5 things to do in London on a budget
Living on a student budget, you’ll quickly realize your money doesn’t stretch too far in The Big Smoke. London is notoriously expensive, so it pays to get creative about where and when you spend your money.
1. Standing room only at Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe is an open-air playhouse built to replicate the original theater from 1599. The theater puts on Shakespeare plays most days of the week, rain, hail, or shine.
While you can stump up for seats around the undercover curved stands, the best value tickets are those down in front. 700 tickets for just £5 are available for each performance, the only catch is they’re standing room only, but you do get the best view of the stage. These tickets are known as groundlings, in honor of the people who paid just a penny to watch a play in Shakespeare’s era.
2. Satisfy your appetite
Brasserie Zedel is a stunning underground art deco French restaurant in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. The menu offers delicious French meals, and in the evenings the grand building hosts cabaret performances, but the real winner is the 3 course set lunch. Pick an entree, main, and dessert for under £20, with crowd faves such as steak and Creme Brulee currently on the menu.
Another budget-friendly London eatery is Roti King, serving delicious Malaysian roti and curries for less than a tenner. Join the lunchtime rush at one of two venues in Euston and Battersea.
3. Double the fun on the bus
While the London Tube might be the most efficient way to get around, it’s definitely not the most scenic. London’s double-decker buses get you from A to B while you enjoy the city sights. With unlimited bus travel for the day with an Oyster card costing just over £5, it’s a much more affordable option than the Hop-on-Hop-off tourist buses.
The best routes are number 24 which passes Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, and Hampstead Heath; the 9 which traverses London’s richest suburbs along The Strand, Kensington Palace and onto Oxford Street, and the 11 which passes Westminster, Big Ben, the houses of Parliament and ends at trendy Shoreditch.
4. Catch a football match
If you’re keen to catch a top-tier football match but your budget is tight, grab a ticket for a Women’s Super League match. The 12-team league is growing in popularity, and after the England Lionesses' recent second-place finish at the 2023 World Cup, women’s football has captured the nation’s attention with its fast-paced attacking style and high skill level.
Tickets for London teams Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Arenal only cost around £8-10 for adults. While tickets aren’t as hard to secure as the EPL, buy tickets online in advance to guarantee your seat.
5. Check for student discounts
Many experiences, restaurants and shops offer discounts for students and the best way to take advantage of these offers is by downloading the app UNiDAYs or Totum. Simply sign up with your student ID card from any school or institution. Once registered, you can get discounts of up to 25% off everything from fashion to transport, fitness and health to food and restaurants.
There are always more deals out there, so always carry your student ID card with you, and don’t be afraid to ask for student prices. Even McDonalds offers free burgers or ice cream with certain value meals.
Armed with these top tips, you'll be ready to experience London without compromising your budget.