From the best cheap-eats to the coolest art or music venues, we’ve scoured London in search of the places that every student should add to their bucket list. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a rooftop garden, find a peaceful library to work in or find student-price tickets to the cinema, we’ve got you covered.
1. Borough Market
You can’t spend time in London without paying a few of the markets a visit and if you’re feeling a bit peckish, Borough Market is the one for you. With cheese stalls, burger vans, hot pies and fresh fruit piled high on wooden carts, you’ll smell it before you can see it. And as there’s a lot on offer, there’s always a good deal to be found. The full market is open Wednesday to Saturday, a more limited selection of stalls on Monday and Tuesday.
2. Southbank Centre Roof Garden
Yes, it does rain in England, but London does also get its fair share of sunny summer days. When the sun does decide to shine, the roof terrace bars beckon. The roof of the South Bank Centre overlooks the Thames, the London Eye and even the houses of Parliament so you can get your culture fix and your Vitamin D all in one go. In all the chaos of the big city, this garden (designed by the Eden Project and complete with real trees and wildflower grasses) is an oasis of peace and a great spot to press ‘reset’ before you dive back into your studies.
3. Bar Kick
Spread over two floors in Shoreditch, Bar Kick is not your average cafe. Where a dancefloor might be in any other bar, rows of table football tables have transformed the basement into the ultimate place to spend an evening with friends. Kick back and relax (pun intended) with their classic burger menu and show off your skills as you blow off some steam, or head over to enjoy the atmosphere if there’s a big football game on the TV. At happy hour, beers are just £2.50 and cocktails are £4.50.
4. Ozone Coffee House
Ozone started with three friends who shared a passion for coffee in New Zealand. The sister coffee house in Shoreditch holds the same core values of community, sustainability and quality produce so the cafe, roaster, bar and light restaurant are all under the same roof. This spacious cafe, housed in a large former warehouse, is filled with natural light, trendy wooden tables and minimalist furnishings. Read: it’s the perfect place to work if you’re keen to combine studying with caffeine.
5. British Film Institute Southbank
Film-buffs have to visit the British Film Institute at Southbank. Showcasing the very best of cinema, the four screens of the BFI show a blend of classic, contemporary and critically acclaimed films from all eras, preview new releases and host director’s commentary nights. It gets better – if you’re under 25, tickets on the door are just £3. A night at the movies that costs even less than a coffee? You’ll be a regular in no time!
6. The Vaults
To get under the skin of London’s amazing independent art scene, it’s time to head underground. Occupying a maze of tunnels beneath Waterloo Station, Vaults is a subterranean, immersive art space filled with incredible installations and exhibitions from London’s coolest creatives. Join life-drawing classes, stop for a drink, try your best at the Monday night pub quiz or nab tickets to a live music night; if you’re in need of inspiration, losing yourself in the hidden gallery could help you find what you’re looking for.
7. The Fire Station
Any restaurant whose menu serves ‘noble burgers and adventurous pizzas’ is one which welcomes students. The Fire Station at Waterloo has revamped the old fire station (funnily enough) and turned the legendary location into a legendary comfort-food joint. Pattys are piled high in buns, sourdough crusts are fired in the authentic pizza oven, and the creative bartenders have invented their own bespoke cocktail menu – what’s not to love?
8. Bishopsgate Library
When you’re living and studying in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, sometimes you just have to seek solace and find a quiet spot. Bishopsgate Library can be found tucked away near busy Liverpool Street, though once inside, you would never know that London lies just beyond the doors. Wifi is free, the library is open to everybody and – spoiler alert – it’s seriously pretty. Tall, rich wooden bookshelves reach from floor to ceiling, and light streams in through domed windows in the roof – you can live out your Harry Potter fantasies here whilst working.
9. The Miller Pub
With great value food (burgers are just £7.50), cheap drinks and ping pong tables on the roof, The Miller in Southwark is a great place to spend a night with friends. The bar stocks craft ales, IPAs and an array of real ciders on draft, each at less than £5 for a pint. Musicians: rejoice! There’s a rehearsal space downstairs (also available to theatre groups and comedy rehearsals) and the pub regularly has live music nights which feature local artists.
10. Corsica Studios
This hip hangout is only for those in the know. Occupying two railway arches behind Elephant and Castle, the not-for-profit venue is split into a bar and live music room, and a studio that can be found showing creative film as often as it can be seen starring in the filming of one. Pop-up music gigs, art installations and DJ club nights that last until 6am are all on the schedule for this uber-trendy hideaway.