How to travel to London on a budget
Travelling to London on a budget requires some careful planning and clever choices. With a little bit of know-how, it’s entirely possible to explore this vibrant city without breaking the bank. From scouting for budget-friendly flights to uncovering affordable accommodaiton options, there are numerous ways to keep costs in check. Navigating London’s extensive public transport network, seeking out free attractions, and indulging in the city’s diverse street food scene are just a fw strategies for making the most of your budget. By being resourceful and taking advantage of the countless budget travel opportunities available, you can embark on an unforgettable Lonodn adventure while keeping your wallet happy.
I’ve put together a list of 10 things to consider when visiting London on a budget.
How can I see London on a budget?
1. Flight Deals
Look for flight deals and discounts offered by various airlines. Be flexible with your travel dates and consider flying on weekdays or during off-peak seasons when prices are generally lower.
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2. Budget airlines
Consider flying with budget airlines that offer cheaper fares. Airlines like EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air often have affordable flights to London from various European cities.
3. Alternative airports
Instead of flying directly to London Heathrow, consider flying to alternative airports like Gatiwck, Stanstead, Luton or City Airport. These airports often have lower landing fees, which can translate into cheaper flight tickets.
4. Accommodation Options
Look for affordable accommodation options such as budget hotels including Premier Inns, Travelodge, Holiday Inns, or Ibis Hotels. They are scattered around London. You could also opt for hostels, or Airbnb rentals. Consider staying in areas slightly outside the city centre, where accommodation tends to be less expensive.
5. Public transportation
Utilise London’s extensive public transportation system, including the Underground (Tube), buses, and trains. Purchase an Oyster card or a contactless payment card to benefit from discounted fares compared to buying individual tickets.
6. Free attractions
London offers a wide range of free attractions and activities. Visit iconic landmarks like the British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery, exploring the West End, and enjoy the beauty of the 8 royal parks of London such as Hyde Park and St. James’s Park.
7. Discounted attractions
Look for discounted tickets to popular attractions. Many attractions offer discounted rates for online bookings, student discounts, or special promotions during off-peak hours.
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8. Street food and markets
Instead of dining at expensive restaurants, explore London’s vibrant street food scene and visit local markets like Borough Market or Camden Market. You’ll find a variety of delicious and affordable food options
Cafes, bakeries, pastry shops
Find bakeries, pastry shops, and coffee shops around Central London. You can buy sausage rolls, bacon baps, bagels, and porridge for around £2 – £5. Great for snacks. Café Nero, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Greggs, (they sell two pies for under £2, cakes & doughnuts for 80p and paninis for £3 – £4) are all great cafes and snack shops to visit. If you visit street food markets, they usually sell cakes, biscuits, chocolates, and other savouries you can take on the go too.
Traditional English cafes
Historically, the real English cafes have been around for the working and lower classes of England. Traditionally, it’s called “the working men café” or “transport café” because typically, working men don’t usually have the time to eat and relax. English cafes are like their quick fix before going back to work again. They don’t serve alcohol, but their specialty is their English breakfast teas bought in the local supermarkets with a splash of milk at the top. It’s a contrast to the high-end teas you’d experience in Afternoon Teas.
If you really want to experience the REAL English cafes, experience the real full English breakfast with baked beans, scrambled eggs, pork sausages and bacon, black pudding, two pieces of buttered toasts, and mushrooms, find a hotel in the suburbs. There’s a likely chance you’d find English cafes in every corner of the high streets.
Alternatively, if you stay in the suburbs, you can try the Turkish kebab shops found in every corner of the high streets. The Brits do love their Turkish kebabs, and this is alternative comfort food for the Brits. Fish and chips and kebabs tend to be oily and greasy, so if you don’t like greasy food, stay away from them.
9. Watch 50% off theatre shows
London is renowned for its vibrant West End theatre scene, offering a wide array of shows to suit every taste. From iconic productions like The Lion King in the Strand, nestled between Covent Garden and Charing Cross Station, to captivating performances of Les Misérables, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and Thriller in Shaftesbury Avenue near Leicester Square, there’s an impressive variety of entertainment options available.
When it comes to acquiring theatre tickets, it’s essential to consider various options since purchasing them directly at the door or online can be quite pricey. Instead, I recommend exploring several ticket booths, including the well-known TKT theatre booth located in both Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. These booths often offer substantial discounts of up to 50% off the regular ticket prices for shows on the same day or even up to a week in advance. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount you can save, allowing you to enjoy VIP seating areas without breaking the bank. So, be sure to shop around and find the best deals available.
10. Walking tours
Take advantage of free or low-cost walking tours offered by various companies in London. Check out Strawberry Tours as these companies provide an excellent way to explore the city’s neighbourhoods, learn about its history, and get insider tips from local guide.
How much money do you need per day in London if you’re on a budget?
People can spend on average £1500 – £2000 if they’re not on a budget. That’s more than what minimum wage earners get in a month.
Assuming you’re skipping going inside all the attractions, here is an estimate breakdown on average prices on cheap accommodation, places to eat, and transportation.
Accommodation in hostels: Roughly £15 – £20 per night per person.
Accommodation in hotels: Roughly £35 – £45 per night per person.
Using the bus and trams: £1.75 per journey.
Interconnecting between tube lines and using the trains: Roughly £12 per day.
Take away fish & chip and kebab shops in the suburbs: £10 – £12 per person.
Supermarket meal deals: £3 – £5.
- I recommended you shop in Poundland, Aldi and Lidl found in the suburbs compared to Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s supermarkets if you want to save money.
Average price for restaurants and gastropubs in Central London: £12 – £15 per person.
So, if you’re particularly good with budgeting, you’ll be spending £50 – £70 per day.
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