London has a bit of a reputation for being an expensive vacation destination. After all, most tourists usually think of opulent hotels, high-end shopping districts like Harrods, and the Royal Family. However, there’s more to the UK capital than luxury—and it’s totally possible to enjoy London on a budget.
From visiting food markets to exploring museums, here’s everything you need to know about exploring London without breaking the bank.
Stay in a Boutique Hotel
Image Source: Qbic Hotels
If you’re taking a break from running your business by traveling with the family, or even when you’re traveling alone, the last thing you want to do is settle for some dingy place in exchange for cheap nights. Luckily, London offers a lot of hotels that aren’t just affordable, but also stylish and quaint. Visiting London on a budget doesn’t mean you are stuck in a low-quality hotel.
In this case, Qbic, a hotel in Whitechapel, is one of the best places to stay in. For $150 a night, the rooms are vibrant and invigorating and boast sustainable design. On the other hand, the Garden Court Hotel in Bayswater has a more classic, timeless feel—all for $77 a night. Depending on which location you prefer, there’s a quality budget hotel for you that puts you right in the center of the action.
London on a Budget: Explore the Museums
Image source: Art Fund
London has a rich history and lively art culture that’s worth exploring through its museums. And if there’s one thing to love about these spaces aside from its cultural value, it’s that they’re almost always free.
The National Gallery is a must-visit, especially for first-time London travelers. It holds more than 2,000 paintings that date back to the Middle Ages, showcasing work of historic names such as Van Gogh and Da Vinci.
When you visit London on a budget take advantage of other notable places to visit as well. Consider the city’s Imperial War Museum, Tate Modern for contemporary works, and the Museum of London for a crash course on the city’s background.
Visit a Food Market
Image source: Secret London
Sampling food in London is a fun social activity. This can be the height of your experience when visiting London on a budget. It’s no surprise that British company Gala Bingo recommends food markets as a great choice for a date-night for under a “tenner” ($12), as you can spend hours just strolling around and trying unique local and international dishes.
Plus, going with someone else allows you to sample twice as much food! Borough Market is a favorite of both locals and tourists alike, thanks to the quality and the sheer number of affordable eats. Whether you’re into British snacks, international cuisine, or lots of cheese, Borough Market has something to satisfy your palate.
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London on a Budget: Explore on Foot
While it’s faster to go to your destinations by bus, there’s a certain charm and leisure in enjoying its sidewalks. In fact, it’s possible to see most of the city’s main attractions on foot. Here’s a sample map that can guide you:
Image source: Mapping London
Aside from that, certain destinations, such as the ancient village of Clerkenwell and the shopping district Seven Dials, can only be reached on foot. Just make sure to bring an umbrella.
See a Discounted Show
Image source: Sam & Troy
Nothing says glamor better than the theatrical shows at London’s West End. Fortunately, anyone who’s visiting London on a tight budget can go to see one of its plays, too. All you have to do is go for a matinee show and purchase a standing-room-only ticket.
What’s more, if you book the tickets online and a couple of weeks early, some theaters like Old Vic offer their plays at a discounted price. For example, plays that usually charge $200 on an average gala night can easily drop to $50.
Yes, London has a well-deserved reputation for being an expensive city. But with a bit of planning, you can easily experience all it has to offer on a budget.