While London is undoubtedly one of the most exciting cities to visit, it also has a reputation as being quite an expensive place. But if you are travelling on a budget there are a number of local tips and tricks that can help you make the most out of your stay without maxing out your credit card.
Use public transport wisely
London taxis are among the best in the world – highly trained drivers who know the city inside out. But if you are on a budget then you may find taxis a little too expensive and you will be tackling the city’s public transport system. You will need an Oyster card – the stored value card that enables you to use the trains and buses. But if the weather is good, you should definitely try the hire bike scheme. There are hire bike stations throughout the city and you can hire for a day or a week (with 30 minutes use at a time), picking up and dropping off bikes as you move around the city.
Look for the inexpensive opportunity
London offers a lot of free activities – museums and galleries generally don’t charge for entry unless it is for a special exhibition. The view from the top of St Paul’s Cathedral is amazing, but rather than paying the entry fee you can get a similar view for free from the top of the One New Change shopping centre next door. The viewing platform at The Shard gives you great views, but you get similar views from Hutong – the dim sum restaurant in the same building that is surprisingly inexpensive. Check out the local street press for events listings of what’s on around the city – there will be comedy shows, theatre performances, and film nights that are free of charge. If you fancy seeing a big name musical while you are in town then head to the ticket booth in Leicester Square where discounted seats are sold.
Finding the right accommodation
Accommodation is going to be one of the biggest expenses of your holiday, but the wrong accommodation can really ruin your trip. While it would be fantastic to stay in one of the many luxurious five-star hotels that you can find in London, the reality is that you are probably looking for something slightly less expensive. There are a number of ways that you can find cheap London hotels, it helps if you are flexible in your dates so that you can take advantage of late-booking offers, but more importantly is knowing the area that you wish to stay in. London is a big city so you need to be staying somewhere with good transport links but still within your budget. Look for Kings Cross rather than Knightsbridge. Try Hoxton instead of Mayfair.
Don’t let a tight budget put you off from visiting London. This is a city where anything can happen, a city that is full of surprises, and some of your most memorable experiences will be the ones that haven’t cost you a penny.