It’s been a while since I’ve spent more than a night in central London, and it always surprises me how much has changed between visits – although not new to Londoners, I enjoyed the concept of paying for the tube with my contactless debit card when I didn’t have money on my oyster card and the queues to top up were long! Of course, it’s easy to spend a lot of money in London, but it is also possible to enjoy London without splashing the cash too. Here are a few tips, interspersed with some highlights from our last trip.
Since I’ve already mentioned travel, it’s worth noting some tube stations are exceptionally close to each other – see this walking tube map to see! Our plan each day was to get into our first port of call, and then walk around until we were ready to go home. You see tons more than on a tube train, it’s good exercise, and free of course. One easy way to keep your travel costs to a minimum.
If you know you’ve got a trip coming up, get organised and order a TasteCard trial for £1 (for ninety days). There are so many restaurants in the UK that accept a Tastecard which can either get you 2for1 on all courses of your meal, or 50% off your food bill. Chains include Pizza Express, Zizzi and Bella Italia but there are lots of independent places too. Exceptions can apply (some restaurants don’t accept the card on a Friday or Saturday night, or on special days/bank holidays) but in London you can pretty much guarantee you can find somewhere for a cheap (er) meal at any time of the day or night. Just remember to cancel your card before the end of the trial period otherwise you’ll be liable for a yearly charge which is significantly higher!
You can find some very hearty lunchtime meals in London which will keep you going for most of the day. One of my favourites is Hummus Bros – a large bowl of hummus filled with your favorite filling. My favourite is the chicken and guacamole and comes with two fluffy pitta breads which will more than fill you up and keep you energised with all your walking!
If you fancy a sweet treat, I’d head to Fortnum and Masons for a take-home box of macarons or pastries – much cheaper than going to eat in!
I’ve already mentioned Alternative London Tours in my last post, but on a ‘Pay what you want’ basis, you can learn about street art in East London on whatever budget you have.
Finally, if you can I would really recommend seeing a play or musical in the West End. Matinees are often cheaper than evening performances, and when we saw a matinee performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on our most recent trip, our seats were moved to a much better location because a section of seating was closed due to a lack of sales. Our tickets which we had paid £16 for each instantly became seats that were worth £30, and we had a view much closer to the stage! The TKTS booth in Leicester Square offers ‘On the Day’ rates, so if you don’t have a particular show in mind, see what’s available and see something new! It’s also worth checking with the theatre in advance for some offers – a lot offer reduced rates for students.
These are only a few tips of how to make the most of your time in London – check out Time Out or search other blogs for more ideas!