London Under 500 USD - How to Plan a Budget Trip to London

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford”.

Okay, before you stereotype me on being a typical wanderlust stuck traveller who dreams of being in London, I confess to be one! Soaking up its brilliant culture, sipping on a hot cuppa like the British do, wandering on its charming streets with a cane and an umbrella and pretending to be Sherlock Holmes has been my secret desires since the age of 10 (Thanks to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). As I grew up, this desire turned into a serious obsession where I want to really save up enough money to take a vacation to London. But trust me; my meagre savings were just not enough to buy a ready-made London Package.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Disheartened yet determined, I decided to take charge of things and I discovered that London can be done on budget too! Of course, you have to bear the cost of flying to London from whichever part of the world you live in (cut it down with these excellent how to find cheap flights hacks) but the rest can be pretty affordable and fitted into a budget of 500 USD (Per person, 3-day trip including sightseeing, accommodation, food and excluding the flights).

So, if you are looking for ideas on how to make the most of a 3-day London trip under 500 USD, these pointers can help you. You can thank me later.

Sightseeing in London

1. London in a Nut-shell - Panoramic Tour of the city

Image Source: Pixabay.com

The never-ending list of places to visit in London is difficult to be squeezed in a short span. The city speaks of art, history and grandeur through its nooks and corners; trust me, a cab ride wouldn’t do justice to its beauty.

How do you do it all? How do you make the most of it in a short span of time and on a shoe-string budget? Take the ride of London sightseeing tours! Not only will it take you through the city on a double-decker bus offering panoramic views but also gives you an option to hop on and hop off any time you want. This ticket is a perfect way to get around in London and admire its landmarks at your own pace. This will also save you a lot of money on transport!

What’s in it for you:

  • Multiple routes and stops
  • Hop-on and hop-off anytime
  • Audio guide in 8+ languages

Price Starts from: 39.23 USD
Tour Duration: 1 day pass

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2. Experience the Royal Panache -Westminster Abbey

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No visit to London can be complete without visiting the Royal highlights of the city that display the heritage of the British Empire. Westminster Abbey - a gothic church, a royal burial ground, the place where the British Coronation ceremony takes place and a venue for royal weddings is one of the must-visit places in London. Huge crowds visit the Abbey every day and finding your way through it can be tricky. Besides, an expert guide to walk you through its history and heritage would be really handy.

Take this Westminster Abbey London Tour that gives you special skip-the-line access via its North Door and comes with a lucid, audio-guide to soak in the experience of the place.

What’s in it for you:

  • Skip-the-line entrance tickets
  • Audio guide in 12 languages

Price starts from: 26.15 USD
Tour Duration: 3 hours

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3. Changing of Guard & Buckingham Palace- Breathing The British Monarchy

Image source: Buckinghumapalace.co.uk

If you have seen London in movies, in pictures and basically anywhere; one of the most iconic landmarks it flaunts is the Buckingham Palace. Rightfully so, this royal residence of the British Monarchs is not only spell-bounding given its stunning architecture but also spells luxury through its huge courtyard and the magnificent Change of Guards ceremony. If you are planning a trip to London between April to July (which is really the best time to visit the city); you’ll be able to catch this spectacular ceremony at the Buckingham Palace.

To save your precious vacation time, money and energy, book this Royal London Tour which will be your buddy to witness the Changing of Guards ceremony along with other spectacular attractions like Buckingham Palace, St James Palace, Admiralty Arch, Change of the Lifeguard Ceremony (involving the Household Cavalry) and St. James Park.

What’s in it for you:

  • Visit to the Spectacular Attractions
  • Expert guide

Price starts from: 19.61 USD
Tour Duration: 2 hours

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These two London tours will suffice your urge to explore the royal monuments of London. If you are looking for more, you can check out the best historical attractions of London.

4. London Eye and Thames River Cruise- London From the Sky

Image Source: Pixabay.com

One of the most visited attractions in London; London Eye assures a panoramic view of the city and serves as a top-notch experience to anyone who takes its ride. A spectacular Giant wheel that overlooks the city, be it your first time visit or not, it can give you a sweet adrenaline rush!

Combine it with a romantic and pristine cruise over the Thames and you’ll have an evening to remember.

You can book the London Eye And Thames River Sightseeing Cruise which will take you on a romantic boat ride as well as an exciting flight of the London Eye. The best part is that, with this tour pass you can enjoy the attractions together or fit them at different times.

What’s in it for you:

  • Thames River cruise with Live commentary
  • Standard entry ticket to London Eye

Price starts from: 51.01 USD
Tour Duration: 1 Day Pass

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5. St. Paul's Cathedral- A Masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Easily one of the most recognisable sights of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral stands on the site of a church dating back to 604 AD and is located on the highest point in the city- the Ludgate Hill. Famous for its dome which is one of the largest in United Kingdom, the Cathedral displays the fantastic work of Sir Christopher Wren who refurbished it after the Great Fire of London.
Visit the hypnotic attraction of London and soak up its history and art. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the city from the hilltop. Book the St Paul's Cathedral Entrance Ticket and amplify the experience with an audio guide in the language of your choice.

What’s in it for you:

  • Entrance ticket
  • Multilingual audio/video guide

Price starts from: 21.80 USD
Tour Duration: 1 Day Pass (Stay time can be decided by the visitor)

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6. Madame Tussauds- For all the Glitz and Glamour

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There would be absolutely no one intending to visit London who doesn’t have Madame Tussauds on their bucket list. Walk in this speciality wax museum and click a picture with your favourite celebrity. Although there are branches of the wax museum dotted all around the world, the one in London cannot be matched to!  A perfect place for a day-out, visit Madame Tussauds with this Madame Tussauds London tour and get a priority entrance including access to Marvel Super Heroes 4D experience.

What’s in it for you:

  • Priority entrance and access to 14 exciting, interactive zones
  • Marvel Superheroes 4D experience inclusion

Price starts from: 37.92 USD
Tour duration: 10 hours

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London Freebies:

This is my favourite part! Combining the best for your budget vacation to London, here’s a list of prime attractions that are absolutely free!

1. Big Ben

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Recognisable, tall, proud and visible from almost anywhere in the city, Big Ben is London’s adorable Clock tower. Clicking a picture with this tower will certify your trip to London and will be a treasure for your travel journal. Constructed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, this tower can only be visited from outside and is hence, totally free! Stand near the Tower of London and you can also enjoy beautiful views of London Eye and Shard Building.

[ Also check out London Itinerary 4 Days ]

2. Parliament Square

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Just at the North-western end of Westminster Abbey is this daunting square that is perfect for an evening hangout or an afternoon people watching session. A venue to significant national events, the Parliament Square offers an essence of London that will make you feel like a local. Overlooking important buildings like houses of parliament, Whitehall, Supreme Court and Westminster Abbey, a stroll in the square will add to your travel memories of London.The twinkling lights lit up the place making it even more prettier!

3. Trafalgar Square

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Another landmark of London, if you haven’t been to Trafalgar, you haven’t really seen London! This prime location of London was known for the host of pigeons that could be spotted here. A venue for major events in the history the area was formerly known as Charing Cross. You can observe the statues like the famous "The Fourth Plinth” and chill on its steps spending a casual time.

4. Piccadilly Circus

Image Source: Pixabay.com

This bustling area is where you can see the plethora of cultures London houses. To meet a real Londoner, you have to be here in the evenings. Locals gather to meet, discuss and debate while tourists flock to experience, there is so much flavour and colour to Piccadilly Circus that you have to live it to believe it!
Other prominent free attractions in London include Museum of London, National Gallery, British museum and all the parks including Hyde Park and Richmond Park.

Total budget for Sightseeing: 202 USD

Accommodation in London:

Thanks to its popularity with tourists coming from all parts of the world, finding a budget accommodation in London is not a problem at all. You can pick from variety of hotels, hostels, guesthouses, bnb’s and apartment rentals the city offers. All you have to do is to be smart enough to pick the right locality to suit your budgets. Some of the best districts in London to find cheap accommodation are Victoria, Kensington, Kings Cross, St Pancras & Euston, Bayswater and Paddington. Family owned Bed and Breakfasts are the cheapest accommodation and can be found well under 60 USD per night per person.

Total budget for Accommodation (3 nights): 180 USD

Food in London:

Being a melting point of people coming from different nationalities, there is hardly any cuisine that you can’t find in London. From authentic English breakfast to fast American, aromatic middle-eastern to Spicy Indian, London has plenty of restaurants catering to different taste-buds and budget.

For a day, the average cost of breakfast, lunch and dinner can round up to 25 USD.

This includes a simple English breakfast, grab-n-go sandwiches/wraps for lunch and a sit-down dinner.

Total budget for Food (3 days): 75 USD

Total budget for 3-day London trip: 457 USD.

Tips on Getting around:

Most of the attractions in London can be covered via the City Sightseeing London Bus ticket covered in the first point. The city of London has a great transport system as well which can be accessed on budget by buying a Travelcard. Alternatively, to traverse through the spirit of the city, you can simply walk between attractions and save money!

Plan a 3-day trip to London on these lines and do it all under 500 USD! I did it, and you can too! Explore this gorgeous city of London, soak in its rich culture and you’ll want to come back for more!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RENUKA SHAHANE RENUKA SHAHANE

Living out of a carry-on and traversing through the labyrinths of Europe, exploring the wilderness of America, divulging the eccentric culture of the Latin world and re-connecting her roots that sprawl in the rustic villages of India is one dream that she sees every single night. Once Lost, Now Found; Renuka is still oscillating between the paths to choose and the dreams to chase. A believer of righteousness, she likes to trust that her life is in accordant with her favourite book.

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