London is known for being perhaps the most expensive city in the UK, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Big Smoke if you’re strapped for cash. There are plenty of things to do and see in London, regardless of your budget, so we’ve compiled a list of the 25 best things to do in London for under £15, so that you can experience what the big city has to offer without breaking the bank.
1. Go on The Jack the Ripper Tour
The mystery of the gruesome Jack the Ripper murders still haunt the country to this day, even over 120 years on. If you’re comfortable with getting a fright, this walking tour is well worth the £12.50 admission fee, and you’ll leave with enough knowledge of the infamous murders to spook your friends!
2. Visit the Natural History Museum
From the biggest whales to the tiniest creatures, The Natural History Museum really does have something for everyone to enjoy, even since ‘Dippy’ the diplodocus skeleton has been taken down. Admission to the museum is completely free, but you may have to pay to enter some of the exhibitions.
Price: Free, but donations are welcome
3. Visit Platform 9 ¾
If you think your Hogwarts acceptance letter got lost in the post, you should definitely pay a visit to Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. You can pose for a photo with the disappearing trolley, you can browse through the Platform 9 ¾ shop, you can even sit and wait for the Hogwarts Express to whisk you away to wizarding school – but you might be waiting a while! Disclaimer: wizards, witches and muggles alike are welcome.
4. Visit the Keats’ House Museum
In Hampstead Heath lies the former home of Romantic poet John Keats and, even today, it still holds treasures from when he was alive. Part of the museum consists of some of Keats’ possessions such as paintings and prints. The house itself, in which Keats lived for two years, is a Grade I listed building and is kept in pristine condition from the exterior to the interior – this is definitely a must see for any literary lover.
5. Have a picnic on Primrose Hill
By day or by night, Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park is the perfect location for a picnic or to admire a fantastic view of London’s skyline, hidden amongst gorgeous greenery. While you’re there, you even can visit ‘Shakespeare’s Tree’, a 150+ year old oak tree that was planted to commemorate the 300th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Whatever you choose to do there, Primrose Hill has a lively atmosphere, attracting visitors from all over the world.
6. Get a coffee at the famous Shoreditch Grind
Shoreditch sits in the East End of London and is famous for its vintage boutiques and quirky vibes, but it is also celebrated for its coffee. If you’re a lover of the bean, you’ll be in good company at Shoreditch’s best known coffeehouse Shoreditch Grind. If you’re not a coffee lover, you can still get tea, chilled drinks, food and cocktails (some of which may be a touch pricier than £15!).
7. Visit the Sigmund Freud Museum
The Sigmund Freud household in Hampstead remained the Freud family home until Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s youngest daughter, died in 1982. It is now a museum holding fascinating artefacts such as Freud’s analytic couch and his extensive collection of antiques. The museum is also home to exhibitions, all of which are included in the price of the admission fee.
8. Eat at Cereal Killer Cafe
This eccentric cafe serves cereals from all over the globe, with an array of milks and toppings. They even serve cereal cocktails, the priciest of which comes to a very reasonable £4.90, so if you’re on a tight budget, you can still eat and drink the day away at Cereal Killer Cafe.
9. Ride a Thames Clipper
If you’re sick of feeling sweaty and cramped on the busy tube, then we have just the budget-friendly solution for you: ride a Thames Clipper. These aquatic buses run every 20 minutes and can take you from A to B while riding past some of London’s most popular attractions along the River Thames.
10. Sing your heart out at Karaoke Box
Fancy yourself as being Britney Spears tonight? What about Michael Jackson? Or Dolly Parton? Whoever you want to be, Karaoke Box has got you covered. London has two venues for Karaoke Box: one in Mayfair and one in Soho. Whichever venue you choose to visit, you can book a room and use your pipes. You can even grab something to eat and drink while you’re there.
Price: £5 per person, per hour
11. Get an eyeful in the Morpeth Arms’ Spying Room
The Morpeth Arms is a proper, British pub situated on the River Thames. It’s rumoured to be haunted, so if you’re not satiated by the fright of T=the Jack the Ripper Tour, you can watch the CCTV footage of the haunted cellar to see if you can spot the resident ghost. But, it’s not just the spooky cellar that gives this pub its appeal. The Morpeth Arms is fully equipped with its own ‘spying room’, where, on the first floor, you can use binoculars to gaze at stunning views over the Thames.
Price: Free with a purchase
12. Go to Battersea Park Children’s Zoo
Sat right on the River Thames, in Battersea Park, is the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo and it’s the perfect place to take your cheeky monkeys if you’re on a budget. For a reasonable price, you get to see an array of mammals, reptiles and birds and even watch the animals feast at feeding time. There’s also an adventure playground on-site so that your little ones can blow off some steam away from the busy streets of London.
Price: £8.95 for adults, £6.95 for children
13. Visit the Home of GMT at the Royal Observatory
Do you want to go back to the beginning of time? Ok, not literally, but for a small admission fee, you can see the Meridian Line, learn all you need to know about astronomy and become an expert on the origins of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), all at The Royal Observatory. There are daily planetarium shows and you can stand on the divide of the eastern and western hemispheres.
14. Get ice cream frozen by liquid nitrogen at Chin Chin Labs
Here’s something a little bit different: the ice cream at Chin Chin Labs is frozen with liquid nitrogen. We know what you’re thinking but, yes, it’s completely safe for consumption and, yes, it’s completely delicious. The flavours range from the tame to the wacky, such as a modest vanilla pod flavour and a totally out there jasmine, lychee mochi & sesame powder flavour. Chin Chin Labs serves its nitrogen ice cream from 12pm-7pm every day and even caters for vegans, so there’s no reason to not get chemical when you’re in London.
15. Go for a swim in the Hampstead Heath ponds
Get your towels ready! The Hampstead Heath ponds are popular outdoor swimming destinations, and why? Because you can enjoy a swim while being surrounded by nature in the beautiful Hampstead Heath… all for a miniscule £2! There are three pools available: one for men, one for women, and one for both genders. But don’t worry, it’s totally safe, complete with lifeguards and buoys.
16. Visit the Handel & Hendrix House
Did you know that Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix used to live in the same building? Not at the same time, of course. One of London’s hidden treasures is the Handel & Hendrix House Museum, where the lives and works of Handel and Hendrix are celebrated. You can now explore the former abodes of these two musical legends, entering the flat where Jimi Hendrix wrote his music and the dining room where Frideric Handel played to his friends.
17. Have a dance lesson at Pineapple Dance Studios
Every day, Pineapple Dance Studios host dance lessons, ranging from ballet to street dance classes – you can even attend one of their many fitness classes. The Pineapple Dance Studios are conveniently located in Covent Garden, so there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy some of the Garden’s street acts once you’ve taken off your dancing shoes.
18. Get cultured at the National Gallery
You may need to put aside an entire afternoon for number 18 on our list, as the National Gallery is home to over 2,300 works. If you want a break from the London streets without straying away from the heart of the city, then this is the place for you. The gallery offers talks and tours, so even if you don’t know your art, you can brush up your knowledge whilst you’re there. However, you may have to pay to view some exhibitions.
Price: Free, but donations are welcome
19. Browse the weird and wonderful M&Ms World
Want some eye candy? Enter the bright and colourful world of all things M&Ms, but you may need to bring some sunglasses. With the shelves packed with merchandise and confectionary, this novelty shop is every chocoholic’s dream.
Price: Free, unless purchasing
20. Get standing tickets for the Royal Opera House
Even on a strict budget, you can enjoy a classy evening at London’s Royal Opera House, with amphitheatre tickets starting at just £4. You can watch some of the UK’s finest opera performances in the flesh and, conveniently located in Covent Garden, you can soak up the lively atmosphere of London pre and post show. The Royal Opera House also hosts free, outdoor screenings, so if you’re a fan of the opera, there are plenty of ways that you can appreciate the art form at a low price.
21. Rent a deckchair in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is one of the UK’s top eight Royal Parks and what better way to soak up its glory than in the comfort of a rental deck chair? From the months of March to October, during the day, you can rent a deckchair in Hyde Park and watch the world go by. Why not amp it up by having a picnic while you’re there? Or a few drinks with friends?
Price: £1.60 for 1 hour
22. Take a walk on the Sweeney Todd and Other Demons Tour
If The Jack the Ripper Tour and the ghost in the cellar of The Morpeth Arms leave you tantalised for more spook, the Sweeney Todd and Other Demons Tour is a must for you. This tour, starting at St. Paul’s Cathedral and climaxing at the passageway where Sweeney Todd was rumoured to have bloodied and butchered, will keep you on your toes from the beginning, all the way to the gruesome end.
23. See a classic film at the Prince Charles Cinema
This cinema is the holy grail for cult classics, and it has both evening and matinee screenings. There is no end to the variety that the Prince Charles Cinema shows, from a good old Frozen Sing Along to The Ultimate Harry Potter Marathon, so you’ll definitely find a film to suit your taste.
Price: £4.50 – £8.50
24. Rent a Segway in Battersea Park
Battersea Park is charming at the best of times, and if you want to explore it in a less conventional way, you can now rent a Segway to explore the area. These popular Segway experiences allow you to glide through this 200 acre park and see the sights, including the stunning view alongside the River Thames.
25. Tour the Brixton Windmill
If you want to take a step back out of the busy urban lifestyle, you can tour the 200-year-old Brixton Windmill. It opened in 1816 and was known as ‘Ashby’s Mill’, as, for the entirety of its working life, it was run by the Ashby family. The Brixton windmill opens to the public at the end of March, when you can tour the mill and learn about its history, or have a wander around the picturesque Windmill Gardens.
If you want to read more about the beautiful scenery and green areas that London has to offer, read our blog post on five of the best parks & green spaces in London.