London is the city of endless possibilities and it’s also one hell of an expensive place to visit. To make the best of your trip, you’ll need to carefully plan your budget. Londoners have learned how to save money and be practical in every way, from traveling to eating and shopping. We’ll help you with useful money saving tips, hoping you’ll get the best stay in London while being able to see and do everything you want. We have listed eight super practical tips you need to follow to fit in your tight budget.
Buy an Oyster Card
The first thing you should do, when you arrive in London is to buy an Oyster card. This contactless travel card assures you 50% discount on almost any kind of transport in London, it saves you time of waiting at cash ticket machines and allows you to change easily different transportation methods, without buying another ticket. For example, the normal price of the Tube ticket in zones 1 and 2 is £4.90, but with Oyster card, you’ll pay £2.40.
The Oyster card is loaded with money credit starting from £15 to £50 credit. You can travel until you exhaust your credit. When you buy Visitors Oyster card / available to purchase online in advance/ you pay 3£ as a deposit, which is non-refundable. If you buy the card in London, you’ll pay £5 deposit, which will be refunded to you, when you return the card. If case you cannot use all of your credit, you can take back your money, after returning the Oyster. You need to have at least 10£ credit left, to receive your refund.
How to use Oyster Card? It’s easy – just touch it on the reader, when you enter any transport vehicle or hub.
Take Walking Tours
London has thousands of hidden interesting sights to visit along with the popular tourist places and monuments. Take a free walking tour around London’s major sight and with a good plan made before you start. This, except being free, saves you time, as you have planned route to follow. You won’t get lost or wander around the streets aimlessly.
Popular walking tours will guide you through all major historical sights downtown or if you take London graffiti tour you’ll see London’s east street art. You can also try Camden tours, to visit the picturesque and interesting district Camden. There are also food walking tours and other self-guided themed tours, allowing you to visit London’s districts separately.
Sightseeing and Museums
One of London’s big advantages are its museums and to be more precise – the fact they’re absolutely free!!! As well, many of the famous sights and monuments can be visited without charge. Starting from the Trafalgar square to the famous Borough Market and Covent Garden, you can use your free time to feel London’s rush spirit. You can go to the Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and many other sights to walk around without paying anything. See our article about Top 10 free things to do in London and Places to visit while in London.
If you prefer some art and history experience, London gives you the chance to explore its enormous cultural heritage free of charge. Some of the best and must-see museums, which are free are:
- The British Museum
- Natural History Museum
- National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery
- Tate Modern and Tate Britain
- V&A Museum
To find out more about these museums, working times, permanent collections and see more interesting museums to visit for free see or post about London’s Best Museums.
West End Shows
West End, London’s Broadway is constantly busting theater shows, and all of them are super affordable if you know how to buy tickets wisely. There’s no need to pay big amounts of money to spend one great evening in the theater. You can buy tickets from TKTS Booth at the Leicester Square. The TKTS office offers discounted tickets, one day or couple of days before the show. You might not get the best seat, but your entrance to the show is assured.
Another tip you can put in use to search for standby tickets, directly at the venue’s box office. These are last minute returned tickets, sold at half price. There also many online hubs selling cheap theater tickets, so you can just book it online, and save yourself the waiting on the line.
And speaking of online booking, this might turn to the best advantage of modern living. Booking online in London is everything. Starting from online booking for sights, show, cinema and concerts, you will surely save money. All online tickets have at least 10% discount or more than bought at the ticket office.
You can book online a cheap table at different restaurants in advance or even shop groceries online. Never heard of this practice? We suggest to start using it, especially if you don’t have enough time. Online grocery shopping allows you to use all discounts, without losing time in the market. Big supermarket chains like Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s offer online grocery shopping.
Get London Pass
For sightseeing maniacs buying a London pass is the first thing to do. London pass includes most of the major sights, offering discount for all and some can be entered for free with the pass. More than 50 attractions are included in the pass, you enter the museums and attractions faster skipping the lines, you receive optional travel Oyster card, you can use fee the Hop on Hop off for free and also receive a free guidebook.
The London Pass can be ordered online and collect in London you can buy it when you arrive. Choose pass with duration from one to ten days, saving up to £350 at the end.
Sleep in Hostel
Every passionate traveler knows always to sleep in a hostel. London hotels are a luxury and also super expensive, while hostels are not bad at all and save you more than a third of the price. London’s hostels are always at great spots, close to the downtown and pubs and market. Most of them offer free breakfast and amenities. You can save a lot of money staying at shared room, although even the private rooms are way cheaper in the hostels.
London’s hostels are clean and cozy, renewed and most often situated in old historical buildings, keeping their original architecture and interior. Almost all of them have lounge rooms and bars inside the hostel, so you wouldn’t need to search for a place to have a drink or watch a movie.
See our selection of Best Hostels in London.
It is possible to shop on a budget even in London. London is a big market and there’s a deal for everyone. If your aim is not Harrods or Selfridges, then you can jump into Primark, Decathlon, Topshop, Zara or H&M and shop some great affordable clothes, at prices starting from £10.
If you search for budget food markets, London is your place. Starting from Camden, where you can also find clothes, jewelry, and other accessories, moving to Borough market or Broadway Market in Hackney to buy goods from local producers. One of the most visited food markets is Portobello Road Market, where you can find delicious food, furniture, or clothes. Markets usually go crazy on Saturdays, when merchants from around London come to sell their goods.
Eat and Drink on Budget
If you seek for something tasty and still affordable you should look for Chinese or Indian local restaurants. There are at every corner, offering traditional cuisine with simple, but still delicious ingredients. Almost all of them offer delivery, so you even wouldn’t need to go out. Pizza is also a good option, but still if you want something healthier you should try some of many food stalls.
The food stalls prepare mainly fast food and you can find traditional British, Indian and other Asian food. Try sandwiches, baguettes and tacos. Many food stalls change their locations, so you can try going directly to some of the many food markets. One of the best food markets is KERB, Southbank Centre food market, Victoria Good Food Market and Berwick Street Market.
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