20 Things To Do In London On A Budget

Eating Out
1: Borough Market: What started as a fruit and vegetable market 1,000 years ago has grown into a destination for foodies, with many meals for under £5. Stalls serve hot pasta (La Tua Pasta), stir-fried, hand-dived scallops (Shellseekers), queue-worthy chorizo buns (Brindisa) and much more. 
8 Southwark St, SE1 1TL
2: Chinatown: Chinatown offers a taste of the Far East in London. There are more than 80 places to eat in, not all of them cheap, so browse first. We suggest you try Baozi Inn for baozi – a steamed dumpling filled with savoury treats – and the legendary Four Seasons for Cantonese-style roast duck. 

Baozi Inn, 25 Newport Court, WC2H 7JS. Four Seasons, 
23 Wardour St, W1D 6PW
3: Ethos: Choose from a buffet of meat-free dishes that are nourishing and non-processed. Options on offer range from paleo to vegan and gluten-free, and everything is priced by weight (lunch costs £2.60 for 100g; dinner costs £2.85 for 100g). 

48 Eastcastle St, W1W 8DX
4: Brass Rail: Opened in 1966 and recently refurbished, the salt beef bar in Selfridges has a loyal following, mainly for the hot pulled salt beef Bialy roll, filled with salt beef, Swiss cheese, tomato, gherkin, lettuce and relish. A whole one will easily feed two, if you can bear to share it (£9.50). 

400 Oxford St, W1A 1AB
5: Sketch: If you thought a Michelin-starred venue was out of your price range, think again. While afternoon tea here will set you back over £40, cream tea is a mouth-watering £10.50! Much lighter than afternoon tea and just as traditional, it includes scones with jam and clotted cream, served with tea. 

9 Conduit St, W1S 2XG

Budget tip – Escape from the cold inside Brixton Village, a covered labyrinth of affordable restaurants with a warm community atmosphere.

6: Graffiti Tour: There’s more to street art than Banksy, as the London Graffiti and Street Art Tour shows. On the two-and-a-half-hour-long tour, you’ll pass through London’s East End and see three-storey- high murals and artwork so small you’d miss it unless it was pointed out. You’ll also learn about the history of the area, why immigrants made the East End their home and how the district evolved from Victorian slums into an artistic and techie hub. Pay what you want. freetoursbyfoot.com
7: Fire Of London Tour: London has survived plagues, fire and bombs. 
In London’s Burning – A City Transformed, 
a tour lasting nearly two hours, you’ll see monuments to heroes who saved the city 
during World War II’s Blitz and the Great Fire 
of London in 1666. The tour ends at Monument. 
Adult £7; child £6. cityoflondonguides.com

8: Black History Walks: How did Portobello Road get its name? What caused the 1958 anti-black riots? Learn the answers to these questions and more on these two-hour tours around London. Along the way you’ll learn about a revolutionary Jamaican who plotted to overthrow the government in the early 1800s, and visit a restaurant off Portobello Road in Notting Hill where Diana Ross, Bob Marley 
and Muhammad Ali hung out in the 1970s. 
 Adult £8; child £3. blackhistorywalks.co.uk

9: The Beatles Tour: Richard Porter is Beatles mad – he’s the author 
of a Beatles guide and the owner of a Beatles-themed coffee shop. On his Beatles in My Life walk you’ll see the restaurant in Help!, John 
and Yoko’s apartment where the Two Virgins picture was taken and a location from A Hard Day’s Night near Marylebone station. On the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, you’ll visit No 3 Savile Row, where the legends played their 
last live performance on the roof. Abbey Road’s zebra crossing is on both tours, naturally. Adult £10; child free. beatlesinlondon.com

10: Music Legends Tours: This two-hour walking tour focuses on Camden’s rock and roll history. As you learn about the swinging Sixties, the emergence of punk and the rise and fall of Britpop, you’ll see Amy Winehouse’s memorial statue and her favourite pub, the canal and Camden Market. A busker performs songs 
by Oasis, the Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, 
Blur and Amy Winehouse throughout. Adult £10; child £8. weareundiscovered.com


11: BFI Southbank: The BFI Southbank is a paradise for filmgoers. There are screenings of old and new films, and the Mediatheque – a digital library – lets you watch old films and TV shows for free. The new 25 & Under scheme gives savings on shows and last-minute tickets (45 minutes before the start) for £3.

 Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT
12: Piccadilly Comedy: Bag tickets to a Sunday show at Piccadilly Comedy Club London for just £7.50. January’s highlights include Luke Toulson and Phil Wang on 10 Jan, and Luisa Omielan on 22 and 24 Jan. The club offers £10 tickets on Fri and Sat (plus a £1 booking fee); it includes admission to the nightclub, too. 

7 Oxendon St, SW1Y 4EE 

13: Prince Charles Cinema: For those in the know, the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square is a great find. The cinema’s two screens host all-night film marathons and singalong events – think Hairspray and Grease. It also hosts screenings of big blockbusters, black-and-white classics and foreign films 
with subtitles. Weekday matinees are just £8. 

7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY


14: Royal Court Theatre: The Royal Court Theatre has developed a reputation for cultivating new writers, with many of its productions transferring to the West End and Broadway. This year, the theatre celebrates its 60th anniversary, and Caryl Churchill kicks off the season with Escaped Alone (from 21 Jan). Think you can’t afford tickets? Then think again – there are £10 tickets on Mondays, released at 9am online and 10am from the box office. 

Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
15: Young Vic theatre: If you’re a full-time student, or aged 25 or under, you can take advantage of £10 tickets at the Young Vic theatre. As the £10 tickets are limited, try to book ahead. January highlights include Macbeth (to 23 Jan), reinvented with choreography by Carrie Cracknell and Lucy Guerin. You could also buy a £10 standing ticket for performances in the Gallery, with no age restrictions.

 66 The Cut, SE1 8LZ

Budget tip – Get Into London Theatre has tickets for just £10 for more than 40 plays, musicals, operas and dance shows – with no booking fees. It makes theatre accessible to all.

16: Primark: Oxford Street has two Primarks and both are big and busy with fast-fashion shoppers. Prices are low: coats start at £9 and jumpers at £6. What Primark does best is offer basic clothing at budget prices – think vests and socks. Be warned: the queues for the changing rooms and tills are long. 

499-517 Oxford St, W1K 7DA
17: Sample Sales: Sample sales have been going for years, so it’s surprising that so few people know about them. Largely aimed at the label hunter, they are one of the best ways to purchase a designer name at a discounted price. Most items on sale are from a previous season, but you can often get up to 80 per cent off. Entrance to the sale usually costs about £2. Details of sales can be found on Sample Sale Guide or Designer Sales. samplesaleguide.co.ukdesignersales.co.uk
18: Charity Shops: Buying clothes from charity shops has never been so popular – they are now a go-to place for the savvy label-loving shopper. The secret is to shop in well-to-do areas, where high-end items are often donated. The Beckhams previously donated Victoria’s Jimmy Choo shoes and David’s Dolce & Gabbana suits to the British Red Cross in Chelsea. In 2006, Keira Knightley donated the Vera Wang dress she wore at the Oscars to Oxfam in Notting Hill in order to raise money for charity. It’s not just big names, either – for under £10, second-hand items include games and crockery. 

British Red Cross, 69-71 Old Church St, SW3 5BS. Oxfam, 114 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3QS
19: TK Maxx: Big names don’t have to come with big prices. TK Maxx is for fashion-forward shoppers, who can choose from menswear, womenswear, accessories and a handbag collection – all of which include big discounts on designer names. You can buy shoes starting at £7 and shirts at £10. 

120-124 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0JR
20: Beyond Retro: Vintage clothing has become increasingly popular, with lots of stores based in Soho and east London. Beyond Retro is one of the most popular, and there are bargains to be had on both men’s and women’s clothing. There are lace gloves for £8, hats for £10, swimsuits for £9 and belts for £10. The aim of the shop is to recycle clothing, so all of the products were originally donated to charity. 

58-59 Great Marlborough St, W1F 7JY



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