7 Tips to Save Money Exploring London

London is notoriously expensive, and I’m sad to admit that since I moved away whenever I go back I’ve turned into one of those ‘How Much?!’ people. I’m pretty sure I won’t be living there again in the future. I’ll definitely be visiting though, possibly monthly (when I’m in the country).

So from 7 years of living in the Big Smoke, and a lifetime of popping in, here are my top 7 tips to save money exploring London.

1. Contactless debit and credit cards are Oyster cards

Don’t bother spending money on Oyster cards or tourist price tube journeys, you can simply swipe your debit or credit card at the gates to get in, and use the same one to get out. Remember that if it’s a foreign card you might get charged more by your card issuer though, bringing up the price, but for anyone with a UK bank account, go ahead. It works on the buses too.

2. Walk overground, rather than tubing underground

London money saving tips

If you’re travelling around the centre of London keep in mind that some of the stations are not actually that far apart. You could definitely save some money by exploring the city on foot, rather than underground. For example, Covent Garden and Leicester Square are less than half a mile apart, and Charing Cross and Embankment are pretty much next to each other. Check out this map of ‘minutes walk’ between stations before you decide to spend money on expensive transport. Having a better understanding of how the city fits together will save you money and time in the future too.

London walking

3. Eat in parks

Explore Primrose Hill

If you’re on a real budget buy from supermarket chains like Tesco etc, although keep in mind that long term they’re ruining the economy for small businesses right now. A better suggestion is to grab some lunch from a chain free lunch place you happen to see and enjoying the great outdoors in one of London’s many parks and outdoor spaces. If you do eat inside remember that you will be charged more, thanks to David Cameron’s ‘Pasty Tax’.

4. Book attractions before you arrive

Exploring Camden

Attraction companies like the London Pass mean you can pay upfront for your activities and so you know exactly how much you’ll spend – you can see my breakdown of whether I thought the London Pass was worth it here. Websites like lastminute.com offer cheaper West End Shows and similar entertainment, and if you book in advance you’ll get it even cheaper. Booking on the day is pretty much the most expensive way to do it.

5. Avoid tourist central

Money saving tips for London

You can save yourself a few pennies on food by getting out of the centre. You can also save money by looking on discount sites but that will usually mean you going to some sort of chain restaurant, rather than just seeing what takes your fancy. It can be worth it, but I’d suggest going for a curry on Brick Lane, it’s the cheapest, most delicious way to eat in the capital, and you can bring your own booze, which saves even more.

6. Go to Sam Smith pubs

Sam Smith pubs

– Not actually a Sam Smith pub, it’s the only pub photo I have

If you’re looking for a pint in the Big Smoke find yourself a Sam Smith pub – nothing to do with the pop star – it’s a local brewery that serves the beer for a lot less than the big chains. You’ll also have a more interesting experience as many of them are in olde style pubs that have retained their pubby character rather than selling out to the hipsters and bankers.

TIP: Look for other voucher codes on dealsdaddy to help save even more. 

7. Accommodation

If you’re footloose and fancy free – I like that phrase even though I sound like an old dear – then London has some excellent hostels. I’d recommend either the SoHostel in Soho, Wombats in Limehouse, or YHA just off Oxford Street.

If you’re not a hostel kind of person then I’d recommend you get your hotel reservation in asap, if you want to save money on your accommodation. London hotels are notoriously expensive, and if you want somewhere a bit decent near the centre then I’d say you were looking at at least £100 per night. You could also try sites like AirBnB too.

I hope all that helps to make your London holiday dreams a bit more achievable. 

Let me know if you have any more tips in the comments box below!

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  1. by Anwar on December 31, 2015  1:25 am Reply

    You should do a day in the lovely markets in London too ... Starting with Borough, Spitalfields, Whitecross, Camden, portobello road - they're all free and have a charm. Really good way to enjoy London, and experience real London for free ....

    There are loads more markets - but these are the popular ones!!

  2. by Ersie Courea on January 1, 2016  10:09 am Reply

    I like the idea of supporting small businesses when travelling!

  3. by Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren on January 2, 2016  2:01 am Reply

    Between this and all the free museums, I think London can be pretty budget friendly...for a quick trip, haha! Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels :)

  4. by Claire on January 4, 2016  6:00 pm Reply

    Some great ideas here. Parks are a godsend in the city.

  5. by Maggie on January 5, 2016  11:01 am Reply

    Such a useful blog! I'm glad I stumbled on it while browsing the web.Great tips to explore london and saving money. thanks for sharing such an informative content.

  6. by Keri @ Ladies what travel on January 7, 2016  3:09 pm Reply

    Attractions-wise you can't beat London's big museums - for travellers with kids, you could easily spend a full day exploring either the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum. First went when I was 4 or 5 and still love them now at 37! ;)

    • by Vicky on January 10, 2016  11:41 am Reply

      Still haven't been to either! I need to go on holiday in London and do all these things I was too busy working to explore. That city is neverending!

  7. by alexiajack on January 8, 2016  10:10 am Reply

    Helpful instructions to discover the London and keep tour inexpensive. Cheap Taxi hires service in all over the London for all kind of transfers at 24/7 online.

  8. by London Airports Transfers on November 14, 2017  4:46 pm Reply

    I am planning a budget trip to London this year. I am nervous about staying in a hostel. But that is what I need to do to keep the budget! This post has encouraged me to try it, all the arrangements look cool like food, tourism places, and the décor.

    • by VickyFlipFlop on November 20, 2017  8:54 pm Reply

      Oh that's great to hear :) I'm glad I've inspired you!

  9. by Vouchers Tree on June 8, 2019  7:07 pm Reply

    Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles

  10. by Tim paigee on December 18, 2019  6:41 am Reply

    I really love this beautiful city and wish to travel one day. overall thanks for sharing.

  11. by Mark coblin on December 30, 2019  7:26 am Reply

    London is one of my best. thanks for this great blog.

  12. by Olivia Hartley on January 17, 2020  4:04 pm Reply

    I must say this is one of the best money saving tips article i have ever seen, I really appreciate your work and good luck for you future post.

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