Hipmunk City Love: A Guide to Exploring London on a Budget

London is known as one of the most exciting and expensive cities in the world. Here, almost 14 million people live in 32 different “boroughs” of the city, bringing various cultures to each lively neighborhood and offering a variety of activities. There’s a wealth of monuments, palaces, and impressive museum collections for you to enjoy, but you’ll pay a pretty penny for them. With the strong and expensive Great British Pound, you’ll want to make the most of the savings offered throughout the city. Aside from choosing an affordable hotel in London, use the budget tips below and you won’t have to break the bank for your trip to England.

Join a Free Walking Tour

Photo by Ruth Herbert via Trover.com

As you may have noticed in other posts, I am an advocate of free walking tours. Most major European cities have embraced this wonderful idea, and London is no exception. You can join a two- or three-hour tour of the city with a knowledgeable (and often charming) guide for free. Although donations are encouraged to pay the guide for their work, you technically don’t have to. Either way, a few dollars for a couple of touring hours is a great deal. In London, you have a choice of various companies, but I recommend one like Free Tours by Footthat has various themed tours to choose from, and even offers food tours. 

Get a Transportation Card for Your Stay

Photo by Moniek Freriks via Trover.com

Traveling by public transport is a good idea when you’re exploring the city. You can purchase the Oyster Card, which you top off with as much as money as you need. The benefit of this card is that you get discounted fares, and your travel is capped at around £6.50 per day. Any money that you don’t spend is refunded to you along with your initial deposit for the card. The benefit of the Travelcard is that you get unlimited access for a one-time fee. The Travelcard is a better deal if you’ll be staying in London close to a week.

Visit Museums and Churches for Free

Photo by Becki Kremer via Trover.com

The city of London offers visits to a few great sites for free. The National Gallery, for example, which houses great works by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and da Vinci, offers entry to the main collection for free. You can also visit the House of Commons and House of Lords inside the Palace of Westminister when they are in session. Most importantly, you can visit the expensive St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey free of charge, if you join in for evening service. You’ll also receive the bonus of the beautiful and enchanting Evensong sung at these services.

Visit the Fantastic Parks

Photo by Maria via Trover.com

All parks in London are free, and there’s a wide array of them. The most popular is Hyde Park, located smack in Central London near all of the major sites. The Park encompasses Kensington Gardens and the Diana Memorial Fountain. You can also visit St. James Park, with views of breathtaking Buckingham Palace. For an above-it-all view, visit the hill in Greenwich Park.

While London is indeed an expensive city for tourists, there are many ways to see the city on a budget. Seek out hidden gems and tricks of your own, and most of all, enjoy your trip.

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