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London Neighbourhoods: budget guide to Camden

By , 30th May 2016

As part of our London Neighbourhoods series, we asked London-based blogger Neil Barnes, from Backpacks and Bunkbeds, to show us ten things to do on a budget in the borough of Camden.

The London Borough of Camden makes up a pretty big slice of London. From Camden Town itself, the borough extends south to Kings Cross, Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, and in the other direction it covers as far north as Highgate Cemetery.

But how do you see the best of Camden, and how do you see it without breaking the bank? Here’s just a couple of (low cost) ideas for you…

View hotel prices in Camden (£)

View hotel prices in Camden (€)

Check out our top five budget hotels in Camden here.

1. Window shopping

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Now this could mean one of two things, the first being genuine window shopping and browsing the abundance of goods on sale in Camden Town, or second (and my favourite option), it could mean browsing the actual shops themselves. More specifically the shop fronts, which in many cases are works of art! Don’t be surprised if you see more people taking pictures than actually shopping.

Cost: Free to browse and take photos

2. Haggle yourself a bargain at one of the markets

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Markets everywhere! At least five upon last count. The goods on sale vary, so each market is worth a little of your time. The vendors aren’t too aggressive, so you can browse at your own pace. Also, the food vendors around Camden Lock often hand out free samples. Take your pick between Camden Market, Market Hall, The Stables Market, Inverness Street Market and Camden Lock Market.

Cost: Free to browse and take photos

3. Street food

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This relates back to the markets, with Camden Lock Market supplying what appears to be a never-ending list of foodie options from around the globe, from Mexican to Vietnamese. Tuck in!

Cost: Average £5-£10 (but sometimes there are free tasters)

4. Music to your ears

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Although perhaps not the music capital of London, Camden is certainly a place associated with music and performance.

While shows at KOKO and the Roundhouse might not always fall into the ‘bargain’ category, they usually represent value for money. However, if budget is what you want, venues such as The Worlds End/Underworld, Barfly, Electric Ballroom, The Fiddlers Elbow, The Water Rats, Dingwalls and many other smaller venues offer plenty of opportunities to take in live music at a low cost, or even for free.

Cost: Anywhere between free and >£30 depending upon venue and act

5. Watch a canal boat pass through the lock

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So simple, but still interesting to watch. So much so that you might have to hustle for space in and among the crowds who line the bridge and canal-side paths to catch a glimpse of the canal boats transferring up and down water levels.

As there are both bars and markets stalls lining the lock, this isn’t a bad way to take a load off your feet. Grab yourself a cheap beer from the Wetherspoons, or a spot of street food from the lock market, and maybe spend lunch at the Camden lock.

Cost: To watch the lock is free, the beer should be <£5

6. Go on a self-guided street art tour


While the borough of Camden is home to the aptly-named Camden Arts Centre, ‘a place for world-class contemporary art exhibitions and education’, it’s the collections of street art adorning the walls of the borough which always grab me when I visit.

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Taking a self-made street art tour is really very simple, just start walking… and that’s about it. All along Camden High Street and the roads branching off, street art is plentiful. Be sure to look in all those obscure places, as sometimes you have to work for it.

Cost: Free

7. Talk to the animals

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Photos by ZSL

A short walk from Camden High Street, located on the north east corner of Regents Park, you’ll find the famous ZSL London Zoo. Book online to bag yourself a 10% discount, and keep an eye out for offers on websites such as National Rail and Day Out Guides, who sometimes off two-for-one tickets, should you travel to the zoo via National Rail.

Obviously Ts&Cs apply, but it’s worth looking if you could save yourself a few £s while at the same time taking in the amazing tigers, penguins, lions, lemurs … the list goes on.

Cost: Roughly £15 for an adult ticket, but can be less if you book online

8. Chill out in Regent’s Park

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Photos by VisitBritain

If the zoo isn’t your thing, but you like exploring local parks, of course Regent’s Park itself is free to explore at your leisure. With landscaped gardens, fountains, sports facilities, and an amazing open air theatre, Regent’s Park is a lovely way to spend the day if the sun is shining.

Check out the park’s official events page for events arranged to take place within the grounds of the park, a lot of which are aimed at families.

Cost: Free

9. Take in the view from Parliament or Primrose Hill

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The hills have views – really good views! If you want amazing views over central London, but don’t want to pay the ticket prices of the Shard or London Eye, you could do worse than climbing one of the two beautiful parkland hills within the borough of Camden.

Primrose Hill is neighboured by Regent’s Park, so the walk from one to the other is minimal, but very worthwhile. At the top of the hill (63 metres high) is one of London’s protected viewpoints.

Parliament Hill is that little bit further away from central London than Primrose Hill, but it does have the advantage of being 98 metres high (not that it’s a competition). Should the weather get a little too hot, there’s a sizeable paddling pool to cool off in, and should the weather turn in the opposite direction and the wind pick up, try embrace those gusts by taking in the colourful kites that appear overhead.

Cost: Free

10. Museums


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Photo by Cartoon Museum / Photo by VisitBritain

As with all the markets, where do you even start with all the museums in Camden? Admission to some comes at the rather attractive price off £0, but my personal fave The Cartoon Museum is still only £7.

Other options include the British Museum (free), the Jewish Museum London (from £7.50 per adult), the Freud Museum (from £7.00 per adult) and the Charles Dickins Museum (from £9.00 per adult).

Cost: Generally <£10

So there you have it, a few ideas as to how you can afford to take in one of the most colourful, musical, educated and tasty parts of London. Go forth, explore, and enjoy!

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