As of 2022, London remains the fourth-most expensive city in the world, only beaten to the top spots by Geneva, New York, and Hong Kong. Both living in London and spending time there on vacation can be unaffordable for many people.
Knowing how expensive it is, you might not add London to your list of places to visit. However, it’s such an incredible city that it can’t help but grab your attention. Don’t let its reputation stop you from enjoying it to the fullest. You might be able to make your money go further in this expensive city in the following ways:
Think Outside the Square With Accommodation
You could easily spend most of your travel budget on accommodation in London. This can be frustrating, given you’re only sleeping there. Otherwise, you’ll be out and about enjoying everything London has to offer.
As a result, don’t be afraid to think outside the square with accommodation. Look for cheap apartments that people rent out on a short-term basis. You might also find that hostels and campgrounds charge more reasonable per-night fees than hotels and motels.
If you know people in London or surrounding areas, ask if they have any connections. You might be able to borrow someone’s sofa for free, rather than spending thousands of dollars for a hotel you’ll spend little time in.
Skip the Fancy Restaurants
There are plenty of restaurants and eateries in London offering incredible dining experiences. However, many of these come at a high cost. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on food, only to be hungry again a few hours later.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself while on vacation, but consider researching more affordable eateries in London to satiate your hunger while you explore. For example, you can generally always find cheap and freshly cooked meals at the Borough Market in central London, among the largest and oldest in London. You can also approach various street food trucks for simple but delicious meals. As a general rule, street markets and food trucks are among the cheapest dining options in London.
Many people visit London to learn more about its history, culture, and architecture. You can learn a great deal by walking the streets and talking to people, but museums are typically the best source of information.
Fortunately for budget travellers, many museums in London are either free or cheap. For example, you can learn about the famous author Charles Dickens at the Charles Dickens Museum. The London Canal Museum is also an excellent attraction to learn about canals, boats, and the ice trade.
If you’re a movie fan, it’s always worth checking out the Cinema Museum with a vast collection of memorabilia and posters. Even the London Transport Museum is worth exploring to see old buses and tube carriages.
Think about what you’re most eager to learn about, and you’ll undoubtedly find a museum with those attractions.
Travel During the Offseason
Accommodation, transport, and attractions in London are in hot demand during summer vacation and the winter holidays. Children are off school, parents are off work, and families want to do fun things with all their free time.
As a result, London has become a busy place. Accommodation providers raise their prices, restaurants are packed, and you sometimes have to wait a long time at attractions to enjoy them. While you might not always be able to avoid crowds, you might find that your London vacation is more enjoyable and possibly even more affordable if you travel during the off-season.
The off-season is often seen as being from January to April and September to November. You might have to deal with cloudy skies and cool temperatures, but you’ll likely be able to make your money go further.
You might even find that flights to London are more affordable during these periods. Start comparing flights now and see if there’s money to be saved by being strategic with your timing.
Research Cheap Transport
London is a substantial city spanning over 900 square miles with nearly 15 million people. Exploring the city’s main attractions on foot is simply not practical. As a result, travellers must make use of various modes of transport, some of which aren’t all that affordable.
For example, a 30-60-minute journey between Heathrow and Central London can cost more than £100, while a six-minute trip might even be more than £10. Don’t be afraid to explore alternative transport options before arriving in London so you can make your money go further.
Fortunately, the Transport for London advertises multiple different ways to get around, such as:
- London Overground
- Taxis and minicabs
- The Elizabeth Line
- The IFS Cloud Cable Car
Which option you choose can depend on where you are in London and where you need to be. Don’t be afraid to talk to locals and business owners to get their insight into the best and most affordable travel options.
Book Attractions in Advance
While there is nothing wrong with visiting attractions on a whim, you don’t always know their admission fees. Sometimes, it’s not until you’re at the front of the line that you realize something is expensive and feel obligated to pay for it.
Avoid that uncomfortable situation by booking popular London attractions in advance. For example, you might book a trip on the IFS Cloud Cable car in advance, with prices starting from £21.40. The Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is another worthwhile attraction since a £32 ticket provides transport to famous attractions like St Paul’s Cathedral and London Eye.
If you feel like splurging, you can also book a tour around the Tower of London from £28.90. Here, you can learn about the Tower’s 900-year history as a royal palace, a jewel house, and even a zoo.
Booking in advance means you know the prices, can account for them in your budget, and know how much you have left over for essentials like food, transport, and accommodation.
Experiencing London on the cheap may seem impossible when it’s among the most expensive cities in the world. However, by putting time into planning and being careful with accommodation and food, you might be surprised by how affordable your UK vacation can be.