It is fair to say that visiting London can put a big dent in your wallet. As a frequent visitor myself, I have discovered that there are a number of money saving tips to use when visiting London that I would like to share with you. Why not save a few pennies here and there so that you can splurge on something spectacular to create amazing lasting memories from a trip to my original hometown.
London is huge, at over 600 square miles, and with a bulging population of 8.5 million people it’s hard to find anywhere that is not busy (especially once you add in all the tourists). Visitors need to be prepared to travel a lot to make the most of their time in the city. Thankfully, there is a good public transportation system in place to ensure you can move around easily.
The best way to save money on transportation costs is to buy a Visitor Oyster Card, a travel smartcard used on the public transportation system. Buying the Visitor Oyster Card can give you a 50% cost saving over buying daily tickets for cash, it will save you time as you can purchase the card before your arrival, and it will give you additional savings on attractions such as the Emirates Air Line and the Thames Clipper. Visitor Oyster Cards can be purchased online or through registered travel agents.
Tip: Pick up a free tube map at any station so that you can quickly find the best route to your destination.
While you will certainly need to take public transportation at least a few times during your visit, I feel the best way to see the city is by foot – and that’s a totally FREE option! London has grown organically over the years so does not have the well-planned grid system that you will find in the large US cities; but as such, there are many ‘hidden’ streets and passages that you can only find when exploring on foot.
Tip: If walking gets too much, consider hiring a Boris bike (as the locals call them). You will see the bike docking stations dotted all around the city. There is no need to pre book, just have a credit card handy to pay for the bike, and return the bike to any docking station. The first 30 minutes in any 24 hour period is FREE
Surprisingly there are many places that you can visit that are totally FREE. Of course just wandering the streets looking at the landmark buildings such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Parliament (to name but a few) could keep you busy for many days. But here are a few other options to consider:
Do your research ahead of your visit and plan your days accordingly and you can also have a FREE front row seat at events such as Trooping of the Color, Changing of the Guard, film premiers at Leicester Square, and parades such as Gay Pride.
If seeing a theatre show is on your wish list when in London, then visit the TXTS booth in Leicester Square to purchase a discounted last minute ticket. If you have a particular show in mind, then an alternative option is to line up at that theatre and purchase a return or stand-by ticket for that days performance.
Tip: make your theatre experience even better by purchasing a discounted dinner and theatre combination ticket. Dinner can be pre or post show at selected restaurants and by bundling the two, prices are discounted.
The London Pass is also a good option for visitors wanting to see a number of attractions. As well as FREE entry to over 60 attractions, the pass will enable you to fast-track your entry to the attractions.
Tip: The London Eye offers a 20% discount for tickets purchased online.
There are so many places to eat in London, and while I cannot say any are ‘cheap’, here are a few ways to reduce your costs.
Take a look at the website Money Saving Expert and you will find up to date lists of restaurants that are offering discounts.
Be aware that prices at restaurants and pubs in the high tourist areas will have higher prices than those in the less busy areas of town.
If the weather cooperates, then consider a picnic in one of the many London parks such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park, or St James Park. Visit a local take out food store such as M&S, Boots, Tesco, and grab a few items to enjoy while people watching and gazing at a landmark building such as Buckingham Palace in the distance.
I hope you have a fabulous time on your visit to London and fall in love with my original hometown. Please come back to my blog and share any other money saving tips to use when visiting London.