How to Explore London on a Budget this Summer

by Jules on July 27, 2013

London in summer is a wonderful experience; the royal parks are in full bloom, the plethora of museums and galleries have unveiled their seasonal exhibits and dining has become an al fresco affair. And with our tips and advice, London also offers much to the budget traveller this summer.

Travelling to London
There are numerous budget airlines that fly into London to really keep the budget in check. Compare flight prices into Stansted or Luton Airport (rather than Heathrow or Gatwick) in order to fly on one of the cheaper airlines. And you can get better airfare deals if you book well in advance. Keep searching online and sign up to email alerts so you hear about the good deals as soon as they become available. Other transport options include coach, train and ferry, with high speed connections from Europe and within the UK itself.

Getting Around London
You can avoid expensive taxi fares by simply walking around the city, which allows you to explore London at your own time and pace. Plan your day so it combines sights and activities within close proximity. Another great way to explore the city is to hire a bike. After the Olympic Games last year, public cycle lanes were vastly improved and extended, providing a unique way to see London. Make sure you also hire a helmet as you navigate the active London traffic. And if you do opt to use public transport, the most budget friendly option is to purchase an oyster card. This electronic ticket provides easy access to London public transport, and it is very affordable.

Free Attractions in London
When visiting London on a budget, you can find numerous cheap or free attractions, including:

• Double-Decker Bus: The iconic red buses of London are inexpensive and most will journey past the key sights of Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London.
• Natural History Museum: This free attraction house hundreds of exhibits. You can view the Dinosaur gallery and a spectacular model of a blue whale. It is a fascinating and educational experience.
• Changing of the Guard: The centuries-old changing of the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace is a traditional spectacle. You will witness a military band playing during the swap, and it is free. And if the Queen is in residence, the Union Jack flag will fly proudly atop the palace.
• Houses of Parliament: Located in the Palace of Westminster, this palace is home to the iconic Big Ben. You can also visit the gallery where British laws are established.
• The London Eye: The tallest Ferris wheel in Europe allows you to experience breathtaking views of the city. You will travel in a large capsule which you can walk around in whilst capturing stunning views below.

Accommodation in London
Look for hotels and guesthouses away from the river and the main tourist attractions. It’s not difficult to find cheap London hotels by looking towards the outskirts of the city. Consider those with fewer facilities (especially if you’ll never use the swimming pool or spa facilities). You might also consider booking accommodation in one of the many hostels and privately run guesthouses. And often, you can get cheaper hotel rates if you book at the last minute.

Dining in London
Cuisine in London is truly diverse, with every conceivable dish on offer. Take outs are widely available with Indian, Chinese and the ubiquitous fish and chips proving the cheapest options. Many restaurants have mid-week offers and early-bird discounts and signing up for their newsletters is a good move. You can also try the myriad of burger and kebab joints and you’ll find a traditional British pub on almost every corner. You can also try a picnic in a local park and you can go grocery shopping at one of the many markets that offer cheap and fresh food.

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