How to Save Money on Your Trip to London
One of the most common questions visitors to London ask is “how expensive is London?” It’s true that the city is one of the most expensive places to visit in Europe, but the cost of your trip depends on a lot of factors, such as: what time of the year you plan to go, your travel style, etc. So if you are looking for a short answer to “how expensive is London”, the best answer is “well, it depends…” For the long answer, read on.
London is a major European hub. So you won’t have problems finding a flight here. But you want that flight to be the cheapest possible. The price is influenced by the season, so flying during the summer will burn a hole in your pocket, especially if you are coming from the US or Canada. Typically, summer return flights from New York start around $900 per person. If you are already in Europe, take advantage of the low cost carriers. There are plenty of flights to London from various European cities and most carriers have sales all the time. It’s just a matter of deciding when to grab the offer. But if you miss the sales, you might end up paying quite a bit for your flight.
The choice of accommodation will influence your vacation cost. You’d want to stay close to the public transport stations (especially a tube station, as you’ll have fast access to the sights and to the airport). Also, as much as possible, try to find a place close to the city center. There are plenty of hotels and hostels to choose from , but do your research ahead of time. And book in advance. Traveling during July and August is always more expensive than traveling during spring or fall.
Private rooms in hostels can cost up to £50 per person per night in mid-August, while beds in dorms start at £13 for the same period. Travel in mid-October and you’ll pay £15 per person per night in a private room.
London is a large city so you can forget about dealing with it on foot. Plus, you need to get from the airport to the hotel, which means you’ll use the bus, the train, or the tube, or a combination of these. If you stay for longer than a week, invest in an Oyster card. Also, day travelcards are excellent for when you travel a lot by tube to visit the sights.
Attractions and tours
London is the best city in Europe for those passionate about history and culture. Many museums don’t have any entrance fee. British Museum hosts a wealth of artifacts and you can spend an entire day here (if not longer). For a nice start of your day in London, watch the changing of the guards in front of Buckingham Palace. When the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much for you, walk in one of the many parks.
Drinking and dining
Take advantage of the breakfast included in the room price at the hotel (or hostel). It is enough to get you started and you won’t need to worry about eating again in the early morning. Also, stores are good options for the rest of the meals, especially if you like to eat healthy (there are plenty of ready-made salads available, for example). Pubs might not offer the healthiest food but there are a lot of interesting meals to try. Plus , you haven’t been to London if you haven’t tried fish and chips.
There are plenty of stores to check out and a lot of things to buy. Do take advantage of the sales season if you want to get something.
The bottom line
The cost of your London vacation will vary according to a number of factors. If you go in spring or fall, you can take advantage of both the low airfare and the cheaper accommodation. Leaving out the cost of the flight and accommodation, you can easily get away with £200-300 a week for two persons (but you’ll stay away from paying entrance fees and eating out). If you go during the summer, everything costs more. Thankfully, even though your budget is small there are plenty of things to do in London which are free.
Photo credit: Cristina Puscas and cannot be used without permission