History, culture, music, food, and class are just a few of the reasons why London is usually the top of many travellers bucket list. However, alongside Paris, it is also proclaimed to be one of the most expensive cities in the world.
If you take the right steps it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you imagine.
Here are some of my tips for travelling London on a budget.
There are plenty of free attractions
Most of the major museums in London are free and I’m not talking about obscure museums you’ve never heard of. I mean the British Museum, Tate Modern, National Museum just to name a few. Most of the main museums in London are free!
Why not wander around some of the beautiful parks in London such as St James Park, Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. Notting Hill is also a beautiful suburb of London that is perfect for all of those instagam shots!
Of course, you cannot visit London without going to Buckingham Palace and watching the Changing of the Guard. Make sure you check the website for the dates as it is not on every day in winter.
London has one of the best public transport systems I have ever used. Once you become used to the map of the tube, you can easily navigate your way around London like a local.
When using the Tube, bus or light rail it is essential that you purchase an Oyster Card. When using an Oyster Card you automatically save money on single tickets and you can load the card with multiple rides passes which can save you 50% in comparison to single-ride tickets.
You can purchase your Oyster card online, at the airport, convenience stores or at the train stations. When purchasing your Oyster card you can preload your card and just tap when you enter a train station.
A day on public transport can easily cost upwards of £15 per day without an Oyster card
Free Walking Tours
There is no better way to get the lay of the land, “hit” the major sites or find some hidden gems than walking. Sadly, walking tours can often set you back upwards of $50, however, there are plenty of free walking tours in London.
The tour guides are not professionals but they are enthusiastic locals who volunteer their time, I have usually had university students who are entertaining and very informative. They will often be able to give you amazing advice on where to find cheap eats, happy hours or some cool off the beaten path sites to check out. I have used Strawberry Fields and Sandermans New Europe.
While the tours are free, it is common practice to tip the guide at the end of the tour but you can pay what you feel is the right price for the tour or what you can afford.
Eating Out and About
Stop by one of the local supermarkets or chemists and pick up a meal deal for £3 for breakfast and lunch. Some of the supermarkets also do meal deals for dinner ranging from £6 to £14. Marks and Spencer does a great three-course meal and bottle of wine for £14 – all you will need is access to a microwave or oven.
Of course, you can also lookout for a local pub or cafe that will have some more traditional “grub” at reasonable prices and the atmosphere in the pubs can be fantastic. The other option you have is to check out some of the markets such as the Borough Market, Camden Market or Portobello Road Market.
The final tips for travelling London on a budget are to do with accommodation. This can be one of the biggest costs when you are travelling. One of the biggest tips would be to stay out of the centre of London. It is still easy to access the centre of London with a short tube ride.
Keep an eye out on Airbnb or a local hostel as these tend to be the cheapest options in London. I loved staying at Clink 78, and it was only a ten-minute walk to Kings Cross station and then a short ride on the tube to the heart of London.
Try to find a hostel or apartment that has a kitchen so you can save money on eating out! Supermarkets in London are amazing.
Grab the London Pass
If you are the sort of traveller that loves going to all the paid attractions a city has to offer the London Pass is just for you! It will set you back £99 for two days but will grant you access to 32 attractions and there are some great discounts that are associated with the card too.
The if you check out their website, you can often find some great discounts which makes the card even cheaper. Of course, the more days you buy the pass for the cheaper it becomes.
The includes many of the major London highlights, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Britain at War Museum. A lot these attractions are inside so that could be something to remember in the winter too.
If you are not interested on going to see a lot of these attractions it is not worth it. So make sure you do some research before you go to check out what is on offer and what you are interested in.
It may also be cheaper to buy the pass for your first two days and then pay for some of the cheaper attractions. For example Buckingham Palace is only £11 or Eltham Palace is only £6. Again, make sure you do some research to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.