There's a common misperception that London is one of the most expensive cities to visit, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way! To make sure you don't burst your London budget, we've rounded up some of the best hacks and tips that can help you save some of your pounds. ?
P.S. If you're heading to London, find more halal local food, prayer spaces and attractions all!
1. Go to the best attractions for free
Tons of London’s attractions and events are free, like the Notting Hill Carnival and the daily Changing of Guards at Buckingham Palace. Entry to some of London's most world-famous museums are also free: marvel at the beauty of the architecture and collections at the likes of the British Museum, Natural History Museum (pictured above), and Tate Modern. If you’re between the ages of 16-25 you can even get discounted entry prices to Tate exhibitions by joining theTate Collective - the membership is free, and all exhibition tickets will cost just £5!
#HHWT Tip: Check this article out for5 free museums you have to visit in London (with halal food nearby!)
2. Get creative with photo spots
Credit: design-dautore.com on Facebook
What's a London vacay without an Insta-worthy shot to seal the deal? Wandering around vibrant areas like Neal's Yard, Covent Garden and Notting Hill won't cost you a single cent ?Head for neighbourhoods such as Brixton, Camden, and Shoreditch to take in the eclectic and youthful culture - whether you're exploring vintage shops or street markets, you'll get a brand-new view of London for sure.
#HHWT Tip: If you have an Oyster Card and some time to spare, hop onto the No. 11 public bus which has several major monuments and iconic buildings along its route. If you're sitting from the start to end of the route some of the monuments you'll see include Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and St Paul’s Cathedral!
3. Use fast-track tourist passes & online bookings
Credit: London Pass on Facebook
If you'd like to experience London from the fancy touristy perspective but on a budget, you should definitely get the London Pass?From just £75, you'll get free access to over 80 London attractions AND fast-track entry so you can skip all those pesky long queues, especially if you're travelling in peak season! The Pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 consecutive days so you can pick one that fits your trip. Not only will you get to experience London hassle-free, you get to save over 50% on the entry fees to all of London's biggest attractions!
Credit: London Pass on Facebook
Hopping onto a Thames River cruise, watching a Shakespearean play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, exploring the Tower of London... there's no end to the number of things to do with your London Pass!
#HHWT Tip:Bundle your London Pass purchase with the Oyster Travelcard to get unlimited travel on public transport in all of London!
4. Stay at budget-friendly accommodations across the city
Credit: Hostelsclub on Facebook
From hostels to rental apartments to affordable hotels, there's no shortage of budget-friendly accommodations for you when you head to London. Though some neighbourhoods such as Westminster will definitely be more expensive as they're right in the heart of the city, you can overcome that if you're travelling with friends or striking a great deal at an affordable hostel.
Trust us, you'll be spoilt for choice. So to make things easier, be sure to check this article out for some the best budget-friendly accommodations you can stay in London! Even if you stay pretty far out of the city, the reliable public transport system will make commuting a breeze!
Credit: Wombats Hostels on Facebook
Beds at hostels in Central London start from as little as £9 (with breakfast!), and most offer the choice of dormitories or private rooms. Some of the more popular hostel chains includeYHA,Wombat’s, andSt Christopher’s Inns.
Credit: Will on Airbnb
If you're travelling in a group, an apartment or Airbnb is definitely the way to go. Spacious apartment (like this one) can cost about £14 per person if you do the math, which is more than worth it for access to a kitchen and washing machine. Whether you prefer staying in London's bustling central areas or in the quieter suburbs, you're bound to find a space that'll make your trip all the more pleasant ?
5. Bask in the stunning beauty of London views - FOR FREE!
Credit: Richard Kaby on Flickr
Who says you need to buy tickets to the London Eye to get a bird's-eye view of London? ? Head on over to Primrose Hill, a favourite among the locals for the great view it affords of the London skyline. The park is also a great place to spend a day just enjoying the fresh air of the outdoors and do some people-watching (especially on weekends)!
Don't forget to wander around the neighbourhood: Primrose Hill is also known to have some of the prettiest English houses in town ?The famous Camden Market is just a short walk away too, so once you've finished your picnic on Primrose Hill you can head over there to check out what hip and hand-made trinkets are being displayed that day.
Credit: Vancouver4life on Facebook
Rising above the heart of London, the Sky Garden is another lesser known venue to enjoy panoramic views of London. Its sloping roof and windows make for a stunning picture and a warm, sunlit space for you to admire the scenery from.
#HHWT Tip: Tickets to the Sky Garden are free but limited so do check the website before you head over. Each ticket has a 1-hour time limit from the time of entry.
Credit: Sky Garden on Facebook
6. Rely on the public transport to get you around the city
One of the cheapest (and easiest) ways to get around the city is, of course - the Tube! Get yourself a Tube map so you can navigate London like a pro ? Although if you’re really trying to cut costs, checkthe walking times between stations so you won’t have to pay for unnecessary tube rides! You can get the tube map near the tourists’ kiosks at airports, hotel lobbies and even public transportation areas. You can also conveniently download the map onto your phone.
Credit: Brasserie Blanc on Facebook
Cut your transport expenditure in half by purchasing the Oyster Card, a smartcard that allows you to travel on the London Underground, Overground, Tram and those iconic red London buses! Oyster Cards even come with a daily price cap so if you’re only in London for a few days or not taking public transport a lot, it’s totally worth it! (Just avoid travelling during peak hours if you’re using a pay-as-you-go fare)
#HHWT Tip: If you’re in London for 5 days or more, it might be more effective to load your Oyster Card with a Travelcard. A 7-day Travelcard for Zones 1 and 2 willcost you just £38.40 which can save you so much more in the long run! Just make sure tocompare between an Oyster and Travelcard before you decide!
Contactless cards can be used for commuting too, such as:
- American Express (AMEX)
- MasterCard and Maestro (some cards issued in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands aren't accepted)
- Visa and V PAY (some cards issued outside the UK aren't accepted).
But if you prefer to travel light, the Oyster Card is also available for mobile pay! Using mobile payment to pay as you go is the same as using a contactless card. You can make mobile payments with devices such as phones, watches, key fobs, stickers or wristbands. Many payment methods on mobile include:
#HHWT Tip: If you’re worried about forgetting to refund and collect your Oyster card’s balance at the end of your trip, contactless cards may just be for you ?
7. Consider leaving the Tube behind to get a brand-new view of London
Credit: Transport for London on Facebook
Alternatively, it might be even cheaper to get around by cycling, especially if the places you're visiting are located near to each other. For just £2, you can access a Santander Cycles bike. Many of London's major attractions are clustered together, so if you're exploring a neighbourhood a day this is the perfect way to make use of your time and money!
#HHWT Tip:For journeys longer than 30 minutes, you pay £2 for each additional 30 minutes after. And be sure to return the bike safely within 24 hours to avoid paying a penalty ?
8. Get the best affordable (and Muslim-friendly!) eats
Credit: Stax Diner on Facebook
Eating is one of THE best parts about travelling, agreed? ? Just take your pick from these 12 yummiest halal eateries in London near major attractions! Many restaurants offer halal meat options, and of course, there are countless fully halal or Muslim-owned restaurants that you'll never run out of options.
Credit: @fiestudy_abroad on Instagram
That said, eating out all the time is bound take a toll on your wallet. To get the best of both worlds, though, why not save money by buying groceries for some good old home-cooked meals? ? If you're booking an apartment with friends, definitely make some time to spend an evening recreating classic London dishes like fish and chips or shepherd's pie with your purchases. You might be tempted to stop by a supermarket to pick up ingredients, but try stopping at a local farmer’s market instead to pick up produce that’s both healthier and more affordable! There are plenty of farmer’s markets around London, so you’re sure to find one near your accommodations.
You could also try out eating at food halls, of which there are many scattered around London. We recommend Selfridges' food hall for its spread of sumptuous and affordable halal food ? A generous helping of lamb kofta here costs only £3, and if you have leftovers that's your next few suppers settled!
P.S. Be sure to check out our guide to halal food at Selfridges' food hall here!
Credit: @thomas.looi on Instagram
Otherwise, you can always indulge in some classic Turkish kebabs, which are dotted all over London. A small doner kebab will only set you back £5, and a filling lamb burger costs just £4.60. Remember to check out our other London food guides here to see the amazing choices you have!
9. Refill your bottles and cut costs at the same time
Credit: @lesswastelaura on Instagram
Save money on staying hydrated by checking out free water refill points around the city. It’s even available as an app so you can find your nearest water cooler in seconds. Not only will you not have to shell out money to keep yourself refreshed, but it's environmentally-friendly too.
10. See musical performances for half the price (or less!)
Credit: @suekimm0 on Instagram
Catching a show on the West End or any of the independent theatres is one of the must-do activities when you’re in London. But the huge ticket prices can definitely put a damper on things - so here are some tips for getting cheaper tickets for any show you want!
The TKTS booth in Leicester Square is easily the most well-known tip for getting cheaper tickets. If you’re not set on a particular show and have time to spare, head down to get last-minute cheap tickets. Just make sure to get there early as they sell out fast!
Credit: @cassiemitchele on Instagram
If you’refeeling lucky, you can also head down to the theatre to queue for a standby ticket (sometimes you might even get front row seats for half the price!) or enter a day lottery. Several popular shows hold lotteries, including Mamma Mia!, The Lion King, Frozen and much more so check to see the last-minute theatre tickets for London shows you might have a chance at snagging a ticket at below £30!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re more cautious,compare ticket prices to get the best deal ahead of time!
11. Go budget shopping for just about anything
Credit: @heytirta on Instagram
What's a trip to London without doing some shopping, right? If Harrods or fancy boutiques aren't your thing, head over to Primark AKA a shopping haven for you shopaholics out there! ?The best part about Primark is that it's absolutely affordable and will always make you come back for more (speaking from personal experience). Not only is this little paradise filled with the latest trends, but they also offer British themed items which make great souvenirs within a budget!
#HHWT Tip: Primark also sells pretty and functional coats too which can help you with the British climate if you're travelling during winter ?
Credit: Somewhere Beyond Here on Facebook
If you're tired of huge departmental stores, though, head down to Portobello Road Market, where you'll find some of London's best vintage clothing bargains! Other street markets known specifically for their clothes and accessories are the Old Spitalfields market, Inverness Street Market, and Petticoat Lane market.
Credit: West of Me Vintage Clothing on Facebook
Check out the rest of London's street markets here so you can shop till you drop without spending a bomb. And don't miss out on theseshopping streets near some amazing halal food too!
#HHWT Tip: There's also a cafe serving Malaysian food (Makan Cafe) right in the heart of Portobello Road Market. Teh tarik and nasi lemak, anyone?
Credit: Poundland on Facebook
For the cheapest and best snacks to bring home (to relive your London adventure), pop by Poundland where you can find everything for £1. Yes, £1.
13. Travel to places on a boat
Want a different view of the city? Then you have to get on an Uber Boat by Thames Clippers! For about £5, you can travel on a one-way trip from London Bridge to Greenwich (where you can visit Greenwich Park for some nature viewing). With a tap of an Oystercard (or contactless too!), you can plan round trips or even stop at any of the piers within the boat’s route.
Not only is this an affordable way to travel around London, you can also enjoy picturesque views of the city while escaping the hustle and bustle on the road.
#HHWT Tip: Head on over to their website to view the map and routes as well as receive live updates of any delays or ticketing news!
14. Bring your own coffee cups for discounts
Some of us can’t function without a cup of coffee in the early morning. The cost of buying coffee as a pick me up or a consumable hand warmer in the colder days can add up quickly! Fortunately, certain coffee shops in London are moving towards a more sustainable initiative by encouraging customers to bring their own cups to enjoy special discounts!
Coffee shops are offering discounts for up to 50p (which in some cases, makes up half of the total cost of the coffee itself!). Places like Greggs, Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger and Starbucks are just a few chain coffee shops that offer these discounts. So bring along a reusable coffee cup on your London adventures. You’re not just helping to save the planet, you’re also saving yourself more money in the long run. ?
#HHWT Tip: Download the Refill app to find out places where you can bring your reusable cup to get good deals! (the app also shows you where water fountains are for free refills)
15. Visit the London Markets
Instead of paying to visit attractions, why not head on over to the many London Markets to sightsee for free? If you happen to be visiting during the weekend, London Markets are in full swing so take a walk along the busy streets to find that perfect souvenir. From the classic Portobello Market in Nottingham that offers antique craft and fresh produce to the Columbia Road Flower Market in Shoreditch where there are abundance of flowers and small cafes, there’s nothing short of fun things to see and experience.
Being a tourist in London doesn't mean you'll burn a hole in your wallet for sure. In fact, now that you know all the best budget hacks for a wallet-friendly time in London, you'll fall even more in love with the U.K.'s famed capital for sure ?
If you're still feeling lost about how to plan your next London trip, check out our website for the top attractions, halal food and nearby prayer spaces in London!