London on a Shoestring – Possible?

The clock tower of Big Ben at dusk. The north ...

The clock tower of Big Ben at dusk. The north end of the Houses of Parliament London, with The London Eye in the backgound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘London’ and ‘budget’ in a single sentence sounds exotic, doesn’t it? Last year, the capital city of UK was 18th most expensive city of the world and the most expensive in UK. Despite its pocket-burning lifestyle and staggering living costs, London remains one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world because of its wealth of cultural and tourist attractions.

If you are also yearning to visit London but are on a tight budget, follow these tips to realise your dream of London travel without straining your pockets too much. From accommodation to travel to eat-outs in the city, these tips will help you in planning a ‘budget-friendly’ itinerary to the city:

Don’t be surprised! Packing light should be the first step towards trimming your budget for London trip. Stuffing your travel bags with unnecessary clothes and accessories not only sprains your back but it augments the travel costs as well, as airport authorities charge higher weighing costs. Therefore, keep a check on your packing before zipping off the bags.

Accommodation expenses can reach astronomical heights in the city. Therefore, in order to save money on this front, owse through the hotel websites and look for the best deals. One of my friends recently visited London and booked a budget hotel  at very low prices. She later told me that the services were quite satisfactory and the accommodation rates were comforting as well. You can also check with premium hotel websites before zeroing in on accommodation.

It is so surprising how many of us (including myself!) overlook this aspect while planning our trip. The truth is, you can save a good chunk of bucks even in this! Book directly with your desired airlines (no intermediaries!) and choose flights to London flying on unsociable hours as they are the cheapest.

In addition to this, de-select the meal option and take healthy snacks with you instead as airline meal can cost as high as 7 for one-way. If you do not have any special requirements, then do not pre-book your seats, as it costs additional charges.

It would be even better if you compare flight rates of different airlines flying to London before booking. One such website is that allows you to compare the flying rates. In short, scour the different websites and use internet to your fullest advantage to reduce your travel expenses.

As soon as you land in the city, grab an Oyster Card. It is a plastic smartcard and one of the cheapest ways of travelling in the public transportation of the city. The card normally costs 3 and offers you a 30% discount against the normal fare charges.

Another way to save loads of money on travelling in the city is through London Pass. This pass allows you free ‘one-way’ access to over 60-plus attractions of the city. In addition to this, if you have chosen pass with ‘travel’ option, then you will not be charged for travelling in any means of public transport of the city, be it tube or trams or buses. London Pass also offers discounts on meals in selective restaurants.

Some of the most historic streets of London are home to numerous cafes and food stalls where you can have sumptuous meals that too at pocket-friendly prices. Exmouth Market, food stalls at Bricklane are among the cheapest and tastiest street food options for you.

However, if you want to indulge into the exquisite dining experience under budget, then visit This website offers unimaginable discounts (as high as 50 %!) on meals at some of the topmost restaurants of the city. Along with discounted meals, you can also grab a free meal once you have earned requisite points.

In my experience, the best way to acquaint yourself with the city’s culture is by walking around the narrow alleys of the city and in London, there is ample opportunity for this. There are dedicated walking tours run by tour operators. Most of these tours are modestly charged and cover a majority of historic neighbourhoods of London.

If you want to save more money on this front, then try walking tours by locals. These Londoners work as part-time guides and charge around 1-2 at most to take you to the famous streets and nearby attractions of the city.

Forget about scaling dizzying heights with London Eye to get an enthralling view of the city. (It will cost around 18 for a 45-minute flight!). The better and more economical option is to ascend to the top of Monument to the Great Fire of London and grab a panoramic view of the city at just 3. In addition to this, the Portrait Cafe at the National Portrait Gallery offers unprecedented views of Trafalgar Square and Westminster.

However, you need to have some drinks at the cafe in order to savour those eathtaking views!

Numerous attractions in the city have zero admission fees. National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, Serpentine Gallery and the Museum of London are among the prominent ones. Additionally, plenty of art galleries allow free access as well; however, you need to pay some bucks if you want to visit a particular exhibition at an art gallery.

Head towards Southbank and enjoy live music performances by local artistes for free. As this area is known for its cultural diversity, it is always imming with some activity. Along with free activities, there are number of attractions like Tate Modern and Garden museum nearby.

London may be one of the most expensive cities of the world, but that does not mean that you cannot afford a visit to this city. Take a clue from these ideas and visit London without worrying about inflating expenses.

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