One of the worlds largest and busiest cities, London is a great stop for those touring Europe. Immerse yourself in the pubs, theatres, museums and history of Great Britain and enjoy the great food spots. It is a royally expensive city that will eat into your budget if you’re not careful, but don’t worry check out the top free things to do in London for budget travellers.
There is so much to see and do in London that will keep you busy for weeks, with something available for everyone. There are also lots of free things to do; learn about London’s rich history at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge or go queen spotting at Buckingham Palace. On par with NYC’s Broadway, it is worth taking in a West End show, with cheap tickets available on the day either at the individual theatre at 10am or from Leicester squares ticket offices. There are some great family friendly experiences with the various Merlin Entertainment attractions across London; such as the London Eye, London Dungeons or Madame Tussaud. Literacy lovers should head to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, with performances available throughout the spring and summer months; though remember England is notorious for rain. Read about how Tripsget spent 48 hours in London.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorm beds in the quieter areas of London start around £7 whilst hostels in central London costs between £20 – £60, with private rooms starting at around £80.
Midrange Hotel rates – Private rooms with sharing bathrooms can be found for around £60 whilst private ensuite rooms cost between £40 – £100 depending on location. The Travelodge chain offers a variety of nice, clean and simple decorated rooms all over London and the UK.
Luxury Hotel rates – Obviously there are some high priced excellent hotels, but for most nice hotels that aren’t too pricey expect to pay upwards of £70 +
Transport – Hiring a bike from Barclays Cycle hire Scheme costs £2 for 24 hours, Oysters charge a £5 deposit with individual trips costing £2.30 per trip with this cost rising if going across different zones. However, the Oyster is capped so once you reach £6.40 across Zone 1-2 they will not charge you anymore that day. Non-oyster users expect to pay upwards of £4.80 for a single trip.
Average cost of food – London offers so much variety when it comes to food, you will be spoilt for choice. Cafes and pubs offer lunches at £5 – £15, whilst sit down restaurants will set you back between £30 – £80 for two, with some top end restaurants costing upwards of £100+. There are some great food markets serving food between £3 – £10, with fish and chips costing around $7. Get yourself a free 30-day trial for the Taste of the UK card to get up to 50% off meals as well as 2-for-1 offers in many London restaurants.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – The St Christopher Oasis is ideally located in Southwark, Central London with dorm beds starting at £16.90, but this place is females only. The Award winning Astor Hyde Park is a great hostel, located in South Kensington, close to Hyde park and some great museums. Dorm beds start at £20 whilst private ensuite rooms are £80.
Midrange – Malmaison London can be found in Islington, just a short 5 minute walk from Barbican and Farringdon tube stations. Rooms start at £40, offering stylish and spacious rooms with WiFi. The Generator Hostel London is a bright and funky hostel, with rooms starting at £58 with shared bathroom or £94 for ensuite rooms.
Top End – The Montana Hotel is a great choice for those wanting to explore the museums of London. Located in Kensington, this is a 3-star hotel and just a 3 minute walk from Gloucester Road London Underground, rooms start at £71. A favourite of mine is The Z Hotel Piccadilly, in the heart of London’s West End. Rooms our stylish and comfortable in the perfect location.
How to get there
Fly – Many arrive in London by air, with most arriving at London Heathrow; the cities biggest airport and 10 miles west of Central London. From here you can catch the Underground (Piccadilly line) taking you to Central London where you can change lines for your hotel. One-Way undergrounds to and from Heathrow cost £5. You may also wish to catch a Black cab which will cost £45 – £65 and take around 45 minutes, or some opt for the national express coach to Victoria coach station in Central London, costing £5 one way. Some may fly into Gatwick airport, located 30 miles South of London. From here you can catch the Gatwick Express train (£17.70 one way) to London Victoria, getting you there in just 30 minutes, though I would getting a normal train to London Victoria, which may take 40-50 minutes but can be much cheaper (£11). Trains to London Bridge and King’s Cross are also available from Gatwick.
Bus – MegaBus and National Express offer coach journeys from popular tourist cities across Europe to London but these can be long.
Train – The Eurostar is a popular choice for those traveling from France, Netherlands or Belgium but it is best to book tickets in advance and avoid weekends if you want a good deal.
The Oyster Card is the cheapest and most efficient way to get around London via the underground and buses. You can purchase an Oyster Card from most underground and train stations, topping up the card and using this to get around London. The Underground is extensive and takes tourists to the popular attractions across the city. Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme allows you to pick up a bike from one of the many docking stations around London and drop it off at another docking station within 30 minutes, or for longer at an additional charge. There are various companies offering boats across the thames, but the Thames Clippers offers commuter services and is fast and pleasant. The route includes the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, Borough Market, The London Eye, Tower Bridge and the O2 arena. Red double-decker buses are popular choices for tourists, but remember these can be slow at anytime during the day yet do offer some great views. Avoid driving around London as you will have to pay a congestion charge as well as incredibly expensive parking fees. I love walking around London as it is this way you can find some real hidden gems and experience the hustle and bustle of city life.