London is a place everyone should visit at least once in their lives, but unfortunately it is one of the world’s most expensive cities to visit. Factoring in the strength of the British Pound (£) against the U.S. Dollar ($), the high price of food, and certain attractions, you can end up spending a lot in London if you’re not careful.
Luckily, hostels are relatively fairly priced, and you can still find a lot of free attractions and entertainment so you’re not breaking the bank.
Daily Travel Costs In London
Outlined below are the average costs (in British Pound £) you can expect to incur when visiting London as a budget traveler.
Cost of Food and Drink
- Breakfast: £3 – £6
- Coffee: £1 – £2
- Lunch: £6 – £10
- Dinner: £8 – £14
- Beer/Wine: £3 – £4
- Dessert: £3
Food can be tricky in London. To save money, always see what you’re hostel is offering – some will offer free breakfast. For lunch and dinner try to find independent sandwich/grocery shops like Tesco Express that offer good food for a cheap price.
As with any major city, the further you are from the center, the higher likelyhood of finding cheaper meals. Get off major roads and find cheap pubs. The new thing now are pubs that offer good valued food as well. Of course, when all else fails, cook as much as possible!
- Hostels: £15 – £40*
- Hotels: £50 – £150**
*The trick is find hostels that aren’t immediately next to tourists areas, but are still close enough that it’s fairly convenient. Check out Bayswater for decent priced hostels with affordable eateries nearby.
**Consider a hotel impossible for anyone who wishes to stay in London on a budget. Towards the £50 – £75 you still wouldn’t even get a good hotel room. Stick with hostels.
Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do in London. I would recommend sticking with free attractions, to soften the financial blow you took from food & stay. Only check out the paid-for attractions if they are really on your bucket list!
- London Walking Tour: FREE (Twice daily tour of sites; free, but consider tipping the guide a few £)
- Natural History Museum: FREE
- British Library: FREE (Find a huge selection of exhibits including: The Magna Carta and original Beatles lyrics)
- National Gallery: FREE
- Tate Modern Gallery: FREE (One of the world’s great modern art galleries)
- British Museum: FREE (a collection numbering in the millions, find out more)
- Imperial War Museum: FREE
- Grant Museum of Zoology: FREE (A quirky museum containing numerous curiosities, find out more)
- London Eye: £23.50 (Iconic Ferris Wheel, price covers one slow rotation.)
- Tower of London: £25 (A historic castle)
- Buckingham Palace: £21.50 (Residence of the Monarch)
- Madame Tussauds: £34 (Popular wax museum)
- Bus Tour: £28+
- Oyster Card: Refillable Travel Card
- Taxi, Airport to City Center: £60
- Subway, Airport to City Center: £5
- Taxi in London: £10
- One Way Fare with Oyster: £2.50
- Max fare: £8.50 (the most you can pay in a single day)
Best Time To Go
London draws crowds all year long. In a general sense, the weather is always fairly mild in London, with summers not scorching and winters not brutally cold (of course, there are exceptions).
As with most of Europe, you’ll find the highest hotel prices in June, July, August – making Spring our favorite time to visit London.
In Spring, you’ll witness the city’s parks blossom, fewer tourists than summer, and comfortable temperatures. It is rainy all year round in London, though, so be sure to bring an umbrella!