Your first 24 hours in the British capital took you to the most iconic sites, and day two was spent exploring London’s coolest neighborhoods. But everyone knows that a trip to London is not complete until you’ve seen a little Shakespeare and taken full advantage of the city’s fantastic museums. On day three we’re going to fill this gap for you to get a solid dose of British culture before you leave, and attempt to do it on a budget — after all, this is your third day in the city and your wallet is probably feeling the pain.
Start your day with clotted cream and culture at the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, like many other museums in London, has free admission. But there’s more to entice you there than the thought of saving some of your hard-earned dollars — the V&A has 2.3 million objects spanning 5,000 years of history on display for you to admire. The museum opens at 10:00 AM, so get there at opening time, but instead of going straight into the galleries, go to the Main Café for breakfast. Pick up a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a cup of tea or coffee before sitting in the world’s oldest museum restaurant consisting of staggeringly beautiful period rooms. Once you’ve appeased your stomach, walk back to the main entrance and partake in one of the free themed, guided tours that start from there every hour. If you’d rather visit on your own time, grab a map and make sure you check out the Cast Courts and the Jewellery Rooms — they are some of the highlights of this impressive museum.
If the concept of the V&A doesn’t interest you, you could also spend this time exploring London’s other famous museums, many of which are located within walking distance of each other. The British Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, and the National Gallery are other popular options.
Have a quick Italian bite al fresco
Located on Exhibition Road just a three-minute walk down the road from the V&A is Fernandez & Wells. This little eatery serves freshly made Italian sandwiches, salads, pastries, coffee, and sourdough cakes. It’s a great option to refuel when you’re short on time. The menu has something for all budgets, with a super filling prosciutto di parma sandwich priced around $10.50. Most items can be taken away for those who’d prefer to eat on the go or head to nearby Hyde Park and enjoy it in the picnic area instead.
Rise above it all
From Exhibition Road, take a four-minute walk to South Kensington station and hop on the Circle line for a quick ride to Westminster. From the station, take a short walk across Westminster Bridge and along the River Thames toward the London Eye. Offering some of the best views in the city, this giant Ferris wheel opened on December 31, 1999, to mark the millennium. Hop on board one of the glass pods and enjoy views of St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, The Shard, and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. The ride lasts just 30 minutes and costs $36. Be prepared for long queues during weekends and school summer holidays (from late July to early September). To beat the crowds, book a timed slot online. Yes, it’s touristy and overpriced, but the views really can’t be beaten.
Treat yourself to a quintessentially British afternoon tea
Afternoon tea consists of three tiers of homemade sandwiches, cakes, scones, and, of course, unlimited tea. Today, there are many options in the city that appeal to varying budgets, dietary needs, and taste buds. One of the longest-running afternoon teas takes place at The Ritz, a landmark hotel in London located in Piccadilly. Offering one of the finest experiences in the city, guests can even opt for a Champagne version if they are not afraid of paying through the nose. For an afternoon tea with a twist (and a cheaper option), the BB Bakery serves freshly made delicacies on a double-decker bus as it drives through London and at its bright and quirky Covent Garden location.
Get some Shakespeare action on the cheap
Make your way to London’s South Bank and hit Shakespeare’s Globe, a beautiful theater inspired by the original Elizabethan playhouse where the Bard first staged his plays. Catch a Shakespeare play in the open-ceiling main auditorium for super cheap as standing tickets in the Yard are just £5 (about $6.50). The performances never disappoint and if you arrive early enough and wait by the gate of the theater, you can get a spot so close to the stage that you can almost smell the actors’ feet.
After the play, head to Swan next door for a drink. The decor is beautiful, the sofas are super comfy, and the views of the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral are mind-blowing. This is the spot where the actors congregate after a play, so not only will you enjoy some delicious evening cocktails with a side of Scotch egg and pork crackling, but you may also be able to strike a conversation with one of the talented performers.