Renowned for being one of the most expensive cities in the world, London is a vibrant, cultural capital with plenty to do – but you don’t have to break the bank to get the most out of it. From cheap eats to frugal days out, follow our guide to explore London on a budget and in purse-friendly fashion.
1. Be a culture vulture at the V&A
Entry to the V&A in South Kensington is free and gives you access to the majority of the museum, where you can feast your eyes on the best of art, design, fashion, photography and more. They also run ticketed exhibitions which can cost as little as £12.
2. Make a discovery at the Natural History Museum
Whilst you’re in the mood (and the vicinity!) to drink in more wonders of the world, head to the National History Museum next door. This world-renowned museum is home to pre-historic dinosaur bones, and some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens, and entry is completely free. Win!
3. Aim high at the Sky Garden
If you don’t fancy the queues or the ticket prices of the London Eye, then make your way to the Sky Garden. Towering 155 metres over the capital, it offers spectacular views across the city and far beyond – and the indoor landscaped gardens are pretty Instagram-worthy, too. You need to book in advance but it’s more than worth it to see (and snap!) that skyline.
4. Meet the residents at Hackney City Farm
If you find yourself in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of the capital, stop off at Hackney City Farm and spend some time in the company of their farmyard animals. From goats and sheep to chickens and rabbits, there are plenty of furry and feathered friends to see – and you can even buy the farm’s own eggs and honey too. Entry is free but small donations are welcomed.
5. Get your pizza fix at Franco Manca
Hungry? Steer clear of overpriced tourist traps and get your food baby on at Franca Manca, available in various locations across the capital. Their sourdough pizzas offer the perfect way to refuel during a day in the city – and better still, prices start from a purse-pleasing £4.50.
6. See the drama at the National Theatre
The theatre might not be the most obvious choice for a budget activity in London but at the National Theatre at the Southbank, their aptly-named ‘cheap tickets’ cost as little as £15 and standing tickets, bought on the day, are just £5. Err, yes please!
7. Make like a hipster at Brick Lane Market
Can’t handle the Oxford Street crowds? Jump on the Tube to East London and spend an afternoon at Brick Lane Market. From vintage clothing stalls and indie brands to Intsa-worthy rainbow bagels, this eclectic market is set against a backdrop of vibrant street art, making it an absolute must-see.
8. Get crafty at Drink, Shop & Do
Feeling creative? Drink, Shop & Do at King’s Cross combines a cafe and bar with activity workshops, from yoga and cross-stitch to Beyonce dance classes. It’s seriously budget-friendly too – in fact, some activities, such as Christmas arts and crafts and Leonardo DiCaprio clay-making (yep, seriously) are free when you buy a drink.
9. Smell the roses at Columbia Road Flower Market
Spend a Sunday at Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney, overflowing with buckets of colourful flowers and planets, and terracotta pots filled with succulents, cactuses, shrubs and herbs. Grab a coffee from one of the nearby delis as you browse the stalls, taking a breather from the crowds at the small, independent boutiques and art galleries that line the street.
10. See the lights at God’s Own Junkyard
God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow is a visual treat and one of the most Instagrammable places you’re likely to come across in the capital. Filled to the brim with neon signs, it’s free to look around and has its own cafe if you need a quick pit stop.