London on a budget... is it possible?
Well, yes and no. London isn't exactly known for being the cheapest of destinations. And sadly for me, it's one of my favorite places to visit. So, what's a girl to do?
(Hint: cheat the system. A little. Ok, not really.)
So, you want to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London in all its monstrous glory, eat a tasty meal in a stunning cafe, stroll through Notting Hill, visit the top of the Shard, see the Rosetta Stone... Ok, you can do all this. Maybe not in a day, but there are cheap ways to visit the beautiful, historical, awesome, city of London. (And a lot of those things mentioned are free or can be seen for free!)
1. Buy a London Pass. This is worth it IF you know exactly what sights you want to see and when you want to see them, and if you are planning on visiting these sights over several days. I personally don't think it's worth it for one day, but that's just me. The pass will get you into a bunch of the famous sites, plus you can use the tour bus. It's a really great deal if you have 3+ days to explore London. It's a hefty price up front, but if you use it well, it will save you money.
2. Visit cathedrals during Evensong to avoid paying. You can see the incredible architecture AND hear a beautiful Evensong all in one nice package. Win-win. Plus, you can't take pictures in St. Paul's or Westminster during opening hours anyhow. Visit during an Evensong and return the next day for a ticket, if you feel the urge to. Saves a few pence!
3. Find places to eat via Instagram. So, you want the perfect, instagrammable meal that's also tasty? Move over TripAdvisor, Instagram has got you covered. London Coffee Shops is a delightful instagram that showcases some of the most beautiful restaurants and coffee shops that London has to offer. Their posts make me drool and you can probably find exactly what you're wanting if you simply scroll through.
4. Live like a local. Airbnb if possible. Or try Groupon for a cheaper hotel or meal. Buy an Oyster card, but avoid traveling at rush hour for your own sanity. Along those lines, don't head down to Big Ben just before noon and try to find a place to eat. You'll probably be disappointed. A little research and planning with food and destinations will keep you from starving and allow you to see the best sights in London. Also, the cheapest places in London are away from the touristy bits. Branch out a bit, and who knows what hidden gems you'll discover. We really enjoy the area around SOAS and the British Museum because it's mostly students who live there and students like to eat and live cheap!
5. Most museums are free. I've said this before but it bears repeating. FREE. MUSEUMS.
6. Research. Research. Research. People who live in London generally have the best tips on what to see for cheap/free. These are just some tips I've picked up along the way, but there are definitely more out there if you look!
Anyone else have some tips on traveling for cheap?