Fifty pounds is a lot of money and me ain’t arguing about that with you. But if you’re a tourist in London, 50 pounds goes away easier than a box of chocolate on my pantry. Let me show you how I spent most of my days in London on my last trip there. Having fun, exploring the city, saving money and not crying when looking at my bank statement. London is expensive. Period. London on a budget is a hard and almost impossible task.
We all know that, we all bitched about that. Some of us even spent a few hours wondering why the hell people like to live in London that much. In special people who live in Berlin, Europe’s cheap paradise.
Having fun in London costs a lot. If you’ve ever been there, I bet you asked, at least once, where did your money go. Am I right? You just stepped out of the ATM with a hand full of notes with the Queen’s face on it and…poof! All gone in a matter of hours.
The problem with London is that the currency exchange game between our currency and pounds are never a winnable battle for our pockets. Last time I went there, in November 2015, pounds were at least 50% more than Euros. Revolut saved my ass.
A friend got exchange rates going from 1,40€ all the way to 1,60€ depending on the bank. Thankfully I saved a few bucks on that but still, I had to save wherever I could.
I’ll break down one of my 5 days in London and I’ll mix some cool stuff from previous trips to London. Prepare to read a full list with places where I ate, attractions that I went, things I did and so on. I’ll even tell you the secret of a cool accommodation budget friendly. And if you did London on a budget, please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section.
Things to see in London on a Budget
Changing of the Guards
For many tourists, the Changing of the Guards boxes pretty much what they believe to be the identity of what “Britain”. And because of that, it is no surprise that this is one of the most crowded free events in the city. Be prepared for massive amounts of people.
Watching the shift change between the soldiers is 100% compatible with our goal of “London on a budget”. But it is only for the months of April, May, June and July. Everything starts at 11:30 AM, but to save yourself a good view I’d recommend arriving at 11 AM or earlier.
Camden Town and Camden market
Another amazing place in London. And it is for sure on many visitors’ to-do lists. Camden Town is where Amy Winehouse use to live, is where some of the coolest places for rock shows are and is where you can spend hours just walking around.
Camden Market is full of little shops that sell everything from goth clothes to ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Sadly the huge popularity of Camden Market killed some of the originality you could find 15 years ago or more. It is super busy, sometimes over priced but a must go attraction.
To go to Camden Town and Camden Market is free, but eating or drinking around there can be expensive. The liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor has prices that starts at 4,45 pounds. The name is Chin Chin Labs and it is worth to go and share 1 ice cream with your friend. The portions are big and there’s more than enough for 2 people.
Brick Lane: Good vibe, street art and culture
Brick Lane is one of my favorite spots in the city. It is becoming the place to be and has seen a huge boost of attention over the past years.
This design-loving, multicultural, vintage-filled, artsy heaven has everything you could possibly ask the gods. Even if you hate hipsters, you’ll able to enjoy.
With a huge number of great and budget friendly Asian restaurants, Brick Lane is not just a great place to visit but an amazing option for lunch.
Walking along the main street you’ll spot some incredible street art pieces. And if you’re new to the area or want to know more about artists, you can join some of the walking tours happening there.
Brick Lane has the latest trends and the incredible vibe you’ve been asking for.
What To Do in London on a Budget
Take the Emirates Air line
Close to the O2 arena in London you can find the Emirates Air line. Cable cars with 6 seats, filled with windows that cross the River Thames giving you an iconic view of the city. London’s landscape never looked that better.
I’ve never had the chance to go to the London Eye so I can not compare the views, but the cable cars are for sure cheaper.
With tickets going from as low as £3.40, this experience is a must for all instagrammers and photographers. Choose a clear day and come back to see the city at night. I took this line on both directions in November and it was the highlight of my day.
Exploring London’s best markets
London’s markets have been immortalized through TV, films and thousands of books. They are amazing for people like us, that are always looking for one of the following: amazing photo spots, culture, local knowledge.
Of all the markets in the city, one of the best to see as a tourist is Borough Market. And by far my top recommendation for everybody addicted to a good place for photos.
The colors, the people, the locals’ stories are just part of the show but he food is the main star. Scottish eggs, pies, ham, chocolate, cheese, meat… Borough Market is where you wanna have your lunch.
Without a doubt that today it caters more for tourists than it does for locals, ok? But still you can find family business and tradition.
The other market I’d advice you to take a look is the Smithfield Market. Even though the opening hours are crazy (starts at 2am and the best visiting time is at 6 or 7am), this place is great even when it’s closed.
The architecture, angles and colors are worth the visit. Besides, it is free.
The Almighty Science Museum
Another free option that is a must! Suitable for both young kids and us, the Science Museum is an exceptional attraction for everybody.
This museum is an educational place where several of humankind’s best scientific advancements are at our disposal. But what everybody I know chooses to remember are the number of interactive stations and items. It’s just like a playground.
Getting educated while you have fun. What can be better than that? All that without spending a dime, of course. For more information about opening times or how to get there, visit their website.
Where to eat in London on a budget
Vietnamese food in Shoreditch
Mien Tay is one of the best Vietnamese places I ever tried. Located in the Londoner street with the coolest name ever, Kingsland Rd, this place is a must.
I went there for a dinner and ate so much that I couldn’t walk. With huge bowls of Pho starting as low as £7.50, you can have a decent meal with drinks for less than 10 bucks.
The legen – wait for it – dary Fish&Chips from Britain
Bailey’s is the place you need to cure your hunger of traditional fish and chips. With promotions like “Cod and Chips only £5.65 any day of the week 12 to 5pm.” and a strange sense of pride like “We are proud to be rated currently in the top thirty of more than 18,000 restaurants in London by Tripadvisor” this place is a must.
Grab a sit facing the street, order a side dish of mushy peas – how Brits call mashed peas – and get your hands ready for some oil.
Where to stay in London on a budget
Since almost all my recent trips to London I stayed with friends, I can only recommend one place that has “London on a budged” written all over. This amazing 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of Fulham.
It is around 100 pounds per night but fits up to 6 people, has a fully equip kitchen with not just 1 but 2 microwaves (don’t ask), washing machine, flat screen tv and a great bar just 2 minutes away. The bar name is Slug and the cider is around 3,50. Unfortunately, I have no photos or memories from the night I went out to drink there.
This apartment is super cute, 5 minutes walk from the tube station and the entrance door is super cute.
If this apartment is fully booked, search for another one on this website. I’m telling you that because if it wasn’t for this company, I would be giving you places like Bailey’s to eat. They are mega caring and helped me with London tips a lot on twitter.
Overall of London on a Budget with less than 50 pounds
So, it is time to talk money. I’ll list here the paid options you can fit in one day, but keep in mind that you have so many free options that perhaps your 50 pounds budget per day will be just too much money.
- Cable car with oyster card: £3,40
- Vietnamese dinner in Shoreditch: £10
- Liquid Nitrogen Ice-cream with 1 friend: £2,5
- Night at the super nice apartment in Fulham with 5 friends: less than £17
- Fish&Chips: £5,40
- Public Transport: £6,40 per day for zones 1-2
All that and you still have around £3 for a beer on the way home. The best way to enjoy London!