At first London may seem like one of those crazy expensive destinations, where your money just seems to disappear. But that certainly doesn’t have to be the case. We are here to help by giving you our best tips for visiting the city. Here are 10 savvy tips for saving money when visiting London.
1. Visit free attractions
London has quite a few free attractions perfect for saving money. This includes places such as Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Parks and most of the museums. As well as being free the museums in London are some of the best on the planet, including the Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, the British Museum and many more. Within many of the museums, you’ll often find paid exhibitions available should that interest you.
2. Walk when possible
Many of the city’s attractions are fairly close to each other. This means you could save money on transportation by simply walking between them. Such as starting at Tower Bridge, walking west along the river where you’d see Tate Modern, St Paul’s followed by the Coca Cola London Eye and then the Houses of Parliament. Check out our self-guided London walking tour for an idea of a route you could take, which would allow you to see many of the city’s most famous landmarks.
There are also free walking tours available which can help you see and learn about some of the top attractions in the city. Often you would tip a little during these tours as a way of saying thank you.
3. Use contactless or an Oyster card
Should you need it, then there are various ways to use public transport in London. This includes getting a paper ticket from stations, or the best way is to use either contactless (such as on your bank card) or by buying an Oyster Card. Then, when you use your contactless card or Oyster your travel will be capped once it reaches a certain amount. This can actually vary depending on the zones you’re travelling through, and also if you’re travelling during peak periods (Monday – Friday 06:30-9:30 and 16:00-19:00).
4. Look out for lunch deals
A good thing about London is the competition between businesses. This means that for lunch you’ll find countless affordable options. Such as meal deals in supermarkets costing around £3 for a sandwich, snack and drink. There can also be lunch specials at restaurants or decent and cheap takeaways. Whatever your budget you should be able to find something that works for you.
5. Stay in an Airbnb or hostel
Airbnbs and hostels are good for several reasons. First, they can often be located in great areas (especially true for hostels). Secondly, you can often get much better prices compared to hotels and they can also accommodate large group sizes. And finally, when staying in an Airbnb or hostel they often have cooking facilities meaning you can cook for yourself rather than eating out. All these reasons make this type of accommodation perfect for those travelling on a budget and hoping to save some £.
6. Keep an eye out for cheap deals
There are often deals available for major attractions. This might be by booking in advance, or through special promotions.
One of the best promotions available is the 2 FOR 1 deals available through daysoutguide.co.uk (in partnership with National Rail). This gives you huge savings (50% off). So, for example, you could get 2FOR1 on Coca Cola London Eye tickets. These are normally priced at £30 each, but when booking through this promo you will get two tickets instead of one, making the cost £15 each instead.
Should you be arriving via air or another means, you may want to buy your tickets in advance to save. Such as when booking your tickets for The View from The Shard 14 days or more in advance you can save up to 20%. And the Coca Cola London Eye allows you to save up to 30% by booking online in advance.
7. Get The London Pass
If you’re the kind of traveller that likes to see and do as much as possible then a good option might be The London Pass. When purchasing this card you will get entry into many of the city’s top attractions and should save if you see quite a lot.
The card includes things such as The Shard View (seen below), Tower of London, Thames River Boat Cruise, St Paul’s Cathedral, a hop-on hop-off bus tour and many more. When purchasing the card it’s worth looking at everything it includes, seeing what you’d like to do, and then checking if you’d save money by purchasing. You should also bear in mind that some places might have queues, or take a while to get to.
There is also the option of buying the pass with the travel card included, which is around £15 extra. This probably isn’t worth it because a daily transport cap is around £7-£10 (Zones 1-4) when paying using Contactless or an Oyster card.
8. Avoid visiting on the weekend
Visiting anywhere on the weekend will often be more expensive than during the week. This is due to demand, as many people may visit London for a long weekend, such as Friday-Sunday. Because of this increased demand, you’ll find hotels will charge a lot more than other days.
9. You can drink the tap water
Buying bottled water can quickly add up. In England, you can normally drink tap water which means you could easily save vs buying bottled water. So instead of this carry a reusable bottle with you (we like S’well) and fill it up when you can. Another benefit of this is that you’d be reducing your plastic waste too, therefore helping the environment.
10. Avoid cash machines that charge
Some cash machines will charge you premium rates on withdrawals. To avoid this our savvy tip for London is to instead use official bank machines (HSBC, Barclays etc) or other bank machines that clearly say they’re free to use. But remember that although the ATM (bank machine) may not charge you, your actual bank still might, say if you’re visiting from abroad.
So there you have it, our top and most savvy ways to save money when you visit London. This can help when you’re on a budget, or generally just want to return home with a bit left in your bank.
Whenever travelling and trying to save money it’s always good to have a balance between being cheap, and being savvy. By having that balance you should enjoy your experience and find it that much more rewarding.
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