Londoner Tips for a Budget Trip

Posted on August 10, 2010 by

This week we’ll take a break from my India journals and head back to Europe. The world’s capital, London, is the epicenter of great food, cultural enclaves and historical museums. But it’s always been notorious for its exorbitant prices and extravagant bites. This week’s sponsored post provides us with some insiders’ tips on how to save some pennies while experiencing London at its best.

London is a great city but it’s also a notoriously pricey place to be! Visitors often shell out way too much money in order to see the sights when all they really want is the authentic London experience.

Big Ben in London

A few little tips from a resident Londoner are all you need to make some serious savings, especially for longer visits:

Superhighway to Heaven

Bicycle rental in LondonCatching the tube or train is usually stressful and always expensive! Kill two birds with one stone and get fit while travelling around the city taking in the sights as you go. Having recently undergone a major facelift, the London cycle network (now called the cycle superhighway!) has been repainted bright blue and made wider, which means safer, faster and more direct routes around the city.

You can register for the new cycle hire scheme where the first 30 minutes of every hire period is totally free… which is a pretty good reason to pedal fast!

Eat Local

Compared with the rest of England, Londoners are lucky in that it is still fairly easy to shop well and shop cheap in your local area. Avoid the large supermarket chains as they inflate their prices in the city and staff are likely to throw your items down a conveyor belt without so much of a nod in your direction.

Local market in London

Try the local fruit and vegetable stalls or street markets for better service and really low prices. I’m fortunate that in South East London, I have an outstanding fishmonger and local butcher who only sell free range organic meat at half the price of the supermarket. I’m normally in and out within 10 minutes and always come out with a smile on my face as well as a massive bag of meat!

Visit for Free!

Only in London can you visit some of the finest collections of Egyptian artifacts, come face to face with one of the largest and most terrifying Trex skeletons in the world and realize that Monet picked a pretty dirty pond when he choose to paint his famous “Water-Lilies”… for free! In fact most of the world class museums and galleries in London are free and well worth a look.

Natural History Museum in London

Start with the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert museum (conveniently located next door to each other); not only do they showcase some fascinating exhibits, but they are both housed in beautiful buildings.

EZ Phone Home

clip_image009When ET asked to phone home he probably didn’t realize how expensive it is to place international calls… So if you want to catch up with friends and family at home, avoid using your regular mobile phone service provider – even sending a text message can send your bill soaring.

Get a calling card that will enable you to make cheap international calls. Good services do not require any registration, pre-payment, accounts or credit cards – just dial the special number using a landline (or your mobile phone) followed by the international number of your loved one.

Cruise the River

If you thought London’s amazing transport system was limited to buses, tubes and trains, then think again! Seeing the sights by water offers a whole different perspective on London and is certainly an experience worth trying. The problem is most of the tourist trips are quite expensive, but never fear, a cheap alternative is the River Bus Service. Most take Oyster cards or regular cash ticket payments and you can travel as far as Hampton Court Palace in the west right over to Woolwich in the East.

Docklands London

Along the way you can get off and visit loads of attractions, including Westminster (for the Houses of Parliament and Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet Rooms), Greenwich (for the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum) or maybe hop off at London bridge pier for a walk along the arty Southbank.

Pic Sources: Flickr images 1 2 3 4 5 6


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

12 Responses to “Londoner Tips for a Budget Trip”

  1. August 10, 2010 4:27 pm #

    "If you thought London’s amazing transport system was limited to buses, tubes and trains, then think again! "

    I'm not sure Londoner's would call the transport amazing! :D The english love to complain!

    I find every weekend the tube is down for repairs!

    I also remember when I was living in Sydney, Australia… the locals there used to complain about the trains and I always used to wonder why. I thought they were pretty good!

    Nice article!

    Paul @

  2. Home Base Holidays August 10, 2010 4:47 pm #

    V. good tips! We Londoners know it doesn't need to be expensive to enjoy the city and hope some of our visitors will venture beyond the tourist traps that every large city has.

    As staying in a hotel can be one of the highest costs in a visit to London, here's a tip on how to stay here for free (without bumming a bed from a London friend) – swap homes.

    We have been running a home exchange service in London since 1985 (and also run Guardian home exchange) and so have a particularly large choice of London homes available for exchange. Hope you'll check them out. Right now we're gearing up for a big influx of visitors for London 2012 when accommodation is bound to be at a premium and very expensive. Now's not too soon to start looking for (and offering) a home for exchange for the Olympics.


  3. Difly August 17, 2010 6:14 pm #

    I would add to this that when shopping for food in London markets you should avoid Borough Market (in London Bridge) unless you have just won the lottery. This is a great market for browsing and eating a few snacks on your way round, but don’t try and buy your weekly fruit and veg there. I once had some friends coming round for dinner and decided to buy some special organic, fresh ingredients from there and it ended up costing me about £40 (that was for four people and I was only making soup!). You have been warned.

  4. jay August 17, 2010 7:31 pm #

    Brick lane has some great st food that is reasonably priced, however be warned of the touts outside the indian restaurants who prey unsuspecting tourists. On Sunday Brick lane has a whole indoor st food market where stallholders provide dishes from the four corners of the globe deffinitely worth checking out

    • Nellie August 18, 2010 4:51 am #

      Oh yes, I\’m a fan of Brick Lane too, especially the hippy warehouse markets, especially so much interesting stuff on sale. I bought a Russian military coat there once! London\’s full of surprises, even for the paupers like me :)

  5. elleswim August 17, 2010 9:27 pm #

    Great tips! I spent way more money than I anticipated while I was in London, I wish I had seen an article like this before hand. I would have loved to see the city by bike rather than be stuck underground. Knowing that the museums were free made me feel list guilty about spending #30 on the London Eye (although I'll probably never do it again)

  6. Gente - Isaac Sutton Club November 2, 2012 11:40 am #

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really loved browsing your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing on your feed and I am hoping you write again soon!

  7. Kori July 21, 2013 2:10 pm #

    Wow what a great post! I am always looking for ways to save while in Europe. I love the pictures as well. I will definitely apply your tips the next time I'm traveling through London.


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