London on a Budget Guide
London is expensive for residents and tourists alike. But armed with the right knowledge, your trip to London doesn’t need to break the bank! Obviously the best way to see and enjoy London is by coming along on our famous pay-what-you-like tours. Once you’ve done that, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time in town – So read on to find out how to get the most power for your Pound with our guide to London on a Budget.
The London Pass can save you big bucks, depending on the sites you want to visit. Once you’ve got a rough guide of the attractions you’re going to explore, take a look at their website to check if your entry could be covered with one of their cards. Not for everybody, but potentially could save you over £100.00 if your top attractions are on their list! Take a look at our post on the London Pass and Other Sightseing and Attraction passes for more information.
Other great sites to consider are as TravelZoo, Groupon, Discount London and Wowcher, which offer similar deals and discounts. In addition, some popular attractions in London have a 2 for 1 offer that you can take advantage of easily during your visit. Check out our post on 2for1 deals to get the low down!
No matter which airport you fly into, or where you are staying, you’ll always have options when it comes to traveling into the city. Check out our step-by-step guides on getting to/from Heathrow or to/from Stanstead if arriving by plane. Most airports offer tickets for rail connections and National Express usually has coach services that run from each airport. And, of course, there’s always the option of a black cab! If arriving into London after a long international flight, learn how to avoid jet lag with these suggestions.
There are many different ways to get around the city itself. London has excellent public transportation. A massive network of Underground rail, over ground train services, buses as well as boats means that all of London is accessible to everybody! Here are a few of our articles:
- Oystercard or Travelcard – depending on your length of time in London, you may benefit from picking up a Travelcard or an Oystercard to save money when getting around on the Tube discounts on attractions.
- Navigating the London Underground – tips on mastering London’s Tube, even on your first try.
- Little known facts about the London Underground.
- Black cabs – a London staple that you have to try at least once.
- Boats along the River Thames!
- Read our Do’s and Don’ts article, which has smart tips that are useful when traveling about the city.
- Cross the Thames for £4 or less on London’s only cable car.
We’ve also put together several sample itineraries that are very friendly to your bank account. Each one gives several days worth of ideas. London doesn’t have to be expensive.
- 3 day London itinerary – general idea that mixes sightseeing, museums, theatre, etc.
- 5 day London museum itinerary – chock full of free and low-cost museums.
- London under £100 per day – great ideas to stay under the century mark each day.
- Visit London’s 3 day itinerary – the official visitor bureau of the city.
- Free Things to Do at Night – some itinerary ideas for evenings in London that are free or close to free.
- London off the Beaten Track – not wholly budget travel ideas, but some good options.
Things to include in any itinerary:
- Monument to the Great Fire – a great observation deck for £4/adults and £1.50/child.
All of the tours offered by Free Tours by Foot are pay-what-you-wish and are a great way to visit London on a budget. We also offer several self-guided walking tours and self-guided bus tours. We are now offering GPS-enabled audio tours.
- Is the London Pass is worth it? – If you are considering a purchase of one of the London tourist passes mentioned above, please be aware that participation on many sightseeing tours are included.
- Free London museums – several of London’s most famous museums are free to enter and also offer free tours or talks to the public.
- Which London Hop-on/Hop-off Bus is Best – includes links to get discounts.
- Get £2 off adult tickets with Original London Bus Tours with promo code 2-off
- Don’t pay for a view from the Shard when there are great restaurants with a view as well as bars with a view.
- Cross the Thames for £4 or less on London’s only cable car.
Some of the most expensive hotels in the world are located here in London. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t affordable ones, too! Generally, the closer you are to the centre of town, the more expensive the room. So keep an eye on the map when choosing your accommodation. Of course, you should try booking sites like LateRooms.com. Hotels aren’t the only option though – London has a wide variety of low-cost, safe and central hostels to choose from including St. Christophers, Generator Hostels, and YHA.
- Top 30 Cheap London Hotels – list compiled by TripAdvisor’s rating system.
- Here is a list are our favorite budget hotels in the city.
- 24 Hotels under $100 (£65) – list compiled by Eurocheapo.
- University Halls – inexpensive way to stay in Central London (especially during summer months)
Other ways to save on accommodation include:
- Using a voucher – Just as above, keeping an eye on voucher sites can often net you a big discount for your hotel stay!
- Calling the hotel directly – If you can find a great deal on travel websites like Expedia, LastMinute or Priceline, it is always worth calling the hotel to let them know. Most will be more than happy to match the offer you found online…all you have to do is ask!
- Checking out Roomorama and AirBnB – Rooms and flats offered by Londoners themselves, you can sometimes nab yourself a place to stay for as cheap as £25 a night!
London is known for our free museums and galleries. It’s possible to get your culture fix without having to pay a single penny, too! No matter what your interests are, there’s a free museum ready for your visit. For guides on where to go, check out some of our recommendations:
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London – One of the Best Free Things to Do in London
Free museums in London:
- Tate Modern and other free London Museums
- Medical Museums (including FREE ones!)
- Military Museums (FREE ones here, too!)
- City of London Museums (…ditto!)
Free attractions and activities in London:
- 10 Free Things to Do in London
- Visit Abbey Road and the Beatles Crosswalk
- Best Free Things to Do in London with Children
- London’s Wonderful Parks
- Walk Regents Canal from Little Venice to Camden Town
- Visit Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral for Free
- Visit the Tower of London for Free with a visit during the Ceremony of the Keys
- Cheap London Skyline View from the Monument to the Great Fire of London
- Free View of London from the “Walkie Talkie”
- Visit Leicester Square
- Free Art Galleries in London
- Free Concerts at St. Martin’s in the Fields
Not quite free attractions:
London has a lot of great eateries that are both delicious and budget friendly. It’s easy to find high quality cuisine from all around the world, but be sure to try a few classic British dishes before leaving London. You might be interested in a London Tastecard, which offers up to 50% dinners and fine locations.
Why not take an almost free London food tour?
Here are some of our favorite restaurants, pubs and food articles:
- Street Food App – street food is delicious, inventive and inexpensive. This app is for street food lovers.
- Best Pizza in London
- Best Pie in London
- London’s Best Riverside Pubs
- Visiting Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
- London’s Best Historical Pubs
- 10 Bizarre and Quirky Restaurants
- Afternoon Tea in London
London is renowned for its trendy shops, but often times the most popular brands and the least budget friendly. To see a range of what London has to offer, check out our post on the best shopping in the city. Though not cheap, Harrods, the most famous department store in the UK, is also worth a visit, if only for window shopping.
London’s West End is a destination for theatre-lovers all over the world. But world-class performances don’t always come with world-class prices! It’s possible to get yourself a great deal on theatre tickets, so check out our post for the best tips and tricks.
Although changing your money at the airport may be convenient, you’ll end up paying more in conversion fees there than almost anywhere else. The only two places in London that will get you both the best rate and charge no conversion fees are UK Post Offices and the Bureau de Change at Marks & Spencer, a trusted chain store in the UK. exchange your money that will get you not only the best rate, but no conversion fees. Check out our blog post on exchanging foreign currency in the UK for a detailed guide. In further regards to money, please remember that tipping is pretty standard now in the UK.