A Student’s Guide to Experiencing London on the Cheap

My boyfriend and I have certainly been lucky with the places we have visited, particularly our frequent visits to London. However, this isn’t due to us having vast bank accounts – though we both work, we are students*. We’ve picked up lots of techniques for saving money whilst making the most of the big city, so I thought I’d share them.

*aka POOR.

1. Tube? What Tube?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the tube. It’s fast, easy to navigate and goes everywhere you need. However, one thing it is not is cheap. There are options to get a student Oyster card, but this requires a large joining fee, and a lot of extra hassle for students just visiting for the day. The cards themselves cost £10, and journeys are about £2.80 upwards! My solution to this is simple: use your feet! A few weeks ago I was in London alone for the day, and went everywhere, but only got one tube. Admittedly this was a little extreme as I later found out I’d walked 13 miles, but my point still stands. Check the distances between where you are and want to go to see if it’s walkable, and if so you’ll get such a better feel for the city! You truly miss out on a lot being trapped underground.

2. Hotels

I am a big believer in Groupon – Jamie and I once went to Amsterdam for three days for £169 each, flights and hotel incl.! So I’d definitely give that a check before booking a hotel. We’ve also done a one night stay with Omega Holidays which included a trip to Winter Wonderland, transport to and from the hotel and the bus journey there and back for £100! It’s all about shopping around.

3. And while you’re at it, buffets are good for shopping around too! 

Most hotels do breakfast buffets, so make the most of them! Stuff your pockets with bread rolls, pots of jam, fruit, whatever you can get your hands on, grab a seat on the steps of St. Pauls, and hey presto! you’ve got a free picnic! 

Me choosing a step for lunch at St. Pauls…


4. Museums

Tate, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and many more are all FREE! Each one takes up at least half the day, and doubles up as something to do on a rainy day, which there are plenty of in London!
 

Trendy cars at the Science Museum


5. Follow the Happy Hour

Happy hours often differ between bars, so follow it and switch when the hour ends! Share 2 for 1 deals, split bills, etc… Of course, the cheapest way would be to only order soft drinks, but as the title says, this is a student’s guide.

Belushi’s bar in Covent Garden – a bottle of Prosecco is £15 in Happy Hour!! 


6. Don’t pay for what you can already see! 

On my last trip to London, Jamie and I were horrified to have walked four miles to St. Pauls, to find admission was £16 (yes that’s s-i-x-t-e-e-n!!!!)!! Obviously, we did NOT pay. However, we were perfectly happy to walk around the outside of the building, which is truly beautiful! We also nearly paid £7 for a boat trip up the Thames (it was actually a good offer to be honest!), but then thought, what’s the point? We were just going to walk the same way, looking at the same river, but also experience the Thames-side atmosphere by walking. If you don’t need to, don’t pay! 

St. Pauls looked gorgeous enough on the outside, we didn’t mind giving the inside a miss! 


7. Graffiti walks


One of my favourite ways to see London is by following the graffiti. I love Banksy, and you can download tours of his graffiti which take you around Brick Lane, for example. It can take up to a whole day to cover an area, and is a great way to see a part of London you wouldn’t usually see. 

8. Use the bus instead of the tube

Since moving to London, my boyfriend has discovered that just £1 gets you on to any bus, for any number of stops! Yes, that means if you want to get the bus from Embankment to Trafalgar, it’s £1, and if you want to get the bus from SW Kensington to Southbank, it’s also £1. Who needs the tube?!

*photo and edit by me*



Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment with anymore tips you have and let’s change the opinion that ‘London is too expensive for students to visit’!!! 

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