How much money for a trip to London?

How much money for a trip to London? - Travel for a Living

A question I get asked a lot is how much money you need for a trip to London. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here. How much money you will need for a trip to London depends on many things. Are you travelling alone or in a group? Do you want to travel cheap or in style? Have an on the go sandwich or a sit down three course meal? Want to stay slap bang in the centre of town or fine to commute in every morning? Take cabs or the tube? All those points will heavily influence the budget you need for your London trip. However, I’ve tried to put together some pointers of how much money is needed for a trip to London. 

Let’s get one thing out of the way right from the start. Yes, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In 2023, it ranked as the second most expensive city in Europe after Geneva. And the fourth most expensive city in the world, with New York City leading the table and Hong Kong a close second. 

But even if London can be exorbitant to live in, it doesn’t mean that you can’t afford a weekend trip to London. With a bit of planning and budgeting, a trip to London is easily doable, without breaking the bank. 

So how much money will I need for a two, three or five day trip to London? Read on and find out. 

How expensive is it to get to London? 

There are plenty of ways to get to London. The most popular is flying. With six international airports, there is no shortage of flights to London from pretty much anywhere in the world. 

For those based in Europe, there is also the option of taking the Eurostar from Paris or Brussels. 

But prices for flights vary greatly. And there will be a massive price difference between flying from Germany, the US or somewhere in Asia. Therefore, I’ve decided to leave the flight to London out of my budget planning and focus on the other costs. Keep this in mind when you try and work out how much money you will need for your trip to London.

Accommodation in London

Similar to flights, prices for hotels can vary greatly. You are generally more likely to get a cheaper deal if you book well in advance. And prices will depend on your location. The closer to the centre you are, the higher the price per night. Look for a hotel further outside and you might get a cheaper room. But that might then mean a longer commute and higher prices for public transport. 

I would generally budget with 120-150 GBP a night for a double room without breakfast (so that makes it 60-75 GBP per person). If you travel on your own, a single room might be marginally cheaper than the double room, but most likely not by much. 

Needless to say, for 120-150 GBP / night, we are not talking about a stay at the Mandarin Oriental or the Ritz. We are talking a standard 3-to-4-star hotel.

There are cheaper options available. If you don’t mind sharing a room (and bathroom) with strangers, you can save money on your London trip by booking into a hostel. You will be able to get a bed in a dorm room for around 30-50 GBP a night. 

The very first time I stayed in London on my own (at the tender age of 15…. unimaginable these days), I stayed in a youth hostel in Golders Green. Which back then cost me 9 GBP a night. Yes, I was sharing the room (and ensuite bathroom) with 10 strangers and my friend, but at that age I didn’t mind. Booking into a hotel wouldn’t really have been an option at that age anyways. These days the thought of a dorm room doesn’t sound quite so appealing to me anymore. But I have several friends that are still happy to stay in hostels, so I am not bashing it. And it most certainly is a good way to keep costs down when visiting London. 

Where to find budget friendly accommodation in London? 

It’s been years since I last stayed in a London hotel myself. Therefore, I won’t be able to give too many recommendations for actual hotels. But I am happy to point you in the right direction. To help you find a budget friendly hotel in London. 

As with any city, location is key. And if you have never been, it can be quite tricky to pick the perfect spot. On paper, a location might look super central and convenient, but turns out to be in the worst possible neighbourhood. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (or in my case, wrote the blogpost about it). 

But don’t despair. That is what I am here for. To help you find the best London hotel for your budget. 

Personally, I would tend to book a hotel somewhere in zone 1-3, as that usually means fairly good access to central London. The closer you are to a tube station, the easier it will be to get around. Unless you find a super-duper deal, I would probably not look for a hotel around Soho and the West End. But where should you look instead? 

Kings Cross area

Over the past decade or two, Kings Cross area has had quite a bit of also revamp. And has gone from derelict to trendy. 

What used to feel a little ‘wrong side of tracks’ in the 1990s is now an architectural gem with big flashy head offices, repurposed old industrial buildings and plenty of cafes and restaurants, the area is safe to visit day and night now. 

If you arrive by Eurostar, the Kings Cross / St Pancras area is perfect, as you don’t have to travel further upon arrival in London. 

Plus, King’s Cross St Pancras is one of the main hubs for the London Underground, with six tube lines stopping here. The Piccadilly line means direct access to Heathrow airport, National rail allows direct travel to Gatwick and Luton. 

Stratford area

As the main venue for the London Olympics in 2012, Stratford is another area that has seen major redevelopment in the last 20 years. 

Whilst at first Stratford might seem a little out of the way, you have very good transport links into central London via Central, Jubilee and Elizabeth line. 

Plus, you have the Olympic Park on your doorstep. As well as the Westfield shopping centre (in case you fancy some shopping whilst in London). 

Stratford area is ideal if you are flying into London City airport, as it is just 15 minutes on the DLR. But thanks to the new(ish) Elizabeth Line, you also have a direct route to Heathrow (although it will take just under an hour to actually get across town) 

Paddington / Notting Hill area 

Hopping across town now to the West London area. Before we moved to London, we’ve stayed in the Paddington area pretty much every time we came to London. There are plenty of hotels available around Paddington and Bayswater. As these are usually old town houses that have been converted to hotels, they might be a little dated and probably not the most luxurious. But that doesn’t make them all bad. Just more authentic 😉 

If you are flying into Heathrow, Paddington area is easy to get to. Both the Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth line stop at Paddington. 

And your proximity to Notting Hill means you can get to Portobello Road market early on a Saturday morning. Ahead of the crowds. A big plus in my book. 

Ok, with accommodation sorted, let’s move on. 

How much money for a trip to London? - Travel for a Living

How much money for a trip to London: Getting around 

The easiest (and most budget friendly) way to get around London is by tube and bus. There is a price difference whether you go old school and buy yourself a paper ticket or whether you use an Oyster card or contactless payment card. Personally, I would recommend using contactless, as it is the most convenient option (no need to buy and top up an Oyster card, no need to buy a paper ticket).

If using Oyster or contactless card, the daily price cap (so the maximum amount of money deducted for your travel that day) is 8.50 GBP for zone 1-2 and 10 GBP for zone 1-3. Obviously, if you pick a hotel further outside London, the price cap will be higher. But to keep it easy, let’s calculate 10 GBP a day when putting together the budget for your Londontrip.  

You can save some money by avoiding the tube and sticking to busses only. If doing so, the daily price cap is 5.25 GBP. But be prepared to spend more time on getting around London. 

How expensive is food in London?

With accommodation and transport sorted, let’s move on to food. After all, this is an important point when working out how much money one will need for a trip to London. 

Personally, I would calculate around 10 GBP for breakfast, 10 – 20 GBP for lunch and 20 – 30 GBP for dinner. So somewhere between 40 and 60 GBP a day for food. 

Obviously, you can get it all cheaper, if you are on a very tight budget for your London trip. Or spend a lot more if you fancy some fine dining. 

What food could you get for 40 – 60 GBP a day? Let’s look at this a little closer.


When I calculate 10 GBP for breakfast, this is based on having a coffee and a sandwich at one of the many coffee shops. Or having a fry-up at a local café or a Wetherspoon pub. 

If you want to save some money, you could buy yourself a breakfast at a nearby supermarket. A banana, a pastry and a pot of porridge will cost less than 5 GBP. Pair this with some instant coffee in your hotel room for a budget friendly breakfast. Generally, most hotels in London will come with tea making facilities. Meaning you will have a small kettle, some tea bags and instant coffee in your room. 


When travelling, Mr T and I tend to go for a smaller lunch, then have a nice sit-down dinner in the evening. But this depends on your personal preferences. And sometimes even on the season. If it is cold and/or wet, you might want to have a hot lunch, preferably paired with a warm and comfy spot to sit for an hour or two. Whereas, when travelling in summer, having a little picnic in a park might just hit the spot. 

So, what lunch could you buy for 10 to 20 GBP? 

The cheapest lunch option would be a lunch deal from one of the supermarkets or drugstores. If you head to the chilled food section at Tesco, Boots or Sainsburys, you can get a sandwich or wrap, paired with a snack (from carrots and hummus to a bag of crisps) and a drink for as little as 6 GBP. 

If you buy a sandwich and drink at the likes of Pret or Costa Coffee, this will usually be around 10 GBP. Please note that some cafes will charge different prices for take away or eating in (due to different vat rates). So, if you buy your food take away and sit down in a local park, this will save you money. 

Keep an eye out for lunch deals at some restaurants and pubs. You might be able to find a main and drink (or sometimes even starter, main and drink) from a limited menu for a set price.

And if you don’t feel too adventurous, there are always the fast-food classics like McDonald’s and Burger King, where you will be able to grab lunch for around 10 GBP per person. 


If you fancy a posh night out with cocktails and a three-course meal, you will need to allow for more than 20 to 30 GBP. But to get a ballpark figure when working out how much money you will need for your trip to London, this will give you a good indication. 

A lot of West End restaurants offer pre-theatre meals, where you get two or three courses from a set menu. For example, Côte Brasserie offers a 2-course meal for 17 GBP (or 3 courses for 21 GBP). Which does even allow for a drink without exceeding your budget. And don’t forget, whenever you go out for a meal in England, you can just ask for tap water, which will be free of charge (and no one will look funny at you, it is perfectly normal to order some tap water for the table). 

How much money for a trip to London: Sightseeing

This is the big question mark. It is really difficult to say how much money you will need for sightseeing in London. Some of the big sights are really expensive. The Tower of London currently costs 34.80 GBP per adult. And expect similar prices for the London Eye and Madame Tussaud’s. But not all sightseeing is this expensive, if you plan it right.

My advice would be to make a list of the sights you really want to see, then check prices ahead of your trip to London. Some sights offer early bird tickets (so they are cheaper the earlier you book them). With others you are able to book combination tickets for two or three sights. 

There are also plenty of things that you can do completely for free, like the British Museum or the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. 

If this is your first trip to London and you know you want to see ALL the major sights, it might be worth looking into the option of buying yourself a London Pass for a day or two. At 90 GBP for one day or 125 GBP for two days (per adult), the London Pass doesn’t come cheap. And personally, I’ve never used it, nor have I ever recommended it to any of my friends visiting. You will need to be super organised. And cram as many sights as possible into the very limited time frame to get your money’s worth. Which isn’t really the way I like to travel. I prefer to do one thing a day and take my time to explore a city and get a feel for it. Rather than running around like a headless chicken, ticking off sights at record speed.  

So how much money should you budget for sightseeing in London? 

Let’s say you visit London for 3 days. You’ve never been before and decided that you really want to visit the Tower of London (34.80 GBP), St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey (23 / 27 GBP), the London Eye (33 GBP) and Madame Tussauds (37 GBP). And maybe do a sightseeing bus tour, (37 GBP for the hop-on hop-off bus) as well as a river cruise (15.50 GBP).  Which will add up to around 180-190 GBP. Unfortunately, not all of those sights are actually covered by the London Pass. The London Eye and Madame Tussauds would still require separate booking but are available as a combination ticket (for 54.50 GBP, saving you 15 GBP). 

Personally, I would skip the hop-on hop-off bus tour, as I don’t think it is worth the money. Instead, use London busses (that are included in the daily price cap) to go past all the major sites. 

For the purpose of working out how much money you will need for a trip to London, I would allow around 100-150 GBP per person for 3 days sightseeing. If you stay longer, you might want to add another 50 GBP. 

If you would like to see a West End show in the evening, you would be best advised to look for deals well ahead of your trip. Or alternatively, head to the TKTS ticket booth on Leicester Square on the day and see what left over tickets are available for that evening. You might be able to get tickets for West End musicals for as little as 20-30 GBP/person.

How much money for a trip to London? - Travel for a Living

Any additional money needed for a trip to London?

I focused on the main elements or a city trip when working out how much money you need for a trip to London. In addition, you might also want to allow some money for souvenirs, maybe the odd coffee on the go. And obviously additional funds, if you would like to go on a little shopping spree.  

So how expensive is a trip to London?

Now that we have looked at all the individual costs that you will need to include in your budget for a trip to London, let’s total it up. The below examples are based on two adults travelling together and sharing a hotel room. And as mentioned at the beginning, this does not include the travel costs to get to London. 

How much money for a weekend trip to London?

Accommodation 2 nights150 GBP 
Public transport 3 days30 GBP
Food 3 days120 – 180 GBP
Sightseeing100 – 150 GBP
Total400 – 510 GBP (per person)

How much money for five days in London?

Accommodation 4 nights300 GBP 
Public transport 5 days50 GBP
Food 5 days200 – 300 GBP
Sightseeing150 – 200 GBP
Total700 – 850 GBP (per person)

I hope the total didn’t shock you too much. I know it sounds a lot. But don’t forget, you can bring this down. Yes, you probably can’t do much about the cost of accommodation and public transport. But you are in control when it comes to food and sightseeing.

So, tell me. Now that you have an idea of how much money you would need for a trip to London, are you considering a trip? Or did I scare you off? I hope not. Even if a trip to London isn’t cheap, it is totally worth it.

How much money for a trip to London? - Travel for a Living

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