My budget weekend in London

London on a budget image

A couple of weekends ago I visited my best friend, Liz, in Londonwhere she’s been doing an Internship for several months. “But London costs a fortune!” I hear you cry. Well, yeah, it does. But, it doesn’t mean one has to spend lots of money.

Liz is extremely lucky (even luckier for me!) to be living in Camden Town which made for an awesome weekend in The Big Smoke. Liz is a PHD student so is also on a tight budget so we aimed to have a fun packed weekend but with as little dent on our pocket money as possible.

Here’s how I did it

I booked my tickets 9 weeks in advance

Everyone knows that the earlier you book train tickets, the cheaper they will be. I was flexible with my dates which meant I could search for the cheapest weekend to visit on the East Coast website. I found that it was £1 cheaper per journey to book directly with East Coast than it was on  It was also free to be sent an e-ticket and there was no booking fee, unlike which has a £1.50 booking charge. Booking early meant I was pretty much guaranteed my seating options too. I wanted to be forward facing (so I don’t get dizzy) and be at a table with a socket so I could watch something on my laptop on the journey.

Cost: £26

I used an Oyster Card

Oyster cards are a great way to pay for the tube and buses throughout London. It works out a lot cheaper than paying per journey too.  The credit card sized card can be bought for a deposit of £5 and topped up with money and used for any journey by swiping it at the gates or when you get on the bus.  We travelled to several different areas of London over the weekend and used the tube to get to each place.

Cost: £10.75

An Oyster card

I ate breakfast and dinner at Liz’s flat

Liz and I ate breakfast and cooked dinner at her flat each night rather than hitting the tempting restaurants in order to save money.  Our Saturday meal cost just £1.76 for the both of us! I will post the recipe soon so you can read how we did it.

Cost: £5

I had pack ups for lunch

Both days we made a pack up consisting of sandwiches, bananas, popcorn, and a flask of tea and a reused bottle of water.

Cost: £3

photo of packed lunch

I used an app to look for street art

The Street Art London app uses GPS to show you street art pieces in the area around you. A pin on the app shows the location of each individual piece. When the pin is tapped a small thumbnail appears showing an picture of the art piece. The art changes regularly though so sometimes a piece you are looking for has been painted over, but the app is updated frequently so more often than not the right art is there. 

Cost: £2.99

London street art

I visited the ScienceMuseum and British Museum

I absolutely love museums as you can spend as little or as long as you like wandering and learning at your own pace. My favourite museum in London is the Natural History Museum but both I and Liz have been there several times so we opted to spend most of our time in the Science Museum as Liz hadn’t been before and the last time I went I was 10 years old. And the best bit, they are both free!

Cost: £0

I spent a total of £47.50!

That’s not bad for a weekend in the capital. We may have compromised on fancy cocktails and luscious meals out but it didn’t matter because we spent quality time together while experiencing some amazing culture and sights of Londonwithout spending a silly amount of money.
As for D, he hasn’t quite yet got the hang of ‘doing things on a budget’. After reading this he informed me he went out for several pints, ate a takeaway, and went out for lunch while I was away. Charming! Think we still have a few changes to make.

PS. Do you have any tips for visiting
London on a budget?

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • Anonymous

    Great post – thanks for sharing. Shows that a cheap weekend can be done! Also, don't worry for your partner – it takes time to learn and accept being frugal. My chap is definitely teaching me the Yorkshire way of being careful with money but it's hard going for me and often gets me down. I see the point and our aims etc. and blogs like yours are inspiring to read and to see that other people are doing the same as we are. Keep the posts coming!