Looking for effortless ways to save money in London? Read on!
As one of the most expensive cities in the world, if you want to save money in London, you’ve got to be savvy.
In my opinion, the full London experience is only a stone’s throw away if you know how to save a pretty penny or two.
Whether you’re a student, visitor, or seasoned Londoner, you’ll benefit from these tips I’ve learned over years of living across the pond. Without further ado, here are 27 no-fluff ways to effortlessly save money in London.
How to Save Money in London Transit
1. Use CityMapper
Get around smarter and for less with Citymapper. This is hands down one of the best apps to use in London and frankly, I don’t know what I would do without it.
You can compare the fastest routes and most importantly, transit costs. A perfect way to save money on the go – literally!
2. Be Savvy with Your Oyster Card
Whether you’re a visitor or local, you’re doing a disservice to yourself if you’re not using your Oyster, the smart way.
Daily travel in London can definitely add up. So thinking about your options in advance will ultimately lead you to save loads of money getting around London.
- (If applicable) taking advantage of the Student Oyster Card Scheme
- Avoiding travel during peak hours and higher fares (peak hours in London are between 06:30 and 09:30, and 16:00 and 19:00)
- Checking if you’re applicable for a railway discount (not available for contactless cards)
- Maximizing your routes using the daily cap for unlimited travel on Oyster cards or contactless
3. Use Boris Bikes
London is incredibly bike-friendly and for now, it’s also the safer option for getting around London.
For just £2 for 24 hours, you can make a day out of cycling throughout London, seeing the sites, and saving money in the process.
Tip: Bike rides under 30 minutes are free!
4. Take the Bus
If you want to save money in London, just like anywhere, the bus is calling your name.
With the Bus Hopper fare, you can make unlimited journies for a modest £1.50. But in London fashion, even the buses are a sight to remember. Find your way to the top of the double-deckers and take a seat in the front.
You’ll get sweeping panoramic views of the city you’d never be able to see on the tube. One of the best ways to save money and see daily life in London.
How Save Money Sightseeing in London
5. Bundle Your Tourist Experiences
If you want to see all the major tourist sites in London, you can always save money with a London Pass.
With over 80+ attractions, it’s the best way to save money on sightseeing in London (as long as you know you’ll be exploring a lot).
6. Choose Accommodation Wisely
With the average Londoner spending over half their income on rent, London accommodation, visiting or otherwise will be your biggest expenditure.
That being said, it’s important to look at all your options and choose accommodation wisely.
Airbnb is a great start to finding homey options for your stay – allowing you to save on things like eating out.
Booking.com offers a wider range of options, from houses to private apartments. Or the odd hotel deal that works out cheaper than them both.
Lastly, sites like Hostelworld can be a the best budget alternative for finding everything from quirky to luxury during your stay (it’s also a great way to meet new people in the city).
7. Take Advantage of the Museum Scene
One of my favorite things about living in London is all the free museums. Whether you’re strolling along the British Museum or peeking into a pop-up at the Tate, it’s a great way to take in the history of the city and keep your wallet intact.
My personal favorites are the Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Library
8. Stay Out of Central
We all love a good Big Ben now and then (when it’s not under construction) but as central is aimed mainly at tourists, prices will inevitably be higher.
If you want to see more of London (and for less) exploring hidden gems might be a better use of your time – and wallet.
9. Explore Shoreditch
To spend a budget-friendly day in London, make your way to Shoreditch.
From free exhibitions to browsing local street art and unusually cheap eats, (Hello Beigel Bake) you can fill your calendar for the day on the low.
10. Join Free Walking Tours
The best way to see London is unarguably by foot. Free walking tours (tipping polite and optional) are a lovely way to save money in London and wander the city through the eyes of a local.
11. Visit the Tower of London…for Free
Beat the system and see the magic of the Tower of London for free.
Usually met with long queues and admission fees, there’s a mysteriously cool alternative you need to know about.
A free and private affair, the Ceremony of the Keys is the perfect way to save money on London’s most famed attraction. You can see the traditional locking up of the Tower of London at night by booking your tickets in advance.
12. Hunt Out Free Views
There’s absolutely spectacular views around the city just waiting to be explored. And the best part? They’re all free!
Make a day out of finding the high peaks of the Big Smoke to make the most of your budget and city views.
P.S – here’s where to find the most jaw-dropping views of London!
13. The Skygarden
A bit that needed its own section.
Dripping with green foliage and stunning architecture, going to the Skygarden is one of my favorite activities to save money in London, whilst feeling luxuriously on top of the world. Literally.
Perfect for seeing the city in it’s London glory, simply book online and the Skygarden is yours to peruse, cost-free.
As I’ve been several times now I can 100% vouch that this is also one of the best views in London. And well worth a beautifully free visit.
Saving on Food & Drink in London
14. Say it’s Your Birthday
We all have one. Why not take advantage of it? Many businesses in London offer yummy Birthday freebies for your special day ranging from mains to Prosceccos.
If I frequent an establishment I always ask if they have a birthday program. It’s a great way to save money in London and have a birthday treat, even if it’s just for one day.
15. Skip the Restaurant, Opt for a Picnic
Okay, I’ll admit. Far too much of my income goes towards restaurants in London. But, for the responsible saver in me with an insatiable need to be out and about, picnics have been the perfect antidote.
So pop into your local Tesco and have a picnic on the likes of Greenwich Hill, St. James Park, and a slew of other amazing green spaces in London. Leaving you with great memories without breaking the bank.
But if you do want to spend a little….
16. Always Find the Happy Hour
Nearly every drinking establishment in London dedicates a few hours a day to discounted liquid courage.
Head to London’s best happy hour spots and never pay full price for a drink again.
17. Maximize on Closing Time
Closing time in London is every late-night Londoners dream. Save money on tons of food options in London and take advantage of last-minute discounts.
Now, it’s important to do your research prior to this one as rules change. But around an hour before close expect to find major discounts at venues like Itsu, Wasabi, Starbucks, and even Harrods’ Food Hall.
When in doubt, use the app Too Good to Go. Combatting food waste in London they’ll match you with the best-discounted options on pre-close grub.
18. Wine & Dine on a Discount
Back to the food. To save money on dining in London, you’re going to need some savvy app arsenal.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Download City Munch, Open Table, and Happiour to find the latest food and drink deals for a shameless wine and dine in the city.
Saving on Lifestyle in London
19. Don’t Shy From Asking for a Discount
Ask and receive. If you want to save money in London, there’s always a sneaky discount waiting to be found.
Outside of student discounts, there are plenty of ways to save for visitors and locals alike.
From events to shows and everything in between, Discount London is a great starting point. But when in doubt, don’t be embarrassed to ask directly for a discount, you’d be surprised!
20. See a Theater Show…Last Minute
Save money in show tickets every time in Leicester Square by visiting the TKTS booth.
From a week in advance to the morning of, you can find discounted tickets of up to 50% for the best of London theater. A great way to have a spontaneous day out and save money in the process.
21. Drink, Shop & Do.
Okay, this doesn’t exactly scream “budget friendly” but if you’re going to drink, shop and do, you might as well save while doing it.
I discovered Drink, Shop & Do this year with my only regret not finding it sooner.
With lifestyle packages around the city from afternoon teas to dance classes and bottomless brunches, it’s a great way to save and let loose in the city.
22. Go to Time Out London Events
Discover what’s on like a local with Time Out London events. Updated daily you can always find free things to do on the go.
Simply head to the search bar, fill in the what, the when (even the postcode you’d like to hang out in), and you’ve got free plans sorted.
23. Use Eventbrite
Eventbrite is great for finding free talks, workshops and possible networking opportunities in London.
After browsing last summer I randomly found one called the “Secret Life of Female Entrepreneurs”.
Curious, I headed to Westminster that weekend and ended up meeting some amazing women from across the globe, all for free!
24. Go on Groupon
Saving money in London doesn’t mean sacrificing experiences. From cooking to excursions, Groupon has something for everyone.
My favorite use is finding free classes in the city. Through Groupon, I’m always able to try out new Zumba and Yoga classes in London for a fraction of the price.
Plus you get an extra 20% off your first deal. Absolute steal.
25. Use Design My Night for Nights Out
From comedy shows to club nights Design My Night is my go-to app to save money on London evening excursions.
Just pop in what you’re looking to get up to and they do the rest! It’s also super helpful for skipping queues and planning your weekend in the city.
I also use Fever Up as a backup.
26. Go Vintage
As one of the vintage capital’s of the world, you’ll find clothing gems for a fraction of the price in London, if you know where to go.
Save money in your London shopping sprees and get a unique piece to remember your time in the capital.
My personal favorites are Atika, The East End, Vinegar Yard and Beyond Retro
27. Use Skyscanner
Whether I’m coming from America to London or London to Europe, Skyscanner has always given me the cheapest flight options. And I love them endlessly.
Tip: Remember to buy flights on incognito mode to ensure the lowest flight price
Overall, saving a pretty penny should never mean dulling your experiences. As you can see, there are tons of ways to effortlessly save money in London and make the most of this expensively beautiful city.
Have a great time in London x
Read More on London:
• London Travel Tips & Inspiration
• Moving to London Advice & Resources
• London Parks, Gardens & Mews