Spending Christmas in London on a Budget
I’m going to London this weekend! I’m seeing my sister and her husband, and I’ve also planned some shopping and activities for me and my boyfriend to do whilst we’re there. After doing some research, I thought I’d share what I’ve found for you guys, just in case you’re visiting London this Christmas as well and would love some pointers on activities!
SORT OUT THE BASICS
There are four basic ingredients to consider, before planning your trip to London, I find. You need to make sure that costs don’t spiral out of control; so plan in advance how to get there, where to eat, where to sleep, and how to get around. Getting to London is reasonably inexpensive. There trains you can get throughout the UK that will get you into the centre of London within just a few hours, and if tickets are booked in advance, fares can be as low as £5. With Virgin, you can also save up to £50 by booking weeks in advance.
Saying that, finding a cheap place to stay in London can be challenging. An ideal option would be to stay with a friend (I stay with my sister), though in the same vein you can always find homestay accommodation in London at a reasonable price. This trend has skyrocketed in recent years, where you can host someone in your spare room, for a small(ish) fee.
Now, eating in London can be pricy, but the majority of chain restaurants are the same price as elsewhere in the UK, and many offer special offers – such as buy one get one free. Personally, I like to find the hidden gems in the city and try out the new food they have on offer, for example, I’m 100% checking out this place at the weekend…. If you eat out a lot, you should also look into getting a TasteCard, which gives you up to date offers and codes to use at your favourite restaurants around the UK.
Getting around London is surprisingly inexpensive, or at least, good value considering the frequency and efficiency of the tube. You may want to consider getting an Oyster Card in order to receive the lowest fares, though, nowadays if you have a contactless bank card you can use this in the same way as an Oyster Card.
Now, let’s look at some Cheap Activities you can do this Christmas in London…
There are several open air ice skating rinks dotted around prominent locations throughout London. Whilst skating itself can be a little pricey, going there as a spectator, with some mulled wine and street food can be a very atmospheric way to spend an hour. Canary Wharf Ice Rink is housed in an extravagant surrounding nestled amongst skyscrapers. There is a pop-up food fair at Broadgate Ice Rink serving several seasonal favourites. This weekend I’m visiting Winter Wonderland. Free to enter, the Wonderland is in Hyde Park and boasts an impressive ice rink, for which you can buy tickets for online.
Some of the best places to see Christmas Lights are, unfortunately, some of the busiest places too. If you head to Oxford Street, Covent Garden, or Regent Street you won’t be disappointed with the extent of the display, you will however, be somewhat crowded in amongst the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers. For an alternative, head to the South Bank where the riverside is beautifully illuminated and it’s a great place to visit The Tate Modern and some great bars.
Winter Wonderland, as the name suggests, is one of the biggest Christmas Markets in London, set in Hyde Park, there are over 200 cabins overflowing with festive treats. Or, if you’re not feeling the Winter Wonderland attractions, The South Bank is a more relaxed affair, with many locals in attendance, and a slightly older hipster crowd (if that’s what you’re into…)