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London on a budget: entertainment

Thursday, July 16, 2009
There's no denying London is a fantastic place, but it does have the reputation of being very expensive. To help you on your visit, Getaway sent Jason Dundas and the crew there to suss out the best ways to get the most from your travel dollar.


Like everything else, keeping yourself entertained in London can be expensive. A fun thing to do is join a Sunday Stroll, which is open to anyone who "can stop effectively on skates". Sometimes the group can number more than 200 so it's a good way to meet people, have some exercise and it's free. However, if you care to make a donation or buy a T-shirt, that will go towards keeping it free.

You follow marshals who are dressed in red and yellow and they set the parameters. It is recommended you wear a helmet and wrist, elbow and knee pads. Skates and rollerblades can be rented — some people just join in and walk or jog along with the group.

It's all a hoot with people bringing blaring boom boxes — the fun begins every Sunday at 2pm from the eastern side of Serpentine Road, weather permitting. Routes change regularly and cover up to 12km or more. Skating is very popular in London so log on to find other venues. Visit for more information.

The West End has some of the best theatre in the world. Full-price tickets can be daunting, but at Tkts you can choose tickets for musicals, comedy, drama, dance and opera at bargain prices. Snap up tickets on the day of the performance or up to a week in advance. Tkts booths in Leicester Square and Brent Cross are the only official half-price and discount theatre ticket outlets in London. Visit for more information.

The famous National Theatre has three permanent auditoriums — the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe. They're the perfect venues for extravagant productions through to small, intimate shows, covering everything from Shakespeare to modern comedies.

As well as seeing shows, you can attend talks, listen to music, take backstage tours, view exhibitions and enjoy outdoor performances in summer. Sit and relax in the foyers or terraces, interact with the Big Wall, enjoy a coffee, snack or meal and feel the history and imagine the greats who have performed there. Visit for more information.

Equally famous, Covent Garden has free entertainment every day of the year, except Christmas Day. Performers have been strutting their stuff there since the 1660s and must audition before performing. A good idea is to go in the afternoon and stay as it lights up with buskers and performers showing their talents for free. Visit for more information.

Some extra tips

It's not the best idea to drive in London. Public transport is so good, and the city is made for walking, cycling or skating. There are two types of cabs: the traditional black cabs, which are more expensive, and cheaper mini-cabs. Jason was told that single females are advised to not hail a mini-cab off the street — it's far safer to go to a licensed mini-cab office.

When you first arrive, grab yourself a copy of Time Out London magazine. It's a great survival guide and covers just about everything you could want. You will also find free publications at tube stations — you can't have too much information about the sprawling city!

If you want to work in the UK, Australia has reciprocal arrangements there, and many other countries. If you're an Australian citizen, 30 years of age or under you can apply for a two-year visa. Get started at and follow the links to working holidays. You can also check out and for more information.

If you're a regular visitor or making a one-off trip to London, it's a good idea to add an Oyster Card to your London Pass. It will save you loads of cash on all London public transport. Buy online before you arrive and top up at tube stations, DLR stations or at London Travel Information Centres. Visit for more information.


Budget options across London.

Getting there

Emirates has fantastic, low fares to London. They're for a limited time, so visit or call 1300 303 777 for more details.

Prices correct at July 16, 2009.

For further information

Ph: 1300 303 777

London Pass

The London Bicycle Tour Company
1A Gabriels Wharf
56 Upper Ground
London SE1 9PP
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7928 6838

Changing of the Guard

The Hoxton Hotel
81-83 Great Eastern Street
London EC2A 3HU
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7550 1000

Best Western Shaftesbury
65-73 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 6EX
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7871 6000
Fax: +44 20 7871 6001

Imperial College London
South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7589 5111

Venue Masters
Ph: +44 11 4249 3090
Fax: +44 11 4249 3091

Portobello Market
Portobello Road
London W10 & W11
United Kingdom

Pret a Manger
1 Hudson's Place
London SW1V 1PZ
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 77827 8000


Ph: +44 7813 2233

Sunday Stroll

Tkts Theatre Tickets
Leicester Square & Brent Cross

National Theatre
South Bank
London SE1 9PX
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7452 3400

Covent Garden
19 Short's Gardens
London WC2H 9AW
Ph: +44 20 7240 9731
Fax: +44 20 7836 3137

Cheapest Pint
Doggett's Coat & Badge
1 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 9UD
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7633 9081

Australia High Commission
Australia House
The Strand
London WC2 B4LA
Ph: +44 20 7379 4334

Oyster Card

Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time: The UK is on GMT between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

International dialling code: +44.

User comments
The website with the routes and everything regarding the friday and sunday skates is There is also a wednesday skate held by Londonskate ( Sunday is best for beginners, wednesday for intermediate and fridays more for confident skaters. Best place to get skates is Club Blue room at Marble Arch end of Hyde Park, they are on the corner near the Odeon Cinema. They offer great advice, and have really helpful staff. Skating in London is awesome and I've found its a great and cheap way of seeing london and getting fit at the same time. Cheers.

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