Finding travel hacks of tips to save you money in a new city can be tricky, hence my post with tips for saving money in London. 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 post 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. You can also get a detailed list of hostels on some of my favorite hotel and hostel booking sites like Booking.com, Agoda,and Trivago.
Below are tips for saving money in London as a tourist but many of these also apply to those that are looking money saving tips for living in London. By far the best way to get around in London is by bus, underground as well as walking. You can see the majority of the tourist sights by walking along the River Thames.
For this post, I thought I would give you some tips for visiting London from a Londoner’s perspective on how to save money in London as a tourist and still have a great time!
1. Save money on food and buy local and from the supermarkets
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 shave of a lot of money from a typical average cost of a trip to London for a week. 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! Also, check out markets which offer delicious meals on a budget. Many have a wide range too, from India, Malaysia, Lebanese, African, and so many more regions. Check out my post on Borough Market Breakfast for inspiration.
2. Take a walk – Walk As Much As Possible In London
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.
This is by far one of the cheapest way to sightsee in London. My One Day London Itinerary post takes you on a walk around the Southbank, passing many tourist attractions on the way. Many of which you wouldn’t see by being on the underground or bus.
3. Stay within central London
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 riverside 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 overlook 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.
4. Use London buses to get around | The Cheapest Way To Sightsee In London
4. Public transport, use the bus and less of the 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 sightseeing. 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.
5. Buy a Visitor Oyster card Or London Pass Card
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.You can also opt to purchase the London Pass Card, which gives you free entry to 60 attractions.
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 bear 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 to tay 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 shared 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 Modern.
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 Centralwhich 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 earshot 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 whatever your budget travel means to you in London so it’s only as expensive as you want it to be.
Use 2 for 1 offers when you visit London. Check out sights like Attraction Tix for a discount from restaurants to attractions as well as Time Out. 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.
8. Check out free sights
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. The BristishMusuem, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern are all great places to visit and all free.
9. Get the best views | Views From The Shard & More
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.
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. There are also a million and one paid tours in London to choose from. There are other paid walking tours in London, whether your interest is in Shakespear, Charles Dicken, Harry Porter Series tours, architecture, ghost tours and more.
You name it, they have it! To go beyond the tours I would also highly recommend checking out London’s theatre shows. You can bag a discount on theatre tickets by check out sites like Love Theatre.
My name is Bianca and welcome to my local guide of London's Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. Everything you need to know about exploring London in addition to the coolest hangouts and Instagrammable spots.
Thanks Bianca, I'm always down for some money-saving tips! I have been looking for tips on how to visit London on a budget. This definitely ticks all my boxes.
I am so glad you found this useful. It helps that now and then I try living in London on a budget, which makes giving advice on travelling in London on a budget for tourists slightly easier.
I've been to London twice and definitely agree that it is an expensive city to visit, so thank for providing some awesome money-saving tips, especially tips on staying in London on a budget. During my trips to London, I also realized that on certain occasions, taking the tube somewhere can take just as long was walking there due to all the line changes!
Exactly, some times its easier and quicker to walk between stations than to actually take the train which means you can do London underground on budget too.
London can be so expensive, thanks for the tips. And who know you can stay in student halls!!! We have been looking at London budget apartments or London accommodation on a budget, this is absolutely great advice on how we can save money in London.
I am glad you found this useful. Yes there are plenty of hotels in London on a budget but now you can also add student halls to your list of options. For London, low budget hotels also check out booking.com as well as one of my post on London Best Hostels which also gives you options to have your own private room.
This is absolutely great advice on doing London on a budget. I hate going to London but last weekend I was in London and I must say I enjoyed my stay. It was in a student hall but very pretty and affordable.
Yes, student halls a great way to save money when travelling, especially during peak season like summer. Including that option not just as a London studen budget guide but for everyone that wants to have that as an option to save money on accommodation in London
This is such a helpful post, I will be in London next month
and indeed this City is really expensive. I have been looking for what to do in London on a budget when we visit. This is so helpful. Thank you soo much
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I am glad you found it useful. Definitely check out my other posts on London, especially if you look for London attractions on a budget or looking for further ideas on doing London on a budget.
Should definately try the British Museum, we visited the museum in early January so the amount of tourists was significantly lower. I love that you can see London attractions on a budget too. This museum is worth visiting especially that it is free except for certain exhibitions. Compared to le Louvre, I find the descriptions of the artifacts more detailed and they offer you the historical background. I definitely recommend purchasing the map for 2£ and going early in the morning to avoid crowds.
You’ve got some great tips here! I live near London and know how expensive it is. As you say, there are so many free things to do making it a little easier to do London on a shoestring budget. There are definitely ways of doing it on a budget.
Exactly you can always find great ways to save money in the city. From eating in London on a budget all the way to traveling in London on a budget. There are ways to explore London without spending a lot of money.
Thank you so much for your tips Bee, we are visiting London during the Christmas period which no doubt is an expensive time to visit the city. Do your know if its possible for eating out in London on a budget?
Hi Walter, firstly I am glad you found my London on a budget tips useful. Yes, it is definitely possible. There are great markets in London offering amazing food for great prices definitely check out Southbank food market and Borough Market. We have plenty of cafes and restaurants offering amazing food for silly prices. Also you can find London budget bed and breakfast which offer free breakfast so you only have to worry about lunch and dinner which can also be done cheaply in addition to the many supper markets offering a way to save money on food too.
Man, thank you so much for your tips. I have been wondering whether living in London on a budget is possible let alone trying to visit London as a tourist and be able to save money. I am currently in the process of planning a trip to London on a budget for April next year. These tips will definitely go some way to our planning. Thanks~!
Lrina, I am always glad to read that readers are finding my posts useful. I have plenty more posts on London which you assist you on how to visit London on a budget. From budget accommodation in London to how to doing sightseeing in London on a budget. Hope you enjoy your trip.
Thanks for this post. We have been trying to do an average cost of a trip to London for a week. Perfect tips on how to save money when traveling to London. A great illustration of money-saving tips for visiting London. Will definitely be using many of these tips!
Glad you found this useful. Its easier to share tips on how to save money travelling to London when you live here. I have a few more tips for visiting London in my other blog posts if you get stuck. I have a post on where to stay in London as well as the best river cruise on the Thames to make the most of your city exploring.
We are traveling to London for the first time and trying to budget for our trip. Thank you so much for your tips. Hoping to do London on a budget next summer. Hopefully the weather will be good.
Can’t promise much on the weather front but this year was amazing. I am sure you will have a great time in London. All the best with your London trip budgeting.
So glad I stumbled on your blog post as we are trying to do a London budget trip and these tips will go such a long way to get us to reduce our costs. Thanks! Love every tip on how to save money on a trip to London. So useful.
That’s awesome. Have a great trip. I hope my tips on how to save money in London for tourist helps.
You have really gone all out with your tips. Really enjoying reading you posts. Loving this one with plenty of trips on travelling in London on a budget, how to travel London on a budget. Thank you so much.
This is a great post! I am a student have been looking or ways to money saving tips for students in London. I will try these tips, on my next trip to London.
thanks for sharing.
Great post! We spent nearly a week in and around London and loved it. We didn’t spend too much money there because there are lots of stuff you can do for free like, just walking around the old parts of town is better than most things you could pay for.