Explore London

Best Cultural Experience in London for Under $5

Things to Do, Travel Tips — By Erin Gallagher Maury on October 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

How Cheap is Cheap?

Once again the NileGuide local experts have been given a $5.00 challenge which always makes me cringe. That equates to a whopping $3.15 hardly enough for round trip bus fare in town. Now London does do free very well: museums, parks, street entertainment, exhibits and walks but when we’re talking attractions such as the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace the entrance fees soar towards the £20 or $30 mark.

The Best $5 You’ll Ever Spend

For £3.00 and only £1.00 for children, I suggest climbing The Monument. It’s not just about the spectacular panoramic view of London you’re rewarded with after huffing up the 311 spiral steps, but about why it it is there in the first place. Built by Sir Christopher Wren (the same chap who built St. Paul’s & Buckingham Palace), The Monument was erected in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 which wiped out over 13,000 houses and structures. The Doric column stands 202 feet tall, the same distance to the start of the fire at Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane, with a giant bronze orb and flame at the top. Every single primary aged student in England learns about the devastating 4 day fire and its impact on London. From the caged viewing platform overlooking the Thames the uninterrupted views from Tower Bridge to the London Eye are worth the effort.

The Monument

The Low-Down

I tackled The Monument steps with two eager children, one of which I ended up carrying for exactly 148 of them, on a weekend when the city workers abandon the area. We had a brilliant work out, marveled at our town, spotted landmarks, snapped loads of pictures then back down the staircase in just about 30 minutes. The kids were awarded certificates with a drawing of The Monument and a list of facts about the Great Fire of London making fine material for school or a souvenir. I measure the success of an outing on whether or not the kids actually talk about it later … and did they! We stopped at Pudding Lane on our way out for the obligatory pictures although there isn’t much to look at anymore other than the street sign.  Thankfully fantastic educational material for children (actually adults will learn a lot too) is available to download from The Monument’s website to enhance the experience.

Just don't look down

Overlooking Tower Bridge

Now You Do It

Weather is certainly a factor with this experience, don’t bother going up on a cloudy/rainy day. Check it out on a gorgeous blue day and you’ll understand why Londoners have so much pride. If heights aren’t your thing, you can stay below and watch the sights from the newly installed live cameras.


If You’d Like to Splurge

For £5.oo more you can add the Tower Bridge Exhibition to your ticket or to learn more about the Great Fire of London check out the London’s Burning exhibit for free at the Museum of London.
Tags: budget london, great fire of london, London, London Eye, Monument, museum of london, things to do in london, tower bridge

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