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London Budget Guide

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London Travel Guide – London Budget Guide

London on a budget is challenging, especially as it is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

However, if you manage to make a couple of changes to your lifestyle, such as stay in cheap hotels in London or find free things to do in London, then London on a shoestring is not so tough.

Whatever you choose to do, this London budget guide should help you make some key decisions.

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London transport

The cheapest way to get around London is by getting an Oyster card. These can be used on any tube or bus and some river boats.

You can either top up an Oyster on pay as you go, or if you plan to do plenty of travelling during your stay, it is probably more feasible to get a weekly or monthly travel pass.

A one-week Oyster pass is £25.80 for zones 1 and 2, while a month costs £99.10.

If you're looking for cheaper London transport, a one-week bus pass is £16.60 and a month is £63.80, to any destination in London.

Another London transport option to take advantage of is the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. This works on a pay as you go basis, with the first 30 minutes absolutely free after a 24-hour access fee of £1.

Journeys under one hour cost £1 and London has a huge network of safe and clearly-marked cycle routes.

Cheap hotels in London

One of the major costs of staying in London is the hotel, so why not try and find a cheap hotel in London or a cheap hostel in London?

You can stay right in the heart of the city for a fraction of the price if you know where to look.

Find a hostel in Bayswater for just £13 a night and you can walk to Hyde Park without paying for any travel.

Or self catering can be an even cheaper option. The Warwick Rooms in Paddington has rooms from £9 and has a shared kitchen where you can cook your meals and miss out on having to dine out at expensive restaurants every night.

London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide

Cheap nights out in London

There are a number of cheap nights out in London every night of the week.

Try getting hold of discount theatre tickets at a booth in Leicester Square, where you can go and see a West End show on the night for half the price.

If musicals aren't your thing, head over to Scoop (London Bridge; Telephone: 020 7403 4866) at the more London development by Tower Bridge.

It is a huge outdoor 800-seater amphitheatre and regularly shows films, music and theatre absolutely free.

You can also have a great cheap night out in London by heading to one of thousands of pubs and bars.

While most of the best London pubs are free to get in, you can also get free entry into London's bars if you arrive before 9pm or 10pm and stay there all night, when they quite often turn into clubs.

London cheap eats

A dining experience in London does not have to be expensive.

You can find London cheap eats in any district, from £5 fish and chips at The Golden Union Fish Bar (38 Poland Street; Tottenham Court Road) in Soho, central London, to French cuisine for under £10 at French Cafe (16 Ritherdone Road; Balham or Tooting Bec).

If you want something a little more special, you can find the odd Michelin starred restaurant offering fixed-price lunch menus.

One-starred Indian restaurant Tamarind (20 Queen Street, Mayfair; Green Park) offers a two-course lunch set menu for £16.50 or £18.50 for three courses.

Meanwhile, if you check online at a website such as, you can find some great London restaurants offering half price off the menu.

London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide

Top things to do in London for free

The great thing about London sightseeing is that many things to see are actually free.

All national museums have free entry, with the exception of the occasional exhibition, so head over to the V&A (Cromwell Road; South Kensington) or the British Museum (Great Russell Street; Holborn or Russell Square), both of which will take more than a day to complete.

Walking is, quite obviously, another free thing to do in London. You can find a number of websites dedicated to providing information about different walks in London, but if you grab an A-Z, you can plan your route out yourself.

Try walking a stretch of Regent's Canal, or pick a starting point such as Monument (16-18 Monument Street; Monument) and walk for a couple of hours, passing through the Royal Exchange (Bank), Borough Market (239 Borough High Street; London Bridge) and the old operating theatre at St Thomas' Hospital (9a St Thomas Street; London Bridge), among countless other London landmarks along the way.

If you are staying in London for a long period, you can benefit from signing up to a television audience website such as the Applause Store, where you can go and watch TV shows being filmed for free.

These can range from Channel Five's The Wright Stuff to the BBC's Live at the Apollo.

London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide London Budget Guide

Being a student in London

The best way to budget in London is by being a student. There are hundreds of offers and discounts available to students in London, so make sure you have an NUS card.

These can range from 10-20 per cent discounts from high street stores, to cheaper entry to clubs, bars and the cinema.

You can even get into a University of London Union with an NUS card, which offers cheap drinks and the ULU (Malet Street; Tottenham Court Road) often hosts live music events that are usually free.

ULU also offers discounted gym membership for the active student.

Various club nights during the week are dedicated to students, such as Cheapskates, held every Wednesday night at Moonlighting (17 Greek Street; Oxford Street), where drinks are just 90p and entrance is £4.

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