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London vacation for under RM1250: budget travel guide

Global capital of all things cool, London is home to the world's best-known royal family and is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet. Take a vacation to England's capital and see extraordinary history, amazing pageantry and dance the night away before shopping for artisan food at the city's famed markets. You can enjoy the best of British on your holiday without breaking the bank with Skyscanner’s budget guide to London!

Length of stay: 3 days/2 nights

Accommodation: Palmer’s Lodge, two nights for approx. RM215

What to see in London: The British Museum, Changing of the Guard, the London Eye, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park

What to do in London: Catch a gig in Camden Town, visit Borough Market, shop at Brick Lane Market, attend a free dance class, have rooftop drinks, a meal at the Mayflower Pub overlooking the Thames.

Food and drink: approx. RM370

Tickets: approx. RM500

Transport: approx. RM150

Total for 3 days & 2 nights: approx. RM1235

Compare & book cheap flights to London here

Book London hotels here

What to know before you go

Best time to visit London: September, as the weather is not too cool and perfect for beating the tourist crowds. London is livelier in the summer though, with more daylight and evenings spent outdoors as much as possible.

Getting around in London: Before you head to the United Kingdom, or as soon as you arrive, purchase a Visitor Oyster card for significant savings on transport in London. A Visitor Oyster card is preloaded with cash, can be topped up at machines in stations and can be purchased from overseas. Using a Visitor Oyster card you can hop on the tube at Heathrow Airport and head to your chosen destination in London for around RM28 (GBP5.10). Visit here to buy your Visitor Oyster card.

Where to stay in London on a budget

Palmer’s Lodge

Award-winning hostel in a listed red brick Victorian building in affluent and trendy Swiss Cottage, this place has oodles of charm with repurposed furniture, wooden staircases, antiques and light and airy rooms including some with authentic antique curtained four-poster beds. There’s a dark and atmospheric bar in the old chapel and a café serving up tasty grub in the scullery. The single sex and mixed dorms are exceptional value for London and there are a few comfy double rooms available for couples.

Address: 40 College Crescent NW3

Beds from: approx. RM107 (GBP19)

Nearest tube station: Swiss Cottage

Book Palmer’s Lodge and other London hotels here

Day 1

1a. See: The British Museum

If there’s one museum in the world you have to visit, this is it. Established in 1753, it houses over 8 million pieces from all continents and details human culture from the dawn of time until now. It’s quite easy to find yourself lost among the statues of ancient Rome or Egypt before plunging into the mysteries of the Mayans. There are a number of disputed items here including the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone and the Diamond Sutra which occasionally rear their heads in diplomatic disputes. This place will astound you with its wealth of knowledge. Tip: Don’t try to see everything, just pick a few areas you’re most interested in and spend more time in those galleries.

Ticket: Free

Address: Great Russell Street

Opening hours: Monday–Thursday 10am–5:30pm; Friday 10am–8:30pm.

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road and Holborn

Website: British Museum

1b. Do: St James Park

St James’s Park is the oldest of the eight royal parks in London and is right on the Queen’s doorstep with the Mall connecting Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square. The bridge over the lake is a fantastic place for photographers with stunning views of Buckingham Palace. If you’re visiting in June, catch Trooping the Colour, a spectacular display of pageantry in which the Queen inspects the troops and the ‘colour’ or flag of each battalion is ‘trooped’ or carried through the ranks. At the conclusion of the event, the Queen leads the troops down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. In 2017, Trooping the Colour will be held on June 17, though there are rehearsals on the two Saturdays leading up to the event that the public can watch.

Ticket: Free

Address: Horse Guards Road

Opening Hours: Daily 5am–midnight

Nearest tube station: St James’s Park

Website:Royal Parks

1c. See: Buckingham Palace

Dating back to the early 1700s, Buckingham Palace is one of the best-known buildings on earth and one of the last few functioning royal palaces left in the world. The best time of year to visit is over the summer months when visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard which takes place daily outside the palace from April to July, and then on alternate dates for the rest of the year. It’s a great display of tradition with a full marching band playing as the Old Guard is replaced by the New Guard. During the late summer months of August and September, the Queen makes her way to Scotland and the 19 state rooms used for entertaining dignitaries from around the world are thrown open to the public. These magnificent rooms are decorated with masterpieces from Rembrandt and Rubens and gorgeous antique French and English furniture. The garden with over 300 species of wildflower is also open to visits where tourists can revel in this oasis in the heart of the city.

Tickets: from approx. RM117 (GBP21)

Address: London SW1A 1AA

Opening hours: 22 Jul–31 Aug, 9:30am–7:30pm daily

Nearest tube station: St James’s Park

Website: Buckingham Palace

Check the schedule of Changing of the Guard here

Soliders marching outside wall of palace

Check out the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace. Photo credit: Gabriel Villena / Flickr

1d. Eat and drink: Visit the Mayflower Pub and Thames Path

A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to that cornerstone of British life, the pub. The Mayflower is a gorgeous city pub with a history stretching back to the 16th century and located on the site where the original pilgrims’ boat, the Mayflower, was moored before setting off to the Americas. Revel in the hanging lamps and the views over the Thames as you sip on one of the many top quality ales. Even if you aren’t here for the beers, you can get some fine British cuisine – indulge in English cheeses and English classics like sticky toffee pudding. To work off those excess calories, follow the signs outside the pub to the Thames Path, a path running about 300 kilometers along the Thames from Cirencester to Greenwich. The stretch by the Mayflower leads down to the London icon, Tower Bridge, and goes through Rotherhithe, an area of London that has managed to retain a historic village charm.

Mayflower Pub

Dishes from: approx. RM39 (GBP7)

Address: 117 Rotherhithe Street

Opening hours: Daily 11am–11pm

Nearest tube station: Canada Water

1e. Do: Catch a gig in Camden Town

Round off your first day with a rock n roll ending in super cool Camden Town. As soon as you get out of the tube, you’ll know you’re somewhere a tad alternative. Buskers, street food stands and hipsters rubbing shoulders mark this place as a gathering ground for restless souls. By day, browse market stalls and record shops, or sit by Camden Lock and people watch. By night, the bars and clubs are heaving, and where you can catch some of the best up and coming bands in the land. Notable venues include Camden Assembly (formerly know as TheBarfly), which has hosted Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand, and leading rock venue, Roundhouse, which found fame hosting legendary Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, and still now pulls in the crowds with A-listers like The Foo Fighters and Paul Weller.

Tickets for gigs: start from approx. RM39 (GBP7)

The Camden Assembly

Address: 49 Chalk Farm Road

Round House

Address: Chalk Farm Road

Nearest tube station: Camden Town or Chalk Farm

Compare & book cheap flights to London here

Day 2

2a. See: Borough Market

Get up bright and early to get the best out of Borough Market, the city’s most renowned food market and a haven for small independent merchants selling high-quality British produce. The market has been going for over 1000 years and is still the busiest and most exciting in London. Wander round to try the free samples of oils, breads, meats and fish or attend a workshop, demonstration or food tasting. The challenge here is to restrain yourself from over-eating because it all looks so good!

Borough Market

Address: 8 Southwark Street

Opening hours: Lunch market: Monday–Tuesday 10am–5pm; Full market: Wednesday–Thursday 10am–5pm; Friday 10am–6pm; Saturday 8am–5pm. Closed on Sundays.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

2b. See: Tower of London

We know it’s a bit of a tourist trap but it’s also one of the most engaging historical sites in London. Built after the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Tower was initially a symbol of oppression in London. It was used as a prison for many centuries and has been the scene of several key historical events including the execution of Anne Boleyn and the imprisonment of Elizabeth I before she became queen. Get here early to try and beat the queues and make your first stop the Crown Jewels, a collection of more than 100 jewels and ritualistic objects including the stunning crowns orbs and sceptres used by monarchs during their coronation. The second biggest draw here is the armoury with its archaic tools of maiming and destruction. Join free tours led by the iconic beefeaters! Ghost hunters will be interested to know that the Tower is reputed to be haunted by Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, and Anne Boleyn, who walks around the Tower with her head tucked under her arm.

Tickets: buy online at RM134 (GBP24), or RM105 (GBP19) with student card.

Address: London EC3N 4AB

Opening hours: Tuesday–Saturday 9am–5:30pm; Sunday and Monday 10am–5:30pm.

Nearest tube station: Tower Hill

Website: Tower of London

2c. Eat: Manze’s Pie and Mash

Finding a local classic in a multicultural city like London is a joy. Old fashioned cockney dish pie and mash is becoming increasingly challenging to find in London so make the pilgrimage to Manze’s for marble tables, a lively ambience and a true taste of London. The restaurant opened in 1902 and is run by the grandchild of the original owner. Order a chicken or beef pie, along with a side order of jellied eels or cockles and douse the whole plate in a chilli-infused vinegar for extra kick.

Dishes from: approx. RM18 (GBP3.30)

Address: 87 Tower Bridge Road

Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–2:30pm

Nearest tube station: Tower Hill

Website: Manze’s

2d. Do: St Paul’s Cathedral

One of the most recognisable sites in the City of London, St Paul’s cathedral was designed by Christopher Wren and completed in 1720. It is a symbol of London overcoming adversity as it rose up from the ashes, survived the Blitz in the Second World War and was the highest building in London until 1962. The Cathedral is well placed in British national identity having hosted the funerals of Lord Nelon and Winston Churchill, as well as the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Be awed by extraordinary art and the murals and memorials to Wellington and William Blake. Head up to the Whispering Gallery to experience the extraordinary acoustics before checking out the views from the Golden Gallery too.

Tickets: approx. RM100 (GBP18) (or approx. RM90/GBP16 for students). Enjoy a GBP2 discount by booking online.

Address: St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard

Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 8:30am–4:30pm

Nearest tube station: St Paul’s

Website: St Paul’s Cathedral

![St Paul’s Cathedral](https://content.skyscnr.com/de8db4b7dff59708e9fee641f1928eb6/GettyImages-468903912.jpg "Marvel at what was the highest building in London until 1962)

Marvel at what was the highest building in London until 1962.

2e. Do: Hang out in Peckham

Peckham is one of London’s up and coming areas filled with trendy bars, restaurants and healthy multiculturalism. There are African supermarkets and cafes worth exploring too. Check out the CLF Art Café (also known as the Bussey building) which is an eclectic arts venue during the day, and host to live music and clubs after dark with some of London’s best soul and funk nights. In the summer, the rooftop is open for movie screenings, outdoors parties and free dance classes under the stars. In the summer months, visit Frank’s, a rooftop café located on the top of a 10-storey carpark, that’s popular with people all over the city for its drinks, stunning sunset views and festive vibes.

CLF Art Cafe

Address: 133 Rye Lane

Frank's

Address: Cerise Road, 10th Floor Multistorey Car Park

Getting there: Take the overground train to Peckham Rye from London Bridge or London Victoria

Compare & book cheap flights to London here

Day 3

3a. See: Brick Lane Market

Formerly a simple bric-a-brac market, the gentrification of Spitalfields has led to the more eccentric traders moving out of that area and into Brick Lane, the city’s Bangladeshi hub – bringing with them a host of eclectic stalls that make for a rewarding morning of picking through vintage clothes, retro furniture and original craftwork, all whilst engaging in quality snacking and some of the best Ethiopian coffee in the city. The best time to come is early on a Sunday morning when there are still lots of bargains to be had. The markets generally slow down in the late afternoon. In summer, you’ll also stumble across impromptu live music sessions and food festivals.

Ticket: Free

Address: 91 Brick Lane

Opening hours: Daily 8am–5pm. The best day to be here is a Sunday.

Nearest tube station: Aldgate East

Website: Brick Lane

3b. See: London Eye

Say goodbye to London from this fantastic 135-metre landmark that offers stunning views over the city and the hills beyond towards Windsor Castle 40 kilometres away. A full circuit takes around 30 minutes to complete as it moves at a stately 1 kilometre an hour. There’s a touchscreen monitor filled with facts to ensure an informative ride. Look down and marvel at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and to the west, trains packed with commuters snake their way out of the city to the surrounding suburbs and towns. From the London Eye, you can see what a green city London is with its parks, trees and palace gardens. Get your camera ready as you bid a fond farewell to this awesome city.

Tickets: Book online here at London Eye for the best prices approx. RM131 (GBP23.45)

Address: Westminster Bridge Road

Opening hours: Changes monthly. Check their website for details.

Nearest tube station: Westminster

Compare & book cheap flights to London here

Book London hotels here

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Originally published on 26 Jan 2016 and updated in May 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.

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