Famously renowned as an expensive place to visit, you can actually experience the magic of London without breaking the bank! With London’s shopping, eating and getting around generally much more expensive than other rival capitals in Europe, you’ll want to keep reading to unveil the secrets to experiencing the luxury of London without emptying your wallet.
Dining on a Dime
Prix fixe menus, food markets, and happy hours are going to be your best friends when dining on a budget. Prix fixe menus are multi-course meals for a set price that can range from 2-10 courses. If you’re happy to dine early (5.30-7.30pm), many restaurants in Central London offer cheap pre- and post-theatre menus.
If you stroll through the West End, you’ll be sure to find plenty (as well as theatre shows and plays to watch!). Food markets are always a good idea for a quick lunch or lazy evening hangouts with friends, especially if you love feasting on falafel, pizza and big bowls of Vietnamese pho.
Check out the Southbank Centre Food Market, Leather Lane and Petticoat Lane. For an unforgettable afternoon experience, go shopping for some luxurious picnic ingredients and a few bottles of wine and dine al fresco in some of London’s iconic parks. Avoid tourist traps like Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Regent Street.
Sightseeing and Attractions
Some of the best things to do in London are completely free! Most of London’s major museums and every commercial gallery are free to enter, so you can soak up history and culture and experience world-class art without spending a cent. Visit the British Museum on Tuesday afternoon to beat the crowds, and browse the 8 million works to your heart’s content.
The Tate Modern has plenty of international modern and contemporary art. Self-guided and free organized walking tours are an amazing way to see interesting parts of London, and many of the organized ones are donation-based. There are a variety of sightseeing maps available online, or you can trust your instincts and wander freely.
It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the many discount-passes that are available, such as the London Pass and lots of other 2-for-1 deals that range from hop-on buses, museums, boat trips, theatre tickets and restaurants.
Shopping Without Splurging
It wouldn’t be a holiday in London without a little shopping, but luckily high-end brands are not the only sort of shopping in London! There are affordable treasures and unique finds waiting to be found in the many thrift stores and vintage shops throughout London.
Brick Lane Market is a thrift-shopper favourite – full of antique collectables, second-hand clothes, vintage items, quirky crafts and retro vinyl. Camden Market and Portobello Road are also popular (you could always do with an extra vintage denim jacket!).
Boxpark Shoreditch is a pop-up mall made from shipping containers where you can grab a coffee and browse the 40 fashion and lifestyle brands for a deal. If you love the high street brands, it’s worth waiting until a sale period like Boxing Day to take advantage of the cheaper prices.
Sample sales are another good way to get luxury items at a more affordable price.
Nightlife and Entertainment
There are plenty of incredible options for getting affordable theatre tickets in London (because let’s face it, you can’t visit London without a visit to the theatre!).
Lottery, rush tickets, and standing-room-only options are the best way to experience the West End on a budget. Plenty of music venues offer free live music, which works well if you’re a jazz-lover or enjoy an open mic night!
Lots of bars and pubs have regular live music nights where you can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a cocktail. To enjoy the London skyline without the sky-high prices, visit the Prince of Wales Brixton, Franks in Peckham and The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden on Southbank of the River Thames.
Enjoying some refreshments on a rooftop-bar after a long day of exploring and shopping is the ultimate way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind before heading out for an elegant casino evening. Be ready and prepare a cocktail dress or a smart-casual attire for your entertaining night, as unlike new online casinos, London’s casinos tend to have a strict dressing code. But if you’re tired after your day of exploring, you could order a pizza and enjoy a cosy night in from the comfort of your room instead.
It is entirely possible to have a cost-effective yet lavish London experience! Take advantage of 2-for-1 deals, explore on foot and be strategic about where you shop and eat. Make the most of of the many free cultural experiences available, and you’ll be able to enjoy the luxury of London even on a budget.