London is one of the biggest and most international cities in the world. A major hub for travel and business, London lure’s many to her streets. From historic buildings and museums to vintage markets. World-class restaurants to classic pubs, London has something for everyone. But, just how much does it cost to go to London? Read on to find out.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest a one-week itinerary (7 days and 6 nights) to London. London has plenty to see and do to keep you busy, plus there are some great day trip options as well. Please note that this guide is based on the costs of a single person, so if you are a couple, make sure to double these estimates (except for hotels).
London trip cost
Estimated cost Airfare $600 Accommodations $1,200 Local Transportation $105 Attractions $200 Food and Drink $330 Random Spending $150 Total $2,585 USD
The above estimate is in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, a sign up bonus worth $250 and it comes with airport lounge access.
London is one of the biggest travel hubs in the world which makes it easily accessible and therefore pretty affordable for international travel. London actually has six airports but, unless you are coming from somewhere within Europe, you will likely be flying into either Heathrow or Gatwick. Depending on what you pay for flights, the cost to go to London can vary by a bit.
You can expect to pay around $600 for a return ticket to London from North America. Though, keep in mind that the USA tends to have much better flight deals than Canada does. If you are flying from Canada, taking WestJet can be a good option if you’re travelling with someone as they offer a WestJet companion voucher if you have the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.
London is a very large city and you need to take that into consideration when choosing your accommodations. Understand, the busier and more popular areas will be more expensive because they are more central. While it may be enticing to book something further out of the city, remember that you also need to add in travel time (which can be chaotic during peak rush hours) as well as transportation costs which can be pricey as well.
If you do plan on doing a lot of site-seeing, it’s worth your money to stay somewhere central that you can easily walk around from. That said, staying in zone 2 of the London tube map Is usually cheaper than zone 1 and still convenient.
With that in mind, I’m basing the estimate for the budget based on a hotel in Victoria which is home to a large metro station that also conveniently connects to Gatwick Airport, plus this area has a range of accommodation options for different budgets. To give you an idea, a midrange hotel in this part of the city is about $200 per night.
Looking for some recommendations in the area? Try one of the following:
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
As mentioned above, London is a big city so you will absolutely need to use local transportation to get around. Renting a car is unnecessary, your best bet is to use public transit. Either the bus system or the London underground, ‘the Tube’.
To use public transit, you can buy a local transportation card known as an ‘Oyster Card’. There is a 5GBP fee associated with buying the card (about $6) and then you will need to load it. You can easily re-load the card as needed. So if you want to only start with about 30GBP ($36) you can. You can also get any leftover money back at the end of the trip if you load too much.
Alternatively, you can get an adult 7-day card valid through zones 1-6 for 64.20 GBP which is about $80.
Heathrow Airport is in Zone 6, so that works on the 7-day card. However, Gatwick is not included in one of these zones so add another $25 to cover that fare.
If you’re not buying a 7-day card, try to travel during off-peak hours as it’ll save you a little bit of money.
London has a lot to see and do. From simple sightseeing to see the architecture and buildings including Big Ben, Parliament, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, to attractions and museums, theatre shows and day trips, this is an area where you can definitely spend a lot. So your best bet is to do some research ahead of time and pick and choose wisely.
Some of the most popular paid attractions include:
- The London Eye
- Warner Bros. studio tour
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Westminster Abbey
- The Tower of London
- Churchill War Rooms
The good news is London has lots of great things to see and do for free. There are some very walkable areas including Covent Gardens, along the Thames, around Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, that are all free to wander and look at. There are also plenty of free London museums including the National Gallery, the Science Museum, Tate Britain, The British Museum and more.
If these types of things are more along your line of interest, then you don’t have to budget much for attractions at all. However, if you are coming to London for Broadway shows, to go to Warner Brothers Studio for the Harry Potter Tour, and plan on taking day trips to see sites such as Stonehenge, well then your budget for attractions is going to have to be pretty generous.
If you fall somewhere in the middle, budget about $200 for attractions. You may have to add to this with your random spending fund or you may have some left over. But London definitely has a lot of great things to see and do, some of which are absolutely worth the money.
Food and drink
Food and drink are not cheap in London, but you can find affordable meals. If you are looking to eat on a budget, you’ll find plenty of great options (and not just in terms of grocery stores). From the borough market to Camden, to the market at Brick Lane, you can find some amazing eats for only a few dollars.
That said, there are also plenty of upscale options including afternoon tea at a luxury hotel or a meal at a fine dining establishment. Oh, and of course, we can’t forget the English pubs which fall in the middle.
When it comes to food, London has it all.
I’d say you can easily get away with spending the following:
- Breakfast – $10
- Lunch – $15
- Dinner – $30
Which is equal to about $55 per day. As mentioned above, this can be increased or lowered depending on what you are looking to eat and your budget.
As usual, I recommend having a bit of extra money set aside for random spending. This could be souvenirs or a couple of drinks at a night out, maybe an extra day trip or even cab fare. Since London is an expensive city, I suggest putting aside at least an extra $150 dedicated to random spending.
If you’re from a city that doesn’t have many international brands, you may spend a lot on shopping. The first time I came to London, I spend $300 on clothes alone.
So how much does it cost to go to London? Based on my estimates, you can expect to pay about US $2,585 per person for one week in the capital of England. It’s not a cheap city by any means, but it is a lot of fun with plenty to see and do. For more inspiration, check out my guides to Rome, Dubai, Iceland, Croatia, Canada, Disneyland, Austria and Germany.