London is a desirable destination for many. However, as desirable as the Big Smoke may be, it is no secret that it is an expensive destination. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right knowledge and insider info, London can be enjoyed on a budget.
Flying to London
Getting to London is relatively easy, with plenty of cheap airlines, such as RyanAir or Easyjet flying into various airports. In fact, we managed to score super cheap flights to London from Málaga for €17pp! If you do fly into the London, you are most likely going to go through its main airport of Heathrow at some stage, with flights taking off and landing every 30 seconds during peak times. Business Insider considers Heathrow to be one of the busiest in the world with a whopping 75 million travellers going in and out of London. That’s more than three times Australia’s population!
Saving Money on Transport
With the aforementioned number, people congestion goes beyond Heathrow’s departure lounges and runways, and into parking spaces and sightseeing destinations. Of course, as a tourist, you may not have to deal with the problems of finding suitable airport parking. However, if you have a little extra to splurge, then renting a car may not be a bad idea; considering London is near fascinating areas like Norfolk and Cambridge. On the other hand, taking advantage of London’s excellent public transportation system gives you a firsthand experience of its distinct culture. Parking4Less suggests different options to get from Heathrow into the heart of the city.
For a cheaper mode of transportation, you can take the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground for just £5.10 a single fare (£3.10 during off-peak hours). In contrast, a faster yet more expensive method would be to take the Heathrow Express, which transports you from the airport to central London in 15 minutes for £22. Personally, we preferred this option as convenience outweighed the price.
As a side note, VisitLondon.com advises you to shell out £32.10 for a one-week Oyster Card, as the cumulative savings for your transportation costs can reach up to 50%. And from personal experience (when we learnt the hard way that you can’t buy bus tickets on the bus) the Oyster Card is definitely the way to go. You can pick these up at many tube stations, including ones at the airport. Catching the ‘tube’ and the ‘overground’ was our favourite ways to get around London, as you really feel like you are experiencing London like a local, not to mention it is a LOT cheaper than a cab!
Searching for what to do in London? Check out our Non-Tourist Guide for a great list of activities that you can enjoy like a local!
Saving money with an Oyster Card is just the beginning of your budget trip to London. There are plenty of things to do for free here. You can learn about the British culture in galleries and museums like Tate Modern and the Natural History Museum. Definitely check out the colourful markets (window shopping is free!), such as Camden or Portobello Road. If you like the outdoors, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are great places to breathe in the city’s soothing vibe and don’t cost a cent. Our pick was Primrose Hill, which has brilliant views of the city.
Accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank either, with plenty of options for all budgets and tastes. With the popularity of AirBnB on the rise, you can also stay in a range of apartments, rooms, lofts and even boats for a reasonable price. You can read more of our money saving tips for accommodation here.
But what is a holiday, without food? The foodies in us loved what London’s buzzing, multicultural community had to offer, and it isn’t all about Michelin-starred restaurants and high-end feasts. For under £5, you can have a taste of Bombay cuisine at Dishroom in Covent Garden, or get a hearty English breakfast at Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. If you prefer savoury gastronomies, then The Rib Man or Bleeker Street Burger should be your primary choice. If you’re craving for mouthwatering Chinese dishes, The Silk Road offers the best – and probably the cheapest – steamed Taiwanese buns. A little over £10 gets you a loaded meal at these abovementioned establishments. And for streetfood, you can’t go past the Dalston Street Feast. To save yourselves that little bit extra, arrive before 7pm and avoid paying the entrance fee.
With the money you save from these tips, you can spend it on the big-ticket items such as the Tower of London, Big Ben or the Millennium Wheel. If you are after more ideas on what to see and do in London like a local, check out our non-tourist guide!
Do you have any money saving tips for London? Comment below!