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Guest Post: 48 Hours in London on a Student Budget

Hi I’m Chloe and you can normally find me over at Thengguidetolondon.co.uk. I’m originally from Leeds but moved to London about 6 months ago where I was inspired to start a blog on exploring London on the cheap – yes, I know it’s hard to believe but it is possible – so I jumped at the opportunity to guest post for Lauren where we decided I should do a 48 hour guide to London on a student budget. So… here we go.

48 hours in London on a student budget

Travelling

Obviously the easiest way to travel here is by train. Depending on how many train journeys you’re likely to take, it’s often worth investing in a railcard. I have a 16-25 railcard which knocks a third off all rail travel but there are others such as family and friends cards etc. Each card is £30 to buy for the year and can be found at https://www.railcard.co.uk/

Now you have your railcard you can start booking/looking at train tickets. It’s true what they say, the sooner you can book the better. Most train companies release their tickets 12 weeks in advance and offer an email reminder service, sending you an email when your dates are released. Failing that, set yourself  a reminder in your calendar to go on and book.

If you have a little bit more time spare the megabus is also a great way to get to London with journeys genuinely costing £1 (+ a £0.50 booking fee) but the journey is significantly longer than the train so best avoided for flying visits!

Transport

I cannot recommend enough downloading city mapper before you arrive. It works in a similar way to google maps but gives you a lot more options in terms of alternative routes for travelling around London.

Go contactless. The London transport systems now accept contactless cards as a payment option and for day travel it’s definitely the easiest way. It charges the same fares as Oyster but it stops you having to top up/worry about how much you need to top up by. There is a daily cap for whichever zones you’re travelling to so it’s also easier than getting a day ticket and restricting yourself to whichever zone.

Staying

We ourselves are huge, huge fans of Airbnb. We’ve used the site probably five or six times including staying in London and we’ve always had amazing experiences but I do know there have been some horror stories so if it isn’t for you check out sites such as hotels.com who have great deals or compare the cost of the hotels through trivago.

During the day

Skip the queues and cost of The Shard and head to one of the many parks that have amazing views of London such as Greenwich Park and Regents Park. Both have amazing hills with stunning views which will save you the pricy ticket of The Shard.

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(just one of the incredible views from the top of Greenwich Hill)

If you fancy braving Oxford Street for shopping, sign yourself up for a John Lewis loyalty card before you go, they’ll post you out a voucher for a free hot drink and slice of cake. Perfect for a pick me up / de-stresser following the shopping. For the real bargains, head to areas such as brick lane in Shoreditch; The East End Thrift Store regularly have £1 days where the first x amount of customers will get a back to fill of vintage goodies all for £1. Check out their facebook page to keep up to date with when these are taking place.

A whole host of museums in London are free to visit making them great for culture and rainy days! Some of my favourites include the V & A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum. If you want to make a little more of your visit check out breadcrumbs. For £3.99 you can turn your museum visit into a treasure hunt where they will text/facebook message you clues – only sending you the next when you get the answer correct.

If nature is more your thing there are obviously the stunning parks located around London but there are also a whole host of indoor natural gardens to check out including the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf, the sky garden at Fenchurch Street and the Barbican Conservatory.

Where to eat

It’s not secret that London is a foodies heaven so for lunches I can’t recommend enough checking out some market street food. Borough, Brick Lane and Greenwich all have some incredible food on offer. Look out for the incredible salt beef bagles and pies from the pieminister which are both in Borough market.
 
For dinner/evening meals there are even more choices. If you’re wanting somewhere as cheap as possible I’d recommend Brick Lane for a curry; each curry house has someone to entice people in with a whole host of offers. As standard you can usually expect a complimentary round of drinks and 15% off your total bill but if you’re feeling brave try and haggle as much as you can out of them. The food is really good and most have won various awards over the years. Some even have famous fans!
 
For a slightly more expensive option look out for Flat Iron. With 4 branches throughout the city there’s always sure to be one where you want it to be. The queues are long so if you’re wanting to eat at around 8, go and register at 5. Registration is simple, simply queue and provide your mobile number. They’ll send you a text when your table is ready. The food is incredible, they only serve one steak on the menu – the flat iron – which costs £10 then add your sides which range from £2.50 – £4. It is so so worth the wait and you even get a free ice cream at the end!
 
If you’re looking to treat yourself with a big blow out meal then one of my favourite places is Big Easy. There are branches at Covent Garden, King’s Road in Chelsea and in Canary Wharf. They specialist in lobster but they also have a whole range of American BBQ style food. Saturdays are Lobster special days where you get a free glass or prosecco or frozen cocktail with any lobster main (if you don’t want the faff of a whole lobster, the lobster role is amazing). They often have live bands performing and the one at Canary Wharf has an outside terrace with stunning views of London and outdoor heaters and fluffy blankets for cooler nights.
 

Evening Entertainment

Whilst it’s certainly true that theatre and entertainment can be a bank breaker in London there are ways around it. Check out Time Out offers before you visit as they often have discounted theatre tickets. We saved £12 on our tickets to Sh*t Faced Shakespeare which was an incredible evening out. Also look at apps like Fever and Funzing, they’re always offering fun plans for an evening be it discounted tickets to West End Shows or bar crawls in the city, there’s definitely something for everyone.
 
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(We had a great evening at the theatre watching Sh*t Faced Shakespeare – highly recommend!!)

Drinking in London

No weekend to London would be complete without a cocktail or 2 and if you’re on a budget there are definitely places that should be avoided – SW1 I’m looking at you, with 2 double G & Ts setting you back £27 – but there are also plenty of places where a drink isn’t accompanied with a heart attack when you get the bill.
 
It’s definitely worth downloading Drinki whilst you’re there. It’s an app where you get a free drink and your next round for a discount. The app is totally free to download and if you use the link below, you’ll be credited with 2 free drinks (double the amount of other sign up deals)!
 
 
There are a whole host of different drinks available from signature cocktails, to a classic G&T and even glasses of prosecco.
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(enjoying a free espresso martini just one of the drinks available through Drinki!)
 
Some of my other favourite places to drink include The Crown and Anchor in Covent Garden and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street where you can get a single gin and mixer for less than a fiver! For ale fans, i’d strongly recommend The Beer Box at the Greenwich Peninsula which is a bar owned and run by the Meantime Brewing Company – it’s a great little multi-storey bar with live music and great for people watching around the o2!
 
NG x
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