Year in and year out, the United Kingdom continues to be a top travel destination. It’s home to an exciting mix of history, royalty, modern innovation and iconic culture. This popular travel destination attracts millions of visitors annually and the capital city of London is a centre for tourism and commerce and continually finds itself on the top 10 most visited cities in Europe lists! While the UK is popular, it is also expensive to travel to. Especially for visitors from countries where the currency is not as strong as the pound.
However, just because it can be expensive to visit, doesn’t mean you should be crossing the United Kingdom off of your “where to next?” travel lists! It is possible to travel to the UK on a budget – and still see incredible sites and enjoy amazing experiences! You simply need to learn a few budget savvy tactics and you’ll be on your way.
Take a look at our top tips for travelling the UK on a budget below:
Booking your flights, accommodation and transport as early as possible is one of the biggest money-saving tips to know. Once you have established your trip budget, start looking for flight deals and accommodation specials. Annual sales like Black Friday are a great time to look for travel deals! It is also a good idea to travel during the UK’s low season (usually January to March – the weather is cold and wet and the crowds are much smaller). Shoulder season is another good option – especially when combining the UK with other European destinations.
Are you hoping to see a number of the UK’s top attractions while staying within your budget? Group tours are the way to go! In general, people should budget anywhere between £100 – £200 per day for a trip to the UK. United Kingdom group tour packages offer travellers an affordable and hassle-free way to travel. The accommodation, transport, a number of meals and several exciting activities are included in the tour price. That means all you need to worry about are the flights to and from the UK along with daily spending money and the cost of any optional extras you’d like to include! On group tours, travellers will have the guidance of an experienced tour leader. You’ll also have the opportunity to make friends and meet new people from all over the world.
Transport costs can be some of the biggest blows to your budget when you travel! However, with a bit of forward planning and research, you can keep your transport costs low. When planning travel from city to city in the UK, compare your options. Public transport in the UK is generally reliable. The UK is also a relatively small country so it is easy to see a lot on the road!
Trains are a convenient option with regards to time but they can be expensive. Coaches are the cheapest way to travel around the UK. While coaches are definitely the more affordable option, the drive can sometimes take longer than train trips. National Express and Megabus offer routes across the country. When getting around cities, make your cash stretch further by investing in a transport card (in London, the Oyster cards are super for getting around the city. You can use them on the underground and on the overground buses. Just be sure to check the zones you are travelling between). Keep an eye out for weekend public transport deals. Take note that black cab taxi rides can also teeter on the expensive side. There are a number of discounted airlines available in the UK. If you are thinking about flying, don’t forget to factor in airport travel times, checking-in and collecting your luggage when comparing your transport options.
One significant money-saving tip is to see British cities on foot where possible! Stroll through the historic streets, tranquil parks and bustling city centres. You can even rent a bike and cycle around!
Travel Tip: Public transport is a great option for doing your own sightseeing in big cities like London. Take the bus to see more as you travel from spot to spot.
While the UK is expensive when it comes to accommodation, food and many activities, there is a bonus that it offers travellers many free activities to enjoy! Several museums and galleries offer free entrance to visitors. Some of the most popular include the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate Modern and the British Museum, all in London. In Edinburgh, you can visit the National Museum of Scotland and in Glasgow, you can check out the exhibitions in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Taking time to explore the UK’s beautiful parks and outdoor areas is also free.
By saving on these free activities, you have more money to spend and splurge on things you love! There are a number of things in the UK that will cost you, but are definitely worth it! From Stonehenge and the Tower of London niche interest activities like attending football matches and treating yourself to a fine dining experience! You simply need to decide what you’d like to do and put aside the money for it.
Travel tip: If you are planning on visiting a lot of historic or popular tourist sites, invest in attractions passes to help save money on entrance fees. Take a look at the English Heritage Pass, the National Trust Touring Pass and the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass.
Splurging on expensive meals will (literally) eat into your budget big time! While you don’t need to live on a diet of bread and water, it is a good idea to be smart about spending on food. When in the UK, keep an eye out for meal specials. Many top restaurants offer lunchtime meal deals – this can be a great way to enjoy fine dining in big cities. Pubs food is reasonably priced, hearty and delicious! Pubs also usually offer daily specials and happy hour deals! If you’re staying in a self-catering spot or hostel, try and enjoy some breakfasts there and pack picnic lunches. You can also select accommodation that includes breakfast. Saving here and there will help you budget and treat yourself to a few indulgent dinners!
As in life, when it comes to your budget, things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why it is always a good idea to overestimate how much you are going to spend. Or at least give yourself a buffer for any unplanned expenses. At the end of the trip, you may find you have leftover cash. Use this to spend on a few last-minute souvenirs or put it towards saving for your next trip!
Travel gives you the chance to see new things and enjoy new experiences. Being budget savvy allows you to see more and splurge on activities you really enjoy! Ready to start planning your next United Kingdom trip? Explore our exciting group tours and see bucket-list destinations within your budget!