Budget London Attractions Worth Visiting
Free attractions, travel and eating
If you’re on a budget, there are so many places you can visit for free and it’s just as beautiful as the places that are charged. Even if you don’t want to pay to go inside the paid attractions, then it’s worth taking photos outside. The best thing about London is that most free attractions are next to each other, if not, walking distances from one another. When you click on the photos, there are tips on the visiting attractions and recommendations on how long to visit each attraction.
How much money do you need per day in London if you’re on a budget?
Spend no more than £6 – £7 for a meal. That’s how much fast food restaurants cost. Average restaurant prices range between £10 – £30 per head.
Take the bus. Walk if necessary since most attractions are next to each other. Take the bus if you’re tired. Journeys on buses can be long and you may have to squashed with other passengers, that’s not to say tubes and trains are better and quieter. Travelling to London alone, I spend no more than £12 interconnecting journeys on tubes and trains using my contactless debit card.
If you don’t want to spend more money and don’t want the London Pass, avoid going inside tourist attractions. . Prices on The London Pass package may change so find out whether the price of The London Pass with travel is worth it here.
For one person, taking the bus, not paying to go inside major attractions, eating within a £7 budget per meal, it’s possible to spend no more than £50 a day. Times that with the duration of your stay and that’s how much you’ll spend a day on a budget. That’s not including flight and accommodation though!
What can you do in London for cheap?
The words “cheap” and “expensive” are very relative. One can say something is cheap and another can say something is expensive. In London, £10 – £20 is an average price for souvenirs and general shopping and eating.
Many major attractions can cost around £15 – £25 to go inside. There are promotions on offer where you buy 4 tickets for the price of 3 and The London Pass. The Oyster Card is also included in The London Pass. Visit their website for more details.
There are also beautiful places like mews, markets and areas that are worth visiting for free.
If you only have 1 day in London, you won’t have time to pay to go inside, so, you’re forced to skip going inside the attractions. Check out my 1 day itinerary on things to see here.
For 2 days in London on a budget, check out my 2 days in London itinerary and see which attractions are free and which attractions are charged. It’s advisable to create a list of what you want to do and find out how long you want to spend in that attraction.
Click on the photos for more tips and recommendations.
For more free things to do in London, visit my favourite website Lonely Planet for more ideas.
1. How can I see London on a budget?
Here are 9 ways to see London on a budget.
1. CHEAP EATS
Food budgeting in London can be quite tricky but not impossible. There are many options you can take.
1 option would be to buy food supply from the supermarket if you can cook in your accommodation, buy meal deals from Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. Meal deals for under £5 will give you a 330ml drink bottles of your choice, a sandwich, a packet of crisps (potato chips) or a chocolate bar. Idea for lunch. Find Aldi and Lidl for cheap supermarkets.
Find bakeries, pastry shops and coffee shops around Central London where you can buy sausage rolls, bacon baps, bagels and porridge for around £2 – £5. Great for snacks.
If you want to experience eating out in a gastro pub or a restaurant, you will see a price range from £12 – £15 in Central London for fish and chips, sausage and mash and pies. However, outside of the central, if you decide to stay in the north, south, east and west of London, you can find kebab shops, cafes or a fish and chip shop. For fish and chips, the price is no more than £7 (popular with the locals). Great for dinner.
2. BUDGET TRAVEL
Similar to paying inside attractions and eating out, travelling around London can also be expensive but not impossible.
The first thing you should do when you land, get an Oyster Card. Cannot stress enough on getting one. You can get one in ticket machines at major airports, major train stations such as Victoria, King’s Cross, London Bridge, Liverpool Street and local corner shops.
The oyster card works well because if you go back home, the money remaining in your Oyster card will be refunded back to you.
Buy a travel card if you’re going outside of London since Oyster Cards aren’t accepted beyond the London areas. You can use an Oyster Card if you live in Greater London, meaning areas on the outskirts of London.
Avoid black cabs as they can be a fortune getting around places. Uber is the safest and cheaper option for an alternative to taxis and cabs. Check Transport for London for more information on transportation.
3. MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
When you’re looking for free museums and galleries to do in London, I recommend visiting the British Museum first. That’s the first museum that’s on everyone’s list. Several others include Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Churchill War Rooms and the Science Museum.
Free galleries include The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. There are other small galleries and museums worth visiting. Click on the picture for more information on the free museums and galleries.
4. PHOTO PLACES AND INSTAGRAMMABLE PHOTOS
Aside from taking photos of major attractions that are visited by millions of people each year, there are millions of photos that are click worthy. From the store front to the hidden gems outside Central London to Instagram photos. Every season, there’s always something different to snap. Beautiful colourful flowers during Spring and Summer in the 8 royal parks. Vintage and antique photos in Portobello Market. Christmas lights in every corner of London. Beautiful shop fronts from boutique stores to famous chained stores in Oxford Street. Cobbled streets in alleyways. There’s always something worthy to snap.
Londoners are experts at walking. They walk from A to B and rarely do they use private transport. In London, whether you’re at the park, shopping in the biggest high streets or vintage markets, 90% of the time, people are walking, alone or with friends and family. The only time we’re using public transport is when we’re going further afield. Personally, I enjoy giving myself self guided walks alone wherever I am. There are private walking tours around London you can take advantage of but personally, I tend to like tailor making my own walks because I can take control with what I want to see. Click for more information on various walks in London.
When you are visiting London, make sure to visit the 8 Royal Parks of London. This is the first on your London Bucket List. Click on the photo to find out more. Aside from the 8 Royal Parks, there are so many parks that are just as beautiful or even better than the royal parks. The difference between royal parks and normal parks is that royal parks were used as recreational and hunting grounds for the royal family and the others are for the public to enjoy beautiful nature and wildlife. Every time I search for things to do in London on the website, parks are always on the top list of things I like to do.
Everywhere you go, even on the outskirts of Central London, you will see parks in every corner. Not all countries have parks like we do and the majority of the parks here are well maintained by the borough.
Other parks should be noted too such as Holland Park and its gardens, Crystal Palace Park, Beckenham Place Park, Kew Gardens and Clapham Common.
7. FREE ATTRACTIONS AND WINDOW SHOPPING
What I love about London is that there are so many places you can visit and hang around for free and also great for everyone. This is really good if you’re on a budget (London after all is quite expensive). I tend to love people watching, enjoying the atmosphere and British architecture.
Personally, anywhere around London I go, London seems to change its theme in terms of its culture. Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Regent’s Street are the main tourist places for window shopping (shop for the lastest fashion).
Trafalgar Square is the main place to relax and unwind from a day or night out. Covent Garden finds a cobblestone square with several flower barrels as decorations as well as street performers. Camden Lock and Portobello Market finds eccentricity and vintage vibes and museums and galleries will find more than 300 years of British, European and World history. There are so many others worth the visit for free. Click on the photo for more information on free attractions.
You can visit any London markets here for free, (unless you want to buy something in the stalls – no harm in buying 1 thing for a souvenir).
London is famed for its markets and people usually go there by themselves and with families and friends. Whether you’re looking for antiques, vintage or food, you’re sure to find something to suit you.
The most popular markets people go to are Portobello Market, Borough Market, Greenwich Market, Old Spitalfields Market, Camden Lock, Brick Lane and Covent Garden. I still enjoy the busy atmosphere when I visit markets, especially when I go to Portobello Market. I can take photos of colourful 19th Century buildings and quiet mews around Notting Hill.
There are other places worth visiting such as Broadway Market, Columbia Road Flower Market, Victoria Park Market, Brixton Village and Market Row, Herne Hill Market, Maltby Street Market and Southbank Centre Food Market worth taking a look.
9. THEATRE TICKETS
London is famous for its West End theatre shows. From long running shows like The Lion King in the Strand, Les Miserables, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Thriller in Shaftesbury Avenue, there’s always something for everyone. Right now, there’s no information on shows since it’s temporarily closed because of COVID. Once the pandemic is over, I will be sure to post reviews on the shows I watched.
Theatre tickets can be expensive to buy on the door and online. The best way to go about buying theatre tickets is in Leicester Square. You will find ticket booths that offer 50% of the normal ticket price. My advice is to buy your tickets on the day. You may be surprised how much you could save for the VIP seating area. Just shop around.