2,300 paintings, one of the largest collections of Western European painting in the world, and it’s free. Absolutely free (donations accepted). Perfect for one of the rainy days London is known for.
London, England, has some great bargains for the frugal traveler. The Oyster card provides frugal transportation. The Changing of the Guard and the National Gallery offer free entertainment. Frugal purchases can be made at charity shops.