UK Budget for Trip

| February 1, 2024
UK Budget for Trip

Cost of Holidays in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom attracts millions of visitors every year and is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. London, of course, is one of the main draws but there is so much more to the UK than just the Tower of London, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
Away from London, towns like Liverpool, Manchester, Brighton and Bath are also popular choices with many visitors choosing to take in one, two or three cities as part of the whole experience.

Lovers of the great outdoors are also well catered for, with areas of natural beauty such as the Yorkshire Moors, Lake District, the Cotswolds, Devon, and Cornwall all being extremely popular with visitors. And these beauty spots and attractions are just in England. For those willing to travel or wander off the beaten track, there is a lot more to see and do if the other UK countries of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are considered.

As would be expected there is a large range of different holiday types to choose from and something for everyone regardless of age. However, as the saying goes “nothing is free” and enjoying a weekend, week or fortnight in any part of the United Kingdom comes at a price.

But how much can one expect to pay for the pleasure of a holiday in the United Kingdom?

Getting There

Getting to the United Kingdom is a simple matter from any corner of the globe as there are more than forty international airports to choose from, ranging from the vast and extremely busy Heathrow Airport serving London to tiny regional airfields catering to island populations. Visitors from closer to home can choose to take a ferry from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and even as far away as northern Spain. Visitors arriving from France even have the choice of taking a train through the Channel Tunnel or bringing a car on Le Shuttle running between Calais and Folkestone.

For visitors from afar, the cost of getting to the UK can often be the most expensive part of the trip. It is, after all, only reasonable to expect that the airfare from America or Australia will cost a lot more than a short flight from Europe or a quick voyage on a ferry.

There is little that can be done to save on airfares, but booking flights as early as possible will often ensure the lowest prices, one should always check the terms and conditions as, usually, the flight times cannot be changed or there may not be a refund policy in case of cancellation. It should be noted also that cheaper airfares will usually entail departing or arriving at inconvenient hours such as very late at night or early in the morning.

Many budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and others often offer extremely good deals on return flights as well as special prices on accommodation and car rental. Bargain hunters would be well advised to check out these companies and the offers available as huge savings can often be made.

Average Costs

The cost of accommodation, food, drink and entertainment in the United Kingdom varies greatly depending in which of the four countries are being visited and where one stays. London can be very expensive, while smaller towns and cities may seem unbelievably cheap by comparison. Everything is relative, and all will depend on the type of holiday desired and how much one can afford.

Estimating how much one would need to spend on an average day is virtually impossible. Dining in a Michelin-star restaurant every day will quickly eat through funds while making do with a burger or sandwich will clearly be more affordable, though maybe not as desirable.

It is estimated that a tourist in the UK will spend approximately:

  • £55 (€65) per day on budget accommodation and reasonable food
  • £135 (€155) daily for more up market accommodation and decent food
  • £300 (€350) or more for a good quality hotel and better than average meals

Of course, additional funding will be required for public transport or taxi fares to get to and from the tourist attractions and places of interest so these figures should be regarded as guidelines and not taken to be factual.

Counting the pennies and watching the budget may save huge amounts of money but is not an ideal way to spend a vacation. Many attractions in the UK are free but some can be very expensive. Checking admission and other prices beforehand can result in savings as there are often special offers available or reduced admission for groups or at certain times.

Accommodation, Food and Transport

Depending on the country, town or region, there can be a wide disparity in the costs of accommodation, food, transport and activities. London ranks as the most expensive for all of these, but bargains are to be had if you choose to stay on the outskirts of the English capital city or in other locations.


Accommodation will likely eat up the biggest part of any visitor’s budget and it is worth taking time to research the options available before making a firm booking. Depending on the money available, a visitor can choose from:

  • Budget: This can be as low as £30 (€35) per night for a hostel or backpacker’s lodge.
  • Mid-Range: Across the whole UK, this should work out between £80 (€92)and £130 (€150) per night, though London can set visitors back anywhere from £100 (€115) to £200 (€230) for a single night.
  • Luxury: A minimum of £130 (€150) per night should be allowed for better quality accommodation and this rises to £200 (€230) in and near central London.

As with travel, booking early should help ensure the best deals and it is also possible to find special rates for certain days of the week or during off-peak times.


After paying for accommodation the next biggest expense will probably be for food and snacks. How much is spent on dining will depend on individual taste but eating out regularly (particularly in London) can be a very expensive undertaking.

  • Budget: Many public houses in the UK offer full meals at reasonable prices of between £12 (€14) and £16 (€19). An all-day English breakfast is also usually available for about the same price and is worth considering as an alternative to lunch. Small cafes and restaurants also offer wholesome, basic meals for a similar price.
  • Mid-Range: Some pubs specialise in meals, and a decent dinner in one of these establishments should average out at around £30 (€35) to £35 (€40), as is also the case with restaurants and some small hotels.
  • Luxury: Dining at the Ritz and other top hotels and restaurants starts at around £70 (€80) per person and after that the sky is the limit as to how much a full meal with drinks can cost.

Eating relatively cheaply can be done in one of the many fish and chip shops that Britain is famous for, along with a range of American-style burger joints or Indian or Chinese restaurants and takeaways. More money can be saved by those visitors staying in rented accommodation with cooking facilities such as Airbnb properties or hostels.


The United Kingdom is well served by public transport. An extensive bus and rail network covers all four countries with no town or village inaccessible although this may entail using several modes of transport and making several transfers. The trains and coaches are (relatively) modern and efficient although travelling by train is considerably more expensive than by bus or coach. Once again, savings can be made by booking early and availing of any discounts for group travel or during off-peak hours.

Public transport in London, though efficient, can be expensive but many of the top tourist attractions are near each other and easy to walk between. Planning a day out in advance can save both time and money once the optimum route has been decided upon.

The famous London Black Cabs can be an expensive way of getting around but are plentiful during the day and evening for those who do not mind the expense. Other, more budget conscious visitors will find that local bus services and the London Underground (the Tube) are more than adequate for most purposes and at a fraction of the cost.

A single trip on the Tube will cost around £2.50 (€3.00) but savings can be made by purchasing a daily travel card which offers unlimited journeys for £14 (€16). Those venturing further afield while in London should also consider the Visitor Oyster Card, which permits travel on buses, trams, Tube, Docklands Light Railway and other forms of transport at a much-reduced cost.

Visitors seeking more freedom or wishing to visit more than one destination can chose to rent a car with prices starting from around £30 per day.

A Week in the United Kingdom

It is impossible to put an exact amount on how much should be allocated to spending a week in any part of the United Kingdom. Seven days in the heart of London will cost a lot more than a week in a rural Scottish or Welsh location, but the following should be considered an absolute minimum:

Budget: £385 (€445)

Mid-Range: £1000 (€1150)

Luxury: £2000 (€2300)

This should cover the basics of accommodation, food and transport but the cost of getting to the UK must also be factored in. Another small additional cost, but a very important one, is the fee charged to acquire a British Visa or the incoming UK ETA which is already being introduced and will become a mandatory requirement by 2025.

The UK ETA (electronic travel authorisation) is a method of pre-screening visitors to the United Kingdom and will apply to citizens of countries that currently enjoy visa-free access. The UK ETA fee is currently set at £10 (€12), which may seem irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. However, without a UK ETA (once fully operational), any visit to the United Kingdom will not be possible, making this an extremely important minor expense!