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Top 10 money-saving tips for visiting London
Squeeze the most out of your trip to London with our top money-saving tips. And the best bit? Many of these affordable options are way more fun than pricey alternatives!
1. Get a Visitor Oyster card
Oyster cards, Visitor Oyster cards and contactless payment cards offer the cheapest ways to travel in London. Using a Visitor Oyster Card is more than 50% cheaper than buying one-day paper Travelcards or single tickets with cash (order one before you arrive to start saving immediately!).
Insider tip: Visitor Oyster Card holders qualify for a range of food, drink and other discounts and special offers.
2. Leg it!
Although you’ll want to use public transport for longer journeys (see above), central London is ideal for walking or cycling using the city’s Santander Cycles scheme. This way you see more sights, get some exercise and may even happen across some hidden gems on your journey!
Insider tip: Especially at busy times, it’s actually faster to walk between stations such as Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
3. Free attractions
London has a host of amazing free attractions and landmarks that you can visit without spending a penny. These include top art galleries and museums including Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, the Southbank Centre art complex, and outdoor spaces such as Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath.
Insider tip: Don’t miss free spectacles such as Changing the Guard.
4. Cheap West End tickets
Seeing a West End theatre show doesn’t have to be expensive. Buy your tickets in advance for big discounts. You can also visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap, last minute tickets.
Insider tip: If you know what you want to see, try lining up at the theatre for stand-by tickets and returns. More tips on buying theatre tickets
5. The London Pass
The London Pass gets you in free (often with fast-track entry) to more than 60 top London attractions including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge Experience and the Thames River Cruise.
Insider tip: Plan the perfect day out with London Pass using our itinerary.
6. Book online in advance
If you don’t think you’ll do enough sightseeing to use a London Pass, you can beat the queues and save on ticketed attractions and exhibitions by booking online and in advance. For example, London Eye tickets are up to 10% cheaper online.
Insider tip: Plan ahead as tickets are often issued in time slots.
7. Nights out
For a money-saving night out, buy a London Nightlife Ticket, which gives you free entry to some of the capital’s nightclubs, plus special offers for selected restaurants, bars and bowling alleys. Keep an eye on pub happy hours or get yourself along to one of London’s many student club nights. You can also dance the night away to live music, from talented acts to up-and-coming artists, with some cheap gig tickets.
Insider tip: Ask at your hostel and check online for the latest student club information.
8. Small shows
London has thriving live music, comedy and cabaret scenes. And the great thing about these smaller productions is they’re usually a lot more affordable than traditional theatre shows or big-name music gigs.
Insider tip: Cabaret shows crop up in some amazing and unexpected bijoux venues.
9. Bargain shopping
London is a shoppers’ paradise and for those watching the pennies, there’s plenty of bargain options. Check out affordable fashion in high street stores such as Primark or search for cheap retro originals at London’s vintage emporiums.
Insider tip: Shop at London’s wonderful markets, where you can often haggle for bigger savings!
10. Cheap eats
Maltby Street Market. Image: Michael Heffernan.
For affordable food, look out for chain restaurants, buffets and traditional cafes. In fine weather, you can purchase pre-made sandwiches from supermarkets or shops such as Pret A Manger and Eat, and dine al fresco in one of London’s lovely parks, gardens or courtyards. Street food has become a very popular social phenomenon: discover the best food trucks in London, and satisfy your taste buds with cheap and mouthwatering street food.
Insider tip: Take a packed lunch to More London for some of the best, free sightseeing in town!