It is nothing new that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, specially for tourists, not only because things are naturally expensive there, but also due to the British currency, being the strongest currency in the world, it doesn’t make much of a effort to be friendly to our wallets.
Although a trip to London can be economically scary, this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid visiting the city. It is important to note that doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it is always possible to save, and that’s why I will be sharing with you today some tips to save money in London.
First of all guys, as we say in my place: who converts, doesnt have fun, this sounds much better in portuguese, but the point is: if you start converting and doing the math everytime you want to buy something, darling, DON’T.
Bear in mind that you are in somewhere else in the globe, forget about your own currency and buy what sounds cheap accordingly to the amount of money you have in the local currency.
How to Save Money in London
Buy an Oyster Card
This is the best thing if you want to save money on public transport. Oyster is a card that you use to catch any public transport in the city of London, from buses to undergrounds. It is cheaper, faster and easier than buying tickets everytime you need to take the public transports.
You can buy them in the main stations and recharge them in the stations as well. This is pretty much the first thing you can do as soon as you arrive in London, and don’t be afraid of recharging it, if by any chance you recharge your card and ended up not using it, you can get the money left on your Oyster card back before leaving the city again.
In a great part of the restaurants in London you will have two options for eating, you either eat there or take away. Take away is cheaper as they don’t charge the table service, and for those wondering, yeah it is a big difference in the price.
I have heard many debates about how expensive it is to eat in London and actually it is not, it can be as cheap as £3 or £4, you just need to be smart and look around, prices there is great, especially for the amount of food that comes in each meal!
London has SO many free attractions and to be honest, I can pretty much say that all my favorite attractions are actually free, believe it or not. The list of free attractions is looong, the great part of the museums, including the most important ones, are totally free!
Besides that, most of the tourist points are outdoor so you don’t necessarily need to pay to see them, of course, most of them offer inside guided tours but without it, you won’t be missing much anyways.
Some of the Museums that can be visited for free in London:
- British Museum
- Museum of London
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- National Gallery
- Tate Modern
- Tate Britain
- V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum)
- V&A Museum of Childhood
- National Portrait Gallery
- British Library
- The Bank of England Museum
- Imperial War Museum
- National Army Museum
- National Maritime Museum
- Royal Air Force Museum
- St Bride’s Church
- Somerset House
- All Hallows By The Tower
Stay in a central Borough
London is divided into Borough, for those who don’t understand or didn’t figure out, it is like neighborhoods or districts. Sometimes, looking for a cheap hotel, we end up finding some in a very far Borough and we think we are making a good deal here but surprise, you are actually not!
Although London is a metropole and there is public transport for everywhere, some boroughs are harder accessible than others or even, more expensive than others. London public transport is divided into zones, the higher the zone the more expensive it is.
To have an idea, if you stay in the central area, the hotel might be a bit more expensive but public transport to visit the most important points of the city, you will pay around £1 or £2, while if you stay in Zone 4 of the public transport, you will pay around £10 coming and going.
Good areas to stay are those close to the main tourist points, these areas tend to be more expensive, but you will end up saving money with the public transport. another area that I recommend is that close to the St Pancras and King’s Cross Station.
Buy food in the supermarket
Another way to avoid spending all your money with meals, you can buy food in the supermarket, no matter where you are in the world, in general, buying food in the supermarket can save you a lot of money.
In many supermarkets not only in London but in Europe in general, they offer a whole meal for a cheap price. If you don’t have a way to heat it, they also offer cold meals: salads or sandwiches.
Drink tap water
I know it might sound very weird for most of the people but, different than many places in the world, in London (as well as many places in Europe in general) you can actually drink water directly from a tap without dying from dysentery (people from 1854 would disagree with me here).
Take the free walking tours
One fun way to visit the touristic points of a city and get to know new people, is to take Walking Tours, they basically work like this, it’s one of two people that work as guides in the city, they form groups (everybody meets in a specific place, like a famous street or a square) and the guides bring you to the touristic points by walk, while they tell you the history of each point.
There are many options for walks, and even FREE ones, which is even better. These walks are very fun and it is great to hear the history from the locals themselves. In the end, of course, you can be a nice Samaritan and give a small tip in consideration for their time and work.
Book tickets in advance
If you are sure you will visit a certain attraction, try buying the ticket online, this will guarantee you visit, help you save up to 20% and make you skip the queues! Ticket for attractions like London Eye, The Shard, and other tours can be bought online.
Go to the theater for less
If you love art and would love to watch a show in London but is afraid of how expensive it can be, don’t worry. If you buy your tickets in advance you can get good discounts and if you buy it in TKTS booth in Leicester you can get up to 50% discount on last minute tickets!
In general, London is an expensive city, there is no doubt, after all, it is a metropole, a capital, and tend to have a more expensive way of life, besides that, the strong economy also influences, but like many other cities, there are always ways to save some money and make your trip less painful to your wallet.
It is definitely not a reason to avoid visiting the city, London has a huge historical and cultural weight and has so many things to see, being there you will realize it worths each penny you are spending! Don’t forget to check the 5 days Guide to London.