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Visiting London On A Budget

I have the privilege of being married to a rather spontaneous man. When he suggested at 11pm on a Thursday that we go to London the following evening, I wasn't surprised. But what I did consider was how we would manage to stay in London for a whole weekend on our rather modest budget. Sure, we had stayed in London many times before and we have never been rolling in cash but with a bubba on the way and a house move on the cards, our budget had never been this tight. It is now Monday afternoon and I am back in Devon after spending a full weekend in the big city. I have to say, I am rather impressed by how well we managed to cut costs without scrimping on fun. So, I decided to put together a post of tips and tricks on how to save money when visiting the big city.

Know where your priorities lie
This is my biggest piece of advice not just in this post but in life: know what you are willing to spend more money on. Consider which things are most important to you. Are you desperate to try that fancy restaurant you've seen on everyone's instas? Do you really want to see a certain play? Or are you a bit of a hotel snob who loves a good king size bed with feather covers? Personally, I love to explore all over a city and wander around taking in the sights (and getting a lot of pics!) so I knew that public transport would probably be an area where I'd spend most of our budget. To balance this out, we decided to go with cheaper options when it came to accommodation and food.

Consider a hostel or budget hotel
If your main priority is seeing the city and you aren't going to even be at the hotel for more than the few hours you spend there sleeping, I would highly recommend booking a hostel or a cheap hotel. At the weekend, I booked us a budget hotel which was only 3 minutes walk from Victoria station and right in the heart of Kensington. I booked this at about 9pm for the same night for the sum of £50 per night. This included a breakfast consisting of cereal (better than nothing) and the room had a TV and there was wifi. The room wasn't anything special but the price for such a central location really impressed me. And the fact that this was a last minute price - if we had booked in advance, we could have got an even better deal. Most hostels in London average at about £18 per night but it possible to pay for a private family room in a hostel which usually costs about £40 per night. I would highly recommend using Trivago to compare prices and don't listen too closely to what the reviews say if you are looking at budget hotels.

Get a day travel pass or Oyster
Being a village girl, I find the transport in London to be incredible. The frequency of buses, trains, and tubes always surprises me. And it is not too expensive. You can pick up a daily travel card for £12 that covers most of London and allows unlimited travel on all forms of transport within the city (excluding cabs, of course). Or for £33, you can get a weekly travel card. The other option is picking up an Oyster card or a Visitor's Oyster Card. I have a regular Oyster card which I prefer as it's pay as you go and travel is free after your sixth journey. It depends how much you are intending to travel once you arrive in London but if you want to hit the shops in Oxford Street, explore Borough Market, take some outfit pics in Kensington, and head into Soho for a night out, I'd recommend picking one up because those taxi cab bills soon add up. 

Free attractions
One of the best things about London is that there is a wealth of free stuff to do. The city is full of museums and galleries that only ask for donations including the Tate and Tate Modern, V&A, British Museum, and The Natural History Museum. Also lots of the famous landmarks such as Trafalgar Square are free - walking around central is a great way to explore the city without parting with any cash. But my all-time favourite thing to do in London is explore the markets. My favourite is Borough Market but Camden Market is also really vibrant and exciting - although you may end up spending a little bit of money on some delicious snacks because who could resist? 

Independent restaurants
A great way to save money as well as trying something different is by eating at an independent restaurant. Venturing out of the centre is a great way to cut food costs. My best tip for finding cheap but delicious food is to eat at Lebanese or Turkish restaurants - for around £30, you can pretty much fill an entire table with a range of tasty dishes.

Explore outside of central
When we visited London, we travelled out to places like Lewisham and Croydon to explore parts of the city that we had never been to. Of course, I love doing all the touristy things that you find in the more central locations but you get more of a feel for London if you try places that are a bit off the beaten track. Also it is so much cheaper.

If you're travelling to London from within the UK, be sure to check out the prices for Megabus. If you book trains years in advance, you can get good deals but Megabus is shockingly cheap even if you book it the same day. My husband and I booked a one-way ticket from Exeter to London and paid £17 for both of us. One woman on the bus told us she got a return for £8 for the same journey as she had booked in advance. Admittedly, it takes a bit longer than the train and there is the chance of running into traffic but once you've got your headphones in and have found some blogs to catch up on, the time tends to go a lot quicker than you'd imagine.

Voucher apps
Voucher apps like Vouchercloud are a great way to find some discounts ready for your trip. If you're savvy, you could accumulate a few different vouchers for restaurants and attractions to use on your trip - especially if you know where you'll be staying and which restaurants you'll be close to.

Trainline is a great website for getting discounted train fares. I only discovered it last week when I booked train tickets for my husband and I from Bristol to Exeter for £19 which would have cost £34 if you had bought them on the GWR website. Also if you are desperate to ride the rails, be sure to book far in advance to get the best deals.

What are your London travel tips?


  1. Fab travel tips, I don't often go into London but when I do the frequency of trains and buses always astounds me! I grew up in Cornwall so I can totally appreciate how you feel about it! Also great tip about hotels, it seems a bit nonsensical to use up most of your budget on the room when you're barely going to be in it - great advice!

    Issy | MissIsGoode

  2. I am loving all of these tips! I will definitely save this and keep in mind! I would love to visit London someday!

  3. These are really useful tips! I love that there are so many free museums in London, the National Portrait Gallery is my favourite xx


  4. Love all of these tips! I live just outside of London so they'll come in handy when I make my next visit to the capital :)

    Sophie | soinspo xo


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