London is a massive and magical city that could keep a person intrigued and delighted for multiple lifetimes! There is no end to the opportunities, charms, nooks, crannies, dark secrets, surprises, and mysteries contained within this grand capital’s borders.
As British writer Samuel Johnson said: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’
But in financial terms, there is certainly more in London than any normal traveler can afford. Money is a real consideration for most people who visit London because the British capital is one of the more expensive cities on Earth. London is cheerful, but it ain’t cheap!
However, London also contains plenty of opportunities for people traveling on a tight budget, and it is possible to have a great time without breaking the bank.
Here is how we at BUCKiTDREAM recommend you explore London on a shoestring budget.
Get Around By Your Own Steam Public transport in London is expensive. You can avoid spending money on transport by getting around on foot or by bicycle. London is one of the most interesting cities in the world to walk around. Every street has a story. The wide thoroughfares, cobbled backstreets, and mysterious alleyways all drip with history and have pasts (and presents) both majestic and checkered! Walking around London is the best way to happen upon hidden secrets that you would otherwise miss. Another option is to hire a bicycle. There are bike banks all over the city where you can hire bikes for a small fee. It is easy to save money by getting around London by foot or pedal.
Get Lost in London’s Free Museums London has a wealth of world-class museums. The National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Tate Modern, Imperial War Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London, British Museum, V&A – all of these museums have free permanent collections that will keep you entertained and amazed for days (without eating into your budget in any way).
Pick Up Some Cheap Last-Minute West End Theater Tickets London’s West End is populated by a multitude of ornate, old theaters showing an array of musicals and plays. Tourists and locals flock to performances day and night, 365 days of the year. Tickets can be rather expensive. But there is a way to cheat the system! You can see award-winning West End spectaculars such as Matilda, The Book of Mormon, and Kinky Boots for as little as £20 if you buy your tickets at the last minute. There are lots of websites dedicated to last-minute West End tickets, and also lots of physical outlets in and around the area. Do a little digging (and get a little lucky) and you can see an extravaganza such as The Lion King from the front row for the same price as a fish-and-chip supper!
Explore London’s Many Glorious (and Free) Parks Despite its vast size and population, London has an inordinate amount of green parkland within its limits. It’s a haven for park lovers. And of course, all of these parks are free to visit! In the north you have Hampstead Heath, which sits on a hilltop and affords an amazing view over the city, as well as Regent’s Park with its meticulous, colorful flower beds. In the south there is Battersea Park with its rolling hills and lake. In the east there’s the wide and green London Fields. In the west, Holland Park is a maze of hidden nooks and crannies. In the city center, Green Park and Hyde Park are oases of tranquility in the midst of mad, bustling Central London.
Visit London in Summer and Dine (and Drink and Be Merry) Al Fresco A feature of summer in London is the amount of outdoor drinking and picnicking that takes place in the city’s parks and open spaces any day that the sun comes out (which, despite popular myth, is actually quite often!). You can save money by buying food and drinks from a supermarket and picnicking with the hordes of fellow al fresco diners while topping up your tan in a lively London park.
Avail of London’s Many Cheap Hostels or Couchsurfing Options There are myriad cheap hostels around London, particularly in Queensway, Elephant and Castle, and Victoria. These hostels tend to be clean and functional, and are also great places to meet fellow travelers. Couchsurfing is also a good option in London, and of course even cheaper still!
That is how we at BUCKiTDREAM reckon you can explore London on a shoestring budget. Whether you’re saving money by staring open-mouthed at the wondrous Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, or penny-pinching by having your Pimms in a park instead of a pub, don’t forget to share your ‘London on a budget’ experiences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!