Value Travel: Tips To Explore London On A Budget

Value Travel: Tips To Explore London On A Budget
Debbie
Debbie 
Updated

The British capital has so many faces and is one of the most charming cities in the world. Think of its famous bridges, iconic squares, multicultural elements, endless shopping, and amazing architecture. However, it has one big disadvantage: it is expensive. London can be an affordable destination simply by making the right choices, by choosing certain places and by taking advantage of the free things that the city offers. Read through the short guide below so you can enjoy your London visit on a budget.

The cheapest way to discover the city

value travel: tips to explore london on a budget | the cheapest way to discover the city

Taxis are an expensive way to get around London. So are individual metro tickets: the cost varies per zone from 2.30 to 6.90 GBP, that is from 3.20 to 9.62 USD. The best choice is to buy an Oyster Card, from any metro station for 5 GBP (6.97 USD) and then fill it with cash depending on the routes and the lines you will use. Weekly usage costs 32 GBP (44.64 USD) for zones 1 and 2 and has unlimited use. It can be used on the subway, on buses, trams, the DLR line and many trains within London. It is the best option for getting around the city.

Another option to go on foot. London may be a big city, but most of its attractions are a short walk from each other.

Free and affordable attractions

value travel: tips to explore london on a budget | free and affordable attractions

London offers a bunch of cool stuff for free, mostly because its beauty lies around the city. Take, for example, the street art, the parks or alleys, and the bridges over Thames River. Walk and discover these places on your own or join a free walking tours provided by Sandeman’s or Undiscovered London. Tours begin in the morning and in the early afternoon. Tips for the guides are appreciated. Find detailed information in the links below.

Another nice and very English attraction to see is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It takes place every day at 11.30 am and you can watch it for free. Make sure you get there at least half an hour early to get a good spot.

If you are a fan of street art, then walk in the East End area of London. It is one of the most interesting, culturally diverse and artsy areas of the city. Discover street art masterpieces, and surely you will recognize work by Banksy.

London is a metropolis with a fast-paced lifestyle, traffic and pollution, but it also offers amazing green spaces. Hyde Park and Regent’s Park are two oases in the heart of the city where you can go and rest, walk or just have a picnic.

Free museums and galleries

Tate modern london 2001 06
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Many of the city’s museums and art galleries have free entry. You can visit the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London, Tate Modern Art Museum and the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square for free. Costs apply for some special exhibitions in the museums. Take the opportunity to visit at least one of these museums while in London, and relax in the cafeteria where you can usually meet artistic people in a cultural oasis. Plus, you’ll likely have a great view of the city.

Flea markets and festivals

value travel: tips to explore london on a budget | flea markets and festivals

London is famous for its flea markets, its neighborhoods with ethnic flavors, the flower and food markets, the vintage markets, the hipster pop-up malls popping up for a few days in the city and hosting concerts, street food and second-hand shops. And all of these provide great opportunities to stroll around and enjoy the London lifestyle.

Stroll along the hip neighborhoods of Camden and Shoreditch to the famous streets of the Borough or Notting Hill. There you will find find the most interesting markets of London and the best street food markets.

In Camden Market, even if you are not a fan of goth culture, a visit to the Black Rose shop is a must. It is the biggest and best goth shop in London and is like a goth museum. You will find clothes, accessories and makeup both for men and women. It is located at Stables Market, Shop 26 and opens daily from 11 am to 6 pm.

Go to Shoreditch if you want to shop for beautiful indie clothes. Visit Aida boutique (133 Shoreditch High Street) for unique women’s t-shirts and dresses, and Denham (32 Charlotte Road) if you are a fan of denim.

In Borough Market, stop for coffee or brunch at Pavilion cafe, and in Notting Hill, at famous Portobello Road, you will find amazing antiques at prices you never imagined! Just make sure you arrive early in the morning, around 9 - 10 am would be good, as the road begins to get crowded after 11:00 am.

Buy half-price theater tickets at TKTS

value travel: tips to explore london on a budget | buy half-price theater tickets at tkts

A visit to the West End to watch a play or a musical is a must when you are in London. Tickets though, are expensive if you try to buy them on the spot. But there is a way to buy them at half price! Just go to the official half-price ticket booth called TKTS, located in the middle of Leicester Square, the same day that you want to watch the play. TKTS does not have pre-sale. If you have Internet access, check the availability each morning with the discounted tickets of the day on the TKTS website. If you do not have internet, go to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square and see the list there. Unfortunately not every theater gives half-price tickets every day. And also have in mind that the very successful plays never offer discounted tickets. The TKTS office opens every day at 10 am. Be prepared for long queues during high season. Ticket sale stops half an hour before the start of the show (2 pm for the afternoon plays, 7 pm for the evening plays). TKTS is the only official place to buy discount tickets and belongs to the Society of London Theatre. With some luck and a bit of patience, you can enjoy a London play for a great price!

Eat and drink for less

eat and drink for less

For economic food, try to avoid tourist areas such as Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Find delicious Chinese, Ethiopian, Cuban and Greek food on Brick Lane, a famous East London street, every Sunday when there is a market with live music on the street. Go to Camden Lock Market, where you can find multicultural flavors every day. In Portobello Market, you can find flavors from around the world for very low prices on Saturdays. For the tastiest and affordable burgers, visit GBK restaurants located almost everywhere around the city. There you can taste excellent burgers at the price of 8 GBP (11.16 USD). If you love Chinese cuisine, then you should definitely visit Chinatown. The restaurants there offer an unlimited buffet of Chinese food at the cost of approximately 10 GBP (13.95 USD). Try Portuguese cuisine at Nando’s. It is a self service restaurant and you can have a decent and tasty menu for 10-12 GBP (13.95 USD-16.74 USD).

Enjoy London and save some pennies!

London is one of the greatest cities in Europe, but also is one of the most expensive ones! Do not be afraid to visit as there are so many things offered that are quite affordable or free. From the fascinating street art to the flea markets and bazaars, to concerts and parks, to walks with views, you will never run out of things to do. London can be an affordable destination. Take a free walking tour for insider tips, enjoy free museums and even watch a play without breaking the bank.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Travelling since 1999, I created my blog so my memories won't fade as time goes by. Passionate about travelling and music festivals, I try to combine them both. My motto is "I travel to live, I...Read more

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