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London is a pricey city—there’s no denying it. But Cheapos can make their British pennies go further by following these frugal ways to enjoy the best of the capital.
1. Get an Oyster!
First things first, don’t even think about stepping on a Tube or bus without an Oyster card. Fares are high enough without having to fork out extra for a full price ticket. You can pick up your Oyster at train or Tube stations for £5, which is refundable if you return the card at the end of your stay. Then top up your card on a pay as you go basis or go with a weekly or monthly travel card, depending on how long you plan to stay. For more information, read our post on public transport in London.
2. Eat in when you stay at self-catering hotels
Sometimes it works out to be a better value to opt for self catering accommodation, such as the Stylotel Suites or the Royal Court Apartments in Paddington, and doing a bit of your own cooking. Shop at the larger supermarket chains as opposed to local convenience stores for the best value food. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all have lots of good prices, and you can snap up everything from simple breakfasts and sandwiches or soup for lunch, to excellent value dine in “banquets” for dinner complete with a bottle of wine.
3. Very cheap (and sometimes free) entertainment
You don’t need to pay full whack to catch a West End play or see the latest release at the cinema, but it does pay to plan ahead and do your research. Check out our guides to getting free and cheap theater tickets and discounted cinema seats for lots of savings across the capital.
4. Experience the great outdoors at no cost
Rain or shine, London’s parks offer a great retreat from the madness of the city, and they won’t cost you a penny. If you’ve already wandered the grounds of Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, then head for something a little more local. Every area has its green spaces where you’ll find picnicking locals in the spring and summer, and dedicated joggers in the colder months. Hampstead Heath is high on the top of my list, as it is a million miles from the manicured gardens found in many parks. Instead, get lost in the rambling parkland and climb to the top of Parliament Hill for fantastic (and totally free) views of London. Alternatively, a trip to Richmond Park will whisk you away from the hustle, and bustle and you can even spot wild deer roaming around.
5. Free culture, free culture and more free culture
London’s museum offering is second to none, and there are no excuses for not losing yourself in a museum for a day or two as entry is completely free. You may find you have to pay for special temporary exhibitions, but there’s nothing to stop you perusing the permanent collection at the British Museum, playing like a big kid at the Science Museum or going back in time at the Natural History Museum, to name but a few. The same rule applies to art galleries, check out our guide here.