Cobblestone street with people milling about. Old buildings and glass building in middle of street.
Spend an evening at Camden Market, strolling from stall to stall and taking in the picturesque view of the canal.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Travel London on a Budget

See the Sights, No Matter Your Budget

Though it is one of the most expensive destinations to travel to, London is still one of the most popular. If you’re worried a visit to England’s capital will leave you broke after just a few days, don’t despair — there are many affordable activities you can find to make the city a budget-friendly European destination, if you take the time to look.

Save your money for your must-see attractions and delicious foods, and supplement your itinerary with these free ways to enjoy your trip to London.

1. Take a Stroll Through the Park

London has many fantastic green spaces and each of these parks is completely different. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park border each other, making a massive park that has beautiful plants, fountains and statues.

Between the two, you can watch paddle boaters on the river, enjoy public art, see the park’s wildlife and get a lot of exercise.

Holland Park, one of London’s most underrated green spaces, can make you forget you’re in the middle of the city. It has two Japanese gardens, a plethora of avian residents (and squirrels who will not shy away from someone with snacks), public art installations, a vegetable garden, sport fields and more.

It’s perfect for the whole family and provides tons of photo opportunities.

With over a dozen parks to visit, you can get many different views of the city while taking in a brilliant London day and getting some much-needed fresh air.

2. Visit the Queen’s House

You shouldn’t miss a trip to Greenwich. Once you get there by underground or ferry boat, you can put your wallet away.

Pack a picnic to enjoy on the sprawling greens, stroll along the riverbank, and visit the Queen’s House. This former royal residence has been restored for tourists and includes a large collection of nautical and maritime paintings, as well as notable portraits from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Make sure to head over to the Royal Observatory, where you can learn about astronomy and navigation. Greenwich is where all modern time zones originate and you can stand on the Prime Meridian (0° longitude), for a fee.

Nearby, you can visit the world’s largest Maritime Museum, which has activities for kids of all ages and plenty to entertain adults, too.

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3. Check out the Markets

You may not be out to buy anything, but even so, London has a diversity of markets for your perusing pleasure. From antiques to fancy cheeses, wandering from stall to stall is a fantastic way to see what a city is all about and to interact with locals.

Portabello Road Market, located in the photogenic Notting Hill, has both vintage treasures and fresh foods. Burough Market, under the railway lines, brings all of London’s best foods to one stunning building.

Camden Market, situated next to canal, has a great location but also offers visitors foods, trinkets and fashions.

More than 10 markets go on all over the city and throughout the week, so no matter when you visit, you can indulge in a big part of London’s culture.

4. Look at the Art

Unlike other large cities, free museums in London abound, from the popular British Museum, to the more obscure British Postal Museum. In fact, these are largely what make London such a cheap UK holiday! Whether you like classic or unique, there’s a museum (or five) for you.

The only money you’ll shell out is for donations or to bring home a souvenir from the gift shop.

You could easily spend your whole trip just visiting museums with no admission fee. It’s perfect for those traveling with little ones, because children can get a taste of culture for however long their attention spans hold, and you’ll always get your money’s worth.

It’s also a great way to fill some free time in your schedule without having to wait in long queues or spend money on entry costs.

5. Immerse Yourself in Tradition

You don’t need to spend money to see the best a city has to offer. As fun as a tour can be, you can be your own tour guide and see amazing British sites and activities on your own that cost absolutely nothing: Changing of the Guards, Ceremony of the Keys and the Horse Guards Parade.

You’ll just need to plan your days around these, since they have specific days and times they occur.

It is easy to see London’s landmarks getting to and from these events. Walk across Tower Bridge, admire Big Ben, explore Picadilly, duck into Harrod’s department store to explore the food stalls and take a break in Trafalgar Square.

There are plenty of budget eats as well that are still considered to be some of the best restaurants in London — food is undoubtedly a part of the culture in any place you’ll visit, so you’ll want to partake.

When you’re on a budget, adding free activities to your trip can help you save money, but also allow you to do more. And sometimes, the things that cost nothing turn out to be the ones that stick out most in your mind when you look back on your vacation.

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