You can always find good and affordable options whether you’re about to travel to London on a budget and need some useful tips to not break the bank.
Here you have mine (based on experience!):
Stay away from the tourist centres
I know, pretty obvious. But if you’re a newbie to London, just know that the touristy areas are really expensive. You’ll want to stay away from there if you want to save some cash. You better sleep in neighborhoods like Castle, Bayswater or Kensington, which are not located 100% in the downtown, but will allow you to taste the local scene. Plus, they’re very well linked with easy transportation to the main spots of the city.
Hostels and University Rooms
When it comes to the actual accommodation, hostels are the cheapest option (if you’re one of those travelers who really needs its own space). The staff is usually very close to you and can recommend cool spots to visit (which are not the Big Ben and the changing of the guard). And besides from hostels, renting an university room- try universityrooms.com- when students are away is also great, very affordable and it’s an easy place to meet new people in your trips (they tend to have large social areas to chill out!).
Relax in Some of Its Impressive Parks
Which are FREE. You have, from north to South, a very nice offer of green spaces in London for you to chill out, make a picnic, run or just get away from the frenetic city centre. In the Greenwich Park, blossom trees are almost magical; in the Battersea Park, you can find options like spotting the Thames, visiting its Dogs and Cats Home or heading to the Buddhist London Peace Pagoda; and the Clapham Common, which is a haven of peace in South-London where summer concerts take place and you have plenty of cafés around, besides from a skate park and the largest bandstand in London.
Get the Oyster Card
Of course public transportation is always the way to go when saving cash traveling. And… you’re not polluting as much by avoiding cabs and similar! The Oyster card is a transit pass basically that you have to put money in according to the times you’re planning on using it. It saves you money in transportation (sometimes up to 50% in subway tickets) and offers discounts on restaurants and shops. Just remember to pack light, so you can move around easily once you’re there. Planning a trip thinking this kind of stuff beforehand is the way to go, believe me!
Enjoy a Good Biking Time
This is always a win. Central London is a gem to discover by bike! Imagine this part of the city in the rush hour. You can previously make a map of spots you want to visit that are not too far away from each other and you already have one whole! If I may recommend you something that’s typically “London style”, just make a route around the best places for pies. It’s a 100% traditional dish and you can find it in so many different versions: steak and kidney, bacon, oysters, jellied eels, mushrooms and a lot more! Tastes as great as it sounds!
As I just said, busy hours in London are insane, so walking can be a suitable (and cheap) alternative. Plus, it’s a way for you to take this trip more casually. A different kind of walk you can take in London is the one that goes from the Parliament to the Millennium Bridge, which offers a more relaxed kind of afternoon, while allowing you to see many of the main stops of the city! An interesting and free tour is the one you can do around the London street art locations. The masterpieces really get to your soul and wake up your emotions. Something really worth the walk!
Brick Lane Market on Sundays
If bargains are your thing and you think vintage items are a really original piece you can take from anywhere, Brick Lane Market is going to be the way to go on Sundays. Prices are really convenient compared to other well-known streets in the city. Delicious food from all over the world, clothes, shoes, vinyls and all kinds of classic stuff like sunglasses or sewing machines. I know, pretty random, but very cool to see.
Chinatown All the Way
Who doesn’t love some good Chinese bites after having walked half the city? I do! That’s why if you’re visiting London on a budget, in Chinatown you’ll be able to try very tasty Esta Asian (mostly) dishes for not that much money. Bars, cafes and shops are all over the place and I can tell you all Chinatowns in big cities are something pretty cool to visit and more affordable than other commercial areas.
Pro-tip: When thinking about drinks, which is absolutely a big part of the Londoners culture, always go to the haunt for happy hours at bars. Prices are actually much lower than normal (3 euros beers and two cocktails for 7!) and the environment is pretty cool, relaxed and fun. Here a list of the best spots to hit during happy hours in London.
Hope you’ve noted down how to move around London on a budget. These tips have worked for me and I’m pretty sure they will also for you! Just keep in mind to always organise your getaways in a sustainable way: try not to pollute that much with your choices, go for activities that support smaller businesses and I can assure you that the outcome feeling is so rewarding, especially if you head to this kind of huge cosmopolitan city! Every little act and decision counts!
Main photo by Lucas Peng