London is an exciting city with so much diversity and some of the world's best sights and attractions to visit. It is not only capital but also largest city of both England and the United Kingdom and attracts visitors from all around the world. But despite being such a great place to explore it is also one of the most expensive places in the world.
But a vacation in London doesn’t have to be so expensive. This guide shows how to visit London on a budget without sacrificing comfort and missing out on the great attractions.
Things to do
London has plenty of things to offer which are absolutely free of charge or can be cheap if you know the right tricks.
Go on a sightseeing tour
Free guided city walks
A couple of companies offer free guided city walks: Sandeman’s New Europe runs a 2.5-hour tour twice a day at 11am and 1pm, starting at the Hyde Park Corner going all the way to Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. The second tour, Discover Walks, takes up to 1 hour and offers three different routes. The tours are free but tips for the guides are encouraged.
The London Pass
The best way to save on all attractions that require an entry fee is to purchase the London Pass. With the pass you can enjoy up to 50% savings on more than 60 attractions and tours, such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Ben Franklin House and so much more. You can purchase the London pass for up to 6 days and even enjoy unlimited free transportation with it.
Visit a museum or gallery
One of the best things about London is that a great number of museums are for free.
You can see paintings by world-famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Michelangelo, Van Gogh and a few more in the National gallery – without spending a single penny. You can even join a complimentary 60-minute guided tour of the collection.
Other museums such as the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of London are also all free of charge and definitely worth a visit.
Recharge your batteries
Escape the big city hustle by visiting Hyde Park, one of the Royal Parks of London, or Kensington Gardens. Recharge your batteries without spending a penny.
With Portobello Road, Camden and Spitalfields it is easy to find great bargains and leave London with cool new fashion.
Enjoy the West End Theatre
West End Theatre doesn’t have to be expensive. Save money by booking in advance or line up for standby theatre tickets, which are discounted returns and unsold tickets for that evening's performance.
Hotels in London are quite expensive, especially if you want to stay close to all amenities the city has to offer. Hostels are a cheap option, but are definitely not as comfortable: usually you share a room with more than 8 other people and nights tend to be pretty noisy.
A great way to save on accommodation and even stay for free is a home exchange in London. With a home exchange, also known as home swapping, you agree with another person or family to swap homes for a set period of time. A home swap in London is a fantastic way to enjoy your stay like a local and have a truly authentic experience. Besides saving money home swaps in London bring a lot more benefits: you can find a home exchange partner with similar interests to enjoy your favourite activities in a totally new setting, you can bring your whole family and still have enough space if you swap your home with a family the same size and you can even bring your pets on vacation as long as your house exchange partner agrees.
Home swaps in London became more and more popular in the last few years. It is now very easy to find a suitable exchange partners and to feel trusted and save. Visit Home Base Holidays (www.homebase-hols.com) to find free accommodation in London.
If you purchase a London Pass you can enjoy free transportation during the time it is valid. For all the other days you can get an Oyster Card for unlimited use to save some extra money. But even though London is a huge city, most of the main attractions are in walking distance and a stroll along the Thames is a true pleasure.
Two bus routes are very handy to enjoy a sightseeing tour for very little money. London Bus Route 4 passes Waterloo, the Houses of Parliament, Fleet Street, as well as St Paul's Cathedral and the Barbican. To get to big attractions such as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben hop on London Bus Route 88.
Dining out in London doesn’t have to be expensive if you know where to go. Enjoy traditional fish and chips. Or grab some well priced Chinese Food in Chinatown (nearest tube stop Leicester Square). Visit some of London's famous markets where you can pick up some nice quie reasonably priced eats - check out markets such as Borough Market, Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market on a Sunday (Brick Lane is also good place to find dozens of cheap Indian restaurants any day of the week!).
Also if you purchase the Taste Card, a diner’s club, you can enjoy 50% discounts on thousands of restaurants as well as “two for one” specials.