How To Have The Best Vacation In London On A Tight Budget, According To Rick Steves

Even though London is an expensive place to live, it's a much cheaper place to visit, which is why it attracts so many tourists each year. It also has an incredible history and famous attractions, so it appeals to every type of traveler — including those on a tight budget. If you want advice on visiting this amazing city, then you should take it from someone who knows this place well.

One person who knows London inside and out is trip expert Rick Steves, a writer and travel company owner who has published guidebooks covering Europe. On his website, Rick Steves shares his advice for a cheap trip to the U.K.'s capital. His number one tip is to get yourself an Oyster Card transit pass for the London Underground so you can go all over the city for a discounted price. If you want to enjoy Rick Steves' London on a budget, then there are plenty of additional ways to do it.

More budget tips for London

One essential travel hack for visiting London is to go in the shoulder season when there are fewer tourists and accommodation is discounted (around September-October and March-May). Rick Steves also recommends eating at pubs and street markets to save some bucks. For a cheap meal, try the British classic fish and chips, which is an essential London experience in itself. Find a place where the queue is full of locals to make sure you're in for a delicious treat.

If you want to learn about the history of London, then you can join a free walking tour where you can pay a discretionary tip at the end. There is so much to see by walking around or riding the tube that you could even create your own tour by marking places you'd like to see on a map app. Regardless of what you do, if you book online and in advance, you can often score cheaper tickets to attractions, although there are some expensive tourist traps that could be avoided altogether. According to Steves, two attractions that aren't worth it are the London Dungeon and the lift to the top of The Shard. Thankfully for your budget, some of the best things to do in London won't cost you a penny.

Top free things to do in London

Some of the best free places to visit in London are the museums, according to Rick Steves. This is because the capital has world-class collections that are a reason to visit England on their own. The V&A has incredible fashion, the Science Museum has many interactive elements, and the Natural History Museum has exhibits covering 4.5 billion years of history. Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and Tate Modern, while architecture lovers will enjoy the Design Museum.

London also has some really impressive landscaped parks that you can explore. Some of its most famous ones are St. James Park with its own pelicans, Richmond Park where two types of deer live, and Hyde Park that has a Victorian pet cemetery within its grounds. While most of the churches don't cost anything to see inside, Rick Steves warns that Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral charge admission unless you are attending a service. There is also the iconic changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace that is free to watch. If you play your cards right, you could easily spend a week in London without spending any money on attractions at all.