The city of London is a fantastic place to visit at any age, but for a young student, it offers a particularly wide range of things to see and do. Samuel Johnson’s famous quote: “When you’re tired of London you’re tired of life” is still as relevant today as it was in his time because any visitor that gets tired in London very quickly, needs to be checked for a pulse. There is that much to do!
No matter which subject a student is studying, there will be something in London that informs their understanding – be it architecture, history, art, commerce, music or sciences, the city gives generously of her knowledge in all fields.
Travel in London is not a problem and if the black cabs are avoided it is relatively cheap, which is great for students. The underground system (the tube) is quick and efficient (mostly), however it is heavily used by commuters so it might be best avoided at rush hour. If you prefer to be above ground though, the bus services are frequent and they travel all over the city.
Where to Stay
As with any capital city in the world accommodation in the center do not often come cheap. Unless you can afford the city center prices it might be necessary to look for a hotel, bed and breakfast or guesthouse on the outskirts and use the tube or bus to get into the city. Hotels in London vary enormously in quality and price so it is essential to shop around for a good deal.
Justly proud of its heritage, any trip must include a minimum of historical checkpoints. Monarchy fans head for Buckingham Palace, the finest in a string of royal residences. Those who want to check out the whole royal set can also head for St James’ Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House to get a feel for how the other half live.
To gain an insight into how those who got on the wrong side of the monarchy were treated, the Tower of London has the inside story. Alternatively, those who like their history tinged with horror can try the scary delights of the London Dungeon on the South Bank – those who make it through to the other side without screaming are few and far between.
Historical tours and events are also a great way to experience the history of London and you will learn so much at the same time. The Royal Tour of London will take you to the residencies of both royal and political leaders of London and provide you with lots of great information and a few entertaining anecdotes as well. The Tower of London’s “Ceremony of the Keys” takes place every night and has done so without fail for the past 700 years, and The Jack the Ripper Tour would also be a great option for anyone who loves a good mystery. These tours and events are perfect for a whole range of students who are studying subjects like history, English literature, technology, economics and sociology, so get your learning cap on and have fun at the same time!
Market buffs that love a good bargain and want to give haggling a go are in for a real treat in London. Whether it’s Portobello Market with its charming stalls of vintage and antique goods, Camden Market with its famous counter-culture draw and laid back vibe or the vibrant buzz of Brick Lane or Greenwich Markets – they are spread all over the city, so visiting them all makes a great way of combining a love of exploration with shopping. The big up-market shops on and around Oxford street like Selfridges and Harrods are brilliant to look around, although they won’t be so kind on a student’s purse!
For research purposes, or simply a great day out, museums and art galleries in London are unbeatable. Whether it’s the legendary British Museum, the stunning Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and The Tate Gallery, The National Gallery or The Science Museum – a memorable day can easily be spent in all these places. And many of them are free to get in, leaving more money left over for late night entertainment! There are also lots of great free comedy nights in London, so if you need a laugh after exploring The Natural History Museum or The Imperial War Museum all day, this is a great cheap option to unwind at the end of the day.
London at Night
The West End has famous theatre shows to check out, but for an edgier, more student-biased entertainment, where beer is cheap and music is loud, we suggest you look elsewhere. The most popular venues include lively Bar Rumba near Leicester Square, which has happy hour and drinks deals, or try The Penthouse on a Tuesday in the same area – with a student focused program of low prices and high octane music. Dancing all night creates an appetite so before catching the last tube or hopping on the night bus, head for cheap eats – the tastiest deals are often found at Vietnamese and Chinese outlets dotted around the city.
A student’s life in London can be rich and exciting when you know where to look, and it doesn’t have to break then bank! Take in the popular sights, but look a little deeper and discover some of the hidden gems this wonderful city has to share.