How to Save Money on Your Trip to London

Big Ben, London
••• TangMan Photography/Getty Images

It may be one of the world's most expensive cities but there are plenty of ways to save money in London. Once you've scored a deal on your flight and hotel, check out our guide to cutting costs in the Big Smoke, from affordable eats to free attractions. 

  • 01 of 05

    Get Around for Less

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    ••• Image courtesy of [Cultura Travel, Dan Dunkley] / Getty Images.

    Invest in a Visitor Oyster Card if you plan to make journeys via tube, bus, tram, DLR, London Overground, TFL Rail or River Bus. The fares are cheaper than purchasing paper tickets and are capped on a daily basis so that you can travel as many times as you like in a day for a maximum charge of £6.60 (compared to a paper Travelcard priced at £12.30). You can also take advantage of discounts and special offers throughout the city. Cards can be purchased and delivered to your home ahead of a trip to London. 

    London's city-wide bike rental service, Santander Cycles (or Boris Bikes) offers bike hire from as little as £2. There are docking stations across town and the process to rent a bike is simple. Just take your bank card to the terminal, follow the payment instructions to get a printed code and key it in to the dock to release a bike. There's a £2 bike access fee and the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. It's an additional £2 for each extra 30 minutes. 

    Travel by Night...MORE Bus or Night Tube to avoid taxi or Uber fees. You can use your Oyster card to pay for journeys on both services. The Night Bus connects much of central London and outer areas and runs all week. The Night Tube operates on Fridays and Saturdays on the Victoria, Jubilee, Central, Northern and Piccadilly Lines. The fares are the same as during the day.

  • 02 of 05

    Enjoy a Free Culture Fix

    UK, London, Bankside, Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge over River Thames
    ••• Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge. © Alan Copson / Getty Images

    Many of London's major museums and galleries are free to visit so you could spend your entire time hopping from one world-class attraction to the next without spending a penny. London landmarks including The British Museum, Tate Modern, The National Gallery, Tate Britain, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum are completely free to visit. 

  • 03 of 05

    Save Money on Views

    ••• Courtesy of Sky Garden

    While scanning London's skyline from The Shard and the London Eye can make a dent on your finances (especially when traveling as a family), there are many ways to soak up spectacular views without draining your wallet. Pre-book tickets for the Sky Garden and you can enjoy jaw-dropping London vistas free of charge. Or head up to the top of the One New Change shopping centre and take in the rooftop views over St Paul's Cathedral. For a bit of fresh air, take a trip to Primrose Hill and walk to the top of the hill for wide-angle views of the skyline. 

  • 04 of 05

    See West End Shows for Less

    London's Shaftesbury Avenue at dusk
    ••• shomos uddin/Getty Images

    Time a trip in January or February to take advantage of the Get Into London Theatre event, a huge promotion that offers tickets to more than 40 top West End shows from as little as £10. Tickets usually go on sale in December so it's best to sign up to the newsletter to keep up to date. If you're traveling with children, consider visiting in August to coincide with Kids Week when children under 16 can go free to any participating theatre show when accompanied by an adult paying full price. The TKTS booth in Leicester Square is the place to head for last-minute discounts on top shows. The Book of Mormon runs a lottery for £20 tickets for each performance. Entries need to be made in person at the Box Office two and a half hours before the show and names will be drawn at random.  

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  • 05 of 05

    Find the City's Best Cheap Eats

    Brasserie Zedel
    ••• Photo credit: Brasserie Zedel

    Eating out in London needn't break the bank. Even some of the city's most exclusive restaurants offer pre-theater deals or lunch discounts and you can dine in the heart of the West End for as little as £10. Brasserie Zedel's fixed price two-course menu is a steal at £9.75. There are tons of affordable options throughout the city where you can fill up on light dishes for around £5. Top picks include Herman ze German for tasty bratwurst,  Beigel Bake for salt beef bagels, Homeslice for wood-fired pizza, BAO for steamed buns and Leon for healthy salads and wraps. Head to Brick Lane for cheap curries and don't be afraid to haggle to score a free round of drinks or a discount on the meal total, especially if you're in a group. London has an impressive array of food markets where you can try a range of dishes and snacks from stalls and food trucks including Borough Market, Maltby Street Market, Flat Iron Square, Brixton Village and many more seasonal pop-ups.