101 cheap things to do in London

On a budget? Make your money go further with these 101 ideas for cheap things to do in London.

Cheap eats

People shopping below orange umbrellas and bright lights in Borough Market, London
Find tasty cheap eats at London's Borough Market © Max Van Den Oetelaar via Unsplash
  1. Buy a freshly cooked lunch from a stall at foodie paradise Borough Market.
  2. Satisfy your sweet tooth and indulge in handmade luxury chocolates and truffles at Prestat.
  3. Grab a tasty lunch, such as a burrito or mac’n’cheese, from a street food truck.
  4. Bite into a sweet or savoury pancake at My Old Dutch.
  5. Breakfast in Mayfair doesn’t have to be expensive. Eat a hot sandwich or full English at Cardinals of Mayfair, just off Park Lane.
  6. Tuck into piping hot chips and crispy battered fish at one of London's famous fish and chip shops.
  7. Eat affordable and authentic Chinese food in Chinatown.
  8. Munch a mouthwatering frozen yoghurt at one of the many Snog outlets in the capital.
  9. Treat yourself to a delicious pastry, cake or cupcake at one of London's best cake shops.
  10. Enjoy a tasty lunch that doesn't break the bank at one of London's affordable eating spots.
  11. Grab a burger at one of London's top 10 burger bars.

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 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. Gaze at the river Thames through a pair of binoculars while enjoying a pint at the Morpeth Arms’ Spying Room, in Westminster.

Off the beaten track

The Thames Barrier lit up on the water at sunset with the skyline of Canary Wharf behind.
The Thames Barrier at Greenwich © Visit Greenwich. Image courtesy of Visit Greenwich.
  1. Stroll through the Thames Barrier Park that overlooks the river, perfect for picnics and outdoor games. 
  2. Tour Brixton Windmill, the only surviving windmill in inner London.

Fun for families

  1. Be wowed by aquatic life from around the globe in London’s oldest aquarium at the Horniman Museum.
  2. Meet goats, ponies, alpacas and other farmyard animals at Belmont Children's 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 pre-historic creatures and fascinating galleries to explore at the Natural History Museum.

Historic homes

  1. Soak up the historical atmosphere at Sutton House, the Tudor home of Thomas Cromwell's protege Ralph Sadleir.
  2. Explore the home of Dr Benjamin Franklin, scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor and Founding Father of the United States, at Benjamin Franklin House.
  3. Visit the Hampstead-based home of Sigmund Freud and his family at the Freud Museum.

Drink up

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. Celebrate London life with a glass of bubbly at one of the city's champagne bars.  
  4. Opt for a mocktail during an alcohol-free night out in London.  
  5. Sip a creative concoction at JJ Goodman's cocktail bar, the London Cocktail Club.
  6. Choose from the vast list of more than 400 gins at The Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room.
  7. Take a load off, unwind and sit down for a purr-fect cup of tea among the resident cats at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in Shoreditch.
  8. Read a book over a pot of tea in Bloomsbury's London Review Cake Shop.  
  9. Enjoy a half-price martini during happy hour at Dirty Martini.
  10. Get your caffeine fix at one of London’s top 10 independent coffee shops.
  11. Settle in for classic board games, shuffleboard and a vast selection of craft ales at Elephant & Castle hangout Spit and Sawdust.
  12. Stop for a brew and a chat in Terry's Café – a thoroughly British affair with a charming local vibe in Borough.

Retail therapy

A selection of pink, yellow, orange and purple flowers on display at the market
Columbia Road Flower Market © John Dancy / Unsplash. Image courtesy of 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. Get your mitts on a Harrods shopper bag.  
  4. Discover some culinary delights at Maltby Street Market.
  5. Find bargains galore at one of London’s top 12 markets
  6. Feast on chocolate at one of London’s delectable chocolate shops.
  7. Buy some sweet-inspired memorabilia at M&M's World.
  8. Dress for less at London’s bargain fashion stores.
  9. Buy a book at one of London’s top bookshops, including the famous Foyles and the Edwardian bookshop Daunt Books.
  10. Look out for cheap deals, especially during the January sales.
  11. Channel the retro vibe at one of London’s vintage clothing stores.
  12. Find a bargain while donating to a worthy cause in London's charity shops and thrift stores.

Culture for less

  1. Be dazzled by the moon, constellations and planets at a live planetarium show at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
  2. Take a tour of Highgate Cemetery, where revolutionary Karl Marx is buried.
  3. Step inside James I’s drinking den at Banqueting House.
  4. Take a tour of Wilton's Music Hall, the world's oldest and largest surviving grand music hall.
  5. See an arthouse, cult or classic film at the Prince Charles Cinema, just off Leicester Square.

The write stuff

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 novelists at the Charles Dickens Museum.
  2. Discover the story behind Dr 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.

Magical museums

  1. Visit the London Canal Museum to hear the colourful story of the capital’s canals, boats, ice trade and ice cream.
  2. Delve into history and walk through a still-life drama at Dennis Severs' House
  3. See the oldest section of the London Underground at the Brunel Museum.
  4. Film buffs should hotfoot it to The Cinema Museum for its awe-inspiring collection of posters and memorabilia.
  5. Watch demonstrations of surgical techniques from the past at The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret.   
  6. Anyone who loves machines and engineering should visit the Kirkaldy Testing Museum.
  7. Handle torture devices at the Clink Prison Museum.
  8. Take a nostalgic journey through childhood toys, fashion and magazines at the Museum of Brands.

Curtain's up

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. See an authentic Shakespeare play by buying a standing ticket for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  2. Find standing tickets for productions at the Royal Opera House.
  3. Buy standing tickets for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
  4. Visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap last-minute tickets for West End shows.

Get active

  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. Hire 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.

Walk the walk

  1. Hear the bloodthirsty tale of Jack the Ripper on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.
  2. Uncover the gruesome history of London by gaslight with the Sweeney Todd and Other Demons walking tour.

Park life

The Lido Cafe on the Serpentine at Hyde Park in summer
Explore Hyde Park. Image courtesy of Phil Russell and The Royal Parks.
  1. Rent 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 rare wildflower species.
  4. Find your zen in the tranquil Japanese Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.

Get arty

  1. Discover the history of textiles and the latest trends at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  
  2. Find out about the Duke of Wellington’s glittering London life at Apsley House.  
  3. See works by Rembrandt and Gainsborough at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
  4. Explore a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, furniture and porcelain at The Wallace Collection.

Time to travel

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 a 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. Complete your London experience with a ride in one of the city's black cabs.

Summer fun

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

Winter wonders

A aerial view of Somerset House ice rink at night with people ice skating and the city skyline behind
Skate at Somerset House © Somerset House Press Office / Luke Dyson. Image courtesy of Somerset House Press Office / Luke Dyson.
  1. Get your skates on and take to the ice at one of these festive ice rinks.
  2. Sip a mulled wine in one of London’s Christmas markets.
  3. Tuck into a Bratwurst hotdog at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland.
  4. Experience the festive magic and get merry at the many carols and concerts in London this Christmas.