How To Visit London On a Budget

2 Posted by - August 17, 2013 - Blog, Cities & Culture, Travel Tips, United Kingdom

London is a pricey city, do not doubt it for a second. Unlike other touristic cities it is genuinely expensive, so simply avoiding the main street won’t be enough to protect your pocket. Fortunately there are a few ways to keep your visit to London on a budget. A small percentage of your budget for London can easily represent the entire budget for many other cities.

 

Transport

London Tube

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

Useful when coming from London City Airport or when visiting East London.

EasyBus

EasyJet’s land sister offers transport to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted for as little as 2£. Book in advance to save money. Tickets are flexible and you may travel within 60 minutes of your selected scheduled time without extra payment (subject to seat availability). The bus can drop you off at the several different places in town.

National Express

Large but efficient bus company that can basically get you anywhere. National Express usually has attractive fares, especially when booking in advance. Main hub is Victoria Coach Station.

Get In

Getting into London can be as expensive as the flight to London itself. Since London has six airports (yes, six), it’s very likely you will fly to one of these. So pay close attention.

From Heathrow: Take the Tube, or you can alternatively buy a Heathrow Express ticket (much more expensive)

From Gatwick: a) Take an EasyBus b) Catch a regular train. Or buy a Gatwick express ticket (much more expensive)

From Luton & Stansted: Take an EasyBus or National Express

From London City: Take a DLR train and connect to the Tube later

London Southend: The author has never flown into Southend, so you are on your own!

London attractions

Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Moving Around

To transport yourself around London is quite expensive, but few simple tips will save you loads of money. The underground (tube) and buses offer an extensive and very efficient network of transport.

The first and most important rule is to buy an Oyster card. It’s not only cheaper than anything else, but it’s also simpler. Ignore this advice and you’ll spend lots of time and money on nothing. You can buy the card in almost any Tube station, and you can claim your £5 deposit when leaving the city. Oyster is valid on buses, Tube, DLR and any other TFL transports. The author recommends using it on the ‘pay as you go’ mode.

The Oyster card automatically calculates the most economic fare for you. For example, one single journey on the card will be charged as a single ticket, while 5 single journeys within a day will be charged as a daily travel card.

TIP: If you’ve been using buses all day long, don’t return on a Tube or you’ll pay for the Tube day pass (which includes buses). Use the bus and you’ll only pay for the daily bus pass. If you’ve used the Tube for a couple of times don’t stop and use it all you want (including buses), since you’ll be paying for the Tube’s day pass anyway!

Tube vs. Bus

Most tourists visiting London only look at the iconic double-deckers as a background for their photos, without noticing that they represent a fantastic way of transportation. Once said this, the dilemma pops out. The Tube is usually faster but considerably much more expensive than buses.

Although longer, bus rides are  more enjoyable, since you can sit up front on the upper deck. The Tube is simpler for the inexperienced, while buses require a bit more concentration. Buses don’t have fare zones, while the Tube does.

Here’s a tip then. Don’t be afraid of the buses, get on them and enjoy the view. Only take the Tube when traveling long distances or when you are really short on time. You wouldn’t know if the neighborhood on top of the Tube is an absolute delight.

TOP TIP: Watch out for bus 11, since it goes through a lot of London’s highlights along the route!

Accommodation

Booking has a large selection of accommodation options and many budget listings.

Booking.com  

HotelsCombined is another good website. It searches for cheapest deals on the internet.

Things To Do

Surprisingly, London has an outstanding range of free museums. Not bad ones, but fantastic world-class museum. Here’s a glimpse of what you can see for free:

  • British Museum

  • Imperial War Museum

  • Natural History Museum

  • Science Museum

  • National Portrait Gallery

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Tate Modern and others

If the free museums are not enough for satisfying your cultural needs, there are other superb attractions that can blow your mind. Parks, markets or simple neighborhoods are great alternatives, often with a more authentic taste than the overcrowded typical attractions.

London attractions Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Top Picks

Parks

  • Regent’s Park

  • Hyde Park

  • Richmond Park

  • Battersea Park

  • Greenwich Park

Markets

  • Borough Market

  • Portobello Market

  • Spitafields Market

Neighborhoods

  • Notting Hill

  • South Kensington

  • Chelsea

  • Southwark

On the other end of the scale, are all those attractions which are not free. They tend to be quite expensive, from the Tower of London to Kew Gardens.

Top Tip

Most admission tickets have a hidden donation (a few pounds). Ask in the ticket office when buying the ticket and say you do not wish to donate. If you’re very pleased with your visit, you’ll have plenty of chances to donate before you exit the site.

London attractions

Photo: Rodrigo Uribe

Eating

Most supermarkets offer amazing discounts just before their closing times. You can get fruits, biscuits or even hot meals for a fraction of their price. The bigger the supermarket and the closer to the closing time, the bigger the reduction will be!

email

No comments

Leave a reply