London is an amazingly vibrant city with so much to do! If you’re thinking of visiting for a weekend and on a budget – this is the only weekend in London guide you need! I’ve even included a free map!
Accommodation in London
London hotels have a reputation for being quite expensive, especially if you want to stay in a good location. However, if you’re only visiting for a weekend, then you probably need something basic but still safe and with easy access. Below, I’ve listed some reasonably priced hotels that I’ve used in the past and had great experiences with.
- Premier Inn, London Brixton. There are lots of Premier Inn’s in London, however, the Brixton Premier Inn is one of the best-priced ones. One night can cost as little as £50 – that included flex (pay now or on arrival with free cancellation till the day) and advanced (pay now, free cancellation up to 28 days in advance). The rooms are very big, clean and spacious. There is free Wi-Fi, a TV and coffee/tea facilities, as well as being wheelchair accessible. It’s in a more quiet area of London but is still just as accessible as the closest tube station, Brixton, which is just a 2-minute walk. It is an amazing place to stay if you have a gig at the O2 Academy as it’s just down the road!
- The Z Hotel, Tottenham Court Road. This is another basic, yet cheap, convenient and safe place to stay. The location is more central as it is located in the Soho district, therefore if you don’t mind the outside being a bit busy then I recommend The Z Hotel. It is a 6-minute walk from Oxford Circus Underground and has free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour desk and a restaurant. It would be ideal for anyone who wants to stay in the centre of all the excitement London has to offer. Rooms cost as little as £50 per night.
- Holiday Inn Express, London Royal Docklands. This hotel is perfect for people who want to stay on the outskirts of the city centre. Rooms cost as little as £66 per night and is located next to the Canning Town Underground. It is important to note that this hotel is also located near London City International Airport so it may be a bit noisy for some, however would be perfect if you are flying from or into this airport. It is near the Emirates Cable Car, which makes for a memorable experience. There is even a breakfast buffet included in the price!
- The London Bridge Hostel (Capsule Hotel!). This is the only hotel on the list that I haven’t visited but I really want to! It is the UK’s first capsule hotel and costs as little as £30 per night – including free breakfast! It is located near the London Eye and Borough Market which makes it very convenient to get to and get around. The hostel offers free walking tours, a bar, live music and much more. I would very much recommend this hostel if you’re up for trying something new and if you’ve stayed in a hostel before. I’ve heard that some people can find capsule hotels a bit claustrophobic so if you think you would also, then maybe choose to stay in one of their dorms.
Airbnb is another excellent option for a weekend in London. The cheapest Airbnb’s in London are usually a room in someone’s house – which may not be everyone’s favourite thing. However, I found it to be very good and convenient when I tried it. The room cost me £40 for two nights, which was a fantastic deal. I felt safe and secure, and the host was very respectful and unintrusive. I stayed in Canada Water, which was very safe and quiet – I even saw a cute fox! Therefore, I would recommend looking on Airbnb if hotels are a bit out of your price range or if you want something more homely.
Transport in London
The London Underground is one of the most convenient and well-known ways to travel around London. If you’re new to London, I recommend using the app London Tube Map by MapLabs as you can put in your starting location and destination, and it will calculate the fastest route to take and tell you where to change.
I recommend using a contactless card/ google pay/ apple pay as this is the quickest and cheapest thing to pay with. When entering and exiting the Underground, all you need to do is scan it at the barrier, like a train ticket. If using contactless, your journey will be capped at £8.70 (*2021) for zone 1-3, which means that you can travel as much as you want and not pay more than the cap. If you have a contactless card, do not buy an oyster card as it does the same – you will just be losing money to purchase one. There is also a night tube service, but this runs only for specific routes and only on Friday nights and Saturday nights.
Be aware that there are often strikes on the Underground, so always have a backup route.
Like the Underground, the bus is also capped but is slightly cheaper. It costs £1.55 per journey, and the cap is £4.65. However, the bus does take longer. It is essential to say that the bus is contactless and does not take cash. The app London Live Bus Countdown by Mobicia is beneficial when working out what bus routes to take and arrival times.
I would recommend taking the bus if you want to see London for cheap, as they often drive past famous sights and if you have a window seat, you will see them. The bus is more relaxing for me as I hate how loud the Underground is. I have an overactive imagination when taking the Underground, which leads to anxiety if you understand where I’m coming from. It is also an iconic staple of London, so if you’re a first-time visitor, then it’s a must!
Uber is another convenient way to get around London. It can definitely be more expensive than the Underground or the bus, but it is very convenient for night travel and can feel safer.
There is even the option to take an Uber boat along the Thames, which stops at 23 piers. You can use the Uber app, pay by contactless/ Oyster, and buy a ticket. The prices cost as little as £4.60 – £21.30. I’d recommend it if you are travelling in the summer.
Things To Do in London
There are billions of fun things to do in the capital to suit all budgets and interests. I’ve categorised some things to do in this section, from cheap to quirky and unknown.
- Tate Modern is one of the most interesting art galleries in London. They host a variety of free exhibits as well as some with paid entry. You don’t need to be an art expert to visit as there are plenty of cool things for everyone to witness.
- London Mithraeum is a Roman Temple of Mithras, which is located in the cellar of a building owned by Bloomberg. I won’t say too much, but it’s definitely something you wouldn’t expect to see in London!
- The Barbican Conservatory is a big roof conservatory filled with fish, birds, trees and plants. In order to gain entry, you need to book online as tickets are released a week in advance.
- God’s Own Junkyard is a warehouse stuffed to the brim of neon signs and other eclectic pieces! It makes amazing photographs and everywhere looks amazing – a true neon wonderland.
- Release your inner kid at Ballie Ballerson – Ball Pit Cocktail Bar, one of the most fun venues in London! Ticket prices start from £5 – £15 for general admission, which includes 2-hour access to the ball pits and seating for the bar. They also often host special events which you don’t want to miss out on.
- The London Bridge Experience is an award-winning immersive show which explores 2000 years’ worth of London’s History. You will see, hear and even smell what London Bridge was like throughout time. Prices cost from £17 – £25 per person.
- Get lost in history at the Tower of London. Be prepared to meet the Beefeaters, ravens and even see the crown jewels! The entry price ranges from £15 – £30.
- Enjoy some Champagne Afternoon Tea in Domes, Doubletree by Hilton. If you love afternoon tea but want to mix it up a bit, then why not try it in your own personal dome?! This experience is suitable for all types of weather – even in winter as there’s a heater in the dome! The price is £60 for 2 people.
- If you’re a big fan of James Bond, then you’ll love the James Bond Themed Tour. On this tour, you will visit where the James Bond movies were filmed in real life. The tour costs £75 for 2 people.
- The London Dungeon is a must-visit attraction! There is so much to witness, such as the torture chamber, the tyrant boat ride and the plague doctor, to name a few.
- Be immersed in a film at Odeon BFI IMAX. The IMAX building in itself is fantastic, which just adds to the overall experience! There will definitely be a film for the whole family to enjoy.
- Watch a Shakspeare play at Shakespeare’s Globe! It is an iconic reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, located next to the Thames. No matter what, there’s always something on at the Globe.
- Climb Up The O2! Yes, you read right, you can climb up the roof of the O2. There are plenty of packages to choose from, such as the sunset climb, twilight climb, celebration climb, and more.
- Emirates Air Line is a cable car ride, very near the O2 Arena! It is cashless and very cheap to ride – only £4 per adult! It offers fantastic views of London and is very romantic and fun to do.
- Boating at Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake can be a very fun and romantic activity for couples to do! Boating is only open from March through September due to the weather and costs £12 per person. You can choose from pedalos or rowing boats.
- Take part in a Jack The Ripper Walking Tour. On the tour, you will be guided by published authors who are internationally recognised for being experts on the case! You will be sure to learn something new about the infamous case.
- Have a London Photoshoot Tour with Pro Photographer – Jamie Melville. Great photos are quite hard to get if you’re a solo traveller, so why not have a photoshoot by a pro instead? Jamie’s London Photoshoot Tour is guaranteed to give you amazing photos to look back on, which you’ll want to share everywhere! He has a plethora of positive reviews and is rated 5* on Airbnb Experiences! Check out his stunning work on his Instagram page: @jmelvillephotography.
- Visit the magical world of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio Tour London. It is located slightly outside of London but is very easy to get to with the train or bus service. It’s perfect for all lovers of Harry Potter and will take up your whole day!
- The Postal Museum is a museum for all things post! It’s something for the whole family to enjoy and you can even ride on the underground postal train. It costs around £16 to visit.
- The Cinema Museum is the perfect museum for all film lovers. The museum is home to a unique collection of cinema history and memorabilia. Tickets cost £10 with free tea and coffee.
- Float in the Thames in a Skuna Hot Tub Boat. How many people can say they’ve been in a hot tub in the Thames? Not many, but now you can! The total experience is 90 minutes long and costs £225 per boat, which can fit up to 7 people. They also do BBQ Boats too!
- Drink some tea in a Victorian toilet. The Attendant is a former Victorian toilet transformed into a cafe – it’s cooler than it sounds and is very clean, I promise!
- Explore former Victorian sewage works at Crossness. Who knew sewage works could be so beautiful?
- London underground city. This isn’t really something to do, more for something to look out for. If you go to the intersection at Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street, on the traffic island, you can see old street signs and buildings from the Victorian era.
- Participate in an Afternoon Tea Bus Tour! Afternoon tea is a classic British thing – it’s even more British to have it on a red double-decker in London. Brigits Bakery offers amazing afternoon tea tours with a tasty menu! The prices cost around £45 per adult which is very reasonable and well worth it for the food they offer!
- Go and see a London Westend Theatre show! There is a show for everyone to enjoy at the Westend, and the prices are very cheap! It’s an experience of a lifetime!
- See London from the Thames on a Speed Boat Thames Tour! The Thames Rockets offer unique, stand out tours of London from a different perspective! It’s fun for all! I’d recommend doing the tour in Spring/Summer because you’ll probably be very cold otherwise unless you wrap up warm!
Food in London
- Bun House has arguably the best bao buns in the UK! They offer a range of different flavours, as well as other food items. You can sit in or take it away, which is always great! The staff are very kind and helpful, and all the buns are freshly made! I had a veg bun and a custard bun – they tasted so good I had to go back for seconds! Each bun costs £2.80 each or you can buy 4 for £10!
- Jen Cafe offers fast and efficient service at great prices. I really reccommend the bubble tea from here, especially the melon flavour – I think it’s the nicest bubble tea I’ve ever had! It is cash only and you can only sit in, but it is so worth it.
- Chinatown Bakery has the nicest array of baked goods for all tastebuds! The prices are very cheap and the quality is super! It is also another cash only establishment, so make sure you have some ready! They also have some of the nicest cakes I’ve ever seen – if I lived in London, I would buy one for my birthday!
- Rudy’s Vegan Diner, Islington makes some of the nicest vegan food in London for prices too good to be true! There is so much on offer on the menu, you’ll have to look before you visit to make up your mind on what to get! I’ve never been to a vegan diner with such great prices.
- The Spread Eagle is London’s only pub which is totally vegan! Devour all different types of food from burgers to beef wellington – and be sure to try their beautiful cocktails!
- KIN Cafe is the best spot for casual, delicious plant-based food! It’s only 5 minutes away from Oxford Street, so very accessesible and the prices are very reasonable, especially for the quantity of food on offer. They offer a variety of different items that change daily, so there will always be something new!
- Sagar Restaurant has the nicest plant-based South Indian food in London! There are multiple locations around London, so it’s very easy to get to. They have an extensive menu full of fresh and flavoursome food!
- Gordon Ramsay Street Burger Restaurant is located in the heart of the Westend, which makes it even better for pre-show dining! It’s a Gordon Ramsay restaurant which means it is amazing quality, but shockingly, everything is very well priced – £16 for a burger, fries and unlimited soft drinks!
- The Long Acre London is conveniently located right in the middle of London. It’s a modern bar with the atmosphere of a local, homely pub. There is often live music playing or sports on their TVs! They have various menus to suit everyone’s needs.
- View the view from the Shard whilst enjoying a three-course meal from Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse. The experience cost £111 for 2 people, so £55 per person which is very reasonable and the view is fantastic!
- Have dinner on the Thames with City Cruises. Enjoy a 3-hour river cruise whilst enjoying a four-course meal and live performer – and even a welcome drink on arrival. Tickets cost around £74 per person, but are worth it for everything that’s included!
Best Instagram Spots
Check out my previous post, ‘London- Best Instagram Spots’, for more information on where to get the best photos!
What To Pack
The weather in London is very unpredictable, that’s why I suggest always packing an umbrella in your bag if you get caught in the rain! BBC London weather is the best source for checking the weather in London, and you’ll be checking a lot!
I’d also suggest bringing a shoulder bag that stays close to your body as there are often pickpockets, making it harder for them.
Generally, I’d pack what you usually wear, depending on the season. Be aware that weather in the UK can be very unpredictable, and one minute it can be hotter than a crucible, then the next it’s like winter!
Free Map of London:
I’ve included a free map of London with all the sites, shops and restaurants mentioned in this post.
Please click here to access it. Feel free to share!
Have you ever been to London? What’s something you want to do the most?
If you liked this post, you might also like to read about ‘The Best Things To Do in Oxford in 1 Day!’