Planning a city break to London in 2016/17? With the pound sterling still weak following June’s Brexit referendum a short vacation to the UK capital has never been so affordable. That being said it’s still a notoriously expensive place where loose spending bruise the bank account. Fret not, however, as a bit of frugal savvy can carry you a long way without compromising the essential London experience.
Cut The Cost Of Your London City Break.
In today’s blog we’ll focus on a few tips and recommendations ideal for anyone travelling to capital on a budget.
1. Grab A Visitor Oyster Card:
The Oyster Card is a travel smart card that provides easy and affordable access to London’s public transport system. By using this card, you can save up to 50% on the cost of a standard one-day paper Travelcard, or a single ticket bought with cash. Visitor Oyster Card holders also qualify for a wide range of food and drink discounts, as well as other special offers. Popular treats include 2-for-1 West End theatre tickets and 25% off selected museum admissions. See TFL’s site for a full list of benefits.
2. Get The Comfy Walking Shoes On:
Although you will need to use the public transport system for long journeys, Central London is ideally suited for walking (or cycling thanks to Boris’ Cycle Superhighways). Taking a stroll will actually enable you see more sights, happen upon hidden gems, and get some exercise in the process. During traffic peak hours, it’s actually faster to walk between such stations as Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
3. Free Attractions:
Another way to keep costs down during your trip to London is to take advantage of the city’s myriad free landmarks and attractions. These include such top museums and art galleries as the British Museum, the National Gallery, Tate Britain and the Tate Modern.
Other free places worth exploring include Hampstead Health and Hyde Park, two famous green spaces.
The great thing about London is that most of the main museums offer free admission. It’s one of the many reasons why the capital is perfect for a city break. Therefore, you might want to consider skipping a spin on the London Eye or a descent into the touristy Dungeon. Instead, head along to the Victoria and Albert, or any of the other options mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Another awesome free spectacle is Changing the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, and the Changing The Queen’s Life Guard (Horse Parade).
4. The London iVenture Card:
Can’t be without those iconic paid attractions? London iVenture is an easy-to-use, excellent value smart card that unlocks up to 18 of London’s top tours, attractions and eateries. It comes in two flavours – the Flexi Attraction Pass and the Attraction and Dining Pass.
The iVenture Card represents an ideal compromise between budget travel and an action-packed city break. Flexible and convenient, it lets you decide which tours and attractions you’d to do on a whim. Popular picks include: Madame Tussauds, the Tower of London, London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, the London Dungeon, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
What’s more, London iVenture Cards don’t force you to commit to set times or days. Additionally, it comes with options for hop-on hop-off bus tours, day trips to destinations like Canterbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and Oxford, Thames sightseeing cruises, and tickets to selected West End theatre shows.
5. Affordable Theatre Tickets:
Speaking of the West End, theatre shows don’t not have to be all that expensive either. The best way to make your money go further is to purchase tickets way in advance. If you’re set on a particular performance, but forgot to book in advance, try heading over to the TKTS booth at Leicester Square for last minute reservations. Alternatively (though not ideal), consider lining up at the West End Theatre for returns and stand-by tickets.
Providing you don’t have your heart set on The Lion King or Wicked, London has many more great theatres. Have a quick dig through these alternative venues and it shouldn’t be all that hard to find the cheap tickets you’re looking for. Lovers of Shakespeare, for instance, can snap up hundreds of standing tickets for just £5 at the Globe Theatre. Other places worth checking out include: The Prince Charles Cinema and Warner Bros. Studio London.
6. The London Pass:
This popular pass will get you free – sometimes fast-tracked – entry to 60+ attractions throughout London. These include, but are not limited to: the Thames River Cruise, the London Bridge Experience, Westminster Abbey, and HMS Belfast.
7. Always Book in Advance:
As advised in number 5 above, it’s always prudent to book over the internet and well in advance. If you don’t think you’ll make efficient use of a London Pass or iVenture Card, then it’s wise to book in advance online.
This way, you’ll be better placed to beat the queues as well as save on special ticketed exhibitions. Sites which feature paid temporary exhibitions include: The British Museum, The Courtauld Gallery and the The Dulwich Picture Gallery.
8. Tap A Happy Hour:
If you want to experience London nightlife without breaking the bank, take advantage of the numerous happy hours hosted by most pubs. Alternatively, you can attend any of the various student club nights during your visit. These options come with two-for-one deals and drink promotions that will provide you with a great way to have fun on the cheap.
Venues to look out for include: Vinyl Bar (happy hour is from 17:00 to 20:00 every day), The Roxy (extended happy hour on Saturdays), and Grand Union Brixton.
9. Small Shows:
London is filled with live music, cabaret and comedy scenes. These small productions are advantageous for people on a city break to London, in the sense that they tend to be a lot more affordable than big-name music gigs and traditional theatre shows. Additionally, most cabaret shows tend to crop up in unexpected bijoux venues that you may never have visited otherwise. Venues to look out for include the Royal Court Theatre, Waterloo East Theatre, and the Finborough Theatre.
10. Cheap Eats:
Traditional cafes, buffets, and chain restaurants offer the most affordable bites in the city. In fine weather, you can also get pre-made sandwiches from such shops and supermarkets as Pret and Manger and Eat. Street food is also becoming an increasingly popular way to sate the appetite. London locations famous for their street food include Camden Lock Market and Old Spitalfields Market. These places host some of the most diverse and affordable food stalls in the capital.
11. Sleep Cheap And Safe:
London has tons of friendly hostels, B&Bs, Halls of Residence, and budget hotel chains. Dorm bed prices are particularly competitive, with some charging as little as £10 with breakfast included.
You should avoid such neighbourhoods as Covent Garden, Knightsbridge, and Oxford Street. Instead, head over to Hammersmith, Camden, or Bayswater. The rooms in these areas tend to be cheaper and the neighbourhoods are full of take-away shops, restaurants and pubs that can cost half as much for food. Places of accommodation we’d recommend checking out include: Safestay Holland Park, Dictionary Hostel and Qbic.
Get Booking And Save On Your Stay:
So, there you have it – 11 simple ways to keep costs down during a city break to London. The London iVenture Card, in particular, will bolster your budget trip in such a way that you’ll be accessing paid attractions for next to nothing. Get one today and make the most of your London trip!