101 cheap things to do in London

Make your money go further in the capital with these 101 ideas for cheap things to do in London.
A woman and a man walk through Borough Market in London surrounded by colourful food stalls.
Grab a delicious lunch from the many stalls at London's Borough Market. © visitlondon.com/Antoine Buchet.

Cheap eats in London

  1. Find a deal on a freshly cooked meal from a stall at Borough Market, a paradise for foodies.
  2. Get a tasty lunch, such as a burrito or mac and cheese, from a street food truck.
  3. Bite into a sweet or savoury pancake at My Old Dutch.
  4. Having breakfast in Mayfair doesn’t have to be expensive. Eat a hot sandwich or full English at Cardinals of Mayfair, just off Park Lane, for less than £10.
  5. Tuck into piping hot chips and crispy battered fish at one of London's famous fish and chip shops.
  6. Sample affordable and authentic Chinese food in Chinatown.
  7. Dig into a mouthwatering frozen yoghurt at one of the many Snog outlets in the capital.
  8. Treat yourself to a delicious pastry, cake or cupcake at one of London's best cake shops.
  9. Enjoy a tasty dish that doesn't break the bank at one of London's affordable eating spots.
  10. Grab a hamburger at one of London's top 10 burger bars.
  11. Try a three-course lunch special in the beautiful art deco interior of Brasserie Zédel

Cheap things to do after dark

A corridor at the British Museums, with two sculptures gating it.
Wander the galleries of the British Museum. Credits: Jonathan Reid/visitlondon.com.
  1. Expand your mind by heading to a late-night opening of one of London’s top museums.
  2. Watch an innovative play at a pub theatre.
  3. Laugh the night away at a stand-up comedy show
  4. Score a goal at table football at Cafe Kick at Exmouth Market.
  5. Enjoy two-for-one cocktails during happy hour at one of London's top pubs or bars
  6. Strike it lucky at retro-style bowling alley Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes.
  7. Get your hands on tickets to a cheap gig in London
  8. Soak up gorgeous night-time views of London at Sky Garden.
  9. Snap photos of London landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, lit up at night.
  10. Discover even more ways to have a cheap night out in London.

Inexpensive and off the beaten track

The Thames Barrier lit up on the river Thames at sunset in London with the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf behind.
The Thames Barrier © Visit Greenwich.
  1. Stroll through Thames Barrier Park which overlooks the river and is perfect for picnics and outdoor games. 
  2. Tour Brixton Windmill, the only surviving windmill in inner London.
  3. See the city from a different angle at the rooftop Garden at 120.

Cheap London fun for families

  1. Be wowed by aquatic life from around the globe in the aquarium at the Horniman Museum.
  2. Meet goats, ponies, alpacas and other farmyard animals at Vauxhall City Farm and Mudchute Farm.
  3. Experience the wonders of science first-hand with interactive exhibits and fun activities at the Science Museum.
  4. Discover a treasure trove of prehistoric creatures and fascinating galleries to explore at the Natural History Museum.

Historic homes in London

  1. Soak up the historical atmosphere at Sutton House, the Tudor home of Thomas Cromwell's protege Ralph Sadler.
  2. Explore the home of Benjamin Franklin, scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor and Founding Father of the United States, at Benjamin Franklin House.
  3. Visit the Hampstead home of Sigmund Freud, now preserved as the Freud Museum.
  4. Take the £1 ferry across the Thames to visit Marble Hill House and Ham House.
  5. Look inside Chiswick House and wander the sprawling grounds.
  6. Find out about the Duke of Wellington’s glittering London life at Apsley House.  

Great London pubs, bars and cafes

The exterior of The Churchill Arms, which is covered in hanging baskets, shrubs and flowers, with a pub sign showing Winston Churchill's face.
The Churchill Arms pub. Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash.
  1. Sup a pint in front of a crackling fire at one of London’s cosy pubs.
  2. Quaff a glass of wine at one of the candlelit tables at the cave-like Gordon’s Wine Bar.
  3. Sip a creative concoction at the London Cocktail Club.
  4. Choose from the vast list of more than 500 gins and 30 tonics at Holborn Dining Room.
  5. Unwind over a purr-fect cup of tea among the resident cats at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium.
  6. Read a book over a pot of tea in Bloomsbury's London Review Cake Shop.  
  7. Enjoy a half-price martini during happy hour at Dirty Martini.
  8. Get your caffeine fix at one of London’s top 10 independent coffee shops.
  9. Play shuffleboard and drink from a vast selection of craft beers at Elephant & Castle hangout Spit and Sawdust.
  10. Stop for a brew and a chat in Terry's Café, a thoroughly British affair in Borough with a charming local vibe.
  11. Buy a wristband for London Cocktail Week and enjoy discounted drinks around the capital.

Wallet-friendly shops and markets in London

A selection of pink, yellow, orange and purple flowers on display at Columbia Road Flower Market in London.
Columbia Road Flower Market. © John Dancy / Unsplash.
  1. Buy a pretty bunch of flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market.
  2. Give £1 to a street performer in Covent Garden.
  3. Discover culinary delights at Maltby Street Market.
  4. Find bargains galore at one of London’s top markets
  5. Buy a book at one of London’s top bookshops, including the famous Foyles and the Edwardian bookshop Daunt Books.
  6. Look out for cheap deals, especially during the January sales.
  7. Channel the retro vibe at one of London’s vintage clothing stores.

London culture for less

  1. Be dazzled by the moon, constellations and planets at a live planetarium show at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
  2. Walk around at your own pace or take a tour of Highgate Cemetery, where famous names like Karl Marx and Douglas Adams are buried.
  3. Feel the history of Banqueting House, the only surviving part of the royal Palace of Whitehall.
  4. See a show or have a drink at Wilton's Music Hall, the world's oldest and last surviving grand music hall.
  5. See an arthouse, cult or classic film at the Prince Charles Cinema, just off Leicester Square.
  6. Visit many of London's major museums for free.

Best cheap and free museums in London

The exterior of the Charles Dickens Museum with gated railings, two large windows showing the rooms lit up inside and a green front door
The Charles Dickens Museum. Image courtesy of The Charles Dickens Museum.
  1. Learn about one of the UK’s most famous authors at the Charles Dickens Museum.
  2. Discover the story of Samuel Johnson and his dictionary at Dr Johnson’s House.
  3. See paintings, prints and relics belonging to poet John Keats at Grade I-listed building Keats House.
  4. Visit the London Canal Museum to learn the colourful story of the capital’s canals, boats and ice trade.
  5. Delve into history and walk through a still-life drama at Dennis Severs' House
  6. See the first tunnel under a river at the Brunel Museum.
  7. Head to the Cinema Museum to check out its awe-inspiring collection of posters and memorabilia.
  8. Step inside a once-forgotten operating room filled with historic surgical tools and medicine from the past at the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret.   
  9. Check out the machines and engineering history at the Kirkaldy Testing Museum.
  10. Handle torture devices at the Clink Prison Museum.
  11. Take a nostalgic journey through toys, board games, fashion and magazines at the Museum of Brands.
  12. Walk through old buses and Tube carriages at the London Transport Museum.

See London theatre for less

The Shakespeare's Globe building from a low angle.
Explore the behind the scenes of Shakespeare's Globe. Image courtesy of Shakespeare's Globe Guided Tours.
  1. Buy a groundling ticket for £5 to see an authentic Shakespearean play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  2. Find standing tickets for productions at the Royal Opera House.
  3. Purchase standing tickets for the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall.
  4. Visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap last-minute tickets for West End shows.

Cheap London activities

  1. Enjoy a refreshing swim in one of London’s gorgeous lidos.
  2. Climb 311 steps to reach the top of The Monument for sweeping views of London.
  3. Take a classical ballet or hip hop dance class at Pineapple Dance Studios.
  4. Take a pedalo or rowing boat on Hyde Park’s famous Serpentine Lake from April to October.
  5. Hire a Santander Cycles bike to explore London.

Parks in London

The Lido Cafe on the Serpentine at Hyde Park in summer
Explore Hyde Park. Image courtesy of Phil Russell and The Royal Parks.
  1. Hire a deckchair in the summer at some of London's best parks, including Green Park, Hyde Park and St James’s Park.
  2. Swim in the historic men's, ladies' and mixed ponds on Hampstead Heath.
  3. Stroll through scenic Richmond Park, home to free-roaming deer, ancient trees and blooming flowers.
  4. Find inner peace in the tranquil Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.

Art galleries and museums

  1. Discover the history of clothing and the latest trends at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  
  2. See works by Rembrandt and Gainsborough at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
  3. Explore a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, furniture and porcelain at the Wallace Collection.
  4. Find contemporary art by famous creators at the Tate Modern.

Cheap travel in London

Two purple cable cars are flying over the river in London going in both directions.
IFS Cloud cable cars flying over London. Image courtesy of TfL.
  1. Take an Uber by Thames Clippers boat from the London Eye to Greenwich.
  2. Glide above the Thames in the IFS Cloud Cable Car.
  3. Enjoy a cheap sightseeing tour of London by taking the 74 bus between Putney and Baker Street via South Kensington, Harrods, Hyde Park and Selfridges.
  4. Take a canal boat ride from Little Venice to Camden.
  5. See some of London's most iconic sights on a walk along the South Bank.

London cheap summer fun

  1. Feast on liquid nitrogen ice cream at Chin Chin Labs in Camden.
  2. Grab a drink on a sunny day at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden.
  3. Listen to tunes under blue skies at a free music festival in London.
  4. Soak up the views while supping a pint at one of London's riverside pubs.

Best cheap winter activities in London

A aerial view of Somerset House ice rink at night with people ice skating and the city skyline behind
Go ice skating at London's Somerset House in winter. © Somerset House Press Office/Luke Dyson.
  1. Get your skates on and take to the ice at one of London's best festive ice rinks.
  2. Sip a mulled wine at a London Christmas market.
  3. Tuck into a bratwurst at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland.
  4. Experience the festive magic and get merry at the many carols and concerts in London this Christmas.
  5. Follow a winter light trail and see beautiful illuminations at the best light festivals in London.