Short on money and want to visit London on a budget?

Discover 11+ money saving tips on accommodation, transport, eating out and things to do.

Have a brilliant time without breaking the bank!

Visit Free Attractions.

There are so many free museums, parks and attractions, you won’t have to spend any money doing things while you’re in London. Some of the top attractions are free and include The Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, and Science Museum. You can also experience amazing views of the city, visit wonderful parks, see street performers and so much more without taking out your wallet once.

Read 50 Free Things to do in London for tons of ideas. There’s something for everybody.

Pay As You Go When Travelling in London (NEVER buy paper tickets)

The cheapest way to use the tube and buses for tourists is to pay as you go with a contactless card, mobile device, visitor Oyster card or Oyster card. It’s much cheaper than using single paper tickets and there are daily and weekly caps on how much you can be charged.

It’s important to touch in and out with the same card.

Overseas contactless payments may attract extra fees so overseas visitors may prefer to get a visitor Oyster card. You have to get a visitor Oyster card before you arrive in London.

If you’ve arrived in London already, you can get a normal Oyster card for £5 from the tube station and some shops.

Under 11s go free on public transport.

Find out more information about the best ways to pay on the TFL website

More Tips to Save Money on Travel

  • Travel off peak – Avoid tapping in on public transport with your Oyster or contactless payment between the hours of 6.30am and 9.30am and 4pm and 7pm. This means you will avoid paying peak travel fares.
  • Avoid Cabs – London cabs are super expensive so avoid taking them where possible.
  • Use the bus – For short journeys it’s often worth taking the bus rather than the tube where possible. Using an Oyster card, it’s £1.55 for a single bus journey in zones 1 and 2, compared to £2.40 on the tube. Plus you get a better view!

Discover Amazing and Cheap Things To Do.

As well as free attractions, there are many brilliant things to do which are cheap too. Here are a few ideas:

Take the Emirate Cable Car over the Thames for £5 (£2.50 for kids)
You can take a cable car over the River Thames and see amazing views of Canary Wharf, the Cutty Sark and more. For the cheapest prices, use an Oyster or contactless card when boarding or book your tickets online here

Take the Thames Clipper boat
Instead of spending lots of money on huge boat trip, try the Thames Clipper boat. It’s a commuter service where can use an Oyster card or contacless card. It costs £7.25 for an adult.

See a Shakespeare play for £5
At the Globe theatre you can see a play for as little as £5 if you don’t mind standing. Find out what’s on at the Globe here. 

Visit a Cheap Museum
Some museums are cheaper than others. The London Canal Museum is £6 per adult and only £14 for a family. It tells the history of London’s canals through lots of interesting and interactive exhibits.

Walk Around the City

If you’re staying in the city of London why not plan a day where you don’t use the tube or public transport and walk around the city?

Many London landmarks and attractions are very close together. For example, you can easily walk from Westminster to Buckingham Palace in 30 minutes. Use Google maps to show you the way. Why not time your visit at Buckingham Palace with watching the Changing of the Guard.  Or stop off in St James park which is in front of Buckingham Palace and watch the feeding of the pelicans at 2.30pm which is also free.

This self guided walk can be completed in less than one hour and takes in many of London icons including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the National Gallery and lots more.

Hire a bike for £2

You can hire a bike for as little as £2 through London’s bike hire scheme. Collect a bike from one of over 750 docking stations! There are over 1000 bikes.

Save Money on London Attractions and Entertainment

If you pay on the day at a London attraction, you will almost always pay the highest ticket price. Plan in advance and save some money with the following tips:

  • Check if it’s cheaper to book online in advance. Many big attractions like the London Aquarium. The London Eye and Madame Tussauds allow you to save 10% on ticket prices by pre-booking on their website.
  • Get discounts on tickets to visit multi attractions. For example if you book London Eye, London dungeon, Shrek’s adventure and big bus standard at the same time you can save up to 46% on the ticket prices.
  • If you travel to London by train you can get 2 for 1 tickets on many top attractions including the London Dungeon, Kew Gardens, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and more. Find out more about 2 for 1 London here.
  • If you collect Tesco vouchers, you can use them for entry on some London attractions including Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeons.
  • Every year Kelloggs cereals have a promotion where you can buy a box of cereal and get 2 for 1 tickets for the London eye and Madame Tussauds. Find out more about the Grown Ups Go Free promotion here.
  • The London Pass is worth looking into if you plan on visiting certain attractions such as the Tower of London, London Zoo, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge as it will save you money on the entrance fees at these attractions.
  • Save money on last minute theatre tickets on the official London tickets website. You can also visit the official booth in Leicester Square for last minute theatre tickets too. Get there early for the best availability.

Visit Attractions in The Same Area of London

London is a huge place. You can save a lot of money on travel (and reduce your time spent travelling) if you visit attractions in just one area of the city at the same time. Here are some ideas:

Visit Kensington
You can spend a whole day in Kensington visiting the National History Museum, the Science museum, the V and A museum and Kensington Gardens (which are all free!) See the Princess Diana Memorial fountain and the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is a great place for a picnic at lunchtime.

Visit Greenwich
Greenwich is another area with  free attractions which are close together. You could take the Emirates Cable Car to Greenwich (just £5 for adults and £2.50 for kids) and see many of the free attractions there which include the National Maritime museum, the Queen’s House and Greenwich Park. If it’s summer and you have kids, take a pedalo out on the children’s boating lake for just £4. Walk up to the top of the hill at Greenwich Park for an amazing view of the city. Other paid for attractions in Greenwich include the Cutty Sark and The Royal Observatory. There’s also the Greenwich market to browse round.

Visit Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury is in Central London. The British museum and The Wellcome Gallery are both in the area and are free. If you have kids check out Coram’s Fields which is also free. The Cartoon museum, the Charles Dickens museum and the Foundling museum are paid attractions in the same area.

Visit Westminster
Westminster landmarks include Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery is free to visit and located at Trafalgar Square. You can walk to Convent Garden in 5 minutes from here and see the street performers while you’re there. Buckingham Palace is 10 minutes walk from Trafalgar Square and there’s also St James Park where you can stop off for a picnic. If you check out a map you can see just how close these attractions are.

Another thing to do in the Westminster area is to walk along the Southbank in Westminster and visit The London Eye, the Tate Gallery, London Aquarium and the London Dungeon at the same time. You can also hop on a boat along the Thames.

Save money on eating out.

Eating out in London can be expensive. Here are some ways to save money:

Take a picnic
If the weather is good, there are so many green spaces and parks to eat, you will have no trouble finding somewhere nice to have a picnic. There are a few indoor places you can also have a picnic. The National History Museum has a picnic room. You can also picnic in the foyer at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank.

Buy a sandwich from a supermarket
Many supermarkets have meal deals where you can pick up a sandwich, drink, crisps or treat as part of a meal deal. Tesco do them for as little as £3. You can then eat this on the go or as a picnic.

Eat cuisines from around the world
Often the most affordable restaurants sell amazing food with cuisines from other countries. London is a great place to try new cuisine. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Afgan, Ethiopian, Taiwanese – you name it there is a restaurant for it.

You can check out a list of the best cheap eats in London here.

Fish and Chips
Fish and chips takeaways are not only local cuisine but also a cheaper way to fill up.

Chain Restaurant Offers
There are many chain restaurants around London including Bella Italia, Pizza Express, Giraffe and Wagamama.

It’s often worth checking out the restaurant website to see if they have any special offers. For example, at the moment kids can eat for £1 at Bella Italia with the purchase of a full adult meal.

You can check out any deals for chain restaurants on moneysavingexpert.com.

Eat a English breakfast 
Eating out for English breakfast is normally one of the best value meals of the day. A big English breakfast can cost about £8 to £10 and keep you going for hours – with cheaper prices for kid’s breakfast. Many cafes and restaurants serve it all day.

Where to stay on a budget

Staying in the capital can be expensive. I have listed below some top tips and accommodation options to keep the cost down. However, the best thing is to shop around. Sometimes the cheapest option one week is the most expensive the week after.

Stay in a hostel

There are lots of very good hostels in London. However, as they are so good, they’re not always the cheapest option! Check out some of the best hostels in London. 

Stay in a budget hotel 

Premier Inns and Travel Lodge hotels are chain hotels which offer cheap prices but don’t compromise on a good night’s sleep. Premier Inn beds all have hypnos mattresses for a good night’s sleep.  The travel lodge in Covent Garden is very central.

University Rooms

in university holidays, you can often stay in a room in a halls of residence for a lot less than a hotel room (again not always!). Try universityrooms.com and travelstay.com

Stay slightly out of London.

Sometimes it’s worth staying slightly out of London and travelling in to visit the city. Of course you have to factor in travel costs on top of your stay and it’s not as convenient, but sometimes (not always though!!) the price can be significantly cheaper.

For example, you could stay at a Premier Inn in Kingston for as little as £56 per night and then take the 30 minute train into London at a cost of £16 return which can be a lot less than a night in a London hotel. It’s not always cheaper but worth checking!

We checked for a room on 25th July 22 and it was only £66 for a standard room at the Premier Inn Kingston compared to £144 at the Travelodge, Covent Garden. However on 25th August 22 staying it the Premier Inn Kingston was more expensive than in Covent Garden.

Visit London in the Off Peak Months

Consider visiting during the off peak season. July and August are some of the most popular months for visiting London as it’s the UK’s school summer holidays. Therefore hotel accommodation is more expensive. The city is also much busier and more crowded!

It’s cheaper in the winter months of January (from about 8th Jan) and February. Unfortunately the weather is guaranteed to be pretty grey and miserable (although we do have some sunny days – you just don’t know when you’re going to get them!) However, hotels shouldn’t cost as much in the winter months. Also the tourist attractions won’t be as crowded (just avoid the UK school February half term school holidays – normally the 3rd or 4th week of February).

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