London is a city that is famous for a lot of things – entertainment, history, the royal family, but one thing it certainly isn’t is cheap. Put simply, London can be quite an expensive city – if you keep to the beaten track. Guests of the Piccadilly London West End are well placed to be taken advantage of by tourist traps and expensive central London prices. It needn’t be that way though, there are many bargains and deals if you know where to look.
And that’s just the problem. London is a city that spans more than 1500 square kilometres, meaning that those bargains and deals can be very well hidden, especially amidst the high priced tourist attractions that are often touted in the city centre and near luxury hotels in West End London. This blog will outline some tips and tricks for exploring London on a budget, focussing on discounts for travel and entertainment, free events and museums as well as other ways to visit London on the cheap.
Tricks For London Transport
London transport prices aren’t expensive on the surface, but they can really add up if you don’t know how to manage them. Below are just a few tips for saving money on London transport.
What You Need To Know About Travel Passes
Travel Passes are available in London for day, week, month or year subscriptions. These passes provide you with the freedom to travel at will without having to top up your Oyster card or use your contactless payment card. The travelcard, though, is only cheaper than single payments in very specific circumstances. The day travelcard actually costs more than the daily pay cap on contactless and oyster cards, and is only going to save you money if you take 3 or more trips a day for 6 days on a week-long travelcard.
If you’re a British citizen utilising London West End stay packages and are eligible for either a senior or under 30 railcard, remember that you can link up your card to your Oyster. You can enjoy the same third off prices for individual tube journeys as you can train fares using your railcard. However, keep in mind that oyster railcard link ups do not provide a discount for peak time trains, which we’ll get onto next.
If you’re travelling through London on public transport, consider that between 06.30 am and 09.00 am and between 16.00 pm and 19.00 pm, London Underground services will rise in price by about 30 percent. This is because locals are departing for and returning from work. Rush hour in London can mean crowded trains and tubes, essentially meaning that tourists will be paying more for a less comfortable journey. Avoid these hours of travel if you can.
Know Your Zones
London’s travel network is divided into zones 1 to 8, running in rings from the zone 1 centre of the city. The more zones you are travelling through, the higher the price of your single tube journey. Make sure that if you are buying a travelcard for the day, that you check which zones it’s valid for. The less zones you buy a travelcard for, the cheaper it will be.
City Hopper Fares
City Hopper fares were introduced to London buses in 2016 and give customers the freedom to take two buses for the price of one if the journeys are within an hour of each other. This can save you money on the already great value bus services of London.
Santander Cycles cost £2 per half hour ride and give you the chance to sightsee whilst travelling. Utilising the many bus routes of London, Santander Cycles have hundreds of docking stations around the city that allow travellers to rent sturdy and efficient bicycles for their visit to London.
Restaurants and eateries can really add up in price during a visit to the city. Luckily, apps such as TooGoodToGo give you the chance to sample local street food and restaurant produce for a cut throat price. Download the app today and eat from world-renowned restaurants and cafes for as little as £3.
London events needn’t cost hundreds of pounds. Whilst West End can cost a lot, there are many ways to enjoy great entertainment at low prices.
Box Office Returns
Whilst not applicable to all West End theatres, famous stages like the Gielgud operate a daily box office returns queue. Head to the box office of the West End show you want to see and if you’re lucky, you could get a return or unsold ticket for as little as £10.
Edinburgh Fringe Previews
In the run up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, many of the hottest new acts test their material at the countless pub venues in London. Dotted all across the city, visitors can enjoy a wealth of pay what you can and low priced works in progress from comedians such as Jordan Brookes, Stewart Lee and many more. Whether you’re staying at corporate accommodation in London’s West End or you’re on the outskirts of the city, there’ll undoubtedly be a venue within half an hour of you showcasing the best local talent in the city.
Museums You Can Visit For Free
London is one of the best cities in Europe for museums. The range of free cultural centres even outnumber the ticketed ones. The most popular free museums in London include the South Kensington Exhibition Row trio, consisting of the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum. Other famous museums include the British Museum and the Museum of Childhood
Free Art Galleries
Alongside the museums, free art galleries in London are more prevalent than paid ones. Whilst many temporary exhibits will require you to pay for a ticket, permanent galleries can be visited for free. The most popular free-to-visit art galleries in London include the Tate Modern and Britain, the Newport Street Gallery, the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery and the Serpentine Galleries.