The city of London can be rather expensive for both residents and tourists who are visiting the city. But for those who have the knowledge on how to travel the city on a budget, you won’t need to empty your bank balance to enjoy your stay in London. In this article, we will be letting you in on a few tips and tricks on how to visit London on a budget. If you’re looking for more you can check out the Time Out guide to cheap days out in London.
How to get to London City Centre
If you are entering the city of London from another country, it’s important to remember that airports aren’t the greatest of places to exchange currency. The local banks in your hometown are also unlikely to be the best places either, but you are more likely to receive a better exchange rate than inside an airport.
It’s recommended that you change just a small amount of money to British Pounds at home, which will allow you to travel from the airport and into the city, where you can no doubt find better rates. When arriving in the United Kingdom and traveling to London there is no better way to travel to the city than the Heathrow Express train which will take you all the way to Paddington Station in Central London. The Express train is exceptionally fast and is only £16.50 (approx. €23) if you choose to purchase a one-way trip online.
It’s considerably cheap, especially when you compare it to double that price when riding the London Underground and even more if you choose to get a taxi!
Public transport in London
One of the best methods, in order to travel around London on a budget, is to obtain an Oyster card. These handy cards can be picked up at any of the city’s Tube stations or you could even order yours online in advance. Oyster cards are a great way to bring city transport costs down, in fact, they reduce the price of a single Tube fare down from £4.80 to £2.30 (approx. €6.80 to €3.20).
For short trips, it’s recommended traveling by foot or by bus rather than the Tube. Taking the bus is far cheaper and you can take advantage of the open top buses to see the sights of the city.
If you’re looking for an bit of exercise during your trip, you can even hire a bike from the Barclays Cycle Hire from just £2 (approx. €2.85) for 24 hours.
Cheap Accommodation Options
A great source of affordable accommodation in London is the abundance of hostels with prices that are exceptionally competitive. Many even have private rooms, so you don’t always have to stay in a dorm with loads of other travellers. During the month of April most dorm prices are at their all-time low before climbing during the peak summer months.
London also provides dorm rooms within the city’s central universities during the months of summer. Even though university dorms may not be as cheap as hostels, they do, however, offer great value when compared to hotels, with single rooms starting from just £20 (€28.40) per night.
Free Things to do in London
- Buckingham Palace – The famous changing of the guard takes place at 11:30 each day. If you want front row seats, it’s recommended arriving before 11 am, and the best about it, it’s totally free!
- The London Pass – The London Pass allows you access into many of the city’s top attractions completely free. Depending on what you wish to see and do, it can help to save quite a bit of money.
- Participate in a free walking tour – Free tours around the city are offered by Undiscovered London and Sandemans. It’s polite to tip your tour guide as they are not being paid for their knowledge of the city or their time. They are also required to pay the company they work for a specific amount for each person who attends their tour.
- London museums are free – You can visit London’s museum permanent collections absolutely free. You may encounter a small charge for special exhibits (if you wish to see them at all).
Eating out in London on a budget.
You can discover some of the city’s best-valued food in the ethnic areas of London such as Southall or Brick Lane for Indian food, Kingsland Road for Vietnamese cuisine and Chinese in Chinatown. Many of the chain restaurants also offer 2 for 1 on their main courses and much more.
Street food is also incredibly popular in London, with a wide variety of food stalls from around the world situated here there and everywhere. Even if you aren’t planning on buying their food, you can often get a few tasting samples while walking through the local markets.
Do you have any further tips on how to visit London on a budget? I would love to hear them!