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 this great London itinerary.
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).
- Check out the street art in areas like Shoreditch. It’s free and there endless trendy things to do nearby.
- Having an affordable afternoon tea in London is also a must.
Looking for more fun activities? Check out this ultimate guide to things to do in London – with over 73 activities to choose from, this is your ultimate London bucket list! in London with kids? These guide to things to do in London should help.
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. It’s also a good idea to explore things to do in Greenwich while you’re in London.
Do you have any further tips on how to visit London on a budget? I would love to hear them!
Hi! I’m Janet Newenham, an Irish-born digital nomad and blogger. My blog, Journalist On The Run, is a journal of my travels and career hurdles, as well as a “bucket list for life.” In my youth, reading inspired me to create and achieve goals for my future.
My long list of goals took me to places I could never have dreamed of, each one inspiring me toward the next. Along the way, I picked up a few awards like “Digital Media Travel Journalist Of The Year” in both 2017 and 2019 while simply doing what I love.
Now, well into my 30s, I’ve seen so many of the world’s alcoves that it would be wrong not to share my experiences with you. This blog is my way of taking you around the world with me, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
My goal was to visit 50 countries before I hit 30. I never imagined that at 37, I could proudly say I’ve seen 101 of the world’s beautiful countries. Of course, no matter how much you think you’ve traveled, there is still so much left to see, and I look forward to going on the run with you.
Richard and Sally ReadRichard
Tuesday 11th of August 2015
A cheaper option for Heathrow to Central London is to use your pre acquired Oyster Card and use the Picadilly Line (the tube) all the way into Central London, changing if required to another line that goes to nearer your accommodation.
Not free, but for the cost of a bus trip on a red London bus, take the No. 11 from Victoria to Liverpool Street Station (or other way around) which will take you past so many London landmarks. Get upstairs for the best views.
Wednesday 5th of August 2015
Some useful tips as I'll be in London at the end of September, I'll keep the Oyster card in mind.
Wednesday 5th of August 2015
Having just returned from South-East Asia, your budget seems shockingly high. Then again, coming back to European reality, I realise that your prices are pretty good for central London. Also love the list of all the free stuff. Need to go soon again (: