There’s no denying that studying in a capital city comes at a premium, and London is no different. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t explore and socialise on a student budget. We’ve created a list of some of our favourite, and most importantly cheap, activities to help fill the days when your nose isn’t in a book.
By Grant Longstaff. Published 16 May 2023.
Museums and Galleries
London is home to many museums and galleries and with several offering free entry (bookable through their respective websites) they present the perfect escape on a rainy day in the capital. Your first stop should be the Natural History Museum, which offers visitors a glimpse into human evolution, the animal kingdom, and the natural world. Even the building itself is impressive and, with so much on display, you could spend days lost in the halls of history. If science is more your thing, then you could visit the Science Museum. With exhibits on everything from space, and technology, to medicine and robotics, you’re bound to find something to pique your interest.
Alternatively, if you have a love of art then the National Gallery is a must. You can gaze at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or marvel at Michelangelo’s The Entombment. The gallery is home to works by Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Monet, and many more world renowned artists. That said, if you prefer to explore contemporary art and artists, visit the Tate Modern. Formerly the Bankside Power Station, the building was repurposed, and the gallery opened in 2000, and has been the home to some of the most significant works of modern art.
If you fancy something that will get your blood pumping and offers a competitive edge, we’ve got you covered. There are several outdoor ping pong tables scattered throughout the parks and open spaces of London. You can find your local table at Table Tennis England. Just filter your results for outdoor tables and off you go. Remember, these tables are BYOB – bring your own bat/balls – but you can buy a set for the same price as a fancy coffee.
Have you ever wanted to play Hungry Hippos whilst munching on tacos or find the Cluedo killer whilst chomping on churros? Draughts is the place for you. Their Waterloo bar is set in a converted railway tunnel and hosts a library of over 1000 games for you to choose from. Offering competitively priced food and drink, you can play Pictionary and draw inspiration from the street art which surrounds the café. They also have a bar and kitchen in Hackney, based in a stunning Grade II listed building with a beer garden. Perfect for playing Monopoly on summer days.
A collection of shipping containers might not seem particularly exciting, but BOXPARK offers a great place to socialise and hang out. With three locations across the capital (Croydon, Shoreditch, and Wembley), each site offers a wide range of shopping options, international street food vendors, activities, and bars. Each BOXPARK location also offers a year round schedule of live music and entertainment. Make sure to check the listings regularly so you and your friends don’t miss out.
Sky Garden is the highest public garden in London offering stunning 360 degree views of the city. The best part? It’s free to visit. However, it can get extremely busy, so booking is advised. Once you’re up above the city streets you can meander through the lush greenery, beyond which lie sights such as Tower Bridge and the Shard. If you’re feeling particularly frivolous, there are also three restaurants and two bars where you can eat and drink whilst taking in the iconic London skyline.