Visiting anywhere on a budget can be challenging, especially London, because this is among the world’s most expensive city. Each year, many prospective tourists — people who would enjoy themselves very much in this city — bypass London because of high costs.
But it is possible to visit this vibrant, historic city on a budget. Here are some strategies for dealing with the price of a trip to London. It’s important however to think about how much it will cost you to get here in airfare against any frustration you will feel about missing important things due to a shortage of cash.
The one thing you can’t escape is the cost of hotels in central London. Look a bit further out from the centre in zone 2 (where they will be cheaper and quieter at night when you want to sleep) and consider something like Air B&B.
Eating out can be expensive if you fall for the tourist restaurants in the West End. At lunchtimes grab something to eat at a supermarket and picnic (even right in the centre of town there are nice places to sit like Soho Square). In the evenings think about going out of zone 1. Prices drop massively and you can get a well priced meal in a Turkish, Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant. Look for places that offer a prix fixe evening menu and don’t be seduced by extras on the menu, they really mount up (go for a drink in a pub afterwards)
If you stay in Bloomsbury you will be within a few minutes walk of the British Library, the British Museum and the Wellcome Collection. A good half an hour walk will take you to the Museum of London and the Gresham Lectures. All of these are free.
go to Fortum and Mason for a look at food souvenirs but shop at one of the big supermarket chains and buy British marmalade there for a fraction of the price. If you want U.K. designed clothes go to TK Maxx where they sell last year’s ranges at a discount- everyone who lives here does!
Lots of the big attractions are free (you can either see them from outside like Buckingham Palace or go in for free like the Tate Modern). The best places cost nothing. A walk along the river Thames or the streets of Soho or Mayfair tell you more about London that any paid for attraction ever will.
A hop-on, hop-off London sightseeing bus tour is great if you’re short on time or want to get an overview of the city before you dig into its specifics. This company has five different routes and live commentary which is always better than recorded versions.
Some of the best known tourist attractions are also the most expensive and at the same time least interesting. Ones to avoid are Madame Tussaud’s (tedious wax works, long queues), Ripley’s Believe it or Not (more waxworks and dullness) and the London Dungeon (eye wateringly expensive and amusing if you’re about 7 years old) and The London Eye (queues, queues, and more queues)
Things for free
British Museum – This is my favorite museum in London and it’s completely free to enter. The famous Rosetta Stone is here along with thousands of other artifacts from around the world.
National Gallery – Located in Trafalgar Square, you won’t pay anything to see famous paintings from the likes of da Vinci and Van Gogh.
Tate Modern – This modern art gallery is in Bankside and is one of the largest museums of both contemporary and modern art in the world.
Museum of London – I love learning about the history of a new city I’m visiting, so stop by the Museum of London if you feel the same. You’ll see the city in a different light when you leave.
But how do I get around?? The tourist oystercard often has discounts and promotions available throughout the year. You can order one to be sent to your home address in your home country before you travel. It means as soon as you arrive at Heathrow Airport you can go straight on the tube towards your hotel. Or even just take a bus. The 140 bus goes from Heathrow to Northolt and Harrow. Northolt for central line into London, Harrow for Metropolitan Line into Central London.
It’s very doable to visit London on a budget. You can make it as cheap as you want or as lavish as you want. A great way to start planning a cheap trip to London is by figuring what parts are most important to you
On a general note, if you are in an area with lots of tourists go two streets away from the main crowds. You’ll generally find more interesting things to see, places will cost less and the crowds will magically disappear.
Don’t pay for internet access or use up your data allowance. Go to one of the coffee chains like Costa or Starbucks and use theirs for free – everyone else does. If you’re feeling really cheap don’t even buy coffee, just lurk in the doorway to get a signal.