London St. Paul's by (
London St. Paul’s, a photo by ( on Flickr.

London is a thriving cosmopolitan city of culture, but it can be hard on the wallet. Follow these tips for a holiday in the city that won’t break the bank.

There are hundreds of things to see and do in London, but if you’re not careful costs can quickly rocket. However, by budgeting carefully and making the most of the city’s ample free charms, you can enjoy a holiday on a budget in the UK capital.

London is your Oyster! by amandabhslater
London is your Oyster!, a photo by amandabhslater on Flickr.

One of the biggest ways to save money is by buying an Oyster card to travel with. For a small refundable deposit of £5, you’ll save dramatically on each trip—buy a single tube fare in cash for Zone 1, and you’ll be charged £4.30, while the same trip made on an Oyster is just £2. However, do be careful to touch out when you exit the tube system, as otherwise you could be could be charged up to £7.80 for the trip.

Check out for good deals on dining out. You can search and book directly online, and choose from deals such as 2 for 1 or 50% off. You also earn points every time you make a booking, which can be redeemed for a free meal in future.

Samuel Smith pubs from Tadcaster have numerous branches throughout the city and, because they have phased out branding in their establishments and only stock Samuel Smith ciders, bitters, lagers and spirits, everything is incredibly cheap. Here, you can still get a decent pint of ale in Soho for around £2, which is half what you’d pay in most other pubs.

Central Hall, Natural History Museum by ajnabeee

Enjoy the free museums. Unlike many other European cities, London’s main museums are largely free to enter. Eschew Madam Tussauds and the Tower of London, and instead head to the world-renowned British Museum, Victoria and Albert, Natural History and Tate Modern. Also, St Paul’s cathedral normally costs £15 for a sightseeing ticket, but to attend a service on a Sunday entrance is free.

Picnic in Battersea Park by Rev Stan
Picnic in Battersea Park, a photo by Rev Stan on Flickr.

Instead of splashing out on a sit-down lunch, why not have a picnic? London’s has many beautiful parks that are free to visit and fantastic food markets where you can stock up on artisan delights. Experience London’s alternative side by shopping at Broadway Market for a picnic on London Fields or follow up a trip to the famous Borough Market with lunch by the Thames.

When shopping, avoid Covent Garden and head to the Oxfam Boutique in Notting Hill. With designer items customised by students from the London College of Fashion, it’s a great place to pick up a stylish bargain for a good cause. The British Red Cross in Chelsea is another charity shop that stocks designer ranges, occasionally including those by Vivianne Westwood.

For accommodation, there are plenty of budget hotels in London. Alternatively, hostels are often excellently located and many offer private rooms if you don’t fancy sharing a dorm. There are also a number of quirky boutique hotels, which offer a stylish and unique base from which to explore this fascinating city.

-This guest post was written by Jamie Monteath

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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