Sitting as one of the largest cities in the World and capital of England, London is a city which has the potential to offer a truly memorable break for the whole family. Many people have a perception that London is an expensive place to visit however with the value of the Sterling remaining weak and with many offers to take advantage of, it really is possibly to visit London on a budget.

Houses of Parliament

With so many sites and attractions on offer in London it is always a good idea to plan ahead with what you want to do ahead of your visit. The length of your visit will of course dictate how much of London you can see and do therefore it is always a good idea to prioritise where you want to visit and get a feel of the geographical location of sites within London

Paid Attractions

It goes without saying that there are many marvelous attractions in London to visit where you will have to pay an entry fee. There are many, many ways to gain entry to these attractions at a much cheaper price or even for free and we will look at some of these options below:

London Pass

If you are going to make a full day of it and intend to visit many attractions, then the London Pass may be for you as this pass will gain you entry to over 80 London Attractions including:

  • 1 day Hop on, Hop Off Pass – This can be a great way to tour around London and get your bearings to where everything is located. The tour is also informative as it educates on the history of London as you travel around taking in all the sights.
  • Tower of London – The Queens First Palace situated next to River Thames is a famous for housing the Queens Crown Jewels and the phrase “send them to the tower” as many have met their end via execution at the famous tower.
  • Windsor Castle – Visit the oldest and largest lived in castle in the world and also the venue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018. Situated to the west of London the stunning grounds of this castle are well worth a visit.
  • View from the Shard – Built in 2009, this 95 storey glass skyscraper provides stunning views over the London Skyline.
  • London Bridge Experience – One of London’s scariest attractions as you travel back in time to experience the taste and smells of London’s gruesome past.
  • Thames Boat River Cruise – Relax and take in the banks of the Thames as you saunter up and down the Thames on this enjoyable cruise.

London Skyline

There are loads more attractions available with a London Pass and prices start from £69 a day for adults and £49 per child. It is therefore worth considering whether you are going to take advantage of at least a few of these attractions before making a purchase as there are other ways to make a saving.

Tesco Clubcard

If you are an avid shopper at Tesco and collect your Clubcard Loyalty points then you could make big savings when visiting attractions in London especially if you have collected enough points to gain free entry. By collecting Tesco Clubcard points you can gain reduced or free entry to the following attractions:

  • London Zoo – Visit one of the oldest zoo’s in London.
  • Madamme Tussauds – Visit some of the world’s most famous celebrities.
  • Sea Life Centre – Immerse yourself with various species of sea life.
  • Shrek’s Adventure – enjoy themed shows and exciting storytelling.
  • London Eye – Visit the London Eye and take in stunning views of the city of London.
  • London Dungeon – Discover the gruesome history of the London

London Eye and Thames

Please note that you can use your Merlin Entertainment pass for entry to Madamme Tussauds, Shrek’s Adventure, London Eye and Sea Life Centre should you have one.

If you are using your Clubcard Points it is advisable to make enquiries ahead of your visit to ensure that you will be able to use your tickets on the day of your intended visit.

There are also many other ways of gaining discount to many of the attractions around London but again you should carry out your research as many discounts sites such LondonAttractionTickets.com, Wowcher or Groupon will often advertise offers.

If you have a Google Mail account it may also be worth setting up Google Alerts to something along the lines of “London Attraction Offers” which will then lead Google to notify you anytime there is an offer for a London Attraction.

Free Places to Visit in London

When visiting London on a budget with your family the great thing you’ll soon realise is that there are many sites to visits which are free and also many museums you can enter which are free of charge.

Big Ben at dusk

The list is quite exhaustive however below are just a few of the sites you may fancy visiting on a trip to London:

  • A view of Big Ben and Westminster
  • A view of Downing Street
  • A view of Buckingham Palace including changing of the guard
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Convent Garden
  • Cutty Sark
  • Tate Modern
  • National Gallery
  • British Museum
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Hyde Park
  • St James Park

The above list of free attractions is just a snap shot of potential places to visit. Ahead of any visit to the UK’s Capital city it is well worth noting the location of Cutty Sark at Greenwichthe sites you wish to visit and the proximity to each other, how you can reach them via Tube or whether you can walk between each site. Remember the more planning you put into a trip the more you will get out of your trip.

Accommodation

Staying in London especially centrally can be very expensive and can often cost you for one night’s stay the equivalent of what a one week’s stay in Spain would cost. There are ways to get around this and one way is to research your budget hotels such as Travelodge and Premier Inn’s well in advance of your stay to see if there are any offers available. It is also worth researching Air BnB accommodations as these can also offer excellent value for money.

If you are struggling to locate accommodation within the centre of London at a reasonable price then it may be worth looking further afield. When looking to book in London, I will often look at a map of the London Underground to see how far out it extends. I will then commence cross-referencing all budget hotels such as Premier Inn’s or Travelodges which are close to a tube station and also offer car parking before making my booking. For even cheaper prices it is always more beneficial to also go off-peak.

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Eating Out

Eating out in London can definitely be fairly pricey and can quickly leave a big hole in your holiday budget. If you are lucky enough to be staying in an apartment in London then to save money you can always visit a local supermarket to obtain groceries.

If you do not have the luxury of having your own cooking facilities then you will most likely need to eat out. Luckily London is filled with chain restaurants therefore if you are happy to stick to what you know then you will be able to identify a chained restaurant on most streets you walk down.

As with visiting attractions, there is also the potential to use Tesco Clubcard Points when dining out or utilise discount vouchers from online discount sites to make further savings.

Getting There

London is one of the most easily accessible cities and can be accessed by 4 airports (Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Luton) as well as 10 main line train stations, London St Pancras Station is connected to the Eurostar which provides easy access to the continent.

All airports and train stations are serviced by a tube station close by except for London Luton Airport. From London Luton Airport you would have to get on the Luton Airport Parkway service which could have you in the centre of London within half an hour.

Westminster Station

When in London you can ride on the tube on one of 11 lines covering 270 stations to navigate your way round. When riding the London Underground it is recommended to use an Oyster Card with prepaid credit.

There are many advantages to having an Oyster Card as it can assist you in budgeting for your trip; it works out cheaper than paying at the stations plus you can also use it on the bus services and the over ground rail service. Also, when travelling with young children you normally have enough to look out for at a busy station therefore having a card which you just scan provides you with a much more streamlined service.

It is also possible to travel to London by car though as you would expect from a major city, it can be rather congested at times. The city of London is circled by the M25 motorway which can assist you when navigating round and you should also be aware that as you drive into the centre of London that Congestion charges will apply at certain hours.

When travelling into London via car, we will often look for accommodation or a Park and Ride scheme on the outskirts of London and then travel in by rail to avoid the congestion and any unnecessary charges.

==>If you are looking to travel to London on public transport, click here for further information on how to find the best available deal<==

Is it possible to have a budget family break in London

It is definitely possible to have a budget family break to London on a budget however as with most visits to major cities, preparation is key. If you just turn up in London and work out you are likely to running low on the holiday budget fairly quickly. Therefore, before arriving make sure you know what your budget is, what everyone in your family like to do and visit and then research what deals are available and when would be the best time to visit your chosen sites and attractions.

Once your research and preparation is complete, the only thing left to do is to enjoy your visit!

If you have any comments to make regarding the above article, please feel free to leave your comments below and I will endeavour to respond to you.

One thought on “Budget travel to London – How to make your family trip to London affordable

  1. David says:

    Being only a 30 minute train ride away, London is great for day trips with  my family.  I am happy you mentioned the tesco club card as this is how we pay for all our trips.  

    I have never looked into a London pass before though.  This would be a good option when I don’t have the points on my tesco card.  Do you know how much a pass would cost for a family of two adults and one child?

    1. Richard Leaver says:

      Thank you for your comments David. When travelling as a family we find saving our Tesco Club card points is absolutely vital. We also keep our eyes peeled on websites such as HotUkDeals, Wowcher and Groupon for further offers.

      The London Pass’ value definitely increases the more days you purchase for example the cost for 2 adults and 1 child would be the following over a period of time:

      1 day – £187

      2 day – £223

      3 day – £287

      10 day – £405

      Hope this assists.

  2. Emmanuel Buysse says:

    I always wanted to go to London, but it is quite expensive when you take a look to the hotels. There are sites who claims to have low budget prices, and in the end, it turns out to be false or more expensive than what they said.

    Also, the attractions sounds to be nice, I know you have so many there, never knew going to the British Museum is free.

    Thanks for this post, I will certainly take this account when we book it.

    Did you already went to London with a minimal budget?

    1. Richard Leaver says:

      Hi Emmanuel,

      Yes, London is very expensive and to get a hotel centrally you generally either have to book early or look to go at an off peak time such as the midst of winter in February. 

      I have had the pleasure of going to London on many occasions both before having children and as a family. As I reside in the UK and arrive from a northerly direction I always look for a budget hotel such as a Premier Inn or a Travelodge situated towards the end of a tube line and near a tube station t the North end of London. 

      A couple of quick recommendations would be a Travelodge situated near to Wembley Stadium which is reasonable when there isn’t an event on or the Premier Inn located at Watford. However there are many to choose from and it would be worth checking out their specific sites.

  3. Donald says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit London but so far have not had an opportunity.  I find your article very informative.  I like the way your present a list of things to do and see in London.

    Questions though.  You mentioned the London Pass.  Is that only valid for a day? and have you any idea of the cost for this pass?

    I’m also very curious as to what the London Eye is.  You have a picture in your article of a circular construct right against the river.  Is that what they call the London Eye?

    1. admin says:

      Thank you for kind words Donald. Firstly the London Eye is in essence a big wheel with many capsules attached situated next to the River Thames. As the wheel circles round you are then provided with amazing views over the Greater London area.

      You can purchase the London Pass for up to 10 days. The more days you purchase the greater value for money the pass becomes. For example a 1 day pass will currently cost an adult £69 and a child £49. For a 3 day pass there is currently an offer where it is £105 for an adult and £77 for a child which is less than double the cost of a 1 day pass.

  4. Christopher says:

    Hi Richard:

    I’ve been to London but it was a very long time ago (I live in the western US). And yes, I’ve always thought of it as very, very expensive!

    When I was there, the Shard wasn’t even close to being a concept. If I were in London now, this would be one of the first places I’d go in order to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole thing. 

    The thing I remember most about London was traveling around in the tube. 

    Back then, I was just a young kid without much money so I ended up just walking around a lot and seeing the sights that way.

    Anyway, I’ve always wanted to return and your ideas are good ones to keep in mind. Thank you for letting us know!

    1. Richard Leaver says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Yes, London is expensive and definitely one of the most expensive places in the UK however with a little bit of research prior to travelling you could definitely make any potential trip much cheaper.

      The Shard is a fantastic place to take in views of London and would be one of the first places to head to for on a clear day for a panoramic views over the whole of London. For overall experiences you can also get fantastic views from the London eye or if you are a little bit of a daredevil you could climb to the top of the O2 (formerly Millenium Dome) for great views across the River Thames and Central London.

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