A trip to London, England, is on most people’s European bucket list. However, the cost of visiting doesn’t always come cheap.
On average, the cost of one week in London is £1,850 ($2,500) per person, including flights. However, if you’re already in Europe and only need a European flight, then this average cost is reduced down to around £1,500 ($2,000).
Of course, the number of people you travel with, when you travel and how you travel will affect the cost of your trip.
So, I’ve broken everything down in this post to help you understand the costs involved.
However, I’ve also gone ahead and included some potential luxury upgrades and incredible budget alternatives to allow you to adapt this guide to suit your travelling needs.
Table of Contents
- Ground Transport
- Attractions & Entertainment
The cost of your flight (or flights, more on that later) to London will vary and generally depend on when you travel, where you travel from and how you travel.
Typically, a roundtrip flight from somewhere in the US to London will be around $500. However, prices have been known to increase to almost $2,000.
If you live around St. Louis in the centre of the United States, for example, then your flight will be anywhere from $600 – $1,000 on average.
Meanwhile, if you’re a little closer to the West Coast, then the distance you travel to London is less. Therefore you’ll find that flights are generally cheaper, ranging between $450 and $800.
Flights Per Person: £330 – £750 ($400 – $1,000)
How To Save Money on Flights
The cost of international flights to London can vary dramatically.
However, flights are also one of the easiest ways to save money on your vacation without compromising on the experience. You can do this by;
Setting Up Travel Alerts
You can set up alerts with most flight aggregation websites (Google Flights, Hopper, and Kiwi, to name a few) to send you an email when flights to your particular location hit a specific price point or are cheaper than average.
Alternatively, you can look at deal providers such as FareDrop by Youtuber’s Kara and Nate to provide you with alerts on the best flight deals to/from anywhere in the world directly into your inbox.
Consider Alternative Airports
Saving money on flights usually comes down to one of two things;
1. Being in the right place at the right time and finding a deal
2. Being flexible
One way to maximise your flexibility is to consider flying from or to an alternative airport.
However, it’s essential you do the math to ensure you’re really going to save money and that your time spent on the additional travel is worth it.
For example, we recently flew back to London from New York from Newark instead of JFK and saved over £100 each ($135) by doing so.
This change in airport resulted in us leaving the city an hour or two earlier than we otherwise would have and paying slightly more in a shared shuttle bus to the airport instead of simply using the subway.
However, in this case, we decided that the savings we could make in return for the hassle and additional travelling time required were worth it.
Our decision here was a personal one and might not have been worth it to you, depending on your circumstances.
With that being said, should the saving have been flying into Glasgow instead of London, then that would have resulted in us travelling over five hours on the train from Scotland down through the north of England to London.
Therefore, in this case, the time involved and the cost of doing so wouldn’t have been worth it for us personally.
In fact, the trains in the United Kingdom are so expensive that this would have likely cost us more money than we would have saved (more on the cost of domestic travel a little later).
Look For Layovers
Alternatively, you can look for flights with layovers.
Fares with layovers can often save you $100+ if you find the right combination.
However, much like saving money by flying to / from different airports, the cost and hassle involved aren’t always worth it.
Something to consider if you’re looking to save money on flights when travelling to London is how much time this might take out of your trip.
For example, if the layover is six hours and you only have three days in London, that six hours in an airport is a significant time commitment.
Meanwhile, if the saving is $50 and you’re on a ten-hour layover, then the $50 you save on airfare will likely just be spent on mediocre airport food and probably won’t be worth it.
Whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, one of the best ways to save money on flights remains to travel midweek.
Research has shown that flights are cheaper on a Wednesday or a Thursday because fewer people can travel mid-work week.
Of course, this isn’t always suitable for everyone; however, if it is, then you could easily save $50 per person doing so.
Travel In The Off-Season
In the United States, flights generally become more expensive during peak travel times. These include the likes of Christmas, New Year, Spring Break & Thanksgiving, to name a few.
However, London also has a peak season from March through August.
This is when the weather is the nicest (generally dry and sometimes sunny) and when most children in England and the rest of Europe have their summer break.
Travelling outside of this peak season helps you save on the cost of flights, the cost of hotels and spend less time in the queues at major attractions since fewer travellers are visiting.
As a result, when planning your London vacation, consider visiting in the Fall or Winter – Just be sure to pack a coat & umbrella.
Once you’ve got your flights to London booked, the next thing you’re likely to look at is accommodation, and while the average cost of a hotel room in London is around $175 per night, you can find many options both above and below this price.
The three main factors that influence the cost of accommodation in London is;
1. The location
2. The star rating
3. The time of year
Luckily, London isn’t short of accommodation options and has a range of family-friendly hotels, Airbnb’s and even historic luxury boutiques.
While some of the most expensive hotels in the city can reach upwards of $600 per night, you can find budget hostel options for as little as $40.
When it comes to finding a great hotel in London, it comes down to balancing fantastic reviews with a great price with a good location.
After all, the cheapest hotel with the most five-star ratings won’t be worth it if it’s across town and you’re frequently wasting time and money on the underground, buses and taxis.
Hotel Room: £900 ($1,225) – Price based on a double room for seven nights
How To Save Money on Hotels
If you’re on a budget, then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a range of ways you can save on the cost of your accommodation when in London.
After all, if you’re visiting the city for a week, then the cost of accommodation will likely be your most significant expense, and therefore saving just $10 or $20 a night can quickly add up.
Book In Advance
One of the most tried and true ways of saving money on travel is by booking in advance, and this continues to be true when booking accommodation in London.
That’s because booking in advance gives you the most options as the most popular, most affordable places haven’t yet been booked up.
While more options can mean more research, spending the time doing that research can provide you with some real bargains in return.
Look Outside Of Traditional Platforms
Traditionally when we travel, we look to the likes of Booking.com to list out the hotels in the region. This then allows us to filter the results based on our preferences.
However, some of the most popular budget-friendly hotel chains in the United Kingdom aren’t listed on these sites.
Book A Vacation Package
Booking a vacation package online with the likes of Expedia is a great way to quickly and easily save money on your trip to London.
A vacation package, at a minimum, requires you to book a hotel and a flight in a single booking. However, you can also add car hire, transfers to / from the airport and tickets to major attractions.
That being said, booking this way isn’t always cheaper. Therefore it’s essential you compare the cost of the vacation package with the cost of booking each item individually to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Stay In A Hostel
Another fantastic option for saving money on accommodation in London is to stay in a hostel.
Booking a bed in a hostel dorm room ranges from $25 to $50 per night, with private rooms often costing as much as a night in a budget hotel.
In our experience, we’ve found that not only does staying in a hostel allow you to save money on your accommodation, but it also provides you with the chance to meet other like-minded travellers and often save money on food by using the kitchen (available inside most hostels).
Given that London is the capital city of England, the transport methods available are extensive and include the likes of;
- Underground trains (referred to lovingly as “The Tube”)
The type of transport you use is likely going to depend on the journey you’re taking.
For example, if you’ve landed at London Heathrow, then you’ll likely look to take the London Underground into the city as this is the quickest and most affordable option.
Most hotels provide you with information about the nearest tube station, and you can use the Transport For London website to plan your journey in advance so you know how much it’ll cost and any changes you might need to make.
Alternatively, if you’re simply looking to travel from your hotel to the West End, then you might opt to walk, take a taxi, cycle, take the bus or take the tube depending on the distance, the weather and the amount of time you have.
Public transport in London requires you to pay with either a ticket, an Oyster card (a card that you top up with credit and tap before the start of and at the end of every journey) or a contactless bank card.
Given the high fees associated with international transactions, I find that most of our friends who visit London from foreign countries opt to purchase and top-up an Oyster card using cash.
If you’re able to keep your domestic transport in London to a minimum, then a budget of £60 per person for one week is possible, however closer to £100 is more realistic when you factor in the cost of getting to/from the airport.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to include some private transfers and taxi journeys into your week-long vacation, then you’ll easily be looking at upwards of £200 per person.
Ground Transport: £60 – £500 ($80 – $675) per person
How To Save Money on Ground Transport in London
You can use several different cost-cutting methods to save on the cost of transport if you’re looking to visit London on a budget. These include;
Planning Your Trip In Advance
Planning your trip in advance while also allocating time for spontaneity allows you to pick a centrally located hotel, know how long you’ll need in a particular destination and save time & money travelling between attractions.
For example, if you know you want to visit Harrods, Columbia Road Flower Market and Hyde Park on your trip to London, you can map those locations out to see the distance between all three.
Then you can calculate a route that minimises the amount of time (and associated costs) spent travelling between them.
In this case, it might mean going to Harrods on the tube but then walking to Hyde Park (as these two attractions are located within a couple of minutes walking distance of one and other) before catching the tube back to Columbia Road Flower Market.
However, if you don’t plan the outline of your trip to London, then you could end up not knowing that Hyde Park and Harrods are located within walking distance of each other.
Which instead, could leave you going from Hyde Park to the Columbia Road Flower Market before going back over to the Kensington area to visit Harrods.
This lack of planning then results in you wasting a significant amount of time and increases your transport costs.
Invest In An Oyster Card
Buying tickets for each individual journey you take on public transport is not only time consuming it’s also expensive.
Instead, you can simply tap and go with either an Oyster card or with a contactless bank card.
Most international travellers will face additional conversion fees when using a bank card in England. As a result, purchasing and topping up an Oyster card is usually the best combination of saving money and achieving convenient travel.
An Oyster card can also provide you with ease of mind knowing that you have a card dedicated to travel costs, so even if something scary happens (like leaving your debit card at a restaurant), you will still have a way to get home.
Opt For Walking
Another way to save a significant amount of money on your transport costs when in London is choosing to walk instead of taking public or private transport.
London is a very walkable city, and many major attractions can be very close together – and you never know, you might come across a hidden gem on the journey.
Rent A Bike
If you want to make a slightly longer journey across the city, consider renting a city bike.
City bikes (Santander Cycles) can be picked up on the street for as little as £2 for 24 hours and can be an incredibly convenient way to get around without walking long distances or paying for public transport.
Attractions & Entertainment
As if flying, sleeping, and getting around London wasn’t enough, you’re now going to have to start factoring in the cost of seeing some of the most famous sights in the city.
And it’s safe to say that London isn’t short of famous sights.
While some are free, such as the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace, others can cost money.
And with so much to see over your week-long vacation, the cost of seeing it all can quickly add up.
Some of the most popular attractions in London include;
|London Eye||Prices start at £27 per person|
|Buckingham Palace||Visiting outside is free. |
Booking a ticket to see the State Rooms costs £30 per adult.
|St. Paul’s Cathedral||Free to enter for those who wish to worship.|
A cathedral tour costs £18 per person (when booked online in advance)
|Piccadilly Circus||Free, minus any shopping you might do.|
|London Tower Bridge||Visiting outside and crossing the bridge as a pedestrian is free. |
Going up inside the London Tower Bridge is
|Madame Tussauds Wax Museum||Tickets start at £30.50 per adult|
Of course, this list doesn’t include a vast majority of the museums, theatres, restaurants and parks that London offers.
However, I hope it gives you some insight into how the price of visiting these popular attractions in London can vary dramatically.
Attractions: £150 ($200) – £1,000 ($1,350)
How To Save Money On Attractions & Entertainment In London
You don’t have to spend friverlesously on attractions and entertainment to experience the best of London.
Instead, there are several ways you can experience everything the city has to offer on a budget.
Plan Your Trip
Planning your trip to London or at least having an idea as to the attractions you’d like to visit during your trip (and their associated costs) can help you to save money and plan accordingly.
For example, let’s assume you come to London with a blanket budget of £30 ($40) per day to spend on attractions but also decide that you want to visit three major attractions every day during your trip.
In this case, you’ll likely get to London and, after a few days, find that you need to either adjust your budget or adjust your plans significantly to stay on budget or see everything you want to see.
However, if you’d spent extra time before your trip to decide on the vast majority of things you’d like to see during your trip and researching their associated costs then you’d have realised you either needed to set a more realistic budget or reduce your list of attractions with plenty of time to do so.
Visit Free Attractions
Some of London’s best attractions are completely free to visit.
Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that adding these to your London itinerary can really help you reduce your attractions and entertainment costs when visiting the city.
For the complete and most up to date version of free attractions in London, I recommend visiting the official Visit London website.
Look For Discount Days
Planning your trip to London can not only help you to understand the costs involved when it comes to visiting all the attractions on your list, but it can also help you to find potential ways to save.
One of these ways includes visiting attractions on days when entry is cheaper (or free).
Now, not all attractions have this. However, some do, and the easiest way to find out about them is online via the attraction’s website.
Here you’ll also be able to find out about any student discounts, senior discounts, or other discounts for military members, healthcare workers, teachers, or young children.
Book Tickets In Advance
The vast majority of major attractions allow you to save up to 20% on tickets when purchasing tickets in advance.
However, purchasing tickets in advance can take away from some of the spontaneity of your trip and increase the pressure of visiting attractions at a precise time as booking in advance will often require you to specify both a date and time.
We often opt to purchase tickets in advance for a handful of attractions we know we absolutely want to see during our trip into our itinerary.
This is because the money we can save doing so is worth the hassle and lack of flexibility a couple of times during our trip. Again this is a personal choice, and it’ll be up to you to find the right balance between flexibility and saving money during your own trip to London.
Bundle Attraction Tickets Together
Plenty of attractions in London work in partnership with each other and allow visitors to book tickets to multiple attractions at a discount.
An example of this is Madame Tussauds, who has partnered with the London Eye, the SeaLife centre, the London Dungeons & Shrek’s Adventure to allow visitors to save up to 38% when purchasing tickets to multiple attractions.
Name any cuisine or food in the world, and you’ll likely find places serving it here in London. As such, it’s very easy for you to quickly go over budget on food when visiting the English capital.
Therefore, once again we believe that it’s essential to plan your trip accordingly.
For example, if you’re a foodie and looking to check out some of the most luxurious restaurants in the UK, then you’re budget is likely going to be upwards of $80 per person per day.
However, if you’re happy to skip the restaurants altogether in favour of supermarket (grocery stores) food and fast-food chains, then you could comfortably spend around $30 per day instead.
When we travel to London, we like to combine a mix of the two and to achieve that on a budget, we look to many of the pubs and restaurants that offer happy hours, daily specials, and meal deals.
As a result setting your schedule or meal times according to these events can make a big difference in your budget.
While this isn’t something we do for the entire trip, it is something we like to be conscious of and plan in occasionally to ensure we balance spontaneity with good food on a budget.
Food: £23 ($30) – £77 ($100) per person, per day
How To Save Money On Food In London
If food is something you’re happy to save money on during your trip to London, then you could look to follow some of our favourite tips & tricks to do so.
Pick Up A Meal Deal For Lunch
One of our favourite ways to save money in London is to pick up a meal deal for lunch.
A vast majority of supermarkets and food stores allow you to pick up a combination of a sandwich, a snack and a drink for around £5 ($7).
Some of our favourite stores offering these meal deals include;
- Marks & Spencers
- Pret A Manger
Grab A McDonalds
London has its fair share of McDonald’s, and while it may not be the most adventurous and exciting food choice, it’s certainly one way you can save money (or eat some familiar foods) when in London.
For example, a large McDonalds meal is usually around £7 ($10) while a kids meal is about £4 ($6).
Eating at McDonald’s is often a great choice if it’s raining, as most chains have a vast amount of indoor seating.
Alternatively, if you need access to WiFi to plan the rest of your day, then you’ll be pleased to know that all McDonald’s locations offer this for free.
Head To The Markets
London has several different markets across the city, and one of the highlights of visiting as a tourist is the food.
I distinctly remember visiting Camden Market for the first time almost two decades ago now.
And sure, I was blown away by the handmade goods and the funky outfits, but what really had me excited was the range and affordability of the foods sold here.
From Poké bowls to fried chicken, Korean hotdogs to bagels. At most of the major markets in London, you’ll find it all.
Cook At Your Accomodation
If you’re staying in a hostel or an Airbnb, you should have access to a kitchen.
Cooking food yourself while travelling can be laborious; however, it’s a great way to save money and can be ideal if you’re travelling with several allergies.