If you’re planning a trip to the big city but you don’t have stacks of cash to spend, there are plenty of ways you can maximise the bang for your buck and make sure you get the most out of your trip. While it may seem that visiting London is inevitably expensive, there are lots of ways you can economise without skimping on the experience. This makes a budget break possible, or even gives you the chance to splurge on a special treat during your visit.
Take a look through our guide and get the best of London for a fraction of the price.
London is surprisingly awash with free events and there are lots of things you can see and do that won’t cost you a penny out of your budget for your break. From museums to markets, cabaret to walking tours, there’s plenty to keep you occupied without needing to open your wallet.
Across London, you will find some of the most cutting edge modern art on display for visitors to tour the exhibits and get a feel for what’s hot in the art world. The White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey, frequent hosts to modern art darlings Gilbert and George have a regular programme of interesting and thought-provoking artwork and is free to visit. The current exhibition by painter Julie Mehretu is a set of pieces infused with political commentary and brings the Arab Spring into the heart of London.
In the wake of the recent Chelsea Flower Show, the Chelsea Fringe Festival will take over Battersea Power Station in the first week of June with such eclectic activities as knit your own vegetable classes and a two-day gin bar in a botanical garden. There are plenty of activities for all the family set against the breath-taking backdrop of the Art Deco power station, which is only rarely open to visitors.
One of the main drains on the purse when visiting London is the cost of eating out for every meal. However, savvy travellers know where to go to get their budget nosh and make sure they are saving their cash for more interesting things.
London’s plentiful markets have lots to offer in the way of affordable fare for visitors to the city. You can often grab a bacon sandwich for a couple of quid and eat it on the hoof as you see what you wanted to see. However, if you’re looking for something a little more refined, you don’t have to pay that much more. Fizrovia’s tempting Honey and Co. café is an Israeli-run eatery offering Middle Eastern food at very reasonable prices. Brunch of baked eggs or sabich – a pitta with roasted vegetables, egg and tahini – will set you back around £6.50 in very pleasant surroundings.
If you’re saving yourself for dinner, there are plenty of ways to dine inexpensively in the city. One way is to check the website Top Table and find the restaurants that are offering reduced price deals. Around Chinatown you could opt for an authentic Cantonese all you can eat buffet for less than £15 per head and get the experience of great Chinese food at a fraction of the price.
The cost of getting around London can mount up when you take into account each of the individual fares to get you from A to B using buses and Tubes. However, places are much more walkable than most people realise. Get a good street map of London and walk to what you want to see instead of getting public transport. You’ll never know what you might see along the way.
Another inexpensive way of getting around is using the cycle hire scheme. The blue bikes, parked at docking stations around the city, are £2 to access for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of any release is free. There are lots of well-signposted cycle-ways to keep you out of traffic too.
There are plenty of ways to maximise your enjoyment of London while minimising the cost. Make a few canny savings and your break could be more affordable than you thought.