London on a Budget
One of the biggest and most visited cities in the world, London has its fair share of cheap or even free hacks that will fit any budget. Here are a few tips:
Transportation – black cabs are terribly expensive. If you’re coming in from Heathrow, best to use the tube – take the Piccadilly line, which stops at Terminals 1-5, only downside is that it’s slower than all your other options. Best to buy a card from the airport then use it throughout your stay. Each underground station has its own zone so having an Oyster Card will save you the trouble of figuring out the fare for the station you’re going to. If you find that you rode the tube amounting to more than a single day card ticket, the Oyster Card would not deduct anything from your balance anymore. Other ways to get around involve the double decker bus, which is a cheaper alternative to the tube (you can use the oyster card to pay for the fare too) or just walking.
Food – You can eat for cheap in London! You could find a fish & chip place, a sandwich shop, or Indian food in any corner. It’s best to just stay with these local smaller places, as some chain stores can be very expensive as compared to what you have back home. McDonalds? No thanks- the best place to go for foodies is Brick Lane.
Sightseeing – Plenty of free places to go to. These include the local clichés: walking outside the Houses of Parliament, going to the Tate Modern, or crossing the Millennium Bridge. You can go to Hyde Park and do a mini game: like finding certain places of interest throughout the Park (going to the Speakers Corner, finding Peter Pan’s statue, finding a fountain dedicated to Diana) – the park is also connected to Kensington and across the street is Green Park. That will be an easy day spent, living like a local.
If you are more of a tour guide person, you can take one for free. Several companies offer tours with no set amount, if you like the tour, you tip the guide. If you didn’t like your guide or the tour, then there are no hard feelings and feel free not to tip the guide. These tours are normally very good and would encompass different parts of the city. My recommendation would be to use the company called Free Tours by Foot.
Did you know that on certain days of the year you could also watch free plays at the South Bank near the City Hall? They also show certain films in the mini amphitheater there during the South Bank Festival. London is a city that never sleeps, and the best place to find these free events involves spending a bit of money buying a Time Out Magazine as there can be something new every week and it is too much to enumerate in this article.
If you are more of an artsy person and want to see something in the West End, you can head to TKTS, to buy cheaper tickets than buying it from the ticket office. If you are alone, sometimes you can get upgraded to a better seat just to fill in a gap in the front blocks!
London has its fair share of things to do for cheap, and a trip here doesn’t need to break the bank. All you have to do is to plan more of what you want to do ahead of time.