How to save money in London

Squeeze the most out of your trip with these top tips on how to save money in London. And the best bit? Many of these affordable options are way more fun than pricey alternatives!
Content contains affiliate links, marked with asterisks (*). If you click through and make a purchase, Visit London receives a commission – every purchase supports London’s jobs and economy.
two people walking through a covered food market, with pop up stands decorated in fairy lights
Walking through Borough Market and the delightful food stalls just waiting to be explored. © Buchet

1. Get a Visitor Oyster card

Oyster cards, Visitor Oyster cards and contactless payment cards offer the cheapest ways to travel in London. Using a Visitor Oyster Card* is more than 50% cheaper than buying one-day paper Travelcards or single tickets with cash (order one before you arrive to start saving immediately!). 

Insider tip: Visitor Oyster Card holders qualify for a range of food, drink and other discounts and special offers.

2. Leg it!

Although you'll want to use public transport for longer journeys (see above), central London is ideal for walking or cycling using the city's Santander Cycles scheme. This way you see more sights, get some exercise and may even happen across some hidden gems on your journey! 

Insider tip: Especially at busy times, it's actually faster to walk between stations such as Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

3. Free attractions

British Museum. Photo: Jon Reid

London has a host of amazing free attractions and landmarks that you can visit without spending a penny. These include top art galleries and museums including Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, the Southbank Centre art complex, and outdoor spaces such as Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath

Insider tip: Don't miss free spectacles such as Changing the Guard.

4. Cheap West End tickets

Seeing a West End theatre show doesn't have to be expensive. Buy your tickets in advance for big discounts. You can also visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap, last minute tickets.

Insider tip: If you know what you want to see, try lining up at the theatre for stand-by tickets and returns. More tips on buying theatre tickets.

5. The London Pass

The London Pass* gets you in free (often with fast-track entry) to more than 60 top London attractions, including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge Experience and the Thames River Cruise.

Insider tip: Plan the perfect day out with London Pass using our itinerary.

6. Book online in advance

If you don't think you'll do enough sightseeing to use a London Pass, you can beat the queues and save on ticketed attractions and exhibitions by booking online and in advance. For example, London Eye tickets are up to 10% cheaper online. 

Insider tip: Plan ahead as tickets are often issued in time slots. 

7. Cheap events and activities

Fill your itinerary with lots of low-cost or free events and activities. Explore the top free things to do in London or take some inspiration from London's best cheap things to do. Keep an eye out for free seasonal events that take place on particular days of the year, such as London's free festivals and parades.

Insider tip: Check out the London events calendar and consider booking your trip when your favourite free London events take place.

8. Small shows

London has thriving live musiccomedy and cabaret scenes. And the great thing about these smaller productions is they're usually a lot more affordable than traditional theatre shows or big-name music gigs.

Insider tip: Cabaret shows crop up in some amazing and unexpected bijoux venues.

9. Bargain shopping

London is a shoppers' paradise and for those watching the pennies, there's plenty of bargain options. Check out affordable fashion in high street stores such as Primark or search for cheap retro originals at London's vintage emporiums

Insider tip: Shop at London's wonderful markets, where you can often haggle for bigger savings!

10. Cheap eats

For affordable food, look out for chain restaurants, buffets and traditional cafes. In fine weather, you can purchase pre-made sandwiches from supermarkets or shops such as Pret A Manger, and dine alfresco in one of London's lovely parks, gardens or courtyards. Street food has become a very popular social phenomenon: discover the best food trucks or top London food markets, and satisfy your taste buds with cheap and mouthwatering street food.

Insider tip: Take a packed lunch to The Scoop for some of the best, free sightseeing in town!

11. Sleep cheap

For budget accommodation, look no further than London's friendly hostelsbudget hotelsB&B's and university halls of residence (as long as you time your trip for the university holidays!)

Insider tip: Families can save money by opting to stay at one of London's top family-friendly hotels.