Travel to London on a budget!

Travelling to European countries can definitely be intimidating – especially for budget travellers. But, who says you can’t travel to London on a budget? You’ll be surprised with how much you can do in London without having to burn a hole through your wallet! If you’re interested to find out how you can finally visit the land of red telephone booths and double decker buses on a budget, keep on reading!

What you need to know before your trip:

london on a budget

1. Filipinos need a visa to visit London

The first thing we need to check off our list is a visa! If you’re a Philippine passport holder, you will need a UK Visa in order to enter London. If you aren’t sure how to apply for one, we’ve got a Step-by-Step UK Visa Guide for Filipinos that you can check out!

Having your visa processed will cost each person around Php 6,500 for a Short-term Standard Visitors Visa.

2. Living and travelling to London is expensive!

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, living in London will turn out to be very costly. The exchange rate as of July 2018 is 1 Pound Sterling = 70.80 Philippine Pesos, and on average, daily expenses would cost locals £40 (excluding accommodation, activities and flights). That said, a lot of preparation (and saving) is definitely needed for this trip!

How to get to London:

london on a budget

1. Flights from Manila to London

Fortunately, there are several airlines that offer daily flights from Manila to London – including Philippine Airlines. Direct flights to London would usually be around 14 to 15 hours long, but most airlines such as Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific include a stopover in their Manila to London routes.

2. Identifying the best time to travel

hyde park

More often than not, Filipinos prefer to travel somewhere with a much cooler climate to get away from the warm weather. Fortunately for us, London is relatively cold year-round, with their summers rising up to only around 25°C during the day time.

However, since travelling to London can be quite steep where prices are concerned, we recommend researching more on the best time to travel to get the most out of your trip!

  • Peak Season: April through August for warmer weather
  • Off-peak Season: September through November for slightly cooler weather

3. Comparing prices

One travel hack that’s saved our bank accounts multiple times has been booking ahead of time! As soon as you get that visa (at least 3 months prior your trip), start comparing airline prices for your intended dates of travel! One platform you can refer to is Skyscanner. All you need to do is input where you’re travelling to and your preferred dates, then adjust according to your budget!

Another thing you can do is to compare the airfare prices to the different airlines within England. For instance, there may be cheaper flights flying to Gatwick Airport as opposed to Heathrow airport, so if you’re on a tight budget, this is worth checking!

Here we’ve indicated a mock travel date of October 1 to October 8 for your referral. As you can see, the “Lowest” prices fluctuate from Php 16,000 to Php 17,000 but can go as high as Php 27,000 (one way).

london cheap flights

* Please take note that prices change everyday and per chosen departure date.

Klook Tip: If possible, compare airline prices even before getting your visa to target the travel dates with lower prices.

Where to stay in London:

notting hill london

When looking for an accommodation in London, we highly recommend looking for places outside the city. The closer you get to the city centre, the more expensive the accommodation costs become. But thanks to London’s incredible transportation system, living 20 to 30 minutes away from the city isn’t so bad!

1. Budget-friendly locations in the city

As much as possible, avoid looking for accommodations in Kensington, Chelsea, Notting Hill, Knightsbridge and Brompton. There are the city’s posh areas, and they come with a very expensive price tag, too. Instead, opt for locations such as Shoreditch, Paddington, King’s Cross, and Camden Town – all of which are around 20 to 30 minutes to the city centre via tube!

2. Hostels

hostels london

Budget travellers will not be displeased with the wide selection of hostels in London! With hostels popping up in every corner in Europe, it’s become pretty easy to find a decent hotel within your budget! If you’re serious about budget travelling, dorm room options are offered at Php 900 to Php 1,800 a night! Plus, staying at a hostel will allow you to meet other travellers staying in London, so it’s quite the experience!

However, if you still can’t wrap your head around sharing a space with a stranger, most hostels also have private room options, too!

For hostels under Php 2,000/night, you can check out Clink78, Wombats City Hotel London and Stüdyo Paddington by Bridgestreet.

3. Airbnb

Another option would be to rent out a room or an apartment in London through Airbnb. It’s actually pretty easy to find a place within your budget – just adjust the toggle to your desired budget and choose an apartment of your choice! Do note that it is far more cheaper to rent out a private room as opposed to a whole apartment, so that’s definitely something to consider when budget travelling.

Here are some of the options we found under the Php 2,000/night mark.

* Please note that Airbnb apartment prices fluctuate, so these apartment prices may change.

Klook activities in London that won’t break the bank

1. London Eye

london eye

There’s no better place to capture panoramic views of the city than from the glass pods of the London Eye. Tourists who board this observation wheel have 30 minutes to marvel at the incredible sights and learn about the other attractions seen from inside the pod as well, too. If you’re planning to do this activity, we recommend doing so at night time for colorful views of the city!

2. London City Sightseeing Bus

buckingham palace london

The London City Sightseeing Bus is most cost-efficient way to see London’s main attractions all in one day! Tourists can opt to ride through the whole 150 minutes of the tour of the city, or hop off the bus to explore certain attractions even further! Some of the attractions dotted on the map are the British Museum, the London Eye, Kensington Gardens, and Notting Hill. There are also multiple routes available, so just choose based on preference and you’ll be granted 24 hours to hop on and off the bus!

3. Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour

harry potter warner brothers studio

Harry Potter fan or not, this experience will surely be a magical one! Just an hour away from London, you’ll be able to live out your Wizarding World dreams at the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour! Apart from the original props, costumes, and sets featured in the studio, visitors can also take part in exciting activities and interactive displays such as flying a broomstick in a green screen experience!

4. Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath Day Tour

windsor castle

There are so many great places to see in England, so take the opportunity to travel beyond London and explore! One of the popular day trips include a visit to the Roman Baths in Bath, a visit to the Stonehenge – a prehistoric UNESCO protected site, and a tour of the Windsor Castle!

Free activities in London

1. Museums

tate modern museum london

London’s got some of the best museums in the world – and most of them happen to be free of charge! So if you’re a culture buff or an art lover, you definitely won’t feel guilty for spending half of your trip in one of London’s museums! Now it’s time to free up a day or two in your itinerary for museum hopping at The Tate Modern, British Museum, National Gallery, and Tate Britain to name a few.

2. Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens

kensington gardens

With the British Royal Family residing in the city, visiting some of the Royal residences is almost like a right of passage when in London! Can’t say you’ve been to London without a picture by the crowded gates of Buckingham Palace, right? Afterwards, make your way down to the Kensington Gardens and watch the day go by at this public park located just next to the residence of Will and Kate. Who knows? You might just catch a glimpse of one of the members of the Royal Family!

3. Tower Bridge

london tower bridge

Contrary to popular belief, this is actually not the London Bridge, but it does in fact go down, somehow! Just down the road from the Shard, you’ll be able to walk through one of London’s most iconic attractions! Although there isn’t much to the bridge apart from a great photo opportunity, its surrounding areas are very enjoyable! During the winter time, a Christmas market is set up on one side of the river, and there are multiple boutiques and restaurants connecting the Tower Bridge to the London Tower, too!

4. Regent, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus

piccadilly oxford london

If you’re sticking to a budget, then cross off shopping in London from your list – because it happens to be crazy expensive over here! Many of the brands you’ll see along Regent, Oxford, and Piccadilly are imported, so just stick to window shopping while you’re in this area of town. But if you can shell out a bit on shopping, head on over to TK Maxx or Primark for some affordable pieces!

5. Covent Garden

neal's yard covent garden

Walking around Covent Garden is a treat in itself! Although it is filled with luxurious boutiques and pricey restaurants, you definitely don’t need to cash out in order to enjoy this destination! You can watch the street performances at the Piazza and observe the local life, take endless photos for the gram at Neal’s Yard, or simply just scan through the selection at the market!

6. Notting Hill and Portobello Road

notting hill

You can’t miss a visit to one of London’s swankiest neighbourhoods – Notting Hill. Located on the west side of town, this district’s colourful homes and lively markets lure in both tourists and locals alike! This activity is technically free, since taking photos by strangers’ homes and scanning bookshops won’t cost anything, anyway! But if you find yourself in London on a weekend, make sure to drop by the Portobello market for some food, music, and vintage shopping!

Where to Eat in London

fish and chips london

London is filled with amazing food, so you don’t necessarily have to cash out for a good, hearty meal! There are various food trucks and markets scattered all throughout the city, so you definitely won’t run out of delicious options! To narrow down your options, here are some places to check out for cheap eats:

1. Markets

camden market what to eat lonodn

Stay away from the packaged and processed section of the market, and head on over to the organic produce. If you have a kitchen or a kitchenette, then one cost-efficient thing you can do is to cook your own food! Organic produce in London markets and groceries happen to be pretty inexpensive, so you can definitely use this to your advantage.

Spot the nearest Sainsbury, Waitrose, or Whole Foods from your accommodation and stock up on a week’s worth of food!

You can also make a trip to Camden Market or Borough Market and check out their food selection. These markets are also a great place to have a scrumptious sit-down meal that won’t cost an arm and a leg! A meal in Camden and Borough Market can range anywhere from £3 (Php 210) to £10 (Php 700) with servings enough for one to three people!

2. Pubs

You won’t be able to walk a block in London without passing by at least two pubs, so this means that there’s quite a large selection you can choose from! Pub food tends to be quite cheap (£4 to £12), so if you’ve spotted at least three pubs in your area, you’re pretty much set for your entire trip!

If you can spare a couple of bucks, check out our top picks for pubs and bars around London for a night out!

3. Camden Town

camden town what to eat london

Apart from the wide selection of food at Camden Market, you can also check out the other restaurants and markets in Camden for more food options! Camden Town is known for its more affordable range of food, so you’re bound to find Michelin-worthy dishes here for cheap! Some recommendations within the £3 (Php 210) to £10 (Php 700) budget are Arancini Brothers Factory Café, The Cheese Bar, or Voodoo Ray’s!

4. SoHo

London’s SoHo area is home to a plethora of mouthwatering dishes perfect for any budget! Check out Honi Poke for their signature poke with salmon at just £7.90 (Php 553). If you fancy some Chinese food, Bao and Bun House come highly recommended by locals!

Check out LondonCheapEats for more recommendations on affordable meals in the city! Also, if you purchase an Oyster Card for the duration of your trip, you can also get large discounts on food and drinks with it!

Transportation

1. London Underground

london underground tube

The tube, as it is locally called, is the most commonly used mode of transportation in London, and the cheapest option too. Since every section of London is connected through the tube, you’ll have no problem getting around and checking off your London bucket list!

All you’ll need is an Oyster Card for your transfers. This option is much cheaper than purchasing multiple travel cards per trip especially if you’ll be staying in the city for more than five days. It has an easy top-up feature so you can easily travel throughout the city! As far as your transportation budget would go, a safe amount for daily trips would range from £7 (Php 490) to £10 (Php 700). But don’t worry if you aren’t able to spend it all during you trip! Oyster Card offers refunds for the unused credits.

2. Double Decker Bus

You’ll be glad to know that you can also ride the iconic red double decker bus with an Oyster Card to get to Point A to Point B! So if you’ve already topped up your Oyster Card, all you need to do is figure out what route you’re taking, and hop on the bus! A flat fare of £1.50 (Php 106.2) is applied to all buses.

3. Boris Bikes or Santander Cycles

boris bikes santander cycles

For 24 hours, you can roam around the whole of London with just £2 (Php 140)! Renting out a Boris Bike is a great way to see London and really travel at your own pace. Although it is the cheapest alternative on the list, you will need to return the bike at one of the docking stations near you. Thankfully, there’s over 750 docking stations in London, so there’s a big chance there’s one nearby your accommodation! But if not, you may still need to get a bus to head home.

Budget Breakdown

Budget Breakdown

Price

Visa Processing

6,500

Roundtrip Flight

34,000

     Departure ticket

     16,757

     Return ticket

     16,846

Accommodation

10,000 (Php 2,000/night)

Activities

14,794

     London Eye Ticket

     1,615

     London City Sightseeing Bus

     1,926

     Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour

     5,878

     Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath Day Tour

     5,375

Food

10,500 (Php 1,750/day)

Transportation

4,200 (Php 700/day)

Total

79,097

* We strongly advise tourists to bring more than enough money in case of emergency

Sample 6-day Itinerary

Day 1

Activity

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

London City Sightseeing Tour (Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace)

12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Lunch at The Borough Market

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

London City Sightseeing Tour (Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe)

5:30 to 6:00 PM

London Eye

6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Grocery shopping

Day 2

8:45 AM to 10:05 AM

Transit to Birmingham

10:15 AM to 6:00 PM

Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studios Tour

Day 3

8:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath Day Tour

7:30 to 8:00 PM

Dinner at Pub

Day 4

10:00 AM to 12:00 NN

Saatchi Gallery

12:30 PM to 2:30 PM

Tate Modern

3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

British Museum

5:15 PM to 7:00 PM

Dinner at Camden Market

Day 5

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Notting Hill

12:30 PM to 2:00 PM

Lunch at Portobello Market

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Portobello Market

3:30 PM to 6:00 PM

SoHo + Dinner

Day 6

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Regent/Oxford/Piccadilly Circus

1:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Lunch Camden Market

1:30 PM to 5:30 PM

Picnic at Hyde Park

6:00 PM top 7:00 PM

Covent Garden