“We all know that a home exchange is just about the best way to see anywhere at all, but in places where accommodation prices are high, such as here in London, it's a way of having a holiday which really comes into its own, not just because there are no hotel bills but because you don't have to keep eating out all the time.
But there's so much you can do in London that's absolutely free. And I don't mean just the famous museums and galleries. There are, for example, many smaller, sometimes less well known museums and galleries which are also free. Two of my favourites are the Guildhall Art Gallery, recently re-opened after a refurbishment, and the Sir John Soane's Museum (in photo). The former is a peaceful gallery right next to the beautiful Guildhall, with a wonderful collection where it's possible to see every painting in an atmosphere of serene contemplation, the latter a frenetic hotchpotch of artefacts in the architect's town house.
Try also a wander around the legal area known as the Temple. The architecture is marvellous, Temple Church itself a gem, although unfortunately not free to enter, and there is a delightful ‘hidden’ garden.
London has so many parks, commons and gardens that it's hard to pick a favourite, some drawing more visitors than others at various times of year, but I especially love St. James's Park and Regent's Park.
Then there are the markets. Many are household names and Borough Market at London Bridge is fast getting that way. Open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the best time to visit is on a Thursday or Friday, avoiding lunchtime. It's a wonderful food market with stalls for take away food and stalls to buy things to take back for meals in your home from home.
Walking almost anywhere by the Thames is a great treat, with a huge variety of scenery and architecture along its banks, but going in either direction along from either side of Borough Market is fantastic with views of the Tower and Tower Bridge in one direction and the Globe, Tate Modern and St Paul's Cathedral in the other. London is a great city to walk and it's easy to get free leaflets of suggestions or you could try Free Tours of London. As a great lover of churches I must recommend to you Southwark Cathedral, free to enter unlike its more famous cousins, and an oasis of calm and ancient beauty. The only thing which might disturb you are the regular school parties with children dressed as monks or Henry VIII or Roman soldiers or Victorian school children.
Finally, take a packed lunch with you. We don't think twice about taking a picnic if we're going to the country for the day but it's just as easy to find a spot to sit down here in the city as it is in the country.” - Sandra Newnham