This year is the best to explore your surroundings, local places and national destinations. That’s exactly what I did this Bank Holiday weekend. I tend to go on a city break to other European destinations, but of course, this year is a bit different from others.
I decided to travel to London as it’s one of those places where you’ll always find something new – restaurants, cafes, exhibitions, street decorations, etc. or simply there’s a neighbourhood or a secret spot you missed out on last time you visited the city.
I went to London by coach with National Express, and I must admit it was a great way to travel.
In this blog, I am going to tell you about my National Express coach trip to London as well as other ways to save money in London as a tourist.
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What is the cheapest way to travel to London?
Disclaimer: My London coach trip with National Express was a PR invite. All opinions shared in this post are my own.
London isn’t the most affordable city, and yes, you can easily spend a good amount if you’re planning to visit the main attractions, use the underground and eat in nice cafes or restaurants.
This is why travelling by coach will help you save money so you can spend it on other things you’d love to do in this great city.
I highly recommend booking your coach tickets with National Express. They travel to hundreds of UK destinations as well as airports and major European cities such as Paris.
By choosing National Express, not only will you save money but you will make an eco-friendly decision as travelling by coach generates up to five times less Co2 per passenger than the average car journey.
Some of my favourite things about travelling with them are that they have a generous travel allowance, their leather seats are super comfortable and you can charge your phone in the individual USB sockets (so you don’t need to worry about running out of battery!)
Inside the coach you can benefit from air conditioning, booster seats, toilets as well as tracking your your coach in real time with their live coach tracker.
In addition to these great things about National Express, when you book with them there isn’t a booking fee, which makes it more budget-friendly, and you get a guaranteed seat.
If you travel with them you must wear a face covering which makes you feel safer during the trip. They’ve also implemented other safety measures such as deeper cleaning of coaches, social distancing at coach stations, and new air filtration systems.
Travelling with National Express to London was a great option. I travelled from Leeds to London on a Sunday, the coach was on time, the staff was very professional and the journey was safe.
I also liked the fact we stopped in a rest area to stretch our legs and buy a snack. Finally, we arrived at Victoria coach station which is a good location because it’s close to main attractions such as Buckingham Palace.
On the way back to Leeds, the journey was very smooth too! There were fewer people on board and it was a very relaxing journey after four days walking across London.
How can I spend less money in London?
There are many ways you can spend less money in London. All of these tips are easy to apply, and you don’t need to worry about eating less or staying in a hostel at all! Those aren’t the things I am going to tell you below.
How to save on accommodation in London
If you aren’t a big fan of staying in hostels, you’ll be happy to know that you can find good and affordable hotels in London. The key to getting a cheap hotel is not to stay very central or close to major tourist attractions.
Travelodge and Premier Inn offer comfortable beds and all the essentials you need for your stay. They have hotels across London, so not only are they affordable but convenient too.
Another way to save money on accommodation is to join loyalty programmes with hotels, by staying at these hotels you will save money in the long run. You can check these programmes on the hotel websites.
Last but not least, my favourite website to check hotel deals is Booking.com. When you sign up for their Genius loyalty programme, you’ll be able to see deals that others can’t.
How to save money on transport in London
The best way to explore a city is by walk, you have more opportunities to discover impressive buildings, beautiful streets, etc. This is how I have discovered many secret spots in London and other cities.
London is a big city, and although it’ll take you more time to get to places, you can visit the main attractions by walk.
However, if you want to see as much as possible in less time, the cheapest form of transportation in London is to travel with an Oyster card.
Other hacks to save money include avoiding peak times and certain zones, as well as getting a student Oyster card (if you are one!), or renting a bike which is another great to discover the city.
How to save money on food in London
Restaurant, pub, cafe and street food options are endless which can be overwhelming when trying to choose where to eat – literally, you can find any cuisine in London which I find fascinating.
If you’re on a budget, here are a couple of things you can do to help you decide where to eat and how to save money on food:
Research about restaurants and cafes
Research about restaurants and cafes before visiting London. This is a great way to be organised, avoid wasting time looking for a place to eat during your trip, and save money.
Check food offers
Check if there are any offers or good deals – early bird menu, online offers, bottomless brunch, happy hour, etc. These will make a difference when paying the bill.
Eat street food in London’s markets
Avoid London’s cafes and restaurants near main attractions
These restaurants and cafes tend to be more expensive as they’re next to tourist attractions and can be very convenient.
Buy snacks at a supermarket like Tesco or Sainsbury’s instead of stopping at cafes. These will keep you satisfied for a couple of hours.
Opt for a picnic
London parks such as the popular Hyde Park or St James’s Park are only a few of the many parks you find in London. They’re the perfect spot for a relaxing picnic while enjoying the greenery landscape.
Grab a meal deal
Grab a meal deal from the supermarket. The meal deals normally cost less than 4 pounds and include a sandwich, wrap or salad, a snack (such as fruit, crisps, sweets) and a drink.
How to save on attractions in London
London has plenty of things to do and see, and despite not all of them are for free, there are many of them you don’t need to pay an entrance fee.
So my number one tip is to do some research before visiting London. Grab a coffee or tea and create a Google map with all the places you want to visit. Check if these places are free or not and keep a record of any entrance fees so you can estimate how much money you’ll spend on attractions.
If you want to explore all the main tourist attractions in London, you’ll save money by getting a London Pass that gives you access to over 80 attractions – including the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Zoo, etc.
Personally, I haven’t spent much money on attractions in London because there is plenty of free stuff and I prefer finding hidden gems to visiting crowded touristy places.
In the next lists, you’ll find many activities and places to visit for free.
Best Free Museums in London
One of the best things about London is the good variety of museums you can visit for free. Here is a short list of the best free museums in London.
- British Museum
- National Gallery
- Museum of London
- National History Museum
- Tate Modern
- Queen’s House
- British Library
- Victoria and Albert Museum
Best parks in London
You’ll be surprised to hear that London is home to over 2,000 beautiful parks of different sizes and things to offer. Visiting so many parks sounds crazy, so here are some of the must-see parks you can visit during your time in London.
- The Regent’s Park
- St James’s Park
- Hyde Park
- Holland Park
- Green Park
- Greenwich Park
- Richmond Park
Coolest neighbourhoods in London
London has many cool neighbourhoods to explore – from beautiful colourful streets to impressive street art and vintage shops.
Best for street art and vintage vibes
Best for architecture and colourful houses
- Notting Hill
Best for great views
- Primrose Hill
Best for shopping and restaurants
- King’s Cross
Other things to do before visiting London
As you can see there are many things you can do to save money in London as a tourist – from opting for walking to places to visiting free museums.
If you have any questions or you want advice about travelling to London or the UK, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @creina.diary on Instagram.
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