How to Make the Most of a Cheap Day in London
London is an amazing place to spend a day or, if you have time, even longer. But it’s no secret that, compared to the rest of the UK, it can get pretty expensive. Expenses can quickly start to add up, from travel and food to activities. Even if you’re just spending the day there before you move on to elsewhere, you can leave the city with your wallet feeling a lot lighter. However, you can still enjoy your time in London without having to spend too much. If you’re smart about how you use your time and money, you can explore the city without being rinsed dry.
Free Yourself from the Burden of Bags
Before you go anywhere, you might want to drop your bags. When you only have a day or even a few hours to see London, you probably don’t have a hotel room or anywhere else to leave your luggage. But being weighed down by bags can limit you, making it harder to get more from your day. You can find convenient St Pancras luggage storage and similar options at other major train stations. Leave your luggage at the station you’re intending to leave from so that you can collect it just before you have to go.
Use Public Transport
It just makes sense to use public transport in London. The network is extensive and getting around by car can take much longer and be more frustrating and expensive. An Oyster card will allow you to use the underground, buses, trains, trams, and more. You can even use it for river buses. There’s plenty of help from staff if you need assistance navigating the tube or any other public transport. You can, of course, walk around London too. Walking can sometimes be a pretty quick option, so it’s helpful to have a map app that will show you walking distances.
Visit Parks and Important Sites
London can be expensive, but you might be surprised by how many free things there are to see and do. You can easily see some fun sights or spend time in some of the many public parks around the city. In fact, almost 20% of London is parkland, with around 3,000 public green spaces. If you want to tick off both a famous site and a park, take a stroll through Green Park and The Mall to get to Buckingham Palace. At the palace, you’ll be able to watch the Changing of the Guard for free, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from 11am.
Get Into Museums for Free
Another excellent free option in London is to take a trip to at least one museum or gallery. Many of London’s museums and galleries offer free entry, with the choice to pay extra to get into some special exhibits. You can choose to donate to the museum as a token of your appreciation, of course, and there are often gift shops and cafes where you can spend your money too. Some of the most popular free museums and galleries include the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate Modern. As you can see, there are plenty of options!
Look for Free Events
Outside of museums, galleries and parks, you can find plenty of other free things to do. There’s always something going on in London, and many events and activities are completely free. What’s available when you visit can vary, so it’s a good idea to do a bit of research and find out exactly what events might be on. Resources like Visit London can be very useful if you’re looking for free events that will entertain you during your visit. There are things to do throughout the year, including festivals and special events and displays.
Seek Out Cheap Food
Eating and drinking in London can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. This is another situation where it can definitely pay to do a little bit of research. Instead of just picking somewhere to eat at random, which could get you caught up in an expensive tourist trap, look online to find recommendations for the best cheap eats. London is a multicultural city, so you’ll find cuisine from around the world, and a lot of it is great value. But if you want to try out a London staple, such as pie, mash and liquor, you can find some pretty affordable options for that too. If you want a few options, try Borough Market for a choice of food stalls.
Drink During Happy Hour
As for drinking, anyone who has visited London from anywhere else in the country will tell you it can be shockingly expensive. But that doesn’t mean there are no deals to be found. One of the best things you can do is to seek out places that have a happy hour offer or similar options to help you save money. These are usually run during quieter hours, but that’s ideal for a tourist who isn’t constrained by normal business hours. You can often find deals such as two-for-one drinks or discounts on certain drinks.
Go Window Shopping
One of the things many people love best about London is its many shopping opportunities. Shopping might not seem like the best activity for anyone looking to save money, but there’s no rule that you have to spend a lot. It’s a fun activity even if you don’t buy anything, especially with so many options. You can explore everything from designer brands and high street shops to sprawling markets and malls. Sticking to window shopping can be fun enough on its own, but if you know you’ll be tempted to buy something, try setting yourself a budget so you don’t overspend. Decide what you’re looking for too, whether it’s souvenirs to give to friends and family or just something for yourself.
You don’t have to break the bank when you’re exploring London. You can spend a day there while sticking to a budget.