Muslim Travel Girl’s note: This article first appear on Have Halal, Will Travel but I found it very beneficial for someone looking to visit London so I thought I will share it here for you. Enjoy.
Hiyya! London town can deemed as one of the most expensive cities to visit but it mustn’t necessarily be so! To indulge in the lifestyle of a Londoner, there’s nothing better than to explore London’s finest high streets to her sophisticated quaint lanes. London offers a lot to a traveller and it is important to plan ahead. Here are 5 tips to explore London on a budget.
1. Route and Transport Planning
Getting to know the London map is definitely helpful. They are available near the tourists’ kiosks at airports, hotel lobbies and public transportation areas – just keep your eyes open! It would also make a great keepsake of your London adventure, a few years down the road.
If you are more of a paperless kind of person, you can always download them to your devices at this link.
Google map is pretty good too as it tracks your movement as you move along the city.
a. Oyster Card
The Oyster Card allows you to travel on London Underground, Overground, Tram and those significant red London buses. It has several travelling options depending on your route and travelling plans.
If you plan to travel beyond central London from Zone 1 – 6 for a week or so; the 7 Day Oyster Card costs about £32.10 ( +£5 for Oyster Card).
#HHWT Tip: Always plan where you’re going and take note of the zones that the places you’re planning to visit are in.
The Visitor Oyster will be a cheaper option at a maximum capping of £6.40 per day for your travels if you plan to move just in between Zone 1 and 2 for less than a week. You can find out more about the Visitor Oyster here.
b. Cycle Hire
London’s self-service cycle hire for short journeys is a great way to really indulge in her streets. For a minimum of £2 to hire a bicycle, every journey that takes less than 30 minutes will be free of charge for a whole 24 hours.
The bicycle docks are scattered all around town and the Santander Cycle Hire app for your smart phone will help you identify where the next docking station is. Find out more about the Cycle Hire here.
I don’t know about you, but I can already imagine myself cycling in the streets of London and through her majestic parks already!
2. Feel at Home!
To fit in like a local, you definitely need to live like a local – or at least try to!
a. Air BnB
Air BnB offers a great way to live up to that local feeling. It has a wide range of accommodation and varied prices up to your preferences. Of course, it’s also way cheaper (and maybe even more convenient) than staying in a hotel! What better way to feel like home than to actually be in one!
If you are open to meet new people and to learn about other cultures, couchsurfing can be an alternative. Hosts vary from locals to different ethnicities, and they expect no payments when they host you (unless they specify on the website). You just need to show your gratitude through a cooked meal and some time spent with them.
3. Indulge in London’s Finest for Free!
Put yourself on an ongoing historical tour throughout your visit in London – especially if you are walking or cycling around town! You’ll notice some Blue Plaques on certain buildings which highlights the historical figure who has lived in the building.
Just to name a few – Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens etc. I’d definitely put my best walking shoes on for some historical sightings!
Majestic Parks of London
Hyde Park is definitely one that you have to check out whilst in London. It has quite a number of attractions – Speakers’ Corner and Memorials just to name a few.
British Summer Time means concerts held at Hyde Park! Just hanging out at Hyde Park during these times means enjoying free music from your favourite band/singer just outside the concert grounds – totally gentle on your pocket. I was very lucky to have experienced this myself with my best friend, and it was a rare coincidence!
Regent’s Park is one of my favourites as it houses ZSL London Zoo, London Central Mosque and the Open Air Theatre.
There are too many things to do in London for free! I recommend this list for further reading so you are able to find the right activity that suits you best!
4. Advanced Online Purchases
Should you want to experience London from the fancy touristy perspective but with a restrained budget, you should opt to purchase your tickets in advance online. Not only you will be saving in between 15% – 35% in discounts, you’d also save all that time from queuing for other activities!
a. London Pass
The London pass offers a relatively discounted price online for the city’s main tourist attractions and a fast track entry.
It can save you a whole lot of money, as most of the top attractions are costly if you were to buy them at the entrance. It is always worth checking out the list of attractions first, and you can do that through this link.
b. Other Main Attractions
You’ve heard so much about the wax figures at Madame Tussauds and it’s time to see them for yourselves! If you are keen to visit Madame Tussauds and other iconic London attractions (London Eye etc) you will also be able to purchase attraction passes by combining your choice of attractions for a discounted online price.
Address: Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LR
Phone: 0871 894 3000
Opening hours: Monday – Friday; 9.30 AM – 5.30 PM, Saturday – Sunday; 9.00 AM – 6.00 PM
Nearest Underground Station: Baker Street, Bakerloo line
More info: Website
5. Budget Shopping Guide
If anyone you know has been to London and has not told you about Primark, they’re keeping the best to themselves!
Primark tops my budget shopping list as it not only has the latest trends, but they also offer British themed items which make great souvenirs for below £10!
P.S.: They sell affordable, pretty coats too which can help you with the British climate.
Location: Primark, Oxford Street (West)
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8AM – 10PM, Sunday, 11.30AM – 6PM
Nearest Underground station: Marble Arch, central line.
I absolutely think that it’s worth it to check out Poundland as everything they sell right from snacks to health & beauty products will only cost you £1! Sure you may get similar items at local supermarkets, but Poundland sells the same items for a relatively cheaper price.
You can even buy some souvenirs for your friends and families!
Location: Poundland,Unit 2 126-138, Camden High Street, London
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8.30AM – 9.00PM, Sunday, 11.30AM – 5.00PM
Nearest Underground station: Camden Town, Northern line.
London tops as one of my favourite cities in the world as it gives that nice dreamy feeling between modern and historical sophistication. Explore London town at your own pace and let it inspire you as it did me. Let us know if the above tips came in handy!