London is notoriously known as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Well, guess where my husband and I are headed for our 10 year wedding anniversary?? Yup, you guessed it…London (and Scotland!!). But if you know me at all, you know I plan to make this trip one that’s filled with interesting things to see and do without spending much money. It can be done, even in London!!
Here’s a sneak peek at what I’m planning for our itinerary and the costs of each.
We already purchased our plane tickets. After looking around for a while, we got a pretty good deal on Delta during Black Friday. Less than $400 round trip per person! That will be leaving the US going to London, then flying out of Edinburgh, Scotland back to the US. (tip: It’s almost always better to do a “multi city” trip when flying, rather than buying two separate one way tickets.)
Accomodation: I’m still working on this. I’ve been scouring my normal discount lodging sites for decent prices in London. We’ll be there the end of April. Now, I know a lot of budget travel blogs tell you to stay in hostels, or couchsurf, etc. And that can be some great advice…for some people. But for me?? I’m in my early 30s, and an introvert…and this is going to be an anniversary trip with my husband…I don’t usually stay in hostels or couch surf. Airbnb could be a good option, but I usually use them for longer stays of a week or more. I’m only spending 2 nights/ 3 days in London….I’m going the regular budget hotel route. I’m hoping for something under $100 night.
We are saving money and time on one night of accomodation by taking a sleeper bus to Edinburgh on our last night in London. That way, we still have the full day in London, don’t have to pay for another hotel, and can sleep while we get driven to Scotland! Plus, I’ve never been on a sleeper bus, so bonus points for a cool new experience!
Our plane is supposed to arrive in Heathrow around 9am. We’re just bringing carry ons (!!), so we’ll head straight to find the National Express. This bus is looking to be the best option of around 6 pounds per person (cheapest in a reasonable amount of time) compared to a taxi or train. It should be about a 40 minute bus ride.
We’ll probably find a place to grab a coffee and bite to eat until…
11am Sandeman’s New Europe free tour. 18 different cities right now. 2.5 hr rain or shine. good way to get the lay of the land and all these popular sites. Be sure to tip as this is where the guides make their money since the tour is free. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the guides and the tours themselves. Meet in front of the Apple Store in Covent Garden.
red phone booths
Now it’ll probably be around 12:30ish and our hotel won’t be ready yet, so we’ll probably grab lunch and have a picnic in St James park (Hyde and Regents are also great park options) across from Buckingham Palace if nice weather.
We’ll definitely go for walk over Tower Bridge for some great pictures. I fell in love with this bridge when I first came to London and can’t wait to go back and see it again. I could literally sit across from it sipping a coffee, (sorry London, I’m not a tea drinker!) people watching, and staring at it in all its majesty for hours.
Then check into hotel and chill for a bit. If I remember correctly, jet lag will probably be hitting hard, lol. But I do remember that we shouldn’t try to take a nap or go to sleep. It’s definitely better to just hold out and sleep at a normal local time.
4pm- see natural history museum? free
630pm- grab a drink at Icebar London– They have these spots in a few different big cities around the world, but I haven’t been to one of them. It’s a bit of a splurge at 16.50 pound/pp, but it’s the experience that sells me. The whole place is made out of ice. (bar top, stools, your cup, etc). They give you a cape and gloves when you go in.
730pm- grab premade dinner from grocery store (Stainsburys is good for cheap premade food)
evening….wander around soho, take it easy, I’m sure we’ll be exhausted and ready to sleep!
10am tower of london 18.90 pound/pp at discount-london.com
noonish- grab snack in armoury cafe in the tower, eat overlooking the thames
2pm- 4pm Do a Harry Potter Walk from London Walks- 10 pounds each (Sat or Sun) (or self guided tour for free whenever we want….or freetoursbyfoot.com M, W, F…i wont be there then)
lunch- fish and chips?
british museum- free
on a sunday 730pm- 930pm Jack the Ripper tour with Donald (be sure it’s Donald) from london walks 10 pounds. 2 hrs
Camden or Bourough Markets- supposedly, they have some of the best food markets around!- free, just cost of food we buy
3pm- Evensong at Westminster Abbey- This is an amazing way to see the Abbey for free and get to watch a service.- free (visiting is 20 pounds..worshipping is free! and a cool experience)
Indian street food- I’ve had many people tell me that I definitely need to try some of this!
Greenwich- stand in 2 different time ones at once!!! (eastern and western hemispheres, one foot in each half of the earth in the courtyard of the royal observatory) Not many places you can do this! – Meridian Line, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark. Land a jumbo jet simulation!!! Chris will love this, 60 pounds for 30 mins, up to 4 ppl, 1 exhibit entrance ticket- 5 pounds for more (10am- last entrance 6:15pm Emirates Aviation Experience) Anniversary present!!
Gordon’s Wine Bar- who doesn’t want to drink wine and eat cheese plates in a cave??? This place looks like something you would normally pass by without noticing too much. Go in the door and down the stairs and you get rewarded with an atmospheric cave and local hangout with decent priced wine and food.
Take the Megabus Gold overnight to Edinburgh. It currently is priced at 45 pounds for 2 people total ($56). The bus leaves London at 10pm and will arrive at the Edinburgh bus station at 6am. You can only book a maximum of 3 months out on Megabus Gold. It’s a relatively new service that they’re offering. An actual sleeper bus. I thought of taking the Caledonian sleeper train as a cool experience, since we haven’t done it before, but it is much more expensive. The bus does not give you the option of having your own private (tiny) room, like the train, but it does give you a lay flat bed with sheets and a pillow. You can either choose the single bed option would be like bunks, or a shared option if you are traveling as a couple, family, or friends. This is more like two small beds pushed together with a tiny divider at the head.
Other things I’d like to check out if we have time and money:
We’ll definitely check out an afternoon tea somewhere. I mean, when in London…..
Sketches- literally, for the bathrooms. Really. Google it.
Cahoots- Old train converted into a restaurant
The London Eye- it is expensive and touristy…but will probably give some awesome views.