So you’re coming to London but your budget is more pizza and beer than champagne and Michelin star chefs? No problem – in fact you’ll have more fun than the jet set! Here’s our guide to a London weekend on a budget.
We’ve worked on the basis of a two night stay – Friday night to Sunday. Transport costs around the city we’ve left for you to budget for (because you can walk, hire bikes, use the underground or download the Uber app – the choice is yours) but we’ll give you some tips to keep costs down. We’ve included a basic amount of food and drink allowance but you may want to top that up depending on your own eating / drinking habits!
6.30 pm: The Bed! And the Welcome
Hopefully you’ll be staying with us at Clink! Not just because of our great value dorm rooms – but also because of our warm welcome and the chance to meet other travellers from around the world. Check our website for our best deals and any special offers. Our two London hostels are both in great central locations close to London’s King’s Cross/ St Pancras Station, giving you easy access to all of London. If you’re visiting London from a Eurozone country, you’ll find that the weak pound means that your euros will go a lot further than before!
CLINK bed £17 x 2 = £34
Total spent so far = £34
7.30pm: Dinner time
If your budget is really tight then get to one of the nearby supermarkets (ask the Clink team where to go) and do your own thing in the Clink Guest Kitchen. A bowl of pasta with some sauce shared with friends is as cheap as chips. But there’s plenty of cheap and tasty options around Clink too. Maybe you’d rather just forget the cooking and get a pizza! Pizza Union is just up the road from Clink and you can get a margarita for a mere £3.95! For that price, we reckon it’s a perfect start to your first night in London.
Order a takeaway and enjoy it at ClashBAR where you can make use of your FREE drink voucher which will have been given to you by our friendly team at reception!
Takeaway pizza = £4
Beer at ClashBAR = Free
Total spend so far = £38
We’ve got loads of events running at ClashBAR! Check out our events schedule to see what’s on during your stay
10pm: The First Night Out! – Nightclubs/pubs/music
It’s your first night in the city and and you’re ready to party. Drinks in most London clubs and pubs are pretty expensive, so we’d suggest sticking around at ClashBAR, our fun and friendly basement venue at Clink78 to have a few with fellow travellers before you head out. (If you’re staying at Clink261 you’re also welcome to come and hang at ClashBAR!)
You don’t need to go too far from Clink to find some great venues. Stay local and head to Camden, only about half an hour’s walk from both Clink78 and Clink261 or just 10 minutes on the underground. Our Clink team will have loads of suggestions on places to go, but a few of our favourites nearby are:
Hosting live rock bands and club nights, this is the place to dance the night away and it’s easy to find in the heart of Camden High Street. Drink prices are reasonable (for London!) with a pint of beer coming in at just under £4. Tickets are usually around £8 for gigs unless there’s something special happening.
‘Where Madness, Travis and Blur first cut their teeth’ (Time Out). This legendary venue is a little rough around the edges, but that’s just how its punters like it. Entry to live music events from £5 to £10, but they are usually well worth the expenditure. The live bands are on earlyish (from around 7.30pm) and then DJ’s afterwards so if you’re not a night owl who wants to party till 3am this could be for you. (Cheap drinks on offer before 6pm and a free game of table tennis so you can get some exercise whilst lifting your pint!)
Find out what’s on when you’re in London and get tickets from £5 online for early entry before 11.30. If you haven’t bought in advance they release 250 early tickets on the door from 10.30. Every Saturday at Soul City they ‘connect the dots between soul, disco, house and more from across the ages.’
Entry to A Venue = allow £10 but if you’re smart it may be less and then the change will buy a beer!
Total spend so far = £48
9.30: Breakfast time
Hopefully you haven’t partied too late and you’re up in time to enjoy a Clink breakfast!
It’s only £1 if you book in advance (or £2 otherwise) so can stock up on a hearty all-you-can-eat breakfast that’ll set you up for the day. There’s cereal, toast, coffee, juice – eat your fill. OK – it’s not a full English, but it’s a great way to get fuel up on a budget. If a full English is a must then there are plenty of café’s nearby.
Breakfast x 2 mornings = £2
Total spend so far = £50
10am: Free Clink Walking Tour
Don’t linger too long over breakfast … head to reception and join the FREE Clink city walking tour with our partners Sandemans. It’s is a great way to start your time in London, meet other travellers and learn a few things from your Clink tour guide. The tour leaves everyday from reception at Clink 78 (10.10am) and Clink 261 (10.20am). Your friendly and knowledgeable guide will collect you from the hostel and show you some of the city’s sights. If you like, you can continue exploring with your fellow guests who are likely to be from all over the world – or you can head off on your own adventure. Ask your guide for advice on anything you want to do – they’ve got great insider tips.
Clink Walking Tour = Free!
1.30pm: Lunch and exploring at one of London’s amazing Markets
After all that walking you’ll need some sustenance and what better place than at one of London’s fantastic markets? You can spend all of Saturday afternoon at any one of these – eating, wandering and people watching. Best of all, you can really spend as much or as little as you like, perfect for anyone making a trip to London on a budget.
Around 10 minutes on the underground or a cheap ½ hour walk from both Clink hostels, the amazing Camden market has something for everyone. From cult cafes, terrace bars, top-notch street food and fresh-baked pastries to an eclectic mix of stores and stalls selling vintage clothing, cool antiques, hand-crafted accessories, unique gifts and everything in between. Perhaps best of all is the people watching, so find yourself a prime spot and watch the weird and wonderful go by. (Pro tip, some of the food stools offer free mini samples!)
If you’re hungry you will find some great cheap eats – just graze as you go! We always head for the street food vendor with the biggest queue ;) All those people can’t be wrong, right?
If you’re a real food lover then head for the amazing foodie haven that is Borough Market. Take the Northern line on the Underground from Kings Cross and get off at London Bridge. Here you’ll find a plethora of cheeses, the best charcuterie, artisan chocolate and baked goods.
Graze on the free samples, from stunning aged gruyere cheese to chocolate to die for – though beware you may be tempted to buy… It does get busy, especially on Saturdays, but it’s worth battling the crowds to indulge in this artisan produce. Borough is open Monday to Saturday, except in the lead up to Christmas when they are also open on a Sunday.
Lunch and a beer or cuppa from a market stall – £8
Total spend so far = £58
7.30 pm: Saturday evening Eats
If you’ve thought ahead, maybe you picked something up at the market that you just couldn’t resist and brought it back to eat at Clink.
If not, then there’s plenty of great places to eat around King’s Cross that won’t break the bank. One of our old favourites is Sen Viet. Located just across the road from Clink, this quirky little Vietnamese restaurant is a proper gem. Food here is hearty and home cooked and a lot of things on the menu come in at under £10.
You can eat in or take your food back to Clink to enjoy.
Dinner + a drink at Sen Viet = £15
Total spend so far = £73
9pm: Saturday Night
The Pub Crawl
If you’re in the mood for partying why not sign up for The Big Night Out Pub Crawl? It does what it says on the tin! Meet your guide at Zoo Too (18 Bear Street, WC2H 7AQ) and head to a selection of quirky London watering holes and some of the biggest bars in the West End, ending at world famous London clubs featuring top DJs and performers. You get to jump the queues and you also get a free shot at five venues and discounted drinks and entry included in the £10 ticket price so it’s amazing value.
Big London Pub Crawl including five shots = £10
for a more low key evening, take the tube to The Embankment and have a stroll along the stunning Thames at night time. A trip on the London Eye is great but prices are hefty at around £25 per person, so just soak up the sights and wander over Westminster Bridge with views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament lit up in splendor.
Sit and have a beer or a glass of wine or a cocktail somewhere along the route and just soak up the night time beauty of London and the river that winds through its heart or just buy a couple of beers from the off-license and sit on a bench by the river!
Drink (or two) by the river = £10 – or less
Total Spend so Far =£83
9.30am: Breakfast time!
Fill up again on breakfast before you early birds head out. There are some great free things to do in London on a Sunday. So if you’re up with the lark then here’s what to do.
10am: Park Life!
London has stunning parks that are a treat for travellers on a budget. Regent’s park is super close to Clink and is totally gorgeous! Visit the rose garden, walk along the boating lake or go over one of the charming bridges. You’ll find it hard to believe you’re in the middle of London! Cycling through the park is great too – see ‘Hire a Bike’ below.
Other stunning London parks are the famous Hyde Park and the adjacent Green Park and St James’ Park. Don’t miss a photo opportunity outside Buckingham Palace! If the Queen is in residence the Royal Standard flag will be flying so give her a wave. All London parks are a haven for joggers, walkers and cyclists. Join the throng! They are very beautiful in autumn and winter.
A visit to the park = Free!
1pm: Sunday Lunch Time!
If the weather’s good you could grab a picnic from the supermarket or let your nose lead you to a street vendor selling something delicious and hang around in the park to munch your way through your goodies.
If the weather’s not so good or if you’ve missed breakfast after a BIG night out then in our opinion there’s only one thing to do … head for a hearty traditional Sunday lunch! The Calthorpe Arms a really traditional London pub does a great one for £7.25. The portions are huge and you won’t need to eat again today or maybe all week! Have that and a pint and you’ll be a happy muncher. Probably best to book though as it’s popular!!
Lunch = £12 – or less if you picnic!
Total spend so far = £95
3pm: Culture time!
Lucky you! You’re in one of the world’s most cultured cities, with some of the greatest museums and art galleries anywhere on the planet. Incredibly, you can visit nearly all of these for free.
Go to The British Museum (at 92,000 sq m the largest museum in the world) to see Egyptian Mummies and the world famous Rosetta Stone. But don’t forget to seek out something different like the rare collection of North Korean poster art. Alternatively, why not check out the Tate Modern for works of art by Savador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Andy Worhol and other famous and less famous artists. There is also the Tate Britain which is home to the Turner Prize nominated works (every 2nd year). Or if science is your thing, why not go to the Science Museum and catch a glimpse of some amazing and often interactive exhibits. Or if you prefer history, then The Imperial War museum is both moving and inspirational.
Trip to Art Gallery or Museum = Free!
Then head back to Clink to pick up your bag and say so long until the next time!
Total Spend for the Weekend = £95!!
Now you just need to add on your own estimate for spend on extra beers/drinks
Plus your fare for getting to London and to Clink from wherever you are!
Our Top Tips
There are many ways to lose money quickly in London! Transport is one of them – so give it some thought before you go. You’ve got options for getting around and here’s our advice.
If you’re planning to move around London a lot then you’re dealing with a big city and the best and cheapest way is an Oyster Travel card. If you’re organised get a Visitor Oyster Card before your visit. Otherwise get an Oyster Card when you arrive. You can get them at most stations. Don’t buy single tickets – they’ll cost you a lot more!
Hire a bike for just £2
Hire one of hundreds of London’s Santander bikes, ride it where you like, then return it to any of the hundreds of docking stations across the city. It costs £2 to access the bikes for 24 hours, and the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. Longer journeys cost £2 for each extra 30 minutes so to keep to your initial £2 just get to your next docking station within 30mins. You hire the bikes at the docking stations using a debit or credit card or download the app Santander Cycles which gives you maps and info on docking stations. So if you want to keep your spend down ensure you stay within your 30min cycle time and head for your destination and the docking station nearest to it.
If you’re feeling energetic then walking in London is of course a cost-effective way to get around. A lot of the things we have included in our itinerary are within easy walking distance of Clink so your best friend will be your old comfiest walking boots or shoes. And you’ll be doing your bit for the environemnt. You’ll see much more than travelling on the underground too! That said, London is a big city so if you’re looking to cover a lot of ground then you’ll likely need to jump on public transport at some point. Environment!
Download the Uber app which will find you a car and a driver who’ll take you where you want to go. Especially if there are two or three of you this can be a great way to travel in London at a reasonable cost. You don’t need cash – but you’ll need a mobile phone as payment is taken via that from the card you use when you register. You book the Uber when you need it – you’ll see where your car is and you’ll know the approximate fare in advance. It’s safe as all journey’s are tracked. London black cabs are expensive. And don’t jump into unmarked un-licenced cars.
Already planning your trip to London? Find out more about Clink78 and Clink261, or visit our group accommodation page to find out more about our rates and best deals.