Budget-Friendly Things to do in London

LHA's guide on budget friendly activities around London to make priceless memories

Think living in London is too expensive? Thank again! There are plenty of things to do around the city either for free or on the cheap, so whether you’re a student or just like to be frugal, here are some of the best things to do around London on a shoestring budget. The memories will be priceless…

Travel

If you haven’t already and are eligible for one, get a 16-25 railcard to make your train travel cheaper. And bonus tip – you can get the discount applied to your Oyster card too, just ask the staff behind the ticket desks in any underground station. This means you can travel on a single off-peak fare for as little as £1.59!

Museums

We’re lucky that here in London, we have so many great museums with free exhibitions all year round so that we can experience art and culture on the cheap. Some of our favourites include:

The V&A – As Timeout says, ‘it’s one of the world’s most magnificent museums. The V&A hosts a giant collection of art and design pieces from all over the world. Free to enter, and keep your eyes peeled for its world class exhibitions. Previous displays include Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

The British Museum – This was the first museum to be open to the public in the world, ever! Despite its name, the British Museum is actually dedicated to global, human history, not just British. It has a total of 8 million objects – see if you can count them all.

The Natural History Museum – Head here to see how small us humans really are. You’ll get a real sense of this when you stand under ‘Hope,’ the 25-metre-long Blue Whale skeleton who waits for you in the entrance.

Instagram-worthy

The Sky Garden on 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie Talkie building) provides super views of London amongst some beautiful greenery. You can go visit for free, just book in advance on their website, however there is a bar and restaurant there if you did want a drink or a bite to eat.

The Conservatory at the Barbican Centre is also free to enter, where you can chill out among tropical plants, trees and fish.

If you want some blooms to liven up your room, you can’t go wrong with London’s most popular Sunday markets on Colombia Road. Get there at 8am for the best pick of the bunch, or swing by around closing time (2-3pm) to get the best deals as the market owners try to get rid of their remaining stock.

Comedy and Theatre

Enjoy a giggle at Angel Comedy Club, offering free comedy shows every night of the week. The Top Secret Comedy Club also has various free work-in-progress shows from up-and-coming and even more established comedians. Have a browse on their website and book in advance.

When it comes to theatre, there are plenty of ways you can score cheaper tickets to your favourite shows. Booking in advance online is your best bet, and signing up to programs such as London Pass will also help you save up to 40% on tickets. But if you’re really feeling lucky, go to the theatre’s box office for the chance to buy standby tickets (returns and unsold tickets for that evening’s performance). Pick a show you want to see and line up at the theatre box office, but be prepared to race around for your second or third choice!

Food and Drink

Borough Market is one of London’s more established haunts. Located under a maze of Victorian railway arches and open Monday to Saturday, Borough Market is stuffed with lovely food and food-lovers. It offers everything you need for a memorable grab-and-go breakfast or lunch, but is also a good place for a simple wander (keeping an eye out for many free samples).

Under the arcades of Brixton Village, you’ll find Brixton Village Market which has more than 20 establishments serving dishes from all over the world, every day of the week, from as little as £4.

If you’re feeling fancy, pay a visit to Brasserie Zédel in Soho. Take in their grand, Parisian-style art deco interior while enjoying a two-course lunch for just £10.50, or three courses for £13.75. See, you don’t have to pay through the nose for an extravagant night out!

Here at LHA London, we are your go-to for affordable accommodation in London, with 13 hostels located around central London. Whether you’re a student, young professional or just looking for a fresh start in the city, we are guaranteed to fit in your budget – your bills, insurance and Wi-Fi are included in your rent! And if that’s not enough, if you’re 18-29 years old, you can get up to 25% off staying long-term in selected shared rooms with LHA Rewards.