We can all agree that London is definitely a popular tourist destination. Statistics show that London received over 19 million foreign visitors in 2017, breaking tourism records.
Spending on hotels, restaurants and attractions are slightly down. This is no surprise as we found London to be super expensive.
Should you still visit? Absolutely yes. Just be smart.
We always recommend Couchsurfing as the best option for accommodations when travelling on a budget and in this case we really recommend it. Gone are the days of £10 beds at hostels in central London, while some hostels charge bed prices in the same range as hotel rooms! Skip the hostels, and skip the pricey hotels and plan ahead on Couchsurfing to nab a place to sleep and some friendly faces in London.
Not interested in sharing a space with a complete stranger? Check rooms on AirBnB as an alternative.
Best Bet: Couchsurfing or AirBnb
We know it’s not always possible to do this while traveling or backpacking but try to book ahead if you see yourself visiting London anytime soon.
London is known for it’s few staples. Fish and chips, pubs, and curry. With that in mind, it’s safe to skip eating out as this is also an expensive activity in London. I understand the need to want to go to an authentic English pub but in our opinion, if you’ve been to one at home, you’ve pretty much had the experience.
Grocery stores are where you need to nab most of your food while visiting London. Grocery prices stay surprisingly low if you stick to Tesco and Iceland for your main grabs. Avoid fancy stores like Waitrose or Whole Foods if you want to stay on a budget. During our 2.5 weeks in London were able to get a good haul for about £10.00. We made chilis, vegetable curry, and breakfast pretty regularly and treated ourselves to some store-bought cider here and there. We found grocery shopping to be the cheapest activity while in London.
And okay, fine, if you want to splurge a little we do recommend Poppie’s Fish & Chips for no-regrets meal.
Best Bet: Grocery Stores like Tesco
London is massive! This might seem like an obvious statement but we didn’t realize just how big London really is. We love to walk and love saving money doing so. But in London, this just wasn’t possible for getting around to where we needed.
The London Tube system is also very big. This is why you should take advantage. Get yourself an Oyster Card if you’re planning on taking advantage of all of London’s sights and neighbourhoods. Having an Oyster Card gives you an additional discount when travelling on the underground, overground and busses, and has a daily limit so that you don’t overspend. You will be expected to pay more at tube stations and you cannot ride the famous double decker busses without one.
The Oyster Card costs a refundable £5 and can be bought (and ‘returned’) at most tube ticket machines. Any funds added to your Oyster card will also be returned to you at the machine once you deactivate when you’ve done all your wandering.
While attempting to live in London will be expensive, a lot of museums and attractions are free of charge! Once you have your Oyster Card, it will be easy to get around and take advantage.
Whenever you get tired of museums and touristy attractions, take a walk along London’s famous bridges and take in a view of the Thames. Don’t forget to snap some photos in front of Big Ben!
Best Bet: Oyster Card
Another expensive city, totally doable on a budget. Just be prepared, get that Oyster Card, and share some store bought cider with some new friends!