Welcome to the capital where everything operates at a hundred miles an hour and personal space is a distant memory. The city of London is very much like Marmite: you either love it or you hate it. Either way everyone has an opinion on London. Personally I adore the city, though I suppose I could be a tad biased being a Brit and all…
If you don’t have a plan, visiting the Big Smoke can be pretty stressful and expensive. Here are my suggestions to getting the best out of your London trip on a budget.
Consider your choice of transport carefully. Remember that London is a capital city and suffers with congestion the same as any other.
- It can be cost effective to rent a bike. Check out the transport for London website for information on how to do this.
- Use the tube! Whilst the underground could run more smoothly, it is the best way to avoid traffic and scoot around the city. Download the free Tube Map London Underground Routes app for live updates and route planning. If you will be in London for more than a couple of days, it’s worth purchasing a visitor Oyster Card online. You will be charged less per journey than if you purchased a paper ticket on the day and the cheapest start at £13! A visitor Oyster Card comes with loads of offers including 2 for 1 West End theatre tickets and restaurant discounts.
- If you are staying out late avoid expensive taxis and instead opt for the night bus. Don’t forget your Oyster Card!
Sadly, London is expensive but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to limit your spending whilst your there.
- Check Air BnB for rooms and look to independent hostel and hotel chains outside of the city centre.
- If you’re travelling by train, National Express offer 2 for 1 vouchers on loads of major London attractions. Print these off in advance online.
- Booze is super expensive in London so if you’re on a budget, avoid overindulgence.
London is a city full of amazing landmarks, the main problem you will have is trying to cram them all in! Here are my recommendations:
- Go for a walk along the River Thames and take in the sights. This scenic route offers views of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge.
- See a West End show. Tickets can be brought directly from the box office or online in advance.
- Discover the iconic Buckingham Palace. Tours are only given in summer but you can catch the changing of the guard for free at 11.30am every day from April to July, and on alternate days from August to March. The gardens nearby are also a nice rest stop.
- Take a trip on the London Eye. Whilst it’s a little pricey at around £20, it is covered by the National Express 2 for 1 scheme. (Even if you are not traveling to London by train, it is still possible to get discounts for top attractions online; you just have to look for them!)
- Head over to the Tower of London to admire the stunning Crown Jewels and check out London’s bloody history. Also included in the National Express 2 for 1 scheme, check online for discounts before you travel.
- If Shakespeare is your thing then grab a couple of tickets for the Globe Theatre. Spots in the yard cost as little as £5.
London is an education hub and there isn’t a shortage of museums to showcase it. These aren’t to be missed (and they’re all free!):
- Natural History Museum: displays a whole range of specimens from periods in history. The Diplodocus skeleton cast, christened ‘Dippy’ is the star of the show.
- British Museum: houses a vast collection of world artefacts and art.
- Tate Modern: presents a whole range of international and contemporary art.
- V&A: one of the world’s leading art and design museums. The textile section is particularly good.
- Science Museum: contains a wide range of science and technology exhibits. Some great interactive displays.
What is your favourite thing to do in London?