London is expensive.
SO EXPENSIVE 😭
It is pretty common that most travelers will complain that they had to cut their time short in London because they simply couldn’t afford it. Me being one of those people. Even after two and a half days, I was beyond ready to move to the next cheaper destination.
BUT rest assure, this article isn’t meant to deter you from visiting London but instead give you some ideas on how to have a good time that is still budget friendly.
Bring yourself a comfy pair of shoes and get ready to get your steps in. A single underground ticket costs between £4.90-£6 which is between €6-€8, $7-$9. This is for one single ride. It’s crazy. Buying an oyster card is slightly cheaper but it still adds up really quickly. A one day pass can run between £6-£12, around €8-€16, $9-$18.
So instead, walk.
It’s really interesting to see how neighborhoods can vary but you wouldn’t realize that if you were just hopping on the underground. By walking you can see more of the city which is especially helpful if you aren’t spending much time there.
Nerd Out a Little
If you’re a big ole Harry Potter nerd, otherwise known as a Potterhead, like myself then this is right up your Diagon alley. HAHAHA I CRACK MYSELF UP 😝😝
It is completely free to go to Kings Cross Station and snap a picture in front of the famous Platform 9 3/4. There will be people who snap a professional picture that you can view in the adjoining Harry Potter gift shop. But you can take one for free on your phone or camera. A word of advice, if you do go into the gift shop it may be best to wear a blindfold to resist the massive amounts of temptation at all the HP gear.
I can already hear my girlfriend calling me a nerd when she reads this.
Check out the Sunset/View at Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is most certainly a neighborhood worth exploring. Especially their park. Perched high up on the top of a hill is a completely epic and free view of the London skyline. You can spot the high skyscrapers, the cranes building more, the London eye and even the the Palace of Westminster if you have a really strong eyeglasses prescription. Granted, the sun sets in the opposite direction, it still makes for a romantic end to a cheap day.
Go Explore East London
As most of you have gathered I am a massive fan of street art. London is home to some of the craziest street art I have ever seen. Best place to find it, East London. Shoreditch is a street heaven paradise. Pretty much each direction you turn will house a different kind of street art using all kinds of mediums and influencing different emotions.
Head Towards Borough Market
I had no idea about Borough Market until my friend headed down a stair and told me to follow. My nostrils were assaulted by the most heavenly scents. I had found the epitome of street food in London. There was stands set up selling every type of food imaginable. This is where your appetite can be satisfied for “cheap” (well in London standards). It’s slightly overwhelming but your best option is to do a walk through and figure out which meal would be the tastiest and head that way.
From there it’s a short walk to Tate Modern. It is Britian’s national gallery of international modern works, best part, COMPLETELY FREE. The collection of contemporary work is extensive an a whole afternoon can easily be spent wandering through the galleries.
*From Tate Modern, my Potterheads may notice an incredible sight. MILLENNIUM BRIDGE FROM HARRY POTTER DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2. YOU KNOW THE ONE THE DEATH EATERS BLOW UP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE??!!??!!!!!??!*
Phew sorry, got a little excited for a moment. You should have seen me when I made this discovery. Sorry to all the Londoners that had to witness me jumping up and down and making sounds like a 5 year old girl who just opened her favorite toy.
Be Weary of Cheap Flights
Ryanair is the king of budget airline in Europe. With prices like $25 to London from Copenhagen it’s easy to see why.
But don’t be fooled.
Unless you’re flying into Gatwick or Heathrow you’re paying an arm and a leg to get into city center.
It may be advertised as “London” but airports like Luton & Stansted are about an hour outside of the city. Don’t make the same rookie mistake I did.
To get to Stansted I had to take a £5.90 underground to Tottenham Hale train station and then another £24 to get from the train station to the airport. Tacking on another $44.00 onto my flight ticket. Add this to the $25 I initially spent getting from Luton to the city center when I first arrived.
My $25 plane ticket ended up costing me almost $100. Which realistically isn’t TERRIBLY expensive it’s still less than I would pay for domestic flights in the states. Yet, when you think you’re getting a deal, it’s best to double check that it’s actually a deal.
I hope all of these suggestions will help your bank account like London a little bit more. Have any budget tips for London, leave them in the comments!