London’s reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the world is well-earned, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by families from budget travelers to luxury aficionados. If you are wondering, “how much does a trip to London cost?”, we’ve got your answers.
After three years living just north of the city with my family, and two years as a travel advisor specializing in family trips to London, I’ve learned how to keep London trip costs down and where to find the best value in both accommodations and activities.
If you are still debating where to go, also check out our budget guides for Italy, Paris, Greece, Ireland, and Iceland. You can also check this post for ideas of free things to do in London with kids.
London Trip Cost
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To help you create your London trip budget, this post outlines pricing for two adults and two children between the ages of 6-11, traveling in the summer, spending a week in London (six nights, seven days). If you are traveling off season or not with a family, your costs will undoubtedly be lower.
Remember to keep in mind the exchange rate when looking at rates listed in British pounds. I use xe.com to convert currency. To figure out how much is a trip to London, I included the following elements:
- Tours/Entrance Fees
- Travel insurance
Families should estimate about $500-600 per person for flights. Summer flights may be more expensive but if you watch for airfare sales and book at least six months in advance you can usually find flights for $500-600, especially if you are willing to connect through Iceland or Dublin.
Heathrow airport is a major global hub for most international airlines, so this is a destination when points/mileage programs can often be redeemed or at least partially cover flight costs (see my favorite credit cards for earning points).
Total airfare cost: $2000
The two biggest factors in determining hotel room costs will be space and location. If you’d like two adjoining rooms or a family suite in the immediate central part of the city at a four or five-star hotel, plan to spend $700-2,000 per night. If you have the budget, you’ll be within walking distance to many attractions with luxury hotel services like a concierge, on-site fine dining, etc.
If you’re willing to stay in one of London’s charming neighborhoods, just a short tube ride away from the immediate center of the city, then not only will you save money, but you can often find more spacious accommodations like apartment-style hotels or wonderful Airbnb rentals.
The average cost per night for four-star accommodation or apartment rentals in areas like South Kensington, Notting Hill, and Little Venice are approximately $300-800 per night. (See our London hotel review of the Royal Garden and Atheneum Hotels)
Just be careful when booking stand alone rentals… ask for the exact address or closest major cross street so you can map it out. If you’re outside the T1 London Tube area, you’ll pay more for transportation and waste precious time each day traveling into the city. See my tips for booking Airbnb or other vacation rentals.
Total accommodation cost: $4,200 (based on $700 per night for 6 nights)
Investing in a Blue-Badge guide for half-day tours or a walking tour is a great splurge and a perfect way to explore some of London’s most popular attractions. The cost of a private tour is usually around $300-400 for a half day experience.
These guides can make the history of London come alive for you and your children. My two favorite attractions to invest in a guide are the British Museum and the Tower of London.
If a private guide is too much of a stretch, spend the extra few pounds to supply each member of the family with an audio guide at major attractions. Many have dedicated children’s versions.
The other sightseeing expense that adds up quickly when visiting London is entrance fees. Expect to spend $15-50 per person to enter places like the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, and the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio.
Keep your eye out for family passes when booking tickets in advance. Most attractions offer a discount for families that will include admission for two adults and two to three kids for one discounted amount.
Most major museums are free (British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, etc.), as are all the large parks (Hyde Park, St. James, Regent’s Park, and the Olympic Park). So pair pricier activities with free options throughout the week.
Total tour/sightseeing cost: $1,200 (based on two private tours of $300, plus $100 per day for six days in additional entrance fees)
The Heathrow Express is a great value and only costs about $10-15 per person. The ride takes 20 minutes and takes you directly into Paddington Station, from which you can usually hail a reasonably priced taxi to take you to your accommodation. It is a bit of a long walk within Heathrow from one terminal to the other but it is worth it for the cost and time savings.
Otherwise, arrange a driver in advance for about $150-200 through your hotel concierge. Taxis to and from the airport can sometimes be much pricier as traffic is so unpredictable in that part of the city. Keep in mind that Uber is no longer operating in London.
Taking the tube is not just a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to get around London, it’s frankly an integral part of the London experience. Invest in a Visitor Oyster card for each adult and any child over age 10, it’ll reduce the cost compared to individual tickets.
If you have seven days in London, a day trip or two out of the city is fun. Train tickets to places like Oxford, Windsor, or Bath usually price out around $30-75 per person roundtrip. Be sure to book in advance for the best rates. If you decide to hire a driver, expect costs to be $500-1,000 for a full day of service.
Total transportation costs: $300 (based on using public transportation)
Food expenses can be difficult to budget for any destination, both because it can vary so drastically based on personal preferences and because it’s hard to know what your family will want to eat each day. Personally, I like a mix of quick, convenient food and sit-down, upscale dining, and London offers options at both ends of this spectrum.
This is typically included in a hotel stay. Otherwise, plan to hit a grocery store (small shops are prevalent throughout the city, look for chains like Waitrose and Sainsburys) and stock up on some basic supplies to keep in your room and apartment. Be sure to try a full English breakfast at least one morning of your trip… you likely won’t need lunch it’s so robust!
You can score some great savings at lunch if you duck into a grocery store and take advantage of their package deals. Most grocery stores offer a sandwich, drink, and a bag of crisps (potato chips) for around $4-5. Pick up some fruit or prepared veggies to share, and you can feed the whole family for around $20. Plus there are quick service Pret a Manger shops on nearly every corner.
If you’ve got access to kitchen facilities, then once again you’ll find great savings at the grocery stores. Most offer high-quality, upscale pre-made food that only requires you to heat and serve (think roasted chicken dishes, veggies, potatoes, dessert).
This is often less than $30 for a healthy, satisfying meal that requires little effort. Take-aways are also fairly inexpensive, and it’s a fun way of trying the more ethnically diverse food like Indian and Thai (or fish n’ chips!) that London is known for.
When to Splurge
London has some outstanding restaurants, and I love to have a nice sit-down meal at least a few times during a week-long trip, balanced out with casual, cheaper fare. And don’t forget to indulge in afternoon tea!
While it typically prices out between $40-60 per person, many hotels will offer discounts or complimentary tea to their guests. Also, know that you’ll be served lots of food during the experience, so I encourage people to make their tea bookings for later in the day, and it will double as dinner.
Total food cost: $1,200 (based on free hotel breakfast, $20 for lunch x seven days, and $150 per day for dinner x seven days)
I have a strict rule with my kids that the trip itself is the treat, not all the kitschy souvenirs found in the gift shop of every major attraction. But London is a great place to shop for specialty items.
One of my favorite places to go for souvenirs or gifts is Fortnum & Mason, where you can buy some of England’s legendary tea and biscuits, perfectly packaged to bring home. And a stop at Hamley’s toy store is also a fabulous experience for the whole family to enjoy.
Total souvenir cost: $200 (based on each family member spending $50 while on the trip)
I would recommend protecting your trip with travel insurance. Pricing varies depending on your level of coverage, ages, trip costs, and more. However, I would use $300-500 as a rough estimate.
Total Cost for a 7-day trip to London: $9,500
Your family could certainly spend less if you can utilize airline miles, score a great accommodation deal, cook your own meals, or focus your time on the free activities and landmarks in London instead of the pricier places to go.
That said, London is an expensive city, so it can be a challenge for families with an extremely tight budget.
How much does it cost to go to London?
|Tours & activities||$1200|
|Travel insurance||$ 400|
|Total London Trip Cost||$9500|
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This guest post was written by Nicole Wiltrout. Nicole is a freelance writer and travel expert based in Indiana. She has traveled throughout North America and Europe with her children for the past nine years, including three years spent living abroad in England. She has written for a variety of websites and publications and is the author of “Dispatches from England,” available on Amazon, which chronicles her family’s time as expats. You can follow Nicole’s travels on Arrows Sent Forth.