London is notorious for being a very expensive city and it really is. If you are travelling on the budget, the first moment you get into the city you might get overwhelmed by all the overpriced street and restaurant food. It might look this way at the first glimpse but this isn’t the rule.
As in every city, London has tons of free attractions and they are just waiting to be discovered. I agree, some attractions can be a bit pricey. You can’t visit a city though and skip everything though.
London has 4 airports. 2 of them (Standsted & Luton) are quite far from the center. This is where all Budget airlines fly to (such as RyanAir and EasyJet). Except if you have enough miles or you find a great deal, I would suggest you to consider those airports. I paid 70€ with RyanAir for a roundtrip to Standsted Airport. Of course this includes just a small luggage and not a suitcase but you don’t need anything more than a small backpack for a short trip. Even with a luggage (e.g. a 70L backpack), if you book early, the extra luggage cost would set you back about 50€.
Transportation cost from the airport is something you cannot avoid. Nowadays, there are several bus companies with offices located in the airport and due to the competition, prices tend to be quite low.
A rountrip ticket to London from Stansted Airport will set you back only £18 for a roundtrip bus ride ( so just £9 one way for 1 hour ride).
Metro, Subway, Tube (or however you wanna call) it is with no doubt the fastest and cheapest way to travel within the London metropolis. Better check in prior in which zone is your accommodation and the attractions you are planning to visit are located so that you buy an Oyster Card just for those zones! You can find more information about the fares here
In many cases, Central London hotels are overprices and undersized. Most of the times, it is much cheaper to find a place outside Zone 1 (such as Campden Road). Rooms are usually better quality for the same price and the surrounding shops are cheaper (check out the Food & Drinks section). hostelworld.com is a great website to look for hostels. If you are into the international vibe, parties and look for cheap accommodation, this is what you’re looking for.
couchsurfing.com another great website. People from all over the world are registered here. A website where you can offer a room or a couch of your house for free or you can look hosts online. Not only you save money, but you socialize with dwellers of the city who can share tons of inside tips about the area and the city but you also get to see how London’s everyday life looks like!
Food & Drinks:
Here, the same rule applies as in Accommodation. London is well known for its variety in restaurants. Due to the high rent though, Food tends to be overpriced and scare off most of the budget travellers. This is why I chose a hotel out of Zone 1. In the London Suburbs (but still very close to the center) such as zone 2, there is always a tremendous variety of food options. Lebanese, Indian, Kebabs, Chinese, you name it!
Oh and did I mention how much cheaper Beer is there? You have a great number of pubs in every neighbourhood where beer is much cheaper (£3-4 comparing to £5-6 in the Center) and you get to connect with the locals. Londoners are really fun and friendly! It is a great opportunity to experience ‘‘real’’ London and get a taste of a lifestyle, most of the tourist do not experience!
London is not about Madam Tussaud’s and the London Eye. There are tons of free attractions you can visit just by metro (using your Oyster Card). in fact, there are so many free attractions that it might take you about 3 days to visit most of them.
Some of them are:
- National Gallery,
- The British Museum
- Borough Market
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- St. Paul’s Church
- Campden Market and many many more…
Of course, free, doesn’t necessarily mean museums and galleries. There are so many great things you can do in London that will be truly memorable to you. You can visit Greenwich, take a stroll in Thames or simply enjoy Hyde park.
Some attractions are touristic for a reason and it is a must to visit them. The notorious London Tower would be on the top of my list. Check out London Pass (http://www.londonpass.com/london-attractions/london-attractions-guide.html) and all the attractions you can visit. A 2 days pass will cost you about £75 which might sound like a lot but it can save you 50% or more if you add up the prices of all the attractions you visited. Just try to do the free attractions before you buy the pass or after it expires.
Free Walking Tour:
Free Walking Tours are a great way to see the city. This is your-own-price tour. They are usually about 3 hours long, full with interesting facts, enthusiastic guides and reveals the true history of the buildings and area. The only thing to consider is to tip the guide at the end of the tour. Check it out here
What are your experiences with London? How do you manage staying on a low budget?