How to do London on a Budget | Travel Strategy Guide

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Is London Expensive?

London is known to be expensive….however we did not find it to be any more expensive than a city in United States. The transport is super reasonable with daily caps, the iconic buses are not tourist traps, and the attractions are often open for visitors without paying a fee to enter. Let’s dive into the experience we had and how you can take the trip of your dreams without breaking the bank. Check out our experience and expense report that utilizes these strategies!

Accommodation In London

So this one is the make it or break it. If you want to stay in some luxury resort, well this article isn’t for you.

We stayed in an airbnb in Belsize Park on the northern side of London. This neighborhood had awesome connections to the Northern Line of the tube and it only took about 30 minutes to get virtually anywhere downtown London.

We actually found the airbnb on for slightly cheaper and paid $652 for 4 nights. It was a two bedroom converted attic unit in someone’s home. We had operable windows, great views of the neighborhood and our own personal space. It wasn’t luxury but it was all we needed as a place to lay our heads.

If you are looking for budget accommodation, book early. Stay outside the major central hub if you can.

London Transportation

We had a rental car that we were dropping off in London. My, I’m glad we got rid of that thing. It is a white knuckling, stress inducing experience driving a manual car on the wrong side of the road with pedestrians everywhere!

The Tube

After we dropped off the car, we jumped on the tube! There are so many ways to pay for your tube ticket but the easiest is just to use a contactless payment card for each person in your party. Just remember to use cards that have no foreign transaction fees! If you have several children who, hopefully, don’t have credit cards, you can buy an Oyster card that is available at the station. The price you pay is determined by the zones you cross. Maps are located here.

When you arrive at your final station, you tap out to get through the gates. Your card is charged the proper amount for the zones you went through. Its’ so simple. If you travel multiple times in one day, there are daily caps to help.

For example: The daily travel cap for travel between zones 1 and 2 is £8.10. More information here.

Bus System

The big double decker buses are indeed public transportation, not just tourists buses. Just clearing that up. The buses are only £1.75 for a single journey, no matter distance. You can transfer buses as many times as you want within the first hour of touching in on the first bus. The bus system also has a daily cap of £5.25. 

The Breakdown: in Quarters


London is huge and there is alot to see. We suggest breaking London into sections. the East and Central could probably be done in a day but up to you!

West Side

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Oxford Road
  • Kensington Palace and Gardens
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Palace of Westminster and Big Ben\
  • Deans Garden
  • Walk by “Thin House”
  • Chinatown
  • Soho

East Side

  • Leadenhall Market
  • Tower Of London
  • Tower Bridge

north Side

  • Camden Market
  • Kings Cross Harry Potter Photo Point
  • Regents Park

South Side

  • Tate Modern
  • Borough Market
  • Brixton Market
  • Walk under the Embassy Gardens Sky Pool

The River Thames/central

  • The British Museum
  • Inner Temple Gardens
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • The Barbican Centre
  • Sky Garden


If you are not like us, you will want to eat out for most meals….but that’s very very very expensive. If you are looking for some cheap eats, check out two of the best markets; Camden and Borough. Leadenhall and Brixton are more for browsing shops but don’t have many street food vendors. 

We also suggest getting an airbnb with a basic kitchen at minimum. If you can, cook your breakfast, and then eat a large lunner out at a market or when you back after a day of exploring. 

If you are on the hunt for some delicious beer, checkout Camden Markets’ Three Locks Brewery. It has an awesome upper seating space with a great view of the riverfront.

Nonetheless, beer and cocktails can be found in a lot of places around London!

How Long To stay in London?

Depending on your groups mobility, 5-7 days is enough to see all the top sights and some extras that are not on the main tourist drag. If you love museums, you’ll be happy to note most are free. They are huge and take up at least half a day each. 

If day trips to other cities are on your itinerary, make sure you add a few extra days on. Those day trips are exhausting and a half day of recovery is needed for most. 

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