A city farm, a Victorian cemetery, a nature reserve … where to go to escape the Olympic crowds and explore east London
Two miles north-west of the Olympic Park, tranquil Springfield Park (hackney.gov.uk/springfield-park.htm) runs up the steep bank from the River Lee, affording expansive views over Walthamstow Marshes to the Lee Valley. Its 16 hectares (40 acres) are a lovely mix of manicured gardens and conservation areas, and in the White House is relaxed Springfield Park Café (springfieldparkcafe.co.uk), serving homemade treats and fresh juices. Walthamstow Marshes (visitleevalley.org.uk) are a less cultivated alternative and a haven for urban wildlife. There are cattle, rare plants and butterflies, kingfishers and kestrels. Just along the river is the Anchor & Hope (15 High Hill Ferry, E5, anchor-and-hope-clapton.co.uk), a tiny Fuller’s pub right on the water.
With certain London attractions charging over £100 for a family of four, a day out in the city can be depressingly expensive. But it needn’t be. Follow our guide to brilliant things to do for free, and have a top day out without spending a small fortune. Here is our first instalment of world-class museums, galleries and more
• Our complete London city guide
This hulking presence on the South Bank was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Sixty years on, it’s still at the forefront of London’s cultural scene. Although primarily a hall for major concerts, it’s a pretty safe bet that the ground-floor stage area will be busy with a free concert, exhibition or workshop, especially if you visit on a weekend. While you’re there, be sure to take the singing glass elevator up to the fifth floor, where you’ll find a little-known balcony area with impressive views of the Thames. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the building, too.
• Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1,020-7960 4200, southbankcentre.co.uk