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Frugal London Vacation Tops

Frugal London – Doing London Cheaper Tips

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2021 @

frugal london buckingham palace garden frugal sight
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Buckingham Palace – the Garden. Fantastic view isn’t it?

A Frugal London Trip: Best London Travel Tips

Frugal London???! Yes, yes, yes..l know.  Those two words do not belong together. However, it is still possible not to break the bank when you visit this wonderful place. Here are some tips on making it budget-friendly. While it would be impossible to spend nothing all day, you can minimize the damage by following and experience a frugal London trip. This is a budget guide to London and how to visit London cheaply, a follow up to our recent trip to London

FRUGAL TRAVEL TIPS :

  • Travel offseason
  • Use local transportation (get Oyster card)
  • Unlock your phone prior to travel
  • Use Groupon
  • Get half-price tickets for shows
  • Eat cheaply with bundled lunch at grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Free museum entry

 

1) Travel To London Cheap: Travel offseason to London

frugal london oxford circus christmas
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Oxford Circus at Christmas time in London.. Yes, we were crazy enough to go there..Intense fun!

This is the biggest frugal London tip of all. Those airlines really know how to stick it to you come summer time. They know the kids are out of school and you want to explore the world. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Traveling when the kids are in school will save you hundreds.

Cheap trip to London: Frugal travel tips

Shop for the best airline tickets by using sites like Expedia or my favourite, Skyscanner. Their app is so cool to find flights because when you do a search, you can use the chart-like button which will show you the prices across days and weeks, so you don’t keep having to change the dates.

You might even be able to get deals on air and hotel combinations. I like to keep it separate. You can also use these sites for rental car discounts. I always check out the website lastminute.com too before booking. I have been able to get some really amazing discounts through them for hotels.

 

I once stayed in a deluxe four-star hotel in Knightsbridge for 54 pounds per night, which was a steal. To get a bang for your buck, visit London off-season. I would say the best time to visit London would be after September when the kids are back in school.

Click here for the best hotel prices in London

2) Unlock your phone before traveling:

Roaming charges are just throwing hard-earned money down the drain :-(! Have your phone unlocked prior to your trip. When you get to London or wherever you can simply buy a local SIM card and use that. Check with your carrier. I know for instance AT&T will unlock your phone after 1 year has passed on your contract. The frugal part of you will love the savings!. Check your phone too.

Some cell phones are dual SIM which means you don’t need to unlock them. You can just buy a local SIM card when you get to your destination, put it in the second slot and you’re ready to go. This is a great way to shave money off your budget when visiting London. You can also use Skype to communicate for free. If you have an iPhone, you can also keep in touch with friends and family free of charge on the Apple platform (as long as they also have iPhones). My favorite way lately to

talk for free is via WhatsApp. You can make video or voice calls for free and the connection is very clear. This will save money on a London vacation.

3) Use the Bus or local transportation:

sloane square london
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Skip the second (Black cab) and go for the 5th one (Big double-decker!). Your frugal side will thank you.

The Hop on Hop off bus is in most places, London included. This is a good way to discover what might interest you, and of course, saves you having to make your way to the various sites.

As an alternative, just hop on the local bus for the frugal alternative. My favorite bus route is Number 22. We usually get on at Sloane Square. The route will take you past the tourist places like Hyde Park, Knightsbridge (Harrods), Chelsea (King’s Road), Putney Bridge and Piccadilly Circus, from where you can just walk the few minutes to Trafalgar Square one way, Chinatown, and Leicester Square the other way. A day pass will run you up to £8, which includes the Underground trains. Using the local transport system will save you money on a London trip.

When you arrive at the airport, you might want to pick up the Oyster card. I think the card itself is £3 to purchase (and it’s yours to keep), then you load it with however much you want. The card will automatically stop charging you once you reach the limit for the day. The amount is based on what zones you travel within. Most tourists would probably have a top price of £6.40.

This saves you from fumbling for cash. Just swipe the card like a local. You can always top up the card. Keep the card for your next visit, or it’s a nice souvenir at least.

The RV1 bus line is also a good one too. It passes Covent Garden, South Bank (London Eye), London Bridge (Dungeon), and Tower Bridge. Compared to the £22 average for the hop-on-hop-off, it’s a bargain.

Travel with peace of mind. Get your free quote on travel insurance.

4) Groupon is your friend:

Yes,  just like your Groupon at home, you can get the same deals in London. Food, attractions, etc, so make sure to check it out. We got a 2 for 1 ticket to see the Moscow State Circus while we were there. It was awesome, even more so because it was half price. Being frugal is a good thing! :o)). Use Groupon deals in London restaurants, attractions, and events to save money on your trip.

 

moscow circus acrobats
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Moscow State Circus in London. A great frugal deal.

 

Moscow circus jugglers in London performance - best London travel tips include using Groupon
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daredevils! Groupon deals make for frugal London visit

 

 

Moscow state circus performers on circus stage and dim lights
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Great show!

 

Get Half-Price Tickets in Leicester Square: (on day of show)

Get half-price tickets for the latest plays and shows in Leicester Square. I’ve been able to see shows like Grease, Phantom, Lion King at severely discounted prices by buying on the same day. Pretty sweet!

Popular shows will of course fetch a higher price and they do sell out quickly. There are so many huge talents in the smaller shows too. I once saw Sir Ian Richardson in a small play. There is a central booth in the middle of Leicester Square that you can purchase tickets from. There is usually a long line since everyone loves a bargain, so make sure you arrive early.

5) Eat Cheaply in London:

buckingham palace duck
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This little cutie was in the Queen’s pond, but had me craving duck a l’orange!

London is chock full of international cuisine, and cheaper still if you eat locally. Brick Lane in Shoreditch for example is great for cheap food, all kinds of cheap food. Most meals will be about £5-6, and you have your choice of Indian, Thai, African, Jamaican, etc. You may have to eat standing up, but that’s part of the fun.

A frugal tip to London is to shop at Marks and Spencer food hall for cheap sandwiches and sweets. Tescos is another place where you can get cheap prepacked food and salads etc. Even the drugstores have London meal deals which comprise of a sandwich, chips (or crisps as they say) and a soft drink for 3 pounds. That is a real meal bargain in London.

Sure, there are tons of posh restaurants, like Ziani in Chelsea – the most awesome, best Italian food, hands down! and you know that’s saying something when my husband and in-laws all agree and they are as Italian as you get. The food is fantastic, each and every time. I keep going back to trip them up, but they have not disappointed yet. However, if you are on a budget trip to London, you have to make do with cheaper alternatives.

Related Reading: Victoria Albert Royal Museum

6) Take advantage of the Free stuff in London

Free things to do in London include:

– The museums –  The British Museum, The Natural History, Science, National Gallery and on and on. More information can be found at this site. Visiting museums are some of my favorite things to do in London. The fact that they are free only makes it sweeter and makes for a frugal London visit.

– The Parks – bring your lunch and people watch at the Park. I love Hyde Park especially for this reason. It is such a pleasant atmosphere, especially when the weather is pleasant and the Londoners come out in full force to enjoy it. London is famous for it’s dreary weather, so any hint of good weather is fully taken advantage of. Join them.

– Buckingham Palace – you must check out where the Queen resides when she is in London. If you’re in luck, you can see the “Changing of the Guards” which is quite thrilling. You do have to get there at least an hour before it starts. It gets pretty crowded. We started at the Guard House and then went close to the Palace, it was too packed to go further.

Make sure you’re covered! Get travel insurance quotes here and be prepared for emergencies.

queen's guards with drums blue uniforms in London
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Queen’s Guard getting ready. Changing of the guards, another free thing to see in London.

 

Queens guard marching in London. Frugal London tip - see free shows
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Marching band during the changing of the guard London ceremony. Frugal tip – it’s free to watch!

 

frugal london free thing to do marching band changing of guard
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It’s a very long and involved process and it’s definitely one of the highlights of a London visit. The fact that it’s free makes it an even better deal.

 

Irish wolfhound at changing of the guard London
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Love that Irish Wolfhound. Make sure to get there early so you have a good view of the proceedings.

 

marching band changing of guards london
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Visit London and see the changing of the guards for free.

 

That Bobby in london
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That Bobby was not very happy. The street was cleared and my husband dashed in the median at the last moment!

 

horse guards buckingham palace
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It can get very crowded during the ceremony and since the distance is far, you can see the horse guards if can’t get close to Buckingham palace on you London visit.

Similar Reading: Leadenhall

horse guards london england
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Worth it though.. it’s worth visiting London just to see the changing of the guards.

 

 

Pinnable:

Frugal London Tips #london #england #uk #londontips #frugallondon #frugallondontips #visitlondon #changingoftheguards #doinglondoncheaper
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Frugal London – money saving tips for a budget friendly visit.

 

Frugal travel tips when visiting London on a budget wrap up:

Hopefully, these frugal travel tips will help on your London visit. Utilizing at least some or all of the tips will make a more budget-friendly vacation. London is a top destination for most people and you either love it or hate it it seems. I for one, absolutely adore London but l admit l am always looking for ways to save money on my visits.

What about you? Have you been to London? If so, did you have a frugal London trip?  Is London actually on your radar or not? Do you have any money-saving tips to add to this post?

 

26 thoughts on “Frugal London – Doing London Cheaper Tips”

  1. What is it about London that makes it so expensive? Overvalued currency? How do working people there get by? I remember a friend from Hungary trying to rent a one bedroom there for several thousand month. It looked more like a bed and a closet…

    Reply
    • It’s unfortunate that it’s so costly. Most workers end up living outside of London, like in zone 6 and commute to zone 1, everyday..you see people just completely asleep on the tube and bus, their body conditioned to wake up at the right stop. It’s sort of like L.A, there’s a finite number of dwellings, so you pay through the nose..lol! They lesson the shock by telling you the price per week, like the rent is £465 per week, sounds better than £3000 per month…no?? What a shock for your poor friend! Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
    • I hear you. If one can take out the cost of hotels, it makes it a lot more palatable. It would be nice to have a job pay for it, wouldn’t it? I’d sign up in a New York minute..lol

      Reply
  2. Good tips and beautiful pictures! We’re learning now that traveling during the season is a lot more expensive and when the country you visit is already expensive… that matters a lot. For some strange reason, I have never really been attracted to London, but I agree that it’s a destination that everybody must see. And if you can do it frugally, it’s even better!

    Reply
    • Thanks C. I had to put the er in cheaper because it’s almost impossible to do it cheaply unless you are rich!!!! Peak season travel sucks. I was looking at flights that are usually 30€ one way that is now being quoted at 180€. Insane! You already have a long list of places, this can go at the bottom..there are other places just as nice ;0)

      Reply
  3. Your post is exactly what I have been looking for! We are heading to London in a couple weeks in our travels. Glad I found you. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello and welcome! I’m glad you found me too, and l hope these hints etc. will help you. I am jealous that you are going soon. I wouldn’t mind going back already. Time goes by so fast. ;o( I’m so sure you are going to have a wonderful time!

      Reply
  4. I would love to take a trip to London one day. I love the off season tip. Everywhere I go, I generally go off season. It only makes sense! Thanks for the great tips!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Josh. I hope someday is soon :0) . Yeah, off season is better for sure. In the past, just going to London in September after school starts instead of say August has dropped the price per ticket over $600!!!! The cheapo in me loves that, plus l don’t have to fight the lines etc.

      Reply
  5. We are going to London for the first time this November, and we cannot wait. It really does pay to travel off-peak, even if you pay with points for your flights and hotels like I did. Great tips!

    Reply
    • Thanks Holly. November is a nice time to be in London too weather wise, and if it’s close to the end, they will have the Christmas lights on in Oxford Circus which looks amazing in the evenings.

      Reply
  6. SUCH a great post! London on the cheap is totally possible. I’m also a big fan of Groupon here in the states but have yet to use it abroad. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    Reply
  7. Thanks Lauren. Yep! It felt good to use the Groupon to save money. It is something l plan to do more of from now on.

    Reply
  8. Lol at your husband dashing into the road to get the shot! I can relate – I recently almost got run over by a bike in Copenhagen trying to get pics of the changing of the guard march. I love these tips. I especially love your tip about Groupon. I get loads of emails everyday from Groupon and similar sites offering discounts, and it’s wonderful when you can use them while traveling. Also, thanks for the Italian restaurant tip – I’ll have to keep this place in mind for the next time I make it back to London.

    Reply
    • It makes me laugh when l think if him making the dash..lol! The guys on the bikes are pretty ruthless as l am discovering right now . We are in Amsterdam right now and l just can’t get used to the craziness. Haven’t been run over yet, but have had angry bell ringing..lol! Glad you can find some of the tips helpful, and the restaurant really is awesome! Hope you get to try it soon.

      Reply
  9. Awesome tips. I didn’t know Groupon was international. I’ll have to check into that for our trip to Canada. Paying half price on everything is hard to beat.

    Nice site redesign by the way (haven’t been by in a while).

    Reply
    • Thanks Justin! Yeah, it was pretty nice to be able to do Groupon. My niece actually suggested it. You can’t beat half price..lol!

      Reply
  10. Lovely tips kemkem. The thing really is to look for the free stuff of which there are amazingly many, lunch / dinner specials, and lots of walking!

    Reply
    • Yes, there are. Just the museums alone are a huge money saver. The dinner and lunch specials also. It pays to look there..

      Reply
  11. Great tips for traveling London cheaply! 😀 Another thing I did to save money was rent a room on AirBnB, so much cheaper than staying in a hotel!

    Reply
    • Ooh.. That is a good one! Thank God for airbnb a lot of times. It really does save you money, we use it often. I have never stayed in a hostel, l did price one, and realized l could get a hotel cheaper because we wanted a private room etc..etc..

      Reply
  12. Great tips! Traveling off-season sounds like a great idea– not only will it be cheaper, but you’ll likely encounter fewer tourists. I also loved the tip about Groupon– I never knew you could get such good deals on play tickets! Thank you for this informative post!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you find it informative. It’s always nice to be able to shave a few bucks from trips, especially to an expensive place like London. Groupon is great as they usually have restaurants too. You can’t beat half price tickets, especially the matinee. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

      Reply
  13. This is an awesome guide for people that have limited time but want to experience the most out of London. Great tips, keep sharing!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading and for your stamp of approval seeing you are from there :-). Will have to remember you on our next trip.

      Reply

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