After a long stint abroad, I was in desperate need of some British culture, and what better way than a day of sight-seeing in London? Despite living only an hour away on the train, I very rarely visit LDN because I always seem to be knees deep into my student loan.. But I discovered that if you’re a bit savvy with your planning, you can spend a day in the capital for under £20! (Don’t expect the Ritz though…)
If you book way ahead you can jump on a train from Birmingham to London Euston for as little as a fiver!
I got there using the National Express coach which cost £1.50.
Once in London, you can get about using the tube or by renting a bike for the day from the many bike stations around the city. The tube can be a little pricey if you are planning on visiting lots of different areas so maybe invest in a day pass – (I planned to stay in the same zones all day)
Things to do for under a fiver
- Take a walk along the South Bank of the River Thames and soak up the sights of Big Ben, The London Eye & The Houses of Parliament
- People watch in Covent Garden and watch the many acts in the square
- Visit the free galleries and museums (National Gallery, Science Museum, Natural History Museum etc.)
- Eat a picnic and feed the ducks in Hyde Park
- Go window-shopping at Harrods and treat yourself to a cake in the food court!
- Tag along on a free walking tour of the city (customary to leave a small tip at the end)
- Visit the street-art of Banksy
- Take a photo at platform nine and three quarters at King’s Cross Station
- Attend a free lecture at London School of Economics (Check website for lectures)
- Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Grab lunch for under a fiver
- Take a picnic and snacks to last the day (what I did)
- Grab a burger at Camden Market. You can usually walk around and grab loads of freebies before you decide what you want to eat so take advantage!
- Eat fish and chips by the river
- Grab a pasta pot to take away in Borough Market
Top tips from my visit
- Check and double check the weather before you go! On a budget you will spend a lot of time outdoors so try and pick a dry day & wear layers in case the sun comes out
- Invest in a visitor oyster card if you want to travel on the tube. You can have it delivered and pre-load it before you arrive to save time when you get there
- If travelling on the train, get a railcard and travel at off-peak times.
- Stay within the inner boroughs to save tube costs. In one day you will only be able to fit a few places in!
- If staying the night, check out Airbnb private rooms or studios- they are so much cheaper than city center hotels
- Hire a Santander bike! Use the app to unlock a bike from any of the docks. It you use it in bursts of 30 mins at a time and keep checking in at various bike docks, you will only have to pay £2 for the day!
- Buy a hop on, hop off bus pass to see up to 60 attractions as and when you want!
- Get discounts by pre-booking visits online. You can get 20% off if you book in advance for things like The Shard, The London Eye, and the Red Double Decker Bus Tour
- Check out Groupon for discounts on restaurants and attractions