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London on a budget: getting around & sightseeing

London Tripbook

We believe some of the best things in life are free (or very cheap) when it comes to travel and experiencing a new destination. If you know where to look, what to book and a few budgeting tricks, being prepared with some key tips can afford you the chance to find free things to do, and soak up local culture at extremely affordable prices.  

It’s one of the most exciting and captivating destinations in the world, full of a kaleidoscope of things to see and do from history and architecture to fashion and nightlife – but how do you make your budget last in London, a city that seems to entice money out of your wallet at every turn?

It’s not as hard as you think. If your money’s running low, read on to find out how to make those last few British pounds go further.

Take the train

Take the train to London
© John Seb Barber

Who would have thought taking the train could save you money? Well, it can! Days Out Guide are offering 2 for 1 entry to over 150 top London attractions, restaurants, theatres, museums and more if you’re travelling into London by mainline train with anytime, off-peak or season tickets – see the Days Out Guide website to find out if your ticket is valid. Just some of the attractions you could find yourself saving money on include the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeons.

Bike it

Ride a Boris bike
© Adrian Scottow

There are more than 8,000 bikes all over London in the city’s bike sharing scheme – just take a bike and pay your fee or deposit by debit or credit card, ride it to wherever you want and then return it to the nearest docking station. The first half an hour is free and there are around 550 docking stations scattered around London meaning you’ll never be too far from the next one. Also known as ‘Boris Bikes’ after the mayor of London who introduced the scheme, the bikes are available to use 24-7, 365 days a year – so get pedal pushing and save the environment while you’re saving money!

Hop on a bus

Travel by bus in London

Paying for a touristy hop-on hop-off bus is no way to go if you’re trying to be frugal – there are plenty of buses making their way around all the best sights of London on a daily basis. Yep, those red buses that you see Londoners using on their way to work will do just as well. Take along your own map and guidebook and give yourself a DIY London tour. Some of the best buses to catch for a tour of the city are the number 11 which takes you past St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Courts of Justice, Nelson’s Column and Big Ben or the 88 which takes you through the buzzing areas of Camden, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square and over the Thames.

Get walking

Walk past St Paul's in London

London is one of the easiest cities in the world to get around on foot and with so many sights and attractions within easy walking distance to one another, there’s no need to fork out for a tour guide to show you around! Just grab a map or follow one of the pre-set and signposted walking routes like the Jubilee Walkway which takes you past all of London’s most famous sights including the London Eye, Millennium Bridge, the Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Or try the Capital Ring Walk which is divided into easy sections and takes you through London’s greenest suburbs which include Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common and Eltham Palace.

Stay outside

St James' Park
© Giorgio Galeotti

London’s got plenty of green spaces that don’t cost a penny to visit and are packed with things to see and do. Hyde Park is arguably the most famous and at 1.5 miles long, it’s also one of the largest. An interesting part of Hyde Park is Speakers Corner, a patch of land where anyone can stand up and have their say – it’s fun (and free) just to stand and watch the lively debates and discussions! Nature enthusiasts will fall in love with Richmond Park, the biggest enclosed space in London and home to herds of red and fallow deer which roam free. Then there’s St James’ Park, the oldest of all the Royal Parks in London, which includes The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade – must-sees for anyone visiting the capital.

Get in for free

The National Gallery
© Adib Wahab

Why pay expensive entry fees when there’s so much you can do in London for free? From mysterious Egyptian mummies in the British Museum to mind-boggling modern art in the Tate, you don’t need to pay a penny to get into some of London’s best attractions. With more than 300 museums and galleries in the city, there’s something for everyone. See dinosaur skeletons in the Natural History Museum, marvel at art and design in the Victoria and Albert Museum and gaze at Van Gogh paintings in the National Gallery.

Get booking

YHA London St Pancras guest cafe

Now that you’re clued up on the best ways to save money in England’s glittering capital, book into one of our superb and budget-friendly London hostels. Stay in the pulsing heart of central London and take advantage of free walking tours, or just minutes from the chic and cosmopolitan West End where you’re mere footsteps away from some of London’s most iconic sights. See all our London hostels here.

Have you got any other tips for saving money in London? Let us know in the comments box below! 

Still looking for ideas? Check out our London Tripbook.

London Tripbook

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