Although one of the most expensive cities in the world I swear to you that its completly possible to save money in London. If you’re like me when you travel you try to find a way to stretch every dollar but never feel like you’re compromising on fun. All of these tips and tricks are an insanely easy and fun approach when visiting London.
Oyster Card or Credit Card
To ride the tube you can purchase an oyster card from any train station, airport, or shops around the city. However, unless you receive a discount with your oyster card, using a credit card with a chip reader, or a contactless card, can save time and possibly money.
With a credit card, you will have to find out if your credit card charges you a foreign transaction fee, which can double the cost. Simply, scan your credit card on any bus or tube reader and it will charge your card the same as an oyster card. This saves the headache of tracking down a place to buy an oyster card and refill it. Additionally, oyster cards charge a £5 deposit, which, if you don’t return, you’re simply out the money.
Buses run at a set price of £1.50 with free transfers for up to one hour. When taking the tube as opposed to the bus you must remember to tap your card while entering and exiting the station. The tube charges by zones, if you forget to tap on the way out it won’t be able to read how far you’ve gone and it will charge for the furthest zone. As easy as that you’ve found a way to save money in London.
Stay at an Airbnb instead of a hotel in a heavily trafficed area
Airbnb’s will occasionally offer discounts on longer stays, which happened to us recently on a 10-day visit. What will save you the most money in London guaranteed is avoiding looking in highly touristed areas. I know this one from living in NYC. We stayed in Maida Vale while in London, a residential area, just a 15-minute walk from Notting Hill. Since this isn’t a big touristed area we saved around $60 a night on average.
Memberships instead of individual tickets
This saved us huge, we were interested in seeing Kensington Palace and the Tower of London. I saw that a yearly membership was offered for 3 palaces plus the Tower of London in the London area. The membership offers not only unlimited free access but also allows you immediate access to any of the places listed without requiring you to book online in advance. You also receive access to member’s only events and 10% off at restaurants and stores. Enjoy the views and 10% off for a classic afternoon tea at the Kensing Palace Pavilion. This saves you money in London while not having to sacrificing a thing.
Book Tickets In Advance
By booking tickets in advance for many tourist attractions you can save around 2-3 pounds per ticket. Check websites of the places you plan on visiting before hitting them up. A lot of the cathedrals and popular stops offer this feature.
Take advantage of free museums
There are a shocking amount of free museums and things to do, I mean truly B and I couldn’t stop commenting on it. We had so many questions, like, why? How do they afford to keep their doors open? Some of the most famous museums in London are completely free, you don’t even feel the shame of not at least donating.
A few museums you should plan to hit for free are the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, The National Gallery, British Museum, Natural History Museum, Design Museum. This list goes on and on, for a complete list check here.
Head to the top of the Heron Building for sushi instead of paying to go to the top of the shard or go to Duck and Waffle or Sushisamba that has the tallest outdoor terrace in Europe at 110 Bishopsgate. My main point here is that it’s silly to pay just for views when there is an enormous amount of alternatives that are just as good. Although this may not save you money in London the money you are spending is much more worth it.
Get an Airbnb with a kitchen instead of a hotel
Hit up some of the great markets in London and stock up on items to enjoy breakfast in and dinner out or vise versa. We were able to save a lot by choosing to eat a few meals in. There’s also nothing I love more than buying fresh produce and high-quality meats from markets while traveling. We enjoyed the Borough Market, in particular, which offered tons of options like truffle oil, beautiful fresh produce and farm-raised meats.
Book West End tickets last minute to save major
I got this idea from a local while on vacation in Italy. We never tried it out ourselves because right before we left for London we had just seen two shows on Broadway and we couldn’t find many options we couldn’t just see in NYC. We were told though if you go last minute, especially a weekday matinee you can save a lot.
Take a public bus for a really inexpensive tour
This was one of B and I’s favorite ways to save money in London. I seriously hate that NYC doesn’t have double-decker buses. Not only will you be able to get where you need to go but you’ll get a free tour on the way. There are specific bus lines that you can take to get great views of all the main attractions for only £1.50. Check out Tripsavvy for all the best bus routes to track down the best sites.
To explore more about London, check here!