London is said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Yes, London can be expensive for local residents too but it needn’t be so for visitors, providing you come well versed with money saving tips for visiting London. This will allow you to find out where to stay in London, places to see in the city, cheap and free things to see and do in London and their for allowing you to make the most of your visit to London a pleasurable one without breaking the bank. Also, booking where to stay in London, England should be an expensive task, you just have to know what options are available and what you get for your budget range. The same goes for things to do in London. There are plenty of free things to do in London, from free museums, free viewing points, beautiful parks in London to cheap way of getting around tips for these in addition to tips for visiting London can be found on the blog but clicking on London Tips in the menu above. For this post, I thought I would give you some tips for visiting London from a Londoner’s perspective on how to save money when visiting London. and still have a great time! Below are my money saving tips for visiting London but also look out for my post on the best located hostels in London soon.
Save money on food
1. Eating in London can be expensive but if you are on a budget then get to Tesco buy you some lunch and chill in London’s city parks. You can grab yourself a meal deal for 2.99. That includes a sandwich, salad or wrap, then a snack and drink too. Meals on offer are a selection of healthy and naughty. Boots, Sainsbury’s does the same, they also do gourmet lunch selection by chefs like Jamie Oliver. They now have Tesco and Sainburys Express stores all over London which makes saving money on food while visiting London even easier. The point is you can find plenty of ways to eat around London without blowing the budget and eat as healthily or as unhealthy as you want. You also have plenty of local cafes(I am not talking chain cafes) that will rustle up a mean breakfast for a fiver!
Take a walk
2. Walk! Yes, you might want to have an insta-staged shoot for the gram but pack some comfortable flats in your bag too and walk yourself to a firm rear end. You will save on our expensive transport system. Leave the Tube/Underground for when you are exploring tourist sights further away from you as those will take longer to get to on foot.
Stay within central London
3. Stay with Zones 1-3. This way I can guarantee you most of the majority of the places you will want to see will be within walking distance or a short bus ride away thus no need to buy an expensive travel card until it’s time to head back to the airport. Say, you stay in Greenwich, which is in falls in Zone 2 and 3 you still have places like Cutty Sark, Greenwich Park, and Observatory, Maritime Museum, Greenwich Market all near you together with the river side views. Cool pubs and local restaurants and cafes near you in addition to being a short bus ride into London Bridge for further exploring of London. So don’t over look certain areas because you think you have to stay in Zone 1 of London. For more on things to do in Greenwich, I have a post on top 10 things to do in Greenwich. I will be publishing a post on where to stay in London England for variable budgets. I will start London’s best located hostels including what tourist sites are near them.
Use London buses to get around
4. Use the bus and less underground. For one, you will see more of London without blowing your wallet. You will spend less money on the hop on/off buses and underground and still see more of London. Londist did a cool post on the best bus routes in London for sight seeing. Why do I say use the bus instead of the tourist buses? A hop on/off bus will cost you roughly £25-30 for a 24-hour ticket, while a 7-day bus pass covering buses and trams in London will costs you £21.20 for a 7-day pass. You can hop on and off London buses until your heart is content! If you are in London for more than 2 days I would recommend getting a weekly travel card as this covers buses, underground, overground and trams. A Zone 1-2 will cost you £33 and 1-3 costs £38 so that works on cheaper for exploring the city. A one-day travel card is £12.30 so if staying a couple of day buying a weekly travel card is more cost effective.
Buy a Visitor Oyster card
5. Buy a Visitor Oyster card. Unless you have a contactless credit/debit card you will have to buy an Oyster card to get around London. A visitor Oyster card costs £3. It makes buying a pay as you go fares easier and cheaper than buying paper tickets. Your daily fares are capped at £6.60 compared to buying a one-day travel card at £12.30. Any balance you have can also be refunded to you when you leave London. You can also buy it online before you travel to London, in addition to special offers and discounts around London when you buy a Visitor Oyster card.
Shop around for accommodation
6. Shop around for Hostels, Hotels and Airbnb apartments. Yes, London is expensive and more so if you are trying to keep up with the Jones for the gram. There are plenty of smaller bed and breakfast, hotels, and hostels in fantastic locations in the heart of the city. As I said above I will be sharing a post on London’s best located hostels soon, but just bare in mind that you will spend the majority of your time exploring so why blow your budget on a super expensive hotel room that you only spent a night in, especially if you don’t have to or can’t afford it. Don’t get me wrong I love a splurge and a treat when I travel enter private hideaway in Thailand, Twin Tower views in Malaysian or an African hideaway on the Zambezi. It’s up to you where you stay, my point is that there are plenty of places available that you won’t have sell your kidney to afford stay in so don’t overlook small locally owned hotels that offer great value. Also if you are visiting during the summer, student halls offer great value on where to stay and most over great accommodation options all within the heart of the city(you can also search other cities in the UK). There are plenty within central London all offering a variety of options from self-contained rooms with breakfast included to those that provide a room with share bathrooms. Some of these, like Kings College student hall apartments, are within 5 minutes walk from Borough Market and the Shard for a further 5 minutes from beautiful tower bridge and a whole host of tourist places within walking distance such as Big Ben, London Eye, Tate Morden. For more on how to see London on foot, I have a Local’s Guide to exploring London. You also have YHA hostels that have hostels in fantastic locations in London. One is next to St Pauls Cathedral, Kings Cross, Thames side, and Central which is close to London’s shopping Mecca that is Oxford Street. Blackfriars and Waterloo have had few hotels pop up in recent years that provide easy access to tourist places within walking distance. Waterloo has Hamptons, Park Plaza, H10 and Blackfriars has Ibis, also just around Tate Modern you have Citzen M, Hilton and Holiday Inn all within ear shot of the Southbank, Borough Market and Tower Bridge all within 10 minutes walking. There is plenty of offer from apartments, hostels to hotel covering budget to luxury what ever budget travel means to you in London so it’s only as expensive as you want it to be. I will do another post on the best hotels in London but in the meant time to compare prices and locations on London hotels this list of hotels should help you get started.
Use 2 for 1 Offers
7. Use 2 for 1 offers when you visit London. Check out sights like London Time out for discount vouchers from restaurants to attractions. This is one major tip I use for other cities I visit and a must as far as tips for visiting London go. You can also pick up the free magazine which has plenty of vouchers that you can tear out as and when you come up with places to see while visiting London. New magazines are available on Tuesdays. Also check out sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Wowcher for discounts to attractions, restaurants and more.
Check out free sights
8. Visit free sights and museums. Take advantage of Londons amazing museums and galleries majority of which are free. You may have to pay for special/temporary exhibitions.
Get the best views
9. Get the Views for Free – We have plenty of places offering great views in London some of which are expensive just for a view. To save money you can opt for viewing decks with great views of London without paying ridiculous prices for the same view. I shared a point on where to get the best views in London here but can I also add to that, Greenwich Park (next to the observatory), Primrose Hill, and Switch House! Superb views of the city and all FREE!!!
Book a free tour
10. Join Free Walking Tour – London has some cool and free walking tours on offer. From architecture walks to street art. Although these are free and you are under no obligation to pay I would recommend you tip the guides considering the work that goes into researching some cool spots to visit in the city. One free walking tour I have done and would highly recommend is the Alternative Steet Tour in London cool and hip district of Shoreditch. You can read move in my post linked.
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