We have just returned from a fun packed few days in ‘fish, chips, cup o’ tea, London!’
Headed down last Saturday using tickets bought well in advance via the Virgin Trains website. My husband had a gig at Camden Underworld and we were keen to see the sights. Like any capital city London can be super pricey, so I thought I’d share Five Thrifty Tips to keep the cost down.
Two for One Deals
If you are travelling to London via train, even a train from the airport to London, you can apply for lots of Two for One deals lots of great activities including the London Dungeon or Tower of London. We are incredibly lucky here in the UK, lots of our museums and art galleries are free to enter, so you can visit London and have a great day out at the Natural History Museum, V&A, Tate Modern and so on for free. However there are plenty of must-sees in our capital city. We downloaded a voucher for Churchill War Rooms, where Winston Churchill and his cabinet made critical decisions during WWII, and saving us £16!
On fine, dry days save yourself the cost of public transport and walk around the city. It is safe, free and beautiful. Our favourite walks were through the city to the Sky Garden, then down the River Thames to the Tate Modern. The South Banks can be incredibly busy, especially during holidays and weekends, so it is best left for when you have lots of time to spare, we crossed over the river and ambled down to Westminster. Then another day walked from the Museum of London, down Embankment and up to Charing Cross, over to Leicester Square and through Soho to Oxford Street, discovering cafes, beautifully designed buildings and street entertainers along the way.
We also took part in a terrific free walking tour with Strawberry Tours. Led by a very knowledgeable guide it took in some the best street art and graffiti the London’s east end has to offer. You just give a donation to the tour guide at the end. Our tour lasted two hours and was well worth it!
Public Transport savvy
Children under the age of ten travel for free on many of the public transport services in London. Us adults generally use our Contactless payment cards and my twelve year old son used an Oyster card. I spoke to one of the helpful London Underground employees who ensured that he would only pay the child fare when travelling on the Oyster card, we topped it up and away we went. Much cheaper and quicker than queuing and buying paper tickets. Plus it enabled us to grab a cheap single fare on the Emirates Cable Car. My son travelled on the Cable Car using a ticket he bought on his Oyster card and I paid with Contactless. This worked out much better value than the Discovery Airline Experience.
Take a look at the ‘Best Ways for Visitors to Pay’ section of the Transport For London website for more information.
Get great views for free!
You needn’t pay top dollar for views from the top of London’s iconic landmarks. We nabbed free tickets to the Sky Garden by booking a week in advance, online. The 360 degree panoramic views from the 36th floor of the ‘walkie talkie’ sky scraper are absolutely stunning. The views across the River Thames from the Tate Modern’s viewing gallery are equally as beautiful and for less than a fiver you can also climb 62 metres up into the air at the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
Breakfast like a King
We bagged a cheap accommodation deal with Travelodge, during their Christmas sale – staying slap-bang in the centre of the City of London. We ate break fast at the hotel, just £8.25 for an adult and my son ate free. He is ravenous at breakfast time, putting away a full English, plus toast, croissants and cereal. We found a big breakfast kept us going right through to mid afternoon, we snacked on fruit and in the evening, after a long day exploring we were happy to retire to the hotel with a sandwich and a cup of tea.
So there you go, five thrifty tips for visiting London. Do you have any others? We’ll be visiting Paris in a couple of months, so if you can share any top tips from France’s capital city we would be most grateful!