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how to visit london cheaply

Exactly how expensive is it to go to London? Is it even possible to visit London cheaply? Just one of the many questions I’ve been asked by friends looking to visit.

I’ve been to London three times now and have learned a few tricks on where to go and what to do In order to save money. These tips can honestly be applied to most large cities around the world.


Is London Cheap or Expensive?

Here’s the truth. . . London is very expensive for Americans, or anyone visiting on a weaker currency.

To give you a real perspective, the GBP : USD exchange rate as of September 30, 2019, is 1.2295, which means Americans can expect to pay over 20% more for goods and services. Honestly, I’ve seen it way higher. Over 30% higher. 

Compared to the Euro at 0.9175, that is a significant increase. 

But that should not stop you from visiting one of the greatest cities on earth!

london travel tips on a budget

How can I save money when visiting London?

Lucky for you, I have 10 proven hacks that are sure to make your trip to Londontown a whole heck-of-a-lot cheaper without compromising fun! To give you a rundown of this article, here are my money-saving tips for visiting London. 

  1. Stay in a city center hostel
  2. Purchase the London Pass
  3. Walk everywhere
  4. Snack at supermarkets
  5. Pig-out at London markets
  6. Dine-in at restaurants during happy hour
  7. Use apps to find deals on entertainment
  8. Take advantage of free attractions
  9. Don’t overtip
  10. Spend time outside

How to Visit London Cheaply

With everything under the sun to do here, London can quickly turn into a budget killer…if you don’t play smart. Here are 10 ways to travel to London cheaply without sacrificing fun!

how to travel london cheaply

Bed, Bar, Food, and New Friends at the Walrus Hostel! $30/night

#1. Stay in a City Center Hostel

This is especially important if you are traveling to London for the first time. Hostels allow you to stay in desirable locations without paying high prices.

Below are the best hostels located in prime neighborhoods offering perks like free wifi, discounts on food, fun atmosphere and more!

  1. Walrus Hostel
  2. Wombats City Hostel London
  3. St. Christopher’s Village
  4. St. Christopher’s Inn – London Bridge
  5. St. Christopher’s Camden
  6. Phoenix Hostel
  7. London Backpackers
  8. Hostel One Camden
  9. Rest Up London
  10. Astor Victoria
  11. Meininger London Hyde Park

Do you prefer hotels?

Here are the best budget hotels in popular London neighborhoods. 

  1. CitizenM Tower of London
  2. The Nadler Soho
  3. Point A Shoreditch
  4. St. Giles
  5. Central London Apartments


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Creative Ways to Get Cheap Accommodation


london on a budget

#2 Get the London Pass

The London Pass is a great way to save money in London. It takes you around all the top tourist spots for less than buying admissions to attractions a la carte. 

Even if your a return visitor, the London Pass gives you affordable access to all the sites you loved from before.

Check out this full review of the London Pass from Becksplore

She does an amazing job of providing pros and cons to the pass, showing a cost comparison of individual attractions to London pass.

london tube

#3 Purchase an Oyster Card

Yes, the Oyster Card is costly, but it still beats cabs, Ubers, and renting your own car.

What is the Oyster Card?

The Oyster card is a reusable ticket for London’s public transportation (i.e. bus and underground).

Passengers download fare money onto the card and swipe it prior to the journey where the ticket fare will be automatically withdrawn from your available funds.

The Oyster Card provides an affordable option for getting around London’s major zones.

It’s not recommended to purchase fare as you go if you’re staying longer than 5 days.

Instead, consider the flat-fee unlimited travel option, but it’s pricey.

For example, a 7-day pass for zones 1-6 is around $80 USD. The cheapest 7-day for zones 1-2 only is around $40 USD.

Due to the high cost, I recommend walking as much as possible and use the Oyster Card when necessary. A benefit to walking is seeing more city streets and possibly secret discoveries.

Poundland is every wallets friend when trying to survive London on a budget

#4 Snack at Supermarkets

Headed out on your daily exploration? Stock up on snacks and water at discount supermarkets such as Poundland, Tesco, and Aldi

Poundland is equivalent to a Dollar Store in the US only way better as far as quality goes.

It was my preferred stop for snacks and water. Mostly for convenience of being in and out – not to mention impressive healthy snack selections.

They have nuts, candy, water, and toiletries for you guessed it, 1 pound. Stock these essentials in your hostel locker.

I packed my purse with snacks and water every day before heading out. Saves a ton of money!

eating lunch at borough market in London, England

I’m obviously too consumed with my meal for a photo

#5 Pig Out at Food Markets

Feast like royalty at one of many London Markets. Every market has as the minimum fresh fruit and veggies for super cheap.

When I say cheap, I mean average 2 pounds for a 4-5 assortment of fruit (i.e. Apples, Strawberries, and Bananas).

Buy a variety to keep on hand while you explore the city.

Some markets are solely dedicated to food. You are sure to find a delicious meal for half the price of any restaurant.

Plus you are getting in some real local living which we all know I love! For tips on how not to look like a tourist read this.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Complete Guide to London Markets


A word of advice: Don’t forget to bring cash.

getting ready for camden pub crawl in London, England

Just a couple of pre-gamers saving some money

#6 Dine-in during happy hours

Grab an early dinner at a restaurant during happy hour. Many run well into dinner time giving you the opportunity to check out more of London’s food scene for less.

When I say British people love their happy hours, I mean it. Neighborhoods like Camden have a ton of happy hours such as 2-for-1 drinks with some running as late as 9 pm.

If you are ever unsure if the restaurant or bar is running a special, just ask! You will be surprised how many deals there are once you start looking.

Also, if your hostel has a bar or restaurant connected to it, they most likely offer great discounts for their guests such as: 2-for-1 drinks, 25% off food, etc.

Take advantage of those deals to pre-game and eat.

Consider joining a pub crawl to save money on drinks while meeting fellow travelers.

girl crossing the tower bridge in London, England

Big summer blowout sale at H&M with my sister!

#7 Scope Out Entertainment Deals

Similar to NYC, London has tons of Broadway shows, nightclubs, and other attractions that cost a fortune.

Luckily, if you’re not terribly picky or time restrained you can find massive deals

Let’s not forget about student ID discounts!!

Most museums and some retailers offer student discounts.

Even better, some museums are free. My advice is to check the website of whatever museum you want to go to for special “free admission” dates.

Best Apps for Food, Drink and Entertainment Deals Around London:

  1. Smith Finder
  2. Wriggle
  3. Drinki
  4. Hype
  5. Frugl
  6. Hidden London
  7. TimeOut London

things to do in london on a budget

#8 Take advantage of FREE attractions

Visit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station

Stroll through Trafalgar Square

Wonder through the Natural History Museum

Walk across one of many popular bridges like Millennium Bridge

Witness changing of the guards

Explore street art in just about any neighborhood in London like Camden, Shoreditch, as well as, the colorful houses of Notting Hill


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to See (Almost) All of London in 24 Hours


london on a budget

#9 Tip accordingly

Tipping standards are way different in London (well, most of Europe) than they are in the U.S. I learned this the hard way.

Living in Vegas 20% is a standard tip. You can imagine how much I over tipped my first visit to London.

How Much Should You Tip in London?

10-15% is standard though make sure to check your bill for some establishments auto-grat.

people hanging out at Jubilee Gardens in London, England

Jubilee Gardens – The perfect chill spot overlooking the city.

#10 Spend time outside: London Top Parks

My favorite parks are Jubilee Garden and Hyde Park. Hyde Park is a sight to see anyways, so kick back like a true local and relax.

Have a picnic with food you just bought at the market, read a book, play some cards, or just people watch.

It really is a beautiful, peaceful place, which can be nice if you have been non-stop on your feet.

Jubilee Gardens is another great chill spot. Located in Westminster right along the Thames River. Locals flock to the park to relax and unwind from the day. 

With saving hacks factored in, how much does it cost to visit London for one week?

how to visit london cheaply

Average Cost of a Trip to London for 1-Week

When setting a travel budget, I always break it down by category. Here’s my exact spending for London:

  • Transportation (in London only) $105
  • Rail to and from Airport $15
  • Oyster Card $75
  • Cab $15
  • Accommodation at St. Christopher’s Camden hostel $280
  • Food Spend (markets, restaurants, supermarkets, tips) $420
  • Nightlife (i.e. bar hopping) $140
  • Shopping on Oxford Street $75
  • Attractions/Museums $200

It’s safe to say the average cost of a trip to London for one week is $1,220 USD ($175/day*7) and that’s without sacrificing fun.

I felt great saving while knowing I got to see, eat, and drink anything I wanted in all the hot spots.

Psst. . . Looking for more Europe getaways? Check out these guides:

How do you save money when traveling to expensive cities? Share your tips in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you purchase through these links, which helps me keep my lights on and order pizza from Dominos! I am extremely grateful. Thank you.

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london travel tips budget


london travel tips on a budget