Before leaving home we developed a budget for how much we would ideally like to spend in London. Based on numbers from other travel blogs, the current exchange rate between dollars and pounds, and our personal budget goals for our trip, we calculated a spending goal for each day in London. The exchange rate has since changed drastically due to the Brexit (which we were there for!) so make sure you research the exact exchange rate before you go.
We had initially anticipated spending about £72 per person/ per day (including the £32 for the hostel), and we ended up spending only £52 on average per day! We had jam-packed days full of drinking, eating, and sight-seeing and we came in at £20 under budget per day. Here’s how we did it:
Museums & Galleries
There are hundreds of museums in London and the majority of them are free and open to the public. During our stay we went to the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, and the Victoria Miro Gallery. The Tate Modern has a new addition as of June 17th, fittingly named The New Tate Modern, which has an outlook on the top floor that provides a great view of the city.
Paul at the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Victoria Miro Gallery
The view from the New Tate Modern
London theatre is some of the best in the world. Though it can be pricey, it’s worth it to witness world-renowned actors and performances. Before we left home, we had already been talking about seeing Richard III starring Ralph Fiennes (aka Voldemort in Harry Potter). Our hostel roommate recommended that we use an app called TodayTix that allows you to enter a lottery to win seats. The show was sold out until September, but thanks to TodayTix we WON two available seats for only £20 a piece!
While you’re in London you’re pretty much obligated to see Parliament & Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, etc. These places are full of tourists, and therefore full of pick-pocketers, so be careful when you’re stopping to take photos!
Buckingham Palace ft. tons of tourists
Paul & the Queen
Pimlico Fish & Chips
If you’re looking for classic fish & chips but don’t want to pay the £13 you’d spend at a pub, look for “take-away only” shops. This particular spot in Pimlico had no tables, was cash-only, and cost half the price of pub fish & chips.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and is totally worth visiting if you’re in London. It costs £12 to go on a tour of the cathedral: complete with headphones and a visit to the crypt and the dome. However, the Cathedral hosts mass services every few hours which are free and open to the public. We chose the latter option. We attended the half hour mass and then took a self-guided tour around the main floor.
St. Paul’s on a gloomy, London afternoon
While at Honest Burger in Covent Garden (which we recommend for a good burger & beer), the waitress recommended that we visit Brixton if we like Jamaican food. Jamaican food? In London? Yes, and it’s amazing (and cheap). When you get off the tube stop in Brixton you walk right into a vast Jamaican market; complete with traditional patties and other delicious Jamaican dishes. We bought six of the £1.50 patties and saved a couple of them for dinner that night.
Travel Joy Hostel
We really loved our hostel in London. It was just a few blocks away from the Pimlico tube stop, and just a 30 minute walk from Parliament. Several bus lines stop directly outside the building and one runs 24/7. They offered guests free soft drinks, coffee, and tea; free breakfast, which included omelets and smoothies; and free salsa-dancing lessons and beer pong. Though it was a bit pricey, it was definitely worth the money for the experience we had and the friends we made!
London is an expensive city, but it can be tackled on a budget. Though we had a daily budget, our spending varied each day; for instance, our first day in London was Paul’s birthday, so we spent more on that day than any other day there. By remaining budget-conscious and seeking out the aforementioned freebies, we saved a ton of money and still had a great time!
Us having fun with the camera filters my brother got me for my birthday. Thanks, Luke!
We were in London from June 19-June 24, 2016. Feel free to comment or message us if you have any questions!