London is one of the most influential cities in the world and a must see. Whether you are exploring the iconic city architecture or enjoying tea time, you are sure to love your time in London. We recommend spending at least 3-4 days here, as well as taking a day trip to the countryside while in London. Despite London being one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can visit London, England on a budget. Here is our guide on visiting London, England on a budget.
Note: This post was written based on a trip taken in early April
What to do in London on a Budget
Take a Day Trip to Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor
This outing was our favorite excursion we did while visiting London. Book a small group tour that departs from London early in the morning and returns to London in the early evening. This link has the specific Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor Castle tour we recommend taking. Below is a breakdown of visiting each place.
Stonehenge, a ring of very large stones, is a mystical landmark located in southwest England. Although its origins are not well understood, Stonehenge is thought to be most likely an ancient burial ground.
Book a tour, such as the one we did, that allows you to go into the Inner Circle at Stonehenge. Going into the Inner Circle at Stonehenge costs a bit more than a regular tour, but it is completely worth the extra cost. It is very cool to be able to get up close to and walk around the stones before Stonehenge opens to the general public. This allows you to experience the mystical essence of Stonehenge without huge crowds.
Next stop on your tour will be Oxford University. So many famous people have attended or lectured at this school. As our tour guide said “it is just dripping with history”. Walking around the campus gives you a feeling of prestige. The town is also very quaint and picturesque. A guided city/campus tour is included in the trip we recommend and our guide was excellent.
Windsor Castle, located in the town of Windsor, is one of the English royal family’s most famous estates. The areas of the castle you are able to see are very impressive. The architecture and elegant décor makes you feel immersed in English high society. The chapel where the royal weddings occur is very cool to see in-person. Many may have seen this chapel through TV airing of royal weddings, but seeing it in-person is like walking through living history.
Attend Afternoon Tea Time
Traditional afternoon tea is an experience we’d highly recommend having in London. We went to afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason in London and really enjoyed it. Here, we got to try several different teas, tea sandwiches and sweets. Most notably, we ate the BEST scones we have ever tasted here. Tea time was not only delicious but also quite relaxing. The wait staff here are very helpful and kind as well. They will help you choose what teas and foods you may enjoy. Afternoon tea took about 2 hours, so make sure to budget enough time so that you can really enjoy and savor the experience.
Tip: Make a reservation at least two weeks prior to visiting
Visit Iconic London Architecture
Tower Bridge, Parliament, Big Ben Clocktower, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, etc. It is very neat to see the places as they all have exceedingly rich histories and are featured in many different movies/television shows.
These iconic sites are located all throughout the city. We’d recommend mapping out the location of each on Google Maps and then creating a plan to see them all throughout your stay in London. We saw a couple each day based on what was in close proximity to what else we were doing. Tours are offered at many of the locations if you want a guided and more educational experience.
Visit one of the many Public Parks in London
Did you know there are approximately 3000 public parks in London? It certainly surprised us that such a large city had so much designated green space.
We’d recommend going to Green Park, Hyde Garden and St. James Park. These are three of the largest and most centrally located public parks. All of these three parks have very pretty gardens and are a good place to walk around and relax on a nice day. Hyde park was our favorite of these three.
These parks are not a must while in London but definitely worth seeing if you have the time.
What to eat in London on a Budget
Did you know chicken tikka masala is the national dish of England? India was a British Colony for almost 200 years and during that time England learned how to really cook Indian food. We ate Indian food several times in England and were not disappointed once. There are Indian restaurants everywhere in London so we’d recommend going to one conveniently located for you.
A scone is a crumbly British pastry that you spread jam and clotted cream on. As noted above, the best scones we tasted in London were at Fortnum and Mason but there were great tasting scones throughout the city. Try as many different scones as you can while in London!
Eat on The Queens Walk
The Queens Walk, located next to the Thames River and near the London Eye, has heaps of different restaurant and food stand options. The atmosphere throughout this area is very fun here. We had some scrumptious honey cinnamon ice cream and a Mexican Sampler spread along here.
Most importantly, London is a big, diverse city with many different amazing ethnic restaurants. We’d recommend eating whatever you are feeling that day!
Where to Stay in London on a Budget
We’d recommend staying near the London Eye as it is quite centrally located and we were able to walk to all the iconic spots (without having to hassle with using public transportation) in London.
Premier Inn London
We stayed at the Premier Inn London County Hall. This was a big hotel but the location was great and the price was reasonable. It was right along the river too, which made a great running path in the morning.
We hope this post helps you plan your London trip. Anything else you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
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Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.