London is by far my favourite city in the world. With an abundance of things to do but a perception of being overly expensive, it can be hard sometimes to find budget-friendly things to do. I asked some of the top travel influencers around the world to recommend 30 of the most unique things to do in London for under £10. These are great things to do that won’t break the bank and don’t include the usual boring budget-friendly things to do in London which everyone recommends!
If you are on an even bigger budget and are looking for absolutely free things to do in London then read this post of mine!
1.The Sky Garden in The Walkie Talkie
Suggested by Kavey Eats
The Sky Garden offers a great way to enjoy a skyscraper view over London without paying for it. Located at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, a building affectionately known as the ‘The Walkie-Talkie’ for its distinctive shape, the Sky Garden is accessed on the 34th floor. As well as the terraced planting and open space from which to enjoy views across London, there are also two bars and three restaurants ranging from brasserie to fine dining restaurant.
Although entrance to the Sky Garden is free, I strongly recommend that you book a slot in advance; these are released weekly on Mondays. There are a small number of slots reserved for free walk-ins but space is limited, and some days are blocked out for private events. The nearest tube station is Monument. Visitors are subject to airport-style security check before entry.
2. Try mudlarking!
Suggested by Coddiwomp
If you head to London, why not take a break from the typical tourist trail and have a go mudlarking? This lesser known London activity takes you to the banks of the River Thames at low tide, when its ‘beaches’ become exposed. Once there, you roam the waterfront, eyes down, searching amongst the debris for the historic artefacts that live there.
London is an ancient City and its shores reveal its stories. You might find clay pipes, oyster shells, pottery, glasswork, hundred year old shoes, old coins and far far more. It’s a veritable treasure trove of intrigue. Mudlarking is a strangely compelling thing to do and connects you to the people who came before you, giving you an insight into the history of the city all for free!
3. Watch the changing of the guard
Suggested by We Go With Kids
One can’t miss attraction in London is Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s official London residence. The Changing of the Guard ceremony occurs at 11:00 a.m. at least four times a week in the spring and summer months according to the posted schedule. During the ceremony, the Queen’s Guard hand over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace at St. James’ Palace to the New Guard. The Palace Guards dressed in scarlet tunics and black fury hats perform a musical military ceremony as they parade from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace.
There is no fee to watch Changing of the Guard, but it necessary to arrive early to stake out a good spot to watch the 45-minute ceremony. Picking up ice cream or the snacks for the wait is never a bad idea, either. Even the rare tourist who is does not closely follow the royals will enjoy this ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance.
4. Take a walk along the South Bank of the River Thames
Suggested by My Adventures Across The World
In a city as expensive as London, it’s incredible that one of the best things to do there is completely free. A walk along the South Bank of the river Thames, indeed, provides sa tunning view on some of the most iconic landmarks of the British capital. Especially on a sunny day, it’s delightful to spot monuments such as the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and, right next to them, the skyscrapers of the city. It’s an eclectic mix of old and new that makes the city all the more unique and interesting.
5. Visit the British Museum
Suggested by Two Traveling Texans
Like many other museums in London, admission to the British Museum is free and is a must-see in London. Architecturally it is unique, with a modern roof over the Great Court added to the classic building. The real draw, though, is the vast collection of historical pieces. You won’t want to miss seeing the Rosetta Stone, artifacts from Ancient Greece and Egypt, the treasures from Sutton Hoo, the Lindow man and much more. If possible, I would recommend allowing at least 3 hours for your visit, the museum is huge. You won’t be able to see everything but you should be able to cover the highlights. Go early if you can as the museum will get crowded.
6. Grab a great view from Waterloo Bridge
Suggested by Nomadic Boys
One of our favourite things to do in London is walking over Waterloo Bridge, which connects the Aldwych/Covent Garden on one side, to the Embankment on the other. This is where the River Thames bends, therefore giving you one of the best views of the city.
As you cross over from the Embankment side, on your left you have the view of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Millennium Wheel, and further afield. On your right you have the view of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf. It’s stunning, and more so in the evening when it’s all lit up.
7. Have a coffee with cats!
Suggested by Explore the Great Ocean Road
We just loved this quirky little cafe when we visited London as it was something so different and the owners made sure their felines were so well cared for.
They have a few basic rules to abide by and a 5-pound cover charge. Customers can come in and settle down for just a cuppa or some lovely food as well.
Everyone is encouraged to bring a book and make the most of the hour-long stays whilst enjoying the company of the cats. No touching or picking them up though as each cat does what cats do so well… they choose their human company.
The cafe is in trendy Shoreditch and must be the most welcoming little cafe in London. Not for those with allergies to cats… but an absolute winner for those of us who love the wonderful little furballs. Bookings required via their website.
8. Planetarium Show at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Suggested by The Discoveries Of
It’s no secret that I love Greenwich. This quaint village that kind of got sucked into the city is packed with cool things to do, including seeing the Planetarium Show at the Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory is a great place to visit anyway, but you should make sure you book in for one of the planetarium shows.
Before I went I had no idea of what to expect, but came away loving it. The show is presented by an astronomer in the digital planetarium. Throughout the course of experience, the astronomer takes you on a guided tour into space – explaining the planets and stars that you encounter along the way.
The audience get to vote where they want to explore next and off you go. Sounds awesome right? What’s better is that it’s only £8.
9. Attend the Battersea Park Fireworks
Suggested by Nomadic Boys
Every year in early November, we always visit the Battersea Park fireworks display, which is part of the Guy Fawkes Day on the 5th November. On Saturday just before or after, Wandsworth Council in South London arranges one of the biggest fireworks displays. We love it – it’s a 15-20 minutes spectacle of really pretty fireworks of all shapes and sizes, carefully choreographed to modern pop songs.
Tickets for the event are usually £10 or less per person, and you can purchase them online beforehand. It is very popular, so get extremely busy, but not in a suffocating way – every spot in the park will offer you a good view, as you only need to look up to the sky.
10. Greenwich Meridian
Suggested by Show Them the Globe
One of the best free things to do in London is to visit the Maritime Greenwich. It’ll only cost you the return tube journey (around 40 minutes from Tower Bridge) and it’s a lovely escape from city life. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 Greenwich Meridian is a collection of historic buildings between the Thames and the top of the hill of Greenwich Park.
Take a stroll up the hill through the park and chill on the grass with one of the best views of the London skyline before you. Make sure to walk to the top of the hill to the Meridian building where you can actually stand on the meridian line of Greenwich Mean Time!
After chilling in the park we loved strolling through the nearby Greenwich Market which is packed with lots of eateries and quirky shops.
11. Admire Tower Bridge
Suggested by Arzo Travels
The Tower Bridge is one of London´s most iconic sights, it is a unique bascule and suspension bridge, and beautiful to look at. Its interesting shape and design has made it a popular photo motive amongst visitors but it is also handy as it crosses the Thames River and crossing it is actually a thing you should do at least once.
Passing the bridge is free (do we not all love things that are free?) but you can also get a ticket for £9.80 for the Tower Bridge Exhibition and can see more of the bridge – including the Victorian Engine Room.
If you are lucky you can also use this ticket to use the walkways (which are the pedestrian walkways higher above).
Crossing the Tower Bridge is a fun (and busy) activity in London that you should have on your itinerary.
12. Pop Brixton
Suggested by Pure Wander
Forget the old stereotypes about food in London! Culinary prowess is alive and well, especially among the city’s markets and outdoor foodie gathering spaces. One of ours is south of the river, called Pop Brixton. What was once just some temporary, ugly shipping containers is now a hub of art, music, and amazing street food. It’s free to enter for a browse, and you can pick up some cheap eats like homemade ham and cheese crepes to go. Hang out during the day or at night, and catch some special events, like yoga classes and vintage record pop-up shops.
13. The Monument
Suggested by The Roaming Renegades
The monument is one of the most overlooked attractions in London but also one of the best when you are on a budget. For the nominal fee of only £4.50 you not only get to take in one of the best panoramas of this amazing city but also some of its most fascinating history. So we’ve all heard of the Great Fire of London, but how many people know of this fluted hidden behind more modern buildings that marks the exact spot on what was Pudding Lane where it started in 1666.
The monument as it is simply known was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1677 in tribute to this terrible event. The 202 ft (62 m) tall tower requires a steep and narrow 311 step climb but the views from the listed building are worth it!
Getting to the Monument couldn’t be easier. Get off the tube at “Monument” station. It is at the northern end of London Bridge (Not to be confused with Tower Bridge!)
14. The free dazzling Lumiere London Festival
Suggested by My Travel Scrapbook
January can be a dark and wet month to visit the city of London but fear not as the city lights up during the annual Lumiere London festival. Over 50 dazzling artworks transform the city into a spectacular light show. Iconic buildings and traditional architecture are illuminated. Quirky light installations are dotted across the English capital. Each year over 1 million people visit this free festival which takes place over four nights.
Therefore, don’t fret if your visit to London falls in dreary January. Just grab a warm scarf, your waterproofs, a good camera and you are ready to enjoy the UK’s largest light event, the magnificent Lumiere London festival.
15. Camden Lock Market and Canal Walk
Suggested by Travel Kiwis
When in London, one of the best things to do is a canal walk to Camden Lock Market. Just take the underground to Camden Town, walk along the High Street, and follow the signs to the canal.
The Camden Market is especially popular at weekends as it is one of the top attractions in London. It’s probably the vibrancy of the market that makes it the place to be at any time of the day or evening.
If you love shopping for quirky items, bric-a-brac, arts and crafts, you will find it here. And if food is your passion, the variety of delicious food stalls is amazing. Camden Market is the place to meet up with friends and relax at the water’s edge of the beautiful Regent Canal.
16. Visit Westminster Abbey during a Choral (Evensong) Service for Free
Suggested by Boomeresque
If you have the time and money, it is definitely worth visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site, 773 year old Westminster Abbey to do the self-guided audio-guide tour. However, the web sale adult admission price is a hefty £20. Alternatively, look up the schedule of services, and you can walk up to the front door and inform the door keeper you are there to attend the worship service.
You don’t need a ticket and there is no charge. You won’t be free to roam around the Abbey, but you will be able to sit in the magnificent interior and listen to beautiful liturgical music. Each week, the schedule of choral services is posted on the Abbey’s website.
17. Visit the V&A and Its Cafe
Suggested by Travelnuity
One of the most gorgeous museums in London is the Victoria & Albert Museum, or just the V&A as it’s usually known these days. It’s the world’s largest museum of decorative art and design, and is located in the museum-hotspot of Knightsbridge, right next to the Natural History Museum. And like most other museums in London, entry is free.
But it’s worthwhile spending a little to appreciate one of my favourite parts of the museum: the V&A Cafe. The main museum cafe is housed in the original Victorian-era refreshment rooms, designed by James Gamble, William Morris and Edward Poynter. No ordinary cafe, these grand rooms are the height of opulence. So spend up to £3 on tea or coffee, maybe a little extra for cake or scones, and sit back and enjoy the splendid surroundings.
18. Visit the Wallace Collection
Suggested by The Fashion Matters
Wallace Collection is an art museum located at Hertford house at the heart of London, and is open to the public since 1900. It features an impressive and extensive collection of fine arts dating back to the 15th to the 19th centuries. The museum is home for important paintings, drawings, porcelain, ceramic and furniture. Its strenght is said to be French arts from the 18th century. Indeed, the museum embodies the rich history of Europe from all periods.
However, Wallace Collection is not for art enthusiastics only; The beauty of its interior, decor and galleries could be appreciated by everyone. At the museum there is also a French restaurant located at a stunning courtyard in the ground floor. And the best part? It’s absolutely FREE!
19. Afternoon Tea at the Crypt Café at St Martin in the Fields
Suggested by Escape With Kids
Take a blissful break at the iconic Café in the Crypt at St Martin in the Fields church. This quiet oasis in Trafalgar Square is a must see in London.
The atmospheric crypt below the church with its magnificent vaulted ceiling is the perfect place to escape the city crowds and enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea. Less than £10 will get you delicious finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes and a pot of tea. There may be fancier afternoon teas available in London, but you would be hard-pressed to find a cheaper one!
Alternatively, save a few pounds by just having a coffee and choose a special memento at the wonderful gift shop.
20. Go on a street art tour in Shoreditch
Suggested by Travellers Archive
One of the cheapest things to do in London is to do a street art tour in Shoreditch. This area of London is where the most street artists have left their works in the past 20 years, from Belgian graffiti artist ROA to French street artist Space Invador and Banksy himself. There is hardly another city in Europa with so many street art pieces.
You can either walk around by yourself, which is easy to do, as most important pieces of street art are not hidden. On the contrary, in Shoreditch you could just follow the crowds to find the best street art. Some street art is harder to find, such as the famous Space Invader formations that are hanging on house facades. Another option is to take a street art tour that is offered by many tour operators. It takes about two hours for the guide to take you to the most important street art pieces.
21. Watch a free concert at St Martin-in-the-fields
Suggested by Greedy Gourmet
One of the best things to do in London for under £10 is to go to St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which is located next to Trafalgar Square, and watch free concerts. St. Martin, which is a church built in the 1200’s, offers up their space to musical guests on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays between 1 and 2 pm.
The performers, students from the Royal Academy of Music, are an eclectic range of musicians from classical to pop. Each show lasts 45 minutes and they offer a limited number of seats. If you are taking a break from work or just on holiday, it’s a wonderful place to spend your lunch hour.
22. Do the Jack the Ripper Tour
Suggested by Delve Into Europe
In the late 19th century, the East End of London was an industrial slum, a warren of dim, gas-lit streets and alleyways where the overcrowded immigrant poor lived in fetid squalor. It was here, over a three-month period in 1888 that a series of grisly murders of women were committed, by an unknown serial killer, or possibly killers.
The ‘Jack the Ripper’ case has exerted fascination so long because it was the first such case to spark intense media coverage, and the mystery was never solved.
Several different tours run daily, departing in the early evening, around the areas the crimes were committed, Whitechapel and Spitalfields. The various walks are run by experts in the field of ‘Ripperology’. Some visit the sights of the murders and haunts of the victims, while others are less literal, going for places that still look similar to how they would have at the time of the murders.
You can be transported back to this time, even seeing copies of ‘Jack’’s letters and police documents, for just £10 per adult.
23. Visit the Tate Modern
Suggested by History Fan Girl
One of my favorite London activities is going to the Tate Modern, which is a world-class modern art museum. Open every day (with hours into the evening!), it’s an easy stop to put on any London itinerary since it’s located across from St. Paul’s and by the Millennium bridge. While the art is fantastic, people also come to appreciate the architecture. The interiors are intriguing, and their hyper-new feel blends perfectly well with the works on display.
The best part of visiting the Tate Modern, aside from seeing the amazing, thought-provoking works of art, is that there’s no charge to see the permanent collection. Everyone who is interested in experiencing modern art in London can stroll in without having to get a ticket. The only charge is if you want to see the special exhibits or if you want to make a purchase in the cafe or gift shop.
24. Get In Touch With Your Artistic Side At Somerset House
Suggested by England Explore
A great non touristy activity is to take in one of the many excellent – and free or cheap (less than £10) – arts events held at Somerset House, off The Strand in Central London, home to a thriving arts community.
Recent exhibitions have included Es Devlin’s Mask (“An ovoid, mask-shaped concave form is sculpturally imprinted with dense urban geometry….”), a showcase of modern English-South Asian artists and the launch of a musical group’s latest EP.
If your tastes are a little more conventional then Somerset House also hosts the world famous Courthauld Gallery containing many world famous paintings (such as Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’, pictured).
It’s less busy than the National Gallery and a bargain at £8. Anyway, whatever your artistic preferences, there’ll be something for you to enjoy at Somerset House…
25. Cruising on the River Thames for less than £10
Suggested by ASocialNomad
Taking a cruise along the River Thames could cost you a small fortune, but you can see exactly the same sights for less than £10 by taking the commuters favourite the Thames Clippers. You can pay for the boats using your Oyster or contactless card. For the princely sum of £7.50, you could travel all the way from Putney in the West Zone to Woolwich in the East Zone.
The main sights you’ll want to see, though are between Battersea Power Station and Canary Wharf (just £6.50). There’s seating inside and out, a small café on board (sandwiches, soft drinks, beers) and some amazing photo opportunities. So load up your Lonely Planet to your Kindle, read all about the sights en-route and get your camera ready!
26. Watch a play at Shakespeare‘s Globe
Suggested by Global Introvert
You think theatre in London is expensive? Think again. At Shakespeare’s Globe, a replica of the bard’s original theatre in London’s Southwark, you can watch performances for as little as 5 pounds. That price will allow you to become a so-called groundling: one of the people in the yard, the standing-room area right in front of the stage.
Yes, it means you have to watch the whole play standing up, but in return, you’re right in the middle of the action. Where else can you watch a play literally leaning against the stage while there are actors running through the crowd and the play happens all around you? A must-do, not just for theatre nerds and fans of the bard, but anyone looking for good value-for-money entertainment in London.
27. Emirates Air Line Cable Car
Suggested by Between England and Iowa
Considered part of the TFL (Transport For London) network, the Emirates Air Line Cable Car is a fun London experience. It connects North Greenwich on the Jubilee Underground line to Royal Victoria on the Docklands Light Railway.
This aerial cable car costs as little at £4.50 (cheaper for Oyster Card holders) for a single trip across the River Thames with views of the Royal Docks and the O2 Arena, and an audio ‘tour’ while you enjoy the flight. Oyster Card holders can benefit from a return trip and entrance to the Emirates Aviation Experience for £8.40 (£10.70 with an Oyster Card).
28. See The Traffic Light Tree
Suggested by Barefoot Nomad
This eight meter tall traffic light tree by French sculptor Pierre Vivant dominates the Trafalgar Way roundabout next to the famous Billingsgate Market.
It has a whopping 75 functional, computer controlled traffic lights that blink on and off in a confusing blast of lights. While the sculpture doesn’t really direct traffic, it’s definitely enough to stress out even the most confident driver! It’s free to access.
29. God’s Own Junkyard
Suggested by Travel Outlandish
Finding weird things to do in London is awfully easy, but some things are still worth a novelty seeker’s time. Way the hell out there in Walthamstow, you’ll find God’s Own Junkyard, a salvage yard displaying Europe’s largest collection of vintage neons and signs.
The all-in-one gallery, café, and bar created by Chris Bracey displays everything from classic neons to signs borrowed from old-school sex shops and 60’s hotels. When in London, stop by for a drink and (let’s be honest) a pretty rad Instagram photo.
30. Try a famous Salt Beef Bagel in Shoreditch
Suggested by Eternal Arrival
If you want to do one of the best – and most delicious – things in London you can do with less than a tenner, head on over to Brick Lane in Shoreditch, where you can’t miss a tasty salt beef beigel! The famous Beigel Bake shop is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – but that doesn’t stop there from being a massive line virtually any time of the day or night! However, never fear – the line moves very quickly, and in no time you’ll have a piping hot, fresh salt beef beigel in your hands for less than 5 quid. A salt beef beigel is a freshly baked bagel with meltingly tender corned beef (also called salt beef), warm and fresh out of the oven. There’s a smear of mustard and also a large pickle in every beigel, which complements the beef perfectly. It’s best eaten while walking admiring Shoreditch’s excellent street art, perusing the funky vintage clothing shops, or while walking through the covered markets full of other street food eats.
Tell me below what you would choose to do in the city of London. Are you on a REALLY tight budget? Then make sure you read my article on 30 FREE things to do in London!
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