London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that’s only if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Whenever you talk to someone about visiting London you tend to hear how expensive it is. However, a lot of the expense can be almost completely removed if you know a few tips and tricks that we all use. Wouldn’t a free London be nice?!
London regularly ranks as one of the most expensive cities to live in, but prices are starting to go down. Any city such as London will have places that fight for customers, and we have to take advantage of that. This article will assume that you do not want to skip the main attractions, but simply do them cheaper. It will assume that you want to eat out at nice restaurants, just cheaper. Also, it will assume that you are generally not going to be backpacking, as I have no experience with that.
1) The Main Sights
When you think of London I imagine that you think of Big Ben, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Let’s quickly deal with the most common questions with these sites as they are the ones that can end up being a real pain – along with Madame Tussauds. If you are visiting in tourist season then the queues are HUGE.
I have seen queues of longer than an hour under the midday sun and that’s not something we want. Thankfully, like everything in London it’s cheaper if you book it in advance, and booking in advance comes with benefits. Namely that you won’t have to queue to buy the tickets as well – yes even the queue can be a 30 minute wait.
Buying a “London Attraction” ticket will get you entrance to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, The London Aquarium, the London Dungeon and Shrek’s Adventure World in the price of one ticket. Alternatively, you can just buy a London Eye ticket / fast-track ticket (worth it depending on when you are going) – both can be found here.
If you want to go to see Buckingham Palace then it is possible to go for a tour around it, but only if you go in the summer. Information about these tours can be found here
Going inside Big Ben is sadly not possible at the time of writing, but should be available again in 2020.
For everything else that you could want to do in London then consider getting a London Pass. It may seem a bit pricey at first, but if you are going to be staying for multiple days then it will quickly become worth it. Not only is it probably cheaper (depending on how much you want to see and do), but it is incredibly easy. You do not have to worry about all of your tickets and where you have them, you can put them all into one pass. Super simple, super quick. This page will tell you everything that you can do with your London Pass, which probably includes some things you didn’t even think about!
If the London Pass isn’t for you, then you will still have to make public transport cheaper, as that really is expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thankfully I’ve got you covered and you can check out how to make it cheaper by reading this.
2) Other Attractions to Visit
Many of the best experiences in London occur around the less famous places. Some of them are even free! For example, Richmond Park is a park in London where there are wild deer that run around, you could even feed them if you’re brave enough. Sadly I wasn’t, and when they came towards me I ran away. But, you are probably made out of stronger stuff than I am!
Another example of something that you can do for free to get a good view of London is to go to the top of Sky Garden. While everyone else is going to the top of The Shard instead head for the better alternative. Although it may not be as tall as the shard it is free and has a bar and restaurant at the top that are affordable. It also gives you the chance to take some enviable photos and makes you look like a proper Londonder.
Another free thing that is worth doing for those of you who are more sociable is a free walking tour. You can either visit the main sites, or find something a bit more specific – such as walking yours around Soho. You can even go on a free walking tour guided by a Jack the Ripper expert, who will tell you all about our most famous serial killer. However, it is best if you simply have a look for “free walking tours London” on a search engine for yourself, as I have not been on enough to recommend any single one.
3) Making your Trip Priceless
Another way to make your trip cheap is to increase the overall worth of it, as opposed to lowering the actual cost. For this I cannot recommend Atlas Oscura enough. Even as a Londoner I use it to find things that are hidden in plain sight – it’s also a great source to use for guiding friends around the city. This list will also tell you where Platform 9 3/4 is, for those of you who love Harry Potter.
For events and exhibitions that are on during your stay, or to check if something has been made free for a while then you should always check Time Out. A constantly useful source of information to make your trip just that little bit extra special, and to make sure you don’t miss something that you would have loved to see.
4)Some General Rules
As a rule in London, don’t pay for something on the door and don’t pay for it on the day. You always want to be checking in advance for vouchers or half price tickets. This is capitalism at its finest, people need to out compete each other. For you to take advantage of this then you have to think like a local, and that means deal websites. From health and fitness, to things to do, to restaurants and night life, you will find a deal for everything.
Do not just walk around and think “hmm, that seems like a nice restaurant”, you will lose a lot of money that way. London is full of unique ideas and interesting places but they are hidden, to make the experience truly your own you have to do what other people do not.
Here are some deal websites that I recommend for you to check before and during your trip that will not only cut the price of the trip, but also give you extra ideas of things to do:
https://www.groupon.co.uk/vouchers/london – Everything from indoor skydiving to food festivals, all discounted, all top quality. I use this all the time in London.
https://www.livingsocial.co.uk/deals/london – Not quite as common, although I am signed up to the newsletter and it seems to have some interesting propositions.
https://www.wowcher.co.uk/deals/london – Always worth checking as they seem to have slightly different deals to the others.
Have you been to London before? What did you think about it?
Do you have some other tips to add to the list?
Let us know what you think and we will reply to everything.