It is no secret that London is one of the most expensive European cities to travel to, side by side with others like Paris. The Pounds currency is not the only problem; the reality is that the town is expensive by itself, in every way. However, it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on your trip and find alternative cheaper ways to make the most of it; a little bit of research, observation and some tips can do wonders.
On my last trip to London, I tried as much as I could to find cheap ways to enjoy the city without breaking the bank and at the same time not limiting myself on what to do in town. Here are some of my personal tips for saving money on your London trip:
1. Stay at a friend’s house
Of course, the cheapest alternative! Unfortunately not everyone has a close friend living in London with a spare bed or couch, but if you, enjoy it, because accommodation in town is incredibly expensive.
2. Book in advance or last minute (Hotel/Hostel)
If you are planning to stay at a hostel or hotel, this is the way to go: either you book way in advance (the downside, I noticed, is that in most cases you will need to pay the full amount at the booking, and most won’t allow cancellation) or you leave it for last minute, after all, London is so big and there are so many accommodation options that I’m sure there will be one left for you.
3. Stay in an apartment
If there is an efficient way to save money on accommodation in London, that is to stay in an apartment, serviced like Marlin Apartments or not/half serviced like Airbnb. There you can use the kitchen to cook, stay in a group and share the cost with other people, not to mention the privacy.
1. Don’t eat out all the time
If you have a place to cook, in case you are staying at a friend’s house or a rented apartment, then use the kitchen. This way you will save an unbelievable amount of money on food.
2. Look at the prices on the menu before entering a place or ordering to avoid surprises.
3. Look for recommendations of cheap places to eat
Ask friends or make a little research on internet on where is cheap and good to eat in London. I’m sure you will find great recommendations online.
4.Buy street food or ready to eat meals
Food trucks, markets like Borough, and convenience stores like Marks & Spencer offer great options for food, which are not only cheap, but also good and ready to eat.
1.Enjoy the free attractions
There are more free things to do in London than you think, in fact, once I met a local guide who told me that the best things to do in town are for free. To get inspired, you can look up my Pinterest board “London Calling“, where I saved some great pins on free things to do in town.
2. Buy the London Pass
Many attractions in London are paid, and are actually pretty expensive like the Tower of London that normally costs 22£ alone. The London Pass is the city card of London, which gives access to over 60 attractions in town, offers special discounts, the possibility of adding the Oyster Travelcard (which covers public transportation) and on top of that you have access to the fast track entrance.
Passes start at 55£ (1 day adult pass) and are available from 1 to 10 days (prices will go up in February 2016), for adults and children. Together with your pass you also receive a little guidebook with the available attractions and tips, and can also download their app.
3. Book in advance
Some attractions, like the London Eye, are cheaper if you book online in advance. By doing that you not only save money but also time, since you won’t need to stand in line – which by the way is huge.
Staying central and near the places you plan to visit will save not only time and patience, but also money. The further out of London you travel with the public transportation, the more you pay.
The Oyster card
In advance (online), at the airport or at the underground stations, buy the Oyster Card; that is certainly the cheapest way to get around in London. You need to pay a fee of 5£ for the card, but once you return it you receive this amount back. You can also use your own credit card instead of buying the Oyster Card, but if you are staying longer than 4 days or so, I highly recommend you to buy the Travelcard option on the Oyster Card, which gives you unlimited access to the public transportation for 1 week.
Which other tips would you give to save money in London?