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LONDON ON A BUDGET

The British capital is one of the most amazing cities in the world. A constant hive of fun activities, amazing sights and its cosmopolitan and frenetic life, is what make that every year millions of people visit it. But, on the other hand, is often seen to be an expensive city to visit, especially if travelling from a country where the exchange rate is not in favour. Ticket prices to the main attractions, meals out, a few drinks… all sum. But don’t let the worries about the cost of things put you off visiting London. I picked up some tips about what to see and do without breaking the bank. Here are some of my top tips for visitors to London. Oh!, and don’t forget to share any of yours in the comments.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

Tower Bridge London
Take a stroll along the picture-pretty South Bank 

Walking along the South Bank of the River Thames is often one of the visitors’ must do’s due to the high number of landmarks to see, such as the Tower Bridge, the South Bank Centre, The London Eye the Westminster Palace, among others. I recommend walking there when the sun sets down.

Get cultured at one of the many free museums

It’s not a hype to say that London is home to many of the world’s best museums. The best is that most of these are free, so you can see all the marvels they have to offer without spending a penny. An all time favourites are the British Museum, the V&A, the National History Museum and the Tate Modern.

Watch the Ceremony of the Keys

Every night, the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London perform a gate-closing ritual, that has been done for 700 years. A fantastic opportunity to participate in a true London tradition, for free!

St James Park

Relax in a park

Without going far, you’ll find a park where to spend lazy afternoons. Sit in the grass, catch some sleep, stroll, play football, a guitar, pack a little picnic or whatever. Join the park life and escape the busy life.

London views from the Sky Garden

Situated in the Walkie Talkie, the Sky Garden offers one of the best views overlooking the city. The entrance is free (of course!) but ticketed so make sure to grab your tickets in advance.

Take yourself on guided tour around London

Exist a huge list of companies that do free walking tours that are well worth and known for everybody, but at the end are not totally free. Alternatively, there are a lot of apps that allow you to take a self-guided tour around London, and the best is that these work offline, so you don’t need to use your data. Ones of my favourites are the London Official City Guide and the London Map and Walks.

Camden Town MarketChanging of the guards

Explore London’s Best Markets

Although many of the city’s markets have closed over the past half century, you still can find a wealth of covered, outdoor and street markets in London. Many specialise in a particular type of goods or sell different things on different days. My favourites are Borough Market, Brick Lane, Camden Lock and Columbia Road Flower Market.

The Changing of the Guards

Take in another British tradition, be warned that so many people will have the idea to watch it. So if you want a clear view of the ceremony, be there an hour before it starts and stand by the fence since the beginning, especially during the summer months.

Piccadilly Circurs

Go to Leicester Square

Head over to Leicester Square where you can kick back and relax in the little park smack in the centre of London. This is the perfect place for people watching and is brilliantly lit up at the night! There are also street performers here to distract you having a good time. Also, you should head over to Piccadilly Circus (only 2 minutes away by foot!) to see the huge billboards and the amazing lights of London.

Go window shopping in Covent Garden

Although the shopping here isn’t cheap, the street performers and the main building itself are reason enough to pop into Covent Garden. You’ll also find kitsch shops, restaurant and bars.

The Wolseley

EATING AND DRINKING

Some of London’s best-value cheap food you can find is in the city’s ethnic areas -like Chinatown, Kingsland Road, Southall and Bick Lane- and where for less than £10 you can lunch perfectly.

Street food has hit the city too, with food stalls from around the world. There are lots of street food markets but my favourite is the Borough Market, that opens daily except Sundays. Another renowned food markets are Portobello Road Market, Camden Lock, Kings Cross, Charing Cross and the Real Food Market. Just as before, you can eat a complete menu for less than £10.

Lots of chain restaurants offer 2 for 1 on main courses or other discounts – the offers change all the time so make sure to check the Money Saving Expert for the most recent discount vouchers.

My favourite website and the one I think has the best deals, is Book a table. In this one, you can find a lunch or a dinner of 2 or 3 courses starting at £20. I know it may not is that cheap, and less, compared to the options of above, but you’ll dine at a fine restaurant with good service and good food at a budget price.

London Victoria Station

TRAVELING AROUND

Oyster card

The Oyster Card is the most cost-efficient way to go any distance in London. You can buy the card for £5 at any Underground station (or online) and pay as you go. Don’t worry about putting too much on the card because if you have money left at the end of the trip you can go to a ticket booth to get a refund. You can also give your Oyster card back and get your £5 reimbursed or save your Oyster Card for future trips.

Walk, walk, walk!

Walking is the best method to connect with a city. It is fine to go with the tube sometimes, but others are better to walk between these, and with more reason, when these are five minutes away from each other, as most of the tourist attractions. You’ve to be careful with the traffic. At every intersection look down and it will be painted on the ground which way you should look for traffic.

Pick up a free map at a hostel/hotel

The free maps at the hostels tend to have the better low-cost recommendations and some restaurants discounts. So grab your map and save some pounds!

wESTMINSTER PALACE

ACCOMMODATION

It seems that the most expensive part of travelling to London isn’t the things you choose to do, to eat or the transport but the price of staying there. However, here are my recommendations on cheap accommodation:

HOTELS: The Tune Hotel, EasyHotel.
HOSTELS: Generator Hostel London, YHA St PancrasMeininger Hotel London Hyde Park
29 Comments
  • Kelly
    Posted at 14:24h, 24 June Reply

    Great tips! You covered some of our favorite London activities 🙂

  • Brianna
    Posted at 16:14h, 24 June Reply

    I wish I would have read this before my trip to London! I didn’t know you could get a refund on your oyster card! I guess I shouldn’t have thrown it away when I left…

  • Chantell Collins
    Posted at 04:00h, 07 July Reply

    Oh man I wish I had this list last time I was in London. It is so easy to spend a LOT of money in London. I actually thought the balance on my bank account was wrong ha ha. Love all these suggestions – especially the ones about eating cheaply.

  • Briana
    Posted at 08:00h, 07 July Reply

    Great blog post! Also can I just say how impressed I am that you’re doing all this at age 18! Love it!!

  • Anita
    Posted at 12:23h, 07 July Reply

    Useful tips for first timers. Love London. Thanks for sharing!

  • Eva Casey
    Posted at 15:07h, 07 July Reply

    Thanks for this list! I am going to London in less than a month with a VERY tight budget, so I know I will be referencing this post!

  • Laura Nalin
    Posted at 18:12h, 07 July Reply

    I love this list! You’re an inspiration as you’re travling at such a young age! These are great tips for a first timer. I’ll definitely reference this when I head to London next year. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Naomi
    Posted at 19:08h, 07 July Reply

    Great budget guide! I think London is one of the most expensive cities to visit, so we can use all the budget tips we can get! thank you.

  • Julie
    Posted at 03:52h, 08 July Reply

    awesome tips for someone who has zero dollars – europe can be a hard place!

  • Rosemary
    Posted at 05:23h, 08 July Reply

    You are right, even though London is an expensive city, there are lots of things that are available for free. Great post highlighting those gems.

  • Asdghik
    Posted at 10:11h, 08 July Reply

    This is a such a useful guide to London! Will definitely be using it next time I go there!

  • Annika | 457 Australia
    Posted at 07:27h, 14 July Reply

    I love London! I considered it as one of my happy places. Every corner is an art and a hint of the past centuries.

  • fromdreamtoplan
    Posted at 22:47h, 24 July Reply

    Hi Nuria! Happy to have found your blog! I love the layout, the style the content…everything! I’ve read some of your posts and I can’t wait to read more! Looking forward to following you:)

    Lisa | http://www.fromdreamtoplan.net/

    • Nuria Vidal
      Posted at 10:52h, 05 August Reply

      Hey Lisa! Happy to hear that 🙂 Going to post a lot these days so I am travelling almost full time through Europe! xx

  • Melissa
    Posted at 19:42h, 14 September Reply

    Thanks so much for this! I loved London, but I felt like it was crazy expensive! Covent Gardens was one of my favorite districts, and next time we visit we will definitely check out the Ceremony of the Keys. I had no idea that existed!

  • @jacquitravels
    Posted at 19:50h, 14 September Reply

    Great information here, Nuria! I love seeing other posts about London as it gives me more inspiration to get out and explore my adopted home. 🙂 Keep it up!

  • Laura
    Posted at 19:54h, 14 September Reply

    I believe a city is only as expensive as you make it! Sightseeing for me is one of the best things to do in any city and its completely free. Great guide! I love London 🙂

  • Candy
    Posted at 20:52h, 14 September Reply

    There is so much to see and do in London. I can’t wait to visit some day. I’ve read a lot of posts on London and this is the first time I read about the Oyster Card. Such a great tip!

  • Remi
    Posted at 22:58h, 14 September Reply

    This seriously gets me excited to visit London! I knew of the typical stuff, but I had no idea there was so much to do! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kari (Happy Coconuts Travel Blog)
    Posted at 23:29h, 14 September Reply

    I have yet to visit London but would love to and I will surely be on a budget, so very helpful article! 🙂

  • Christie Sultemeier
    Posted at 01:42h, 15 September Reply

    Man, this is a common theme this week it seems! Must mean London is expensive or something, huh? 😛 jk. Great tips!! Thanks for sharing… London is always on my list.

  • Portia @ Migrant Muse
    Posted at 05:25h, 15 September Reply

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m headed to London for the first time in October and I can’t wait! Definitely booking this 🙂

  • Kaylene
    Posted at 10:20h, 15 September Reply

    It can be easy to spend a lot of money in London, but it’s amazing how many free or cheap things there are to do. When I visited, I loved exploring South Bank and the numerous parks. Next time, I’d love to take advantage of all the free museums!

  • cheap hotels in london
    Posted at 14:57h, 19 September Reply

    Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work!
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  • Katie from What's Katie Doing?
    Posted at 09:20h, 23 September Reply

    I would add a tip – as a Londoner I find the app Citymapper invaluable, and I think visitors would too. It gives you every conceivable way to get from A to B, with directions and includes an offline option if you don’t have data. It literally will tell you where to change, where to walk and how long the journey will be and how much. So good for getting around London and a bunch of other cities too!

    • Nuria Vidal
      Posted at 09:30h, 23 September Reply

      Thanks, Katie! I’ve never used it but sounds it is such a great app! Post updated 😉

  • cheap hotels chorley
    Posted at 13:01h, 24 October Reply

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  • Katie
    Posted at 00:57h, 15 November Reply

    These are some great tips, thanks for sharing! I love London and it is so great that so many of the attractions are near one another or a short underground ride away. The free tours are always fascinating and I love searching for Harry Potter film locations 🙂

    • Nuria Vidal
      Posted at 11:17h, 15 November Reply

      It may sound strange, but I’ve never saw the Harry Potter films until last week..haha fell in love and now I can’t wait to come back to London and search for all its locations 😛

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