How to See London on $100 a Day

Are you a penny pincher with wanderlust? Don’t fret, here is our guide to seeing and enjoying the home of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye without spending more than $100 a day.
By Emma Levine
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Shaftsbury Avenue, Theatre District, London, England
Shaftsbury Avenue, Theatre District, London, England  (Thinkstock Images)

London: It's one of the world’s most historic cities, filled with opulent museums, historic landmarks, and thriving contemporary culture. If your budget is $100 a day, look up that long-lost relative of yours and ask to sleep on their sofa. Accommodations are very expensive in London, so you won't be able to sleep in a hotel (or B&B or hostel or) and have enough of your $100 budget left over for eating and sightseeing. But hefty accommodation costs are balanced out by a multitude of free and affordable things to see and do. Here’s our guide to getting the best out of historic, vibrant London on the cheap.

Travel for less
The key to using London’s highly effective transportation system is to buy an Oyster card. You’ll pay a refundable £5 deposit (approximately $8) at any London Underground station office for the card. It’s a handy way to pay and adds up to around half the price of buying individual tickets. It’s also good for discounted fares on Thames River catamaran trips. The cheapest option of all London’s motorized transport is the famous red double-decker buses. Sit on the top deck for up-close views of the intricate detailing of the city’s architecture. Visitors can pedal about London’s streets for £1 a day (for use in 30-minute increments) with a Barclay’s Bike, available at drop-off points near most Underground stations. Or, with a decent map and a pair of comfortable shoes, get walking for the best way to see London for free. Cost: $16/day.

Make the most of free attractions
Admission to many of London’s world-class museums and galleries is free. The Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, and Egyptian mummies at the British Museum? Check. Van Gogh’s sunflowers and Rembrandt’s self-portraits at the National Gallery? Got it. The elegant South Kensington neighborhood has the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum and the immense decorative art collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Cork Street in Mayfair is the epicenter of British art, with a string of commercial galleries with ever-changing exhibitions, all open free to the admiring public. An immense old power station houses the Tate Modern and its masterpieces of modernist sculpture and painting right alongside the Thames. Royalty fanatics can watch the famous pomp of the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace for free every morning at 11:30 a.m. (May to July; every other day during the rest of the year). Cost: $0.

Published: 20 Nov 2012 | Last Updated: 7 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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