Most museums and State operated facilities are free, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, and the Tate Art Galleries. These all have no entrance fee for the main galleries, but may have a separate charge for special exhibits. There are some museums like Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews, the Queen’s Gallery which have expensive entrance fees which are necessary to cover the enormous costs of upkeeping the historic collections. But research which museums you are eager to visit that might have an entrance fee before you arrive in London and budget for this expense. Read more in depth about my choice of the 7 Best Museums in London.
A flat will allow you to save money if you decide to have breakfast and lunch and dinner in your property. Even having just breakfast at home will save money. Grocery stores are located in all areas of downtown London, some are adjacent to the Tube stations. Shopping for a few items is easy, and will save restaurant costs. As the owner of London Connection, I am sure you would expect me to say that staying in a flat is the number one way to avoid enormous hotel charges including all kinds of taxes. London hotels are famous for small rooms and even smaller beds. Our flats offer much more comfort in several rooms like larger bedrooms and kitchens and of course the comfortable lounges. A cost of a flat often saves more than half the price of a mid-range hotel in central London. FLATS ARE FOR PEOPLE; HOTELS ARE FOR LUGGAGE.
Don’t even think of renting a car. Even if you can adapt to driving on the left side of the road, finding a parking spot is next to impossible. London taxis are expensive. They are convenient, and I love to dialog with a London cabbie with his glorious cockney accent. But, the tab adds up quickly. They do have credit card facility these days, but that convenience only puts the “pain” off until your credit card bill arrives. My suggestion: GET AN OYSTER CARD and take the Tube and London public busses. An Oyster card can be purchased at all Tube Stations for zones 1 & 2 for about 35 pounds and is good for 7 days. Covers costs for all double decker red busses and all central London. It is the way to go whether you are visiting London for 2 days or 2 weeks. Public transportation is clean and runs on time.
If you plan to visit several London sights over a few days, you might consider the London Pass. The London Pass covers 60 attractions: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Kew Gardens, the Churchill War Rooms, the Globe Theatre Tour, London Zoo, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall Tour, the Thames Boat River Cruise, London Transport Museum, Hop-on-Hop-off Bus, etc. The cost of the LONDON PASS is 75 pounds for one day, 99 pounds for 2 days, and 125 pounds for three days. Children have a reduced charge. If you are an eager tourist, this is a really great deal. If you have some time before you travel, wait and watch for the London Pass to go on sale. Several times a year, they discount the rate by 20%. That is the time to buy! My Top 15 Attractions in London include many that are available with the London Pass. BESIDES, THE LONDON PASS PUTS YOU IN THE FAST LANE FOR ENTRANCE.
The London Theaters are renowned, and are comparable to productions found on Broadway in New York City. In fact, I saw “Wicked” on Broadway and then in London a few months later and they were equally wonderful! However, I knew about the discount tickets available at Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) Square, and saved 25% on my London WICKED tickets. The best deals are usually for same-day purchases, so arrive early (before 11 am) and you will have the best options for matinees and evening performances. BEWARE: there are poachers that try to convince you they have the tickets you need. We were even approached while standing in the ticket line. Some visitors to London have fallen for these fast-talkers, only to find at the theater entrance that the tickets are not valid. DON’T RUIN YOUR TRIP. Stick with the established ticket outlets in Leicester Square. You can find discount seats for the opera, musicals, plays, and ballet. Read more about London Theater options in our Anglophile blog here: 4 Ways to Enjoy London Theater
The best way to save money is to rent a flat in central London, close to all the historic sites which draw us to this fabulous place. London is a walking city, and a well located flat will provide perfect walks that will cost you nothing. A centrally located vacation rental is the answer to most questions about saving money. A comfortable flat and a good pair of walking shoes are the perfect solutions to having a great time in London without going into killer debt.
I take 200 pounds in cash, but I budget for the use of the ATM, or as it is called in London-the CASH POINT. Make sure to alert your bank that you will be traveling. NEVER NEVER USE THE EXCHANGE BOOTHS AT THE AIRPORT OR ON THE STREETS. Their fees are horrific.
PLAN IN ADVANCE AND SAVE — THAT IS YOUR MOTTO