Visiting London on a Budget

by 10 May 2024Europe, United Kingdom

With numerous budget-friendly options, London can be a surprisingly affordable destination. In this guide, we’ll show you how to visit London on a budget, ensuring you have a memorable trip that won’t strain your wallet. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-timer, you’ll see that a London trip doesn’t have to be costly. From finding cheap ways to get to London to indulging in budget-friendly activities, we’ve got you covered.

And when it comes to accommodations, don’t miss out on amazing housing deals through Holiday Swap, your go-to for finding low-cost stays.


London on a Budget Tips

Low season visits – Timing is key when it comes to budgeting in London. Consider planning your trip during the low season (typically November to March, excluding the holiday season). In the off-peak season prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions tend to be lower. You’ll also face fewer crowds and have a more enjoyable experience exploring the city’s attractions.


Staying outside central London – Accommodation in central London can be pricey, so why not consider staying in the surrounding areas? Beyond the hustle of central areas, you can experience the charm of local neighbourhoods without compromising your budget. Places like Islington, Fulham, Richmond, and Camden offer affordable options without being too far from the action.


Budget-friendly eateries – London is a melting pot of diverse culinary delights, offering delicious meals without the hefty price tag. Therefore, you can opt for street food markets like Borough Market or Camden Market, where you can find delicious and affordable eats. Don’t forget to try the classic fish and chips from local “chippies”!


Public transport sightseeing – London boasts an extensive public transportation system, including buses, the iconic Underground, and Overground trains. Utilising these services is not only cost-effective but also provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the city from a different angle.


The sign for the London Underground public subway


Discovering free events – Throughout the year, you can find a multitude of cheap activities in London, especially free events and gigs catering to various interests. Keep an eye out for outdoor concerts, street performances, and festivals happening around the city, by checking local listings for the latest. You can join in the fun without spending a dime!


Free entry museums and other attractions – London is home to numerous world-class museums and iconic attractions, many of which offer free entry. Explore the British Museum, the National Gallery, or the Victoria and Albert Museum at no cost. You can also visit famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, or the Tower Bridge without spending a penny. If you plan on visiting museums, don’t forget to book your free tickets in advance from the official websites. In this way, you’ll get priority entry and receive more information on what to visit.


Cycling through London – Hop on a Santander Cycle, London’s popular bike-sharing scheme, and discover the city at your own pace. With numerous docking stations around London, you can save on transportation costs while enjoying the city’s sights and exploring its picturesque parks and neighbourhoods. Riding a bike can be one of the best activities to do with friends in London, while also staying green, and economical! 


Local dining – Eating local foods in London not only supports small businesses but also cuts down on your expenses. From traditional English breakfasts to hearty pies, choosing local dishes will allow you to experience genuine flavours while opting for budget-friendly treats.


Smart travel with an Oyster Card – When it comes to getting around London, using an Oyster Card is the smartest and most affordable option. It’s cheaper and more convenient than buying single tickets. Remember, using contactless payment on your debit or credit card is just as convenient and budget friendly.


Happy hour deals – When looking for places to go in London with friends, consider London’s nightlife scene. You’ll find a variety of pubs, bars, and clubs where you can take advantage of happy hour deals. Usually between 5 pm and 8 pm, you can enjoy discounted drinks and socialise with friends without straining your wallet.  


Last-minute theatre tickets – Good news for theatre enthusiasts! You can catch a show in London with last-minute tickets at a fraction of the cost and enjoy world-class performances. Visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square or check websites like TodayTix for discounted tickets to some of the city’s most popular productions.



The front of the Royal Haymarket Theatre in London


Things to Do in London on a Budget


Cheap Places to Go in London


Discovering cheap things to do in London is easy with the various free or low-cost attractions available. These budget-friendly options not only help save on expenses but also enrich your visit, making London accessible and enjoyable for every traveller. Here are some of the best free attractions in London that you can visit with your family, friends, partner or even by yourself.


Natural History Museum


The Natural History Museum in London boasts over 80 million specimens. Here, you can admire fascinating dinosaur skeletons, rare fossils, and the iconic Blue Whale model. Also, you can explore interactive exhibits and engage with live talks and seasonal events.

Opening hours: Open daily at 10AM-5.50PM, last entry at 5.30PM
Location: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD
Entrance: Free (book your tickets in advance)
Contact: +44 20 7942 5000, 


Hampstead Heath


In Hampstead Heath you can enjoy panoramic city views from Parliament Hill, swim in natural ponds, and wander through ancient woodlands. This beloved park offers endless trails, picnic spots, and a rich array of wildlife, making it a perfect escape for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Opening hours: Open 24/7
Entrance: Free
Contact: +44 20 7332 3322, 


Reflections of houses in a pond at Hampstead Heath Park


Science Museum


At the Science Museum you can engage with interactive exhibits on space, technology, and engineering. Additionally, you’ll find historical artefacts like Stephenson’s Rocket and the Apollo 10 command module. It is a perfect place for curious minds of all ages, with lots of educational programs prepared. This is for sure one of the best cheap days out in London for families!


Opening hours: Open daily from 10AM to 6PM (last entry 5.15PM)
Location: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD
Entrance: Free
Contact: +033 0058 0058, 


Sky Garden


You should definitely visit London’s Sky Garden for breathtaking 360-degree city views from atop the Walkie Talkie building. Here you can savour a drink at the bar or dine in one of the exquisite restaurants as you gaze over the city’s iconic landmarks.


Opening hours:
Mon: 10AM-6PM
Tue-Wednesday: 10AM-11PM
Thur: 10AM-12A
Fri: 10AM-2AM
Sat: 8.30AM-2AM
Sun: 8.30AM-11PM
Location: 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
Entrance: Free


The stunning view of the Sky Garden


Tate Modern


In London’s iconic gallery you will find works by Picasso, Warhol, and Dali and enjoy stunning Thames views from its terrace. Also, this gallery hosts dynamic exhibitions and installations that will take your breath away, making it a perfect hub for art lovers.


Opening hours: Open daily from 10AM to 6PM 
Location: Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Entrance: Free
Contact: +44 (0)20 7887 8888, 


Hyde Park


Some favourite activities are boating on the Serpentine, visiting memorials, or relaxing by the fountains. Ideal for leisurely strolls, picnics, and cycling, this park is a green retreat in the heart of the city. Oh, and don’t miss the Speaker’s Corner for lively debates and discussions on various topics.


Opening hours: Open daily from 5AM to 12AM
Location: Westminster, Greater London
Entrance: Free
Contact: +44 300 061 2000


Statues and a fountain at Hyde Park London


Budget Shopping in London


If you’re in for some London cheap shopping, you might want to spend some time in the city’s Markets where you can hunt for diverse bargains. At places like Portobello Road Market, Shoreditch, Covent Garden, or Spitalfields, you can find unique treasures, vintage clothing collections, and locally made crafts.


For people looking to buy some cool and unique second-hand pieces, London has many thrift shops such as Traid, Rokit, and PickNWeight. On Kentish Town Road you can also find many second-hand options that can fit your style preferences, while keeping your expenses in check. Don’t forget to haggle for the best prices!


Cheap Places to Eat in London


Franco Manca


Here you can treat yourself to authentic Neapolitan pizzas at reasonable prices right in the heart of London. This restaurant is well known for their crisp crust and fresh, organic toppings, and the authentic Italian flavours.


Cuisine: Neapolitan, Southern-Italian (pizza, vegan and vegetarian options available)
Average price per person: £5-10
Locations: 51 Berwick St, London W1F 8SJ;
Covent Garden – 39 Maiden Ln, WC2E 7LJ;
or London Bridge – 15 Winchester Walk, London SE1 9AG.
Tripadvisor rating: 4.0/5.0


Neapolitan pizza with a side salad


Mr Bao


At this delicious Taiwanese street food local, the star of the show is their pillowy soft bao buns, filled with options like slow-braised pork, crispy chicken, or tender tofu. Don’t miss their tasty side dishes, including sweet potato fries and smacked cucumbers, for a full flavour experience in a cosy, friendly atmosphere.


Cuisine: Taiwanese (with vegan and vegetarian options available)
Average price per person: £10-15
Location: 293-295 Rye Ln, London SE15 4UA
Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5.0


A traditional Taiwanese dish at Mr Bao in London


Roti Stop


Be prepared for some delicious Caribbean dishes. Their specialty, the roti, is a must-try, perfectly stuffed with flavorful fillings like curry goat, jerk chicken, or vegetables. It’s a great spot to enjoy hearty, authentic flavours that bring a taste of the Caribbean right to your plate.


Cuisine: Caribbean (with vegan and vegetarian options available)
Average price per person: £5-15
Location: 36B Stamford Hill, London N16 6XZ
Tripadvisor rating: 4.0/5.0


Front of the Roti Stop local in London


Cheap Bars in London


If you want to discover the London nightlife without the steep prices, you can try out these pubs and bars offering happy hours and special promotions.


The Pride of Spitalfields


This is a hidden gem tucked away near Brick Lane. This traditional East End pub offers a cosy atmosphere with classic British pub decor, a selection of real ales, and friendly locals. It’s the perfect spot for a pint and a taste of authentic London pub culture.


Location: 3 Heneage St, London E1 5LJ
Opening hours:
Mon-Wed: 10AM-1AM
Thur-Fri: 10AM-2AM
Sat: 10AM-12AM
Sun: noon-1AM


Front of the affordable bar Pride of Spitalfields in London


Homeboy Islington


It brings a slice of modern Irish hospitality to London. Known for its laid-back vibe and innovative cocktails, this bar specialises in a modern twist on classic Irish drinks. With its stylish interior and welcoming staff, Homeboy Islington is ideal for enjoying a casual evening with friends or a late-night adventure.


Location: 108 Essex Rd, London N1 8LX
Opening hours: Sun – Thur: 3pm-11pm, Fri – Sat: 3pm-1am


Mrs Riot


A vibrant cocktail bar located in Covent Garden, inspired by the historical figure Kitty Clive, an 18th-century actress and singer. The bar features a lively, theatrical atmosphere and a creative cocktail menu that pays homage to its muse.


Location: 10 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8PS
Opening hours:
Mon: 6.00PM – 11.30PM
Tue: 5.00PM – 11.30PM
Wed: 4.00PM – 11.30PM
Thur: 4.00PM – 11.30PM
Fri: 2.00PM – 12.00AM
Sat: 12.00PM – 12.00AM
Sun: 1.00PM – 10.30PM


The beautiful interior of Mrs Riot bar in London


Cheapest Way to Get to London


The cheapest way to travel to London will depend on your starting point and preferences. Here are a few budget-friendly options you could consider for your trip planning:


Budget airlines: Look for affordable flights to one of London’s airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, or Stansted, as budget airlines often offer competitive prices.


Bus or coach: Companies like National Express or Megabus provide cost-effective transportation options for travelling to London from within the UK or even select European cities.


Train: Look for discounted train tickets by booking in advance or taking advantage of off-peak fares. Websites like The Train Line or the National Rail Enquiries service can help you find the best deals.


If you want to find affordable trips to London, look for travel packages from different companies that have great deals. They usually offer discounted rates on accommodation, guided tours, and exclusive deals on local dining and entertainment. We recommend you go for CheapoAir and Kayak as they offer a range of travel packages designed to fit your budget.


The stunning roof of a train station in London


Where to Stay in London on a Budget


London offers various budget-friendly regions to consider for your stay. Here are a few options:


Richmond: Nestled along the River Thames, Richmond offers a peaceful retreat while still being well-connected to central London. It’s known for its beautiful parks and stunning views.


Islington: Known for its trendy atmosphere, Islington offers affordable accommodations, vibrant markets, and a fantastic dining scene.


Fulham: Located in southwest London, Fulham provides budget-friendly hotel deals and easy access to attractions like the Kensington Gardens and Chelsea Football Club.


Camden: Home to the famous Camden Market, this area offers a lively atmosphere and eclectic accommodations.


For all of these regions, you can find your desired cheap accommodations with Holiday Swap. Our platform serves as your budget-friendly and convenient tool for finding comfortable stays without worrying about your wallet.


Colourful buildings in Richmond town


How to Spend a Day in London on a Budget – Itinerary Planning


Here’s a budget-friendly one-day itinerary we prepared for you, so you could have a memorable day full of wholesome things to do in London.


Start your morning with a stroll through Hyde Park, enjoying the serene surroundings and lush greenery. Visit the Natural History Museum, immersing yourself in the wonders of the natural world without spending a penny.


At lunchtime, head to Borough Market and savour a variety of delectable street food options. Then, you could explore the nearby Southwark Cathedral, a hidden gem showcasing stunning architecture.


During the afternoon, venture to the Tate Modern and admire its vast collection of contemporary art, free of charge. Take a walk along the Thames River, enjoying the magnificent views of iconic landmarks.


And in the evening, experience the bustling atmosphere of Covent Garden, where you can witness street performances and browse the shops. Grab a quick bite or indulge in inexpensive pre-theater dinner options around the area. End the day with a stroll along the vibrant South Bank, admiring the city lights and the stunning views of the London Eye.


You can also check out this rigorously planned itinerary that will inspire you to get to know this city even better on a small budget.


London Trip Packing List


To ensure a comfortable and prepared stay in London, make sure to pack the following essentials:


Comfortable walking shoes: London is a city meant to be explored on foot, so bring comfortable shoes to enjoy long walks without discomfort.


Waterproof jacket or umbrella: London weather can be unpredictable, so be ready for occasional rain showers.


Portable phone charger: Keep your devices powered up throughout the day to stay connected and navigate the city.


Universal adapter: If you’re visiting from abroad, a universal adapter will ensure you can charge your devices without any hassle.


Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated while on the go and reduce plastic waste by carrying your own refillable water bottle.


Daypack or tote bag: Carry a lightweight bag to hold your essentials and any items you pick up along the way.


Portable Wi-Fi device: Staying connected is essential, so consider renting a portable Wi-Fi device to have internet access while exploring London.



A group of friends having a good time near London eye


Cheap Accommodation in London for Tourists


Visiting London on a budget can be a fantastic experience no matter how you choose to spend your free time. With smart planning, you can make the most of your trip to London without breaking the bank. Whether you’re after fun activities with friends or looking for a budget-friendly family outing, the options are endless.


Remember, Holiday Swap offers a gateway to affordable trips to London, ensuring your adventure stays within budget without skimping on the fun! So, grab your Oyster card, pack your comfy walking shoes, and embark on a memorable London adventure while keeping your wallet happy!



What is the cheapest way to get to London?
Look for budget airlines, take a coach/bus, or find discounted train tickets to make your journey to London more affordable. Buses and carpools are usually the cheapest options. Services like Megabus and National Express offer low-cost routes to London from various cities. Look for advance booking discounts!

How much is dinner in London?
Dinner prices vary depending on the restaurant and cuisine, but it’s possible to find affordable options starting around £10-15 per person.

How to save money in London?
Utilise public transportation, visit free attractions, take advantage of happy hour deals, explore budget-friendly markets, and consider staying outside of central London.

How to travel to London on a budget?
Look for cheap flights, consider travelling by bus or train, and make use of budget-friendly accommodations and food options in the city.

Can I spend euros in London?
While some larger stores and tourist attractions may accept euros, it is recommended to exchange currency for British pounds to easily navigate London’s markets and local establishments.

What is the average spending in London per day?
If you are on a budget, you can expect to spend around £50-100 per person per day, including accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities.

How to get cheap train tickets to London?
Book in advance, consider off-peak travel, and compare prices from different operators to find the best deals on train tickets to London.

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