London on a Budget: The Ultimate Guide for Frugal Travelers


One of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world. 

But if you haven’t heard already we’ll let you in on the worst kept secret in travel. It’s expensive! However, with some clever planning and creativity, believe us when we say you can enjoy London on a budget regardless of what’s in your wallet.

To help you, in this guide, we’ll delve into the best ways to enjoy London on a budget with tips on how to save money on food, transport, and free attractions in London. 

People walking around and exploring London on a budget.
London can be enjoyed on anyone’s budget. Photo credit: Mike Stezycki

Transportation on a budget  

Just traveling around the city can often be the first challenge to navigating London on a budget. But if you plan ahead it doesn’t need to be. Given its vast size London is actually a very walkable city which can be your first step to saving your money. 

Get your map out beforehand and you will begin to see that many of its attractions are within reasonable walking distance of each other. A good idea then is to pick a location that has a few of your must sees closeby and burn off some calories getting to each one walking. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle through the Santander Cycles scheme, known as “Boris Bikes,” for a budget-friendly and eco-friendly way to explore the city.

When it comes to using public transport however the Oyster Card is your best friend. It offers discounted fares on the London Underground (the “Tube”), buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, and some National Rail services. Consider getting a Visitor Oyster Card, which comes with added perks and discounts.

Pro Tip:  You can also use your contactless card if you want to avoid having an extra card in your wallet and enjoy the same price caps as an Oyster.

A man walking down stairs to get to the London Underground.
Taking The Tube is easy! Photo credit: | helloiamtugce |

Things to do in London on a budget

One of the things that make London outstanding is that a vast amount of world renown cultural attractions are free. The policy was introduced in 1997 by the UK government, with the aim of making culture accessible to everyone. It was extended to include all museums and galleries in London in 2001.

Put simply, it really is up to you how rich of a cultural experience you want to have, and not your budget, which is a welcome blessing.

For some of the best museums our picks are: 

People walking inside The British Museum with architecture and blue sky
The British Museum is one of the best in London, you’ll have access to the history of the whole planet within its halls for free. Photo credit: Nicolas Lysandrou

On another note, did you know that nearly 18% of London is green? 

London has almost 3,000 parks overall but good news for us is that the most beautiful and pristine are in the inner city. These are great options for a leisurely stroll, an impromptu picnic, or a fun place to spend time with your family in London.

The best option is to visit one of the many Royal parks

  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Gardens
  • St James’s Park 
  • Or Hampstead Heath are all great options for a relaxing day outdoors

For sightseeing, while some landmarks have entrance fees, you can still appreciate their grandeur from the outside. 

Admire the iconic: 

There are plenty of places around London where you can see free live music: 

From parks to monuments, there’s plenty to explore on a budget. Photo credit: orva studio

Affordable food and drinks in London

London has a huge variety of cuisines to suit every taste and budget. You can find cheap and delicious food from all over the world, especially in areas like Chinatown, or street markets like Brick Lane, Brixton, and Camden.

Some hidden gems are:

  • Pizza from Pizza Union, a chain of fast and casual pizza places that offer thin and crispy pizzas at reasonable prices.
  • Falafel from Hibox, a Lebanese street food stall on Goodge Street that serves fresh and flavourful falafel wraps at affordable prices.
  • G Kelly is a traditional English pie and mash shop located in Bow serving homemade pies since 1939. Grab a whole meal here that’ll leave you and your wallet happy.

You can also save money by visiting food markets, where you can sample different dishes from various vendors and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

 Some of the best include: 

  • Borough Market: One of the oldest and largest food markets in London, where you can find everything from artisan cheese and bread to exotic fruits and spices.
  • Maltby Street Market: A weekend market under the railway arches in Bermondsey, where you can feast on street food from around the world, such as paella, burgers, dumplings, and doughnuts.
  • Broadway Market: A weekend market in Hackney, where you can browse stalls selling organic produce, baked goods, coffee, vintage clothing, and more.
  • Camden Market: A sprawling market in Camden Town, where you can explore hundreds of shops and stalls selling food, fashion, art, antiques, and souvenirs.
  • Brixton Village: A vibrant market in Brixton, where you can find a diverse range of cuisines, such as Jamaican jerk chicken, Ethiopian injera, Thai curry, and Italian pizza.
Camdem Town in London after COVID with a lot of people eating during a rainy day
There are, of course, always options to find a nice meal in London. Photo credit: Javier Martinez

The options for visiting London on a budget are endless

As we’ve seen, London can be enjoyed without burning a hole in your pocket. 

With affordable street food, budget-friendly transportation options, and exploring the city’s free attractions, you can make the most of your visit to London on a budget while keeping your wallet happy. 

A group gathers to eat oysters at Richard Hawards in London
Traveling on a budget means being frugal, not missing out on fun.

If you do wind up having the urge to splurge and are looking for an enriching way to explore London’s rich culinary history, consider joining us on our Ultimate London Food Tour: Borough Market & Southwark. Our guides offer insider tips that’ll make you feel like a true Londoner, ensuring you make the most of your visit. So, go ahead, seize the opportunity to discover the magic of London and enhance your experience with this fantastic tour!

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