London, England

London is England’s version of New York City… but with castles.  It is one of the worlds largest and most densely populated cities in the world.  London is a very popular destination for any backpackers passing by.  People are drawn to London because of the pubs, museums, theater, and royalty.  There is something to do for everyone, and like most cities, eating gluten free is fairly easy.  Just be careful, London is expensive and will drain you wallet.  Be sure to go in with a strict budget, or you will see your wallet drain quicker than you expected.

MUST GO TO PLACES

Activities – Most activities are cheap.  Museums are either free our around 10 GBP for entrance.  Talk to locals and the people working at your hostels for great deals.  Some hostels provide free activities among booking a stay with them.

Transportation – In the United Kingdom, the National Rail service is always expensive.  A journey from London to Liverpool can cost as little as 25 GBP or as much as 150 GBP during peak hours.  The cheapest way to travel around the country is via the Megabus, where fares start around 1 GBP.  You’ll need to book at least a month in advance but even if you miss that deal, fares are really more than 10-15 GBP.

  • London Eye – The London Eye is almost 500 feet tall.  It has become the most popular paid-for UK visitor attraction.  It’s across the street from Parliament and gives you great views of London, especially on a clear day.  It’s around 20 GBP.
  • Borough Market – With more food stalls than you can imagine, Borough Market has something for every eater.  It is home to some of the best British and international produce and dishes.  It’s open for lunch Mondays and Tuesdays, all day Wednesday-Saturdays and closed on Sundays.
  • Brick Lane – On Sunday, this little street, and the car park becomes a great place for cheap food. You can get a wide variety of food here, spend the day at the outdoor market, or have some great local curry. It’s a popular place with the locals and has some of the best food in London. This street is also a great place to bring a camera, as its’ walls are basically a gallery for London’s best graffiti artists.
  • Tower of London and Tower Bridge – The Tower of London is a great place to spend the day.  You can view the Crown Jewels, see a fantastic view of the Tower Bridge, and take a picture with a guard.  Admission fee is 25 GBP, or 23.10 GBP if you purchase tickets online.
  • Buckingham Palace – Buckingham Palace can only be visited from the inside during the summer but you can join the crowds taking photos outside any time of year.  You can watch the changing of the Guard at 11:30am from May until the end of July. Admission isn’t cheap with tickets costing 37 GBP.
  • Big Ben – Although you can’t go up the bell tower, you can view its Gothic structure from the street. You can do tours of Parliament. Get there early as the line can get very long. The best view of it is from the opposite side of the river near the London Eye. Tours of Parliament cost 25.50 GBP with discounts available for students, seniors, and kids.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral – With a world famous dome, you’ll find glittering mosaics and elaborate stone carvings.  You can also climb the Whispering Gallery or higher still to the Stone Gallery or Golden Gallery for the amazing views of surrounding London.  Entrance is 18 GBP and discounts available for students, seniors, families, and kids.
  • Trafalgar Square – The center of London has lots of people just hang out here so it makes for a good place to people watch. This is also a good starting point for a walk along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
  • Camden Market – Has some great shopping and people watching.  This market has consistently been a top attraction.  It is busiest on the weekends, particularly Sunday, drawing crowds all the way from Camden Town.  It is composed of many separate markets, so there’s always something to do.
  • The Strand – The most prestigious part of London.  It was dubbed “the finest street in Europe” by the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century.
  • Westminster Abbey – Is one of the world’s great churches, with a history stretching back over a thousand years and an essential part of any trip to London.
  • Palace of Westminster – This is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  Admission is around 25 GBP.
  • Stonehenge – Take a day trip to Amesbury, Salisbury.  Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
  • Oxford College – Take a day trip to one of the many filming locations for the Harry Potter movies and walk around the campus.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Hostels are a little more expensive in London.  Beds can cost from 15-40 GBP. Dorm style rooms are the cheapest options.  Free WiFi is standard in most hostels, and a few in the city even include free breakfast.

  • Equity Point – Affordable locations all over Europe.  It is an elegant style hostel that costs around 15-20 GBP per night.  Note* 1 pound per night will be charged if you pay with a credit card.  
  • St. Christopher’s Hostel – There are seven backpacker hostels across London and more across Europe that are super affordable.  A bed here will start anywhere between 9-20 GBP, depending on which location you choose.
  • Smart Hyde Park Inn Hostel – There are 6 hostels in prime locations across some of the most popular areas of central London including Hyde Park, Camden Town, and Russell Square.  Beds start at 9-15 GBP per night.
  • Rest Up London – Won several awards for being best hostel in 2016.  They have shared dorms rooms, ranging from a cozy 4 bed shared room to the spacious 20 bed dorms. All rooms are mixed gender with the exception of a few 4 bed female dorms.  Multi dorm room starts at 10 GBP per night.

BARS & RESTAURANTS

London has every type of food you can imagine.  The cheaper types of food will be Asian and American styled foods.  Lunch specials run around 10 GBP for a multi-course meal with a drink.  Fish & chips and other pub food will cost around the same price. Cheap restaurants with table service will set you back about 20-30 GBP for a meal with a drink.  London is one of the best cities abroad to stay gluten free.

  • Vitao – All gluten and vegan free and all organic restaurant.  Their pricing is very affordable.  For a by box, it is 7-8 GBP; a single plate is 1.80 p/100g; and a to go box is 6-8GBP.   Note* it is cash only.
  • Garlic & Shots – From garlic coffee to garlic vodka to garlic dishes, this restaurant literally has garlic in all of their food and drinks.  It definitely is a must go to place, especially if you love garlic.  Just don’t go on any first dates there.  The price range is anywhere from 10-30GBP.  
  • Naturally Chinese – Chinese is not what you think to be gluten free.  They offer a dim sum menu and everything that’s all natural.  
  • RAW – Located in M Victoria St. branch is London’s first 100% gluten free restaurant.  The menu offers tartare, tempura, hot earth bowls, bento boxes, and its worlds famous steak.
  • Andina – Peruvian cuisine is for celiacs.  You can choose your gluten free foods from their special allergen menu
  • Romeo’s Gluten Free Bakery – This bakery and cafe is in Islington and is a great spot for a light lunch.  They make their own gluten free cakes, pastries, bread, and tarts.  Their bread is is tasty and has real depth of flavor.  They also do a Full English Breakfast.  
  • Stingray Cafe – Every gluten free person always has that craving for pizza, and this place will satisfy that craving.  It is super close to authentic Italian pizza and the menu is cheap.  Gluten free pasta and garlic and cheesy bread are sold.  It’s only 9.95 GBP for pizza and beer on Wednesday’s.  
  • Dishroom – A Bombay inspired cafe, this is a great place for an Indian food fix.  Gluten free dishes can be chosen, including lamb chops. 
  • Good Life Eatery – This is a healthy hangout in Chelsea and it is the perfect place for weekend brunch.  The menu is full of healthy and gluten free options.  The coconut butter smoothie with coconut milk with peanut butter and dates is bomb.  They make gluten free sandwiches and sweets too.
  • Niche Restaurant – In Islington, which is perfect for anyone gluten free.  The best place for comfort food served gluten free.  Courses range around 16 GBP.  They also serve gluten free bread while you wait for your main dish.  
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – This old pub has been around since the great fire of 1666 (and there has been a pub at this location since 1538).   There’s no website and when you visit, you will understand why.  Located at 145 Fleet St, London.

MONEY SAVING TIPS

  • Visit the free museums – Most of the museums in London are free.  The Museum of London, the British History Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum are all great.   The National Gallery and the Tate Modern are also free.
  • Buy an Oyster Card – This prepaid card can save you about 50% on each metro. If you plan on using the tube a lot, get this card! If you leave and have extra on the card, they will also refund the balance.
  • Watch the changing of the guards – The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is at 11:30am, and the horse guards at Whitehall change at 11:00 am. These are both free and interesting to watch as you take in true British flare.
  • Buy last minute theater tickets – You can get last minute tickets to the theater from the official booth in Leicester Square. Availability varies every day, so be sure to get there early.
  • Camp in a gardenCamp in my Garden allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or at a cost of 3 GBP. It’s very popular in England.

Picture credit

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