Are you about to visit London or is it on your bucket list?
Does the cost of London frighten your bank balance a little bit?
Would you like to know some hints and tips to help you do London on a budget?
If your answers to the above are YES, then this is for you. Please, read on 🙂
London is the UK capital and is often referred to as The Big Smoke, it’s also the city in which I live. Heres why you should visit, what to avoid and how to keep some of your pennies at the same time.
TOP TIP – before you do anything, download City Mapper it will be your ultimate tool during your trip; your personal sat nav. I don’t know how I would ever cope with out it. It tells you bus/train/tube times. Tells you prices and your quickest route, from door to door. Honestly, the best app!
TOP TIP – do you have a contactless payment card? Londoners have Oysters, which are a pre-paid card for travel, but you, as a visitor can use your contactless card in exactly the same way. No need to purchase an oyster if you have a contactless card.
Once you have your city mapper app. You are good to go!
I will give you some tips about how to get around, what to avoid and some places I think are worth a visit.
Everyone loves a good view point when visiting a new city. London does have a pretty impressive skyline and I can tell you where you can see it from.
Sky Garden – At the top of the ‘walkie talkie’ building (you’ll notice why when you see it!) 155 meters to be precise. There is a beautiful indoor garden on the top floor, aptly named Sky Garden. From here, you can see a fair chunk of London and beyond. This one needs a little prep. You need to book it at least 2 weeks in advance. I don’t think its too much to ask, as it is FREE. Yes, you read that right, free. One of my favourite words. I would highly recommend this. There is a bar and restaurant up there, but do not feel obliged to go to either. Go in, take a walk around the garden and step out on to the balcony. Take in the views!
The Shard – my second tip. The view-point at the Shard would set you back £29 per person. However, if you venture up to Aqua, be it 31st floor, as opposed to 69 pr 71. You will still get fabulous views, without paying for it and could even have a cocktail to enjoy it with.
Window tables are first come first served, so avoid peak times. Also note their dress code – smart casual; smart, tailored shorts are allowed until 5pm, but no sportswear or sports shoes at any time
Let me know how you get on 🙂
Quick point on these. Whilst they do give info on the sights, they will set you back between £25 and £30 a ticket, depending on which company you choose.
When I mentioned earlier about your contactless card. When alighting a normal London red bus, you tap in once. Do not tap again when you get off. It will cost you £1.50 per ride. (If you have to get two within an hour, the second will not be charged)
TOP TIP You will not be charged per day, more than the capped rate of £8/£9 no matter how many bus/tubes/trains you get in a day
My tip for a cheap bus tour is, if you have been shopping and or you are up on Oxford Street. Get the bus route 12 at QF Oxford Street/Margaret Street. Stay on it until you get to Stop E – St Thomas’ Hospital/County Hall. This route will take you past some typical sites, such as Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Westminster.
The great thing about this is, it will drop you just beyond Big Ben (great photo opp) and just a few minutes from the top of South Bank, where the London Eye is and many more expensive tourist attractions. Spend at your own will. Drinks and food down here will be more expensive than other places.
Take a walk down south bank, soak up the views along the Thames and watch the many street performers along the way. I love visiting South Bank in the summer, it’s fab for people watching.
Always make time to visit Carnaby Street. There is always a good vibe down here. In amongst the hustle and bustle I can recommend a couple of reasonably priced food places to visit.
Pix Pinxtos (spanish tapas) and Mother Mash. (traditional British food) Both along the same street – Ganton Street, just a couple of minutes from the main Carnaby Street.
Carnaby Street often changes its signs depending on the time of year, but they always make it onto people’s social medias. Tag #iwozere on your photo when you go 🙂
I mentioned above, two of my favourite reasonably priced restaurants and I will now say this – AVOID any food places in Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus. Also avoid chains. I say this as this is a blog about doing London on the cheap. These food places in the above, are super expensive. If you contact me and tell me what food you like, I will let you know where to go for less, without lacking in quality.
Drink (one of my followers also suggested this as a tip)
There is a place called The Chandos, 29 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4ER. Pop it into City Mapper 😉 It is by Trafalgar Square and it serves the cheapest beer and wine I have found so far in London. It is also in the heart of the West End. It is all own branded, so you will not get prosecco. But it is 100% worth a visit. Your bank balance will appreciate it!
All of the parks in London are beautiful. St James’ park, close to Buckingham Palace, is home to a family of Pelicans. Go check them out.
Hyde Park, hosts many events and is vast enough to take a fresh route every time you visit.
Princess Diana Memorial Park, built in memory of the late Princess Diana (one of my readers recommended this place for FAMILIES) There is a park inside for families only. Open all year round. Such a lovely touch.
Places to stay
Central is obviously more desirable. But potentially more expensive. I would suggest looking at one of the hotel comparison sites and picking somewhere close to West End, your train station (where you come into London) or Waterloo. These areas will be good hubs for your days of walking. Hostels are worth a look. You can get private rooms, some with shared and some with private bathrooms. The hostels will give you great savings for your stay. But be prepared for alot of travellers.
TOP TIP – some of my best tips during my travelling around the world, were given to me by fellow travellers I met at hostels!
TOP TIP – (one of my followers also suggested this tip) Many tube stops are actually alot closer than you think. You may want to walk more than tube. It will prevent being packed into a hot tube. You will also get to see more. Check on city mapper first.
Quirky bars/food places
One of my favourite bars in London, The Bloomsbury Club. OK, whilst this is not a cheap bar, it is definitely quirky and if you have followed all the tips above, you should have some spare pennies for a cheeky cocktail in this underground 1920s hideaway. The cocktails are delicious and you will be wowed by the place itself, for sure!
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town – this is a top-secret tip!!!
Located through the fridge door of The Breakfast club in E1, you need to give the password to a member of staff which is…………we are here to see the Mayor or scaredy cat town.
I threw this one in because it’s a bit of fun!
Street Feast – If you get chance to visit any of these pops ups, then go! They are hosted in various spots around London and have an array of sexy food stalls and quirky bars. Excellent in the summer. Great for groups/families and couples alike. Go, go, go! I can recommend Hawker House. Its huge. Has both indoor and outdoor and so many foods that I have enjoyed. Let me know which one you get to 🙂
Rooftop bar on a disused car park. Everyone loves a rooftop bar. This may be a little out of the city, but it’s worth the trip. Franks, in Peckham, is only open in the summer months, but it has a fantastic view of London’s skyline and is a huge bar, with reasonably priced drinks. Check when its open before heading out there.
Quick one word rundown of some popular areas of London:
Shoreditch – Hipster
Waterloo – Central
Kings Cross – Up ‘n’ coming
West End – Buzzing
Westminster – Impressive
Camden – Eclectic
Last tips –
TimeOut often has offers on for various theatre shows, offers on food and drink. Check it out before you make your trip.
TOP TIP – avoid all theatre ticket booths as they will rip you off. If you fancy a last minute show, check out this site – Tixtonight
You like celeb spotting? Why not check if there is a premiere in Leicester Square whilst you are there?
I could go on and on! I think this is a good basis for a trip to London.
If you have any questions, contact me via the contact page or on my twitter
Let me know how you get on. Put #iwozere on your photos during your trip and let me know of anymore tips I may have missed for my readers 🙂
Disclaimer – all opinions are my own. I have not been sponsored for any of this content or suggestions.