It’s no shock to anyone that London is very expensive. However, you can still have an epic time in the big smoke whilst working with a budget.
From museums to parks, to watching a TV show being filmed – here are the 16 best cheap things to do in London.
16 of the Best Cheap Things to Do in London
Enjoy a Show at the Iconic Globe Theatre
The iconic Globe theatre stands proudly on London’s south bank, attracting locals and tourists every night of the week. It has a huge community feel, with daily performances allowing everyone to enjoy a taste of Shakespeare’s work.
Whilst seats start from £25, a handful of standing tickets are available for just £5. Although the view is restricted it is a great (and inexpensive) way to enjoy a show in the city.
The Tate Modern Museum
The Tate Modern is one of the best things to do in London, and it is completely free! Sitting in prime position on London’s bustling Southbank, the iconic gallery attracts millions of visitors each year.
You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the vast collections of modern art – tickets can be ordered in advance or picked up at the door. Also, don’t forget to head to the outside platform through the café. There are unbeatable views of St Paul’s Cathedral, providing excellent photo opportunities.
Read the full guide: the Best Museums in London
Watch a TV Show Being Filmed (Best Free Thing to do in London)
There are tonnes of TV studios in London, many of which require studio audiences. You can get your hands on tickets exceptionally easily, and the best part – they are usually completely free! SRO audiences are the best option for most TV comedy shows, including the likes of ‘Live at the Apollo’, ‘The Last Leg’ and ‘Would I Lie to You’.
Tickets are allocated randomly – simply give them your availability, and you will receive an email once your tickets have been allocated.
Experience Tower Bridge – Cheap Things to Do in London
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic landmarks and one of the best free things to do in London. The bridge is free to walk across and offers the chance to get some of the most Insta-worthy shots in central London. Tickets can also be purchased, granting access to the towers, walkways, engine rooms, and fantastic glass walkways.
Tickets are £10.60 for adults and £5.30 for children. However, £1 tickets can be bagged for anyone with a Southwark, Tower Hamlets, or City of London postcode.
Enjoy the Ballet on a Budget
You can be forgiven for assuming that ballet tickets are reserved for the rich and famous. However, if you don’t mind a slightly obstructed view and a tad less legroom, you can pick a ticket up for the Royal Opera House for as little as £5.
Visit God’s Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard is one of the best unusual places to visit in London for free.
If you’re active on Instagram, you will have undoubtedly seen beautiful images of the crazy neon lights at God’s Own Junkyard. So whilst an industrial estate in Walthamstow might not be the first place that springs to mind when looking for a day out, everyone should visit this venue.
DSLR cameras cannot be used inside, but you can snap some great photos on your phone for personal use. There is also a quirky Rolling Scones café on site, which is open all weekend.
However, if you feel like splashing the cash and treating yourself to something extra special, custom-made neon signs can be purchased from this incredible venue.
See the Thames From Above – IFS Cable Car
The IFS Cable Car is one of the best cheap things to do in London and should certainly be on everyone’s itinerary.
This unique journey over the Thames transports visitors between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. It offers a unique perspective of the city and an excellent photo opportunity!
The IFS cable car is open until 10 pm (11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), and the views are even more spectacular in the dark. The cable car takes around 10 minutes each way and costs £12 per adult for a return journey.
The Beautiful Sky Garden
The Sky Garden, located in the famous ‘walkie-talkie’ building on Fenchurch Street, offers one of the best 360-degree views in London.
The gardens were designed in 2004 by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñolym. This lush green space is London’s highest public garden, welcoming over 3000 visitors daily.
The best part? Tickets are completely free! However, they do get booked exceptionally quickly, so be prepared to be flexible with your times and dates.
Tickets can be booked up to three weeks in advance. Sky Garden is open 10 am-6 pm on weekdays and 11 am-9 pm on weekends.
Enjoy a Comedy Night at the Top Secret Comedy Club
A comedy club is one of my favourite nights out in the capital. And, it is a surprisingly cheap activity to do in London.
There are many venues across the capital, but my favourite has to be the Top Secret Comedy Club. They have multiple shows daily, with bigger (and more expensive) acts on Friday and Saturday nights.
Their worst-kept secret, however, is that on a Monday night (when tickets are just £1), many huge names in the industry are known to attend to try out new material.
Enjoy One of London’s Best Parks
A free park? Revolutionary. Well, not quite.
However, London has some stunning outdoor spaces and wandering the amazing parks is one of my favourite free things to do in London.
If you’re only in town for the weekend, I recommend heading to Regents Park and Hyde Park, which can be enjoyed while hitting all the major sights. If you’ve got more time in the city, London Fields and Victoria Park in east London are two of my favourites.
Richmond Park in affluent west London is the largest of the Royal Parks, and walking amongst the wild deer is fantastic.
Read the full guide: 16 of The Best Parks in London
Climb the Monument, Monument (Cheap Things to Do in London)
If you’re looking for cheap attractions in London, especially cheap things to do with kids in London, then the Monument must be on your list.
As you probably know, the great fire of London happened in 1666, when a bakery on Pudding Lane caught alight and subsequently destroyed a third of all buildings in London. This left over 130,000 people homeless.
This Monument opened in 1677 and was built to commemorate the rebuilding of the city. It now provides an excellent tourist attraction with epic views of the capital.
There are 311 steps to climb to the top of the Monument – but the spectacular views are worth it! Tickets can be purchased at the attraction on the day, costing £6 per adult and £3 per child. Under 5’s are free.
The Monument is open from 09:30-13:00 and 14:00-18:00, seven days per week.
Top Tip: avoid Tuesdays if possible! This is when schools typically visit, so the attraction gets very busy.
Explore London on Two Wheels
I must be honest: I am neither the best nor the most confident cyclist. However, I cannot deny that exploring on two wheels is one of the best (and cheapest) ways to see London.
Santander Cycles is the most straightforward way to rent a bike in London. Just download the app and unlock a bike from a nearby docking station – prices start from £1.65, making it an incredibly cheap thing to do in London.
Lime Bikes are another great option (also operating simply through their app) – and the bonus here is that you won’t even work up a sweat as they’re electric!
Take a Dip in a (Heated!) Lido
Cold water swimming is one of the most popular latest wellness trends. Whilst I’m not quite on board this, outdoor swimming (in a heated lido) is right up my street!
Swimming in an outdoor pool transports you from the hustle and bustle of the capital, providing a great, fun way to get a workout in.
There are various locations across the city, all with a slightly different vibe. London Fields is my favourite, with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and consistently warm waters.
Cruise on the Thames Clipper Boat
The Uber Boat is one of my favourite ways to see the city (especially on a summer’s day). Single journeys start at £5.40, making it a much more affordable option than other river cruises.
The Thames Clipper runs from Barking in the east to Putney in the west. Some of the highlights on the route include Battersea, the London Eye, and London Bridge.
I think the Thames Clipper is an excellent option for kids, allowing them to see some of the highlights without fighting the crowds.
You can purchase tickets for the Thames Clipper in advance, but I find it much more straightforward to tap on using my oyster or bank card.
Shoreditch Street Art Walk
If you’re an art lover looking for something completely free to do in London, look no further than the Shoreditch Street Art Walk.
This trendy area of east London is packed with so much incredible street art, ranging from tiny works that go almost undetected to massive famous pieces that cover the sides of multistory buildings.
You have two options when exploring the street art in Shoreditch. The first is to book a tour with a local – this is an excellent way to learn more about the artists and the area. It’s also a great way to support small businesses.
However, if you’re looking for an entirely free way to enjoy Shoreditch street art, download some info beforehand and take a self-guided walk around the area.
Read the full guide: The Ultimate Shoreditch Street Art Guide
Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
If you’re looking for fun, cheap things to do in London, then the changing of the guards should definitely be on your list!
This traditional ceremony happens four days a week, where the soldiers currently on duty gather in front of the palace. The new guards are accompanied by a full military band, making the event a true sight to behold. All guards are dressed in the instantly recognisable red tunics and black hats.
The ceremony occurs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10.45 am. It lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11 am. The changing of the guard ceremony is free to attend.
As expected, the crowds gather early (especially on a Saturday), so get there early to grab a good viewing spot.