It can be a bit challenging to visit London on a budget but there are lots of wonderful methods to save money in London. In truth, there are really many free activities in London, thus blending free/cheap attractions with the more costly paid attractions is a terrific way to spend less on your stay.
So, to help you stretch your London travel budget higher, we’ve sought the expertise of several Londoners to offer their favorite inexpensive restaurants, pubs, neighborhoods, stores, sights, and other attractions great for backpackers and other budget-savvy travelers.
Cheaper Ways to get there
As soon as you find out the most cost-effective method of transportation to London, you’ll be on your way to viewing the iconic attractions, shopping on Oxford Street, and partying in Soho. We make it simple to get excellent travel bargains, no matter where you’re coming from or where you’re going.
For example, if you are flying into Heathrow or Gatwick and are arriving from adjacent towns or from the North, Wales, or Scotland, you may get inexpensive airport transfers to and from London.
How to get to London from Gatwick Airport
Getting to London from Gatwick Airport is a snap, regardless of whether you’re taking the bus or the train. We can assist you in booking your National Express bus tickets via our website.
These buses leave from both the North and South Terminals and take around 65 to 85 minutes to arrive at Victoria Coach Station, which is located in the heart of the capital’s business district. There are several connections to the Tube system, and you can even walk to sites such as Buckingham Palace and St James’ Park from here.
Another option is to take the train from Gatwick to the heart of central London. The Gatwick Express is a fast train that brings you directly to London Victoria station and takes about 30 minutes in most instances. While departures are frequent, you may take use of free Wi-Fi in the airport terminals for up to 90 minutes while you wait.
How to get to London from Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, is a significant international hub with a number of accessible choices for getting to Central London.
The bus ride from Heathrow Central Bus Station to the airport takes about 35 minutes and leaves every 15 minutes. A large number of coach services arrive at Victoria Coach Station, making it convenient to connect with other parts of the city.
The Heathrow Express is another handy mode of transportation to the heart of London. It takes just 15 to 40 minutes (depending on whether you catch a stopping service or not) to go by rail, and there are regular departures.
It travels directly from Heathrow to Paddington station in West London, where it connects with the Bakerloo Underground line and other destinations. The Regent’s Park and London Zoo are both within walking distance.
While you’re waiting for your train at Heathrow, you may use the free, limitless Wi-Fi accessible in the terminals.
Traveling to and from Cardiff to London
The fact that it is possible to travel by bus from Cardiff to London in around three hours may surprise some people. You’ll travel from Cardiff Coach Station in Sophia Gardens to Victoria Coach Station, where you’ll get off the bus.
There are regular departures, and services from Cardiff to London operate from the early hours of the morning until the middle of the evening.
You’ll leave from Cardiff Central station and arrive at London Paddington station if you’re taking the train there. Trains from Cardiff to London take roughly 2 hours on the fastest trains, making it possible to connect these two very different sections of the nation in record time. Direct trains are provided between the two cities, allowing for quick connections between the two cities.
Take the bus or the train to London for an unforgettable vacation
Transportation from anywhere in the United Kingdom to London by bus or rail may be more economical and expedient than you would expect, depending on your budget and timetable.
Even if you’re coming from Wales or Scotland, it’ll only take a few hours to get in the center of the dazzling lights of the capital. Soon, you’ll be out shopping for Christmas gifts, exploring museums, and shooting shots of Tower Bridge and Big Ben, among other things.
Traveling by bus is typically more cost-effective, and it provides a chance to sit back and enjoy the countryside as you make your way to the city’s capital. Whatever you choose to do in London, you’re certain to have a terrific time, no matter where you choose to go in this captivating city.
We’re here to assist you in making it a reality by providing you with amazing prices on train and bus tickets. If you want to learn more about how to save money on your rail travel, see our article on inexpensive train tickets.
What are the best places to stay in London on a tight budget?
If you are visiting London for the first time, we suggest that you stay in one of the neighborhoods listed below. This will serve as an excellent starting point for exploring all of London’s major attractions.
- Covent Garden is a neighborhood in London (a most popular neighborhood in London)
- Soho is a neighborhood in Manhattan (great for nightlife, arts & culture)
- South Kensington is a neighborhood in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea (best for families, museum lovers, and history buffs)
- Mayfair is a district in London (best for luxury and romance)
- Camden is a borough in the United Kingdom (best for those on a budget)
- South Bank is a term used to refer to the area around the South Bank of the River Thames (across from the Thames and great for tourists)
The Most Affordable Hotels in London
If you’re on a limited budget, the following are some of the low-cost hotels in the capital:
- Shoreditch is a boutique hotel in the heart of Shoreditch.
- The Point A Hotel London Kings Cross – St Pancras is located in the heart of the city.
- The Corner of London City – Conveniently located near the Tower of London
- In close proximity to Covent Garden and University College London, the Ridgemount Hotel is a great choice.
- Park Grand Paddington Court is conveniently located near Paddington Station.
The best mid-range hotels in London are listed below.
If you have more space in your budget, the following are the top mid-range hotels in London:
- The Great Northern Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is conveniently located near Kings Cross / St Pancras railway in central London.
- The Barbican Rooms are conveniently located in the city center.
- Close to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Club Quarters Hotel St. Paul’s is a great place to stay.
- Locke at Broken Wharf is conveniently located between the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern.
- The Cove is located on Cannon Street in the heart of the city, close to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Because the center of London is relatively compact, you can see a lot of the major sights by planning your itinerary around sights and attractions that are close together and walking between them. To see as much as possible, plan your itinerary around sights and attractions that are close together and walking between them.
If you prefer to take a guided walking tour rather than doing it alone, there are a number of free walking tours available (a tip is usually expected after the trip), some of which are geared towards the backpacker market, so do your homework before signing up for a free walking tour
Aside from that, we suggest taking walking tours via Take Walks (which is not strictly a budget-friendly alternative, but is highly recommended) or Get Your Guide. There are a variety of themed walking tours available to accommodate visitors of all financial abilities.
A stroll down the Thames in London, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the backdrop, is a fantastic budget-friendly way to see the city.
Taking use of public transportation
Purchasing an Oyster Card is the most cost-effective method to save money on public transportation in London.
The card, which is the size of a credit card, is a payment mechanism for public transportation in London that allows users to travel at a reduced cost on the Underground (the Tube), bus network, trams, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground trains, and the majority of National Rail services.
It also gives you discounts on most Thames Clipper river bus services and a 25 percent discount on the Emirates Air Line, among other benefits.
In addition to any Tube Station, you may top up your Oyster Card at any of the city’s many stores and information centers.
To save the stress of landing at the airport after a long trip and having to purchase an Oyster Card on arrival, we suggest obtaining a visiting Oyster Card in advance.
Avoid traveling during peak hours on the Tube, DLR, London Overground, and National Rail services (Monday to Friday, 06.30 – 09.30 & 16.00 – 19.00) in order to save money on public transportation. Peak fares are in effect during these hours.
Traveling by bus or tram costs £1.50 each trip, regardless of when you board or depart.
To know – Bus tours are a popular method to explore the city, but if you are on a tight budget, we suggest taking the number 11 bus from Liverpool Street Station, which leaves every 15 minutes.
Route highlights include a trip through the City of London, passing through St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, among other attractions.
Cycling around London is another choice (which, in our view, is best for people who want to live life on the edge!).
The Santander Cycles, often known as ‘Boris Bikes,’ may be rented for £2 for 24 hours (if you use the bike for less than 30 minutes, there is no extra price, but if you use it for more than 30 minutes, there is a charge of £2 for 30 minutes – this is on top of the £2 for 24 hour access)
It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for maps that show your position as well as instructions to sites and activities (including the walking distance)
Uber Thames Clipper River Bus
Taking a river cruise down the Thames is a popular activity among tourists to London, but it is not a particularly cost-effective choice for everyone.
We propose taking use of the Thames Clipper River Bus service to save money! Save 10% when you pay with your Oyster Card at participating locations.
My favorite route is the one that goes from the London Eye (Waterloo) pier to Greenwich pier and back. It is important to visit Greenwich since there is so much to see and do there. Don’t leave it off your London bucket list.
London sightseeing on a budget
When it comes to creating an itinerary in London, it may be tough to know where to begin since there is so much to see and do.
If you’re on a tight budget, the good news is that there are plenty of free things to do in London to keep you entertained. This comprises some of, if not the finest, museums and art galleries in the world – all of which are completely free of charge!
Museums and art galleries
Most of London’s museums and art galleries are free to enter, albeit not all of them, including the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Tate Britain.
You may utilize the Virtual Tour feature to get a better idea of what each museum has to offer if you aren’t sure which one to include in your schedule.
The majority of museums open at 10 a.m. and shut at 5 or 6 p.m. Late night hours are available at a number of the museums (Friday night is a popular choice), but verify with the specific institution before making travel arrangements.
Alternatively, if the museum you want to visit is not free (for example, The Churchill War Rooms), check if admission is included in the London Pass. Visiting those sites, museums, and places that charge an admission price may be a cost-effective approach to save money.
Fast track access to several attractions is also included with the London Pass, which I believe is always worthwhile! Despite the fact that we Brits are excellent at queuing, we do not like the prospect of wasting valuable vacation time honing our abilities!
If you have a lot to do in London and want to take advantage of the London Pass’s free bus tour, it’s absolutely worth assessing the pros and cons of the London Pass.
London is home to a number of lovely parks that are distributed around the city. Excellent locations for a leisurely walk, a picnic, or just to get away from the hustle and bustle of London.
Of course, the parks are completely free, which makes them an excellent choice for those on a tight budget who are visiting London.
Kensington Gardens is a popular destination for lovers of Princess Diana, who passed away in 1997. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground and Fountain, as well as the bronze monument of Peter Pan, may be found in this area.
Other parks in downtown London that we suggest seeing are St James’s Park in Westminster, Hyde Park, and Green Park, to name a few.
Primrose Hill, located on the north side of Regent’s Park, provides spectacular views of the city.
It is an essential necessity for theatre enthusiasts to see a performance while in London. The popular shows are Wicked and The Lion King on London’s West.
The tickets, on the other hand, might be rather pricey. If you have a certain concert in mind that you really want to attend or if you are concerned about your seating possibilities, we definitely suggest purchasing tickets in advance online.
Alternatively, you may visit the TKTS kiosk in Leicester Square, where you can obtain half-price and reduced tickets for theatrical performances.
The Sky Garden
The Sky Garden, which is situated at 20 Fenchurch Street in the so-called “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper, is London’s tallest public garden and is the city’s highest public garden.
The garden is open to the public for no charge (yeah!), but you must reserve tickets in advance. Tickets are available for purchase up to three weeks before the event and are only valid on the specified day and time.
Expect to wait in line and to go through security, but once you reach the 38th floor (after a quick journey in the elevator), you will have the freedom to explore the Sky Garden and take in the views of London from the observation deck.
Hopefully, the weather will be better than it was on the day we were there, but make a reservation and go anyhow — it is free after all!
A view of the Sky Garden in London, which is a terrific budget-friendly choice for tourists to the city since it is completely free.
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard ceremony is another free (and very British) event that visitors may take part in while in London.
With the exception of June and July when the ceremony is held every day, the ceremony is held on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays throughout the month.
There are three locations where the changing of the guard takes place: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks, giving you three opportunities to see this centuries-old ritual.
Eating on a Budget
Try some street cuisine
In the past,’street food’ could only be described as an unsavory burger purchased from an unregistered vendor. London is a fantastic destination for street food.
In London, most markets contain food vendors, making them the greatest option for a fairly priced, filling lunch in the city. Street food may be found in the heart of London.
Consume cuisine from all around the globe
London is unquestionably one of the greatest places in the world for sampling cuisine from all around the globe. Restaurants serving Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cuisine are reasonably priced.
If you don’t drink alcohol, a two-course lunch will cost you roughly £10-£15 per person.
Menus for before and after the show
Even if you aren’t going to the theatre, you should take advantage of the special pre-show meals that several restaurants in the West End provide to theatre-goers.
You must eat early in the evening, generally between 5.30pm and 7.40pm, or after the play if you want to be on time. If you want to do this on a Friday or Saturday, we suggest that you make a reservation ahead of time.
Consume food purchased at a supermarket
In certain supermarkets, you can get a lunch package for as low as £3 if you purchase a sandwich, some fruit, and a soft drink.
A wide variety of ready-to-eat foods, as well as everything you need to prepare your own sandwiches, is available in the store. As long as you have access to a kitchen or the ability to use a microwave, it’s simple to get inexpensive ready-meals at any supermarket; if you want the finest, go to Marks & Spencer or Waitrose.
Have a traditional English breakfast
Having a proper English cooked breakfast will fill you up for the day. As long as your hotel room rate includes breakfast, you should be OK with only a small lunch before heading out to see the rest of the city.
If your hotel does not provide it, you won’t be too far away from a café that does provide it. Expect to spend between £6 and £8. The majority of cafés offer it all day.
Keep a look out for sneak previews of new products
During a soft launch, newly opened restaurants may put their cuisine, kitchen, and personnel to the test before opening their doors to the general public.
Fortunately, they prefer actual people to experiment on, and they often give discounts of up to 50%. It’s worth taking a look at hot-dinners.com and softlaunchlondon.com.
Set lunches are frequently less expensive than going out in the evening, particularly during the week, when you want a sit-down dinner.
If you’re living in an apartment or AirBnB, ordering takeout is a more cost-effective option than dining out. In London, there are literally thousands of them. Simply enter the sort of cuisine you’re looking for together with your zip code into Google and see what comes up.
If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, check Deliveroo or Just Eat. They both provide door-to-door delivery of meals from a diverse selection of eateries.
Cheaper ways of shopping in London
If you want a good dose of retail therapy, London is a shopping mecca that offers everything and more. Practically every neighborhood has just a single little retail center, but each one, we believe, performs a distinct function. The majority of people are familiar with Oxford Street as the main retail district.
While you’ll find the likes of Primark and companies like New Look and H&M on Oxford Street, you won’t find them anywhere else. Besides the fashionable charity stores for thrifters who like designer labels and the city’s trendy charity shops for thrifters who adore designer labels, these are not the only brands or the finest locations to buy in London on a budget.
London’s Antique Shops
If you like vintage-inspired apparel, London is an excellent shopping destination. Some boutiques even carry high-end designer labels like Chanel and Moschino, but for a fraction of the cost of what you would normally spend for them.
In addition, there’s no need to feel bad about purchasing a large number of garments — did you know that purchasing second used clothing is an environmentally responsible way to shop?
Factory outlet shops are locations where companies and designers keep their reduced inventory in order to sell it at a much cheaper price.
The fact that you’ll be purchasing the exact same thing that they sell in their retail shop for a fraction of the price is a fantastic method to save money.
Markets are another great spot to get inexpensive clothing in London! Markets abound in London, and they have been an important part of the city’s culture for generations. The city is endowed with an abundance of markets.
Fashion and street food markets, as well as arts and antique markets, may be found throughout London. Aside from that, most of the markets are decently priced, so you’ll be able to locate interesting items without breaking the bank.
London on a budget
Affordable Hotels and Lodging
Some of the world’s most luxurious hotels may be found in this city, including the Ritz Carlton. But it doesn’t rule out the possibility of finding inexpensive options as well!
Hotel rooms are often priced according to their proximity to the city’s central business district (CBD). When picking your lodging, keep an eye on the map.
Hostels such as St. Christophers, Generator Hostels, and the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) are available at a moderate cost and in a secure location in central London if hotels are not your first choice.
Getting to London doesn’t have to be costly either, check out the overnight buses departing from all around England and even Scotland – sleep while you save!
Taking the Megatrain to and from London on a day excursion might provide some great deals. Tourists to Europe shouldn’t be frightened off by London’s costly image. It is feasible to visit the city on the cheap with these seven travel tricks.