How to enjoy London on a budget: top experiences for £10 or less

Jessica Baldwin

Jessica Baldwin

It's one of the most expensive cities in the world, but there's more to lofty London than extravagant stage shows and Michelin-starred menus.

How to explore London for less
How to explore London for less © Irstone -

Hidden around the capital's magical waterways, historic streets and glorious parks are hundreds of incredible things to try which won't break the bank; you just have to know where to find them!

From bagging bargain tickets to side-splitting comedies and sneaking into sold-out operas to cruising along the glorious Thames, here are 15 amazing London experiences you can try for a tenner or less.

Staying in London: check out the latest offers on hotel stays with the likes of Hilton*, Marriott* and IHG* among others.

Listen to London's oldest orchestra

Snap up a 'wildcard ticket' for one of the London Symphony Orchestra's 'half six fix' concerts at the Barbican and you could end up bagging the best seat in the house for a tenner!

Sir Simon Rattle in action with the London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Simon Rattle in action with the London Symphony Orchestra © PA Images - Alamy Stock Photo

Plus, the refreshingly unstuffy hour-long classical concerts kick off with a rare introduction courtesy of their talented musicians, giving you an insight into what makes the piece so special.

Get a bird's-eye view of the city

Take the IFS Cloud Cable Car from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks for unbeatable views of landmarks like St. Paul's Cathedral, Canary Wharf and the Shard, as you soar 90 metres above the glittering River Thames.

Take a ride over the River Thames
Take a ride over the River Thames © Calming Presence - Adobe Stock Image

From £6 one way, it's one of London's cheapest sightseeing experiences. While you're there, check out East London's free art trail, The Line, as well.

Catch a show at London's best theatre

Each Friday at 1 pm sharp the National Theatre releases their spectacularly good value 'Friday Rush Tickets'. The £10 tickets guarantee you a seat at a stupendously good show the following week; even the headline shows on the main stage. Early? Hunt out their craft beer bar, The Understudy, for alfresco riverside drinking.

Haggle in London's prettiest market

Bursting with blooms, Columbia Road Flower Market springs to life each Sunday, with fragrant stalls selling humble shrubs, exotic orchids and everything in between.

Bustle among the blooms on Columbia Road
Bustle among the blooms on Columbia Road © Madrabothair -

Whilst flower fanatics head there at 8 am sharp for the freshest flora, penny-pinchers swarm mid-afternoon to snap up end-of-day bargain bouquets. Not finished bartering? Brick Lane Market is just a 10-minute walk away.

Catch a movie at London's coolest cinema

The West End's last indy film-house, The Prince Charles Cinema, screens everything from nostalgic numbers and energetic sing-a-longs to arthouse flicks and big blockbusters.

Tickets are a snip at just £6 for weekday matinees (although members can binge on unbelievably cheap £1 screenings). With old-fashioned ushers and regular all-night movie marathons, this fabulously fun cinema really is fit for a king.

Become a Shakespearian 'groundling'

Forget lofty galleries and pricy VIP boxes, for an authentic Shakespearian theatre experience you need to be close to the action, and you don't get much closer than Shakespeare's Globe's infamous groundling pit.

Standing for a bit of Shakespeare
Standing for a bit of Shakespeare © Panoramic Images - Alamy Stock Photo

The legendary £5 standing tickets leave you at the mercy of the elements; to save, or not to save, that is the question.

Support world-class female footballers

There's a lot to be said for attending a women's football match. Yes, the crowds are smaller, but by gum, so are the ticket prices. Arsenal's 'early bird' discounts let you watch Britain's top female football talent battle it out in the Barclays Women's Super League (BWSL) for just £9 - what a save!

Spot warthogs & wolves along Regent's Canal

All aboard Little Venice's sweetest eatery, Waterside Café;. As well as serving up a cracking breakfast bap, the flower-fringed barge makes the perfect launch pad for London's wildest walk. Trace lively Regent's Canal all the way into curious Camden; you can often spot African warthogs and painted wolves patrolling their canal-side enclosure as you pass London Zoo.

Discover London's secret beach

A golden sandy beach you can reach by tube? Yes, really! Peppered with palms and abutting a nature reserve larger than Hyde Park, Ruislip Lido is free and open all year.

The sandy shores of Ruislip Lido
The sandy shores of Ruislip Lido © Pav-Pro Photography - Adobe Stock Image

Check out the miniature railway (£4 return) and seek out the wildlife lurking in its ancient woods before hitting the 'beach', overlooking a glistening blue lake.

Sneak into a sold-out opera

It's a case of fastest finger first when it comes to securing one of the Royal Opera House's 49 coveted 'Friday Rush' tickets. Released Fridays at 1 pm, tickets are for performances the following week, with almost all Royal Opera and Royal Ballet shows up for grabs, even sold-out ones. Top tip: forget the phoneline, your best chance of snaffling one is on their website.

Cruise through the city

Stuff sweaty tube journeys; take an Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, which stops at more than 20 piers along the River Thames.

Fly through London on an Uber Boat
Fly through London on an Uber Boat © Lorenza Marzocchi -

As you cruise through the capital, spot riverside landmarks like the London Eye and Battersea Power Station. Single tickets start from £5.20.

Explore a leading gallery after dark

As the sun sets on the city, many of London's top galleries and museums are just getting started. Tate Modern Lates is one of the capital's favourite late-night culture hits.

On the last Friday of the month, DJ sets, talks and workshops take over the former riverfront power station. Open until 10 pm, the after-hours event is totally free; don't worry, there are lots of bars for you to spend your trusty tenner in.

Bag London's cheapest theatre ticket

In the heart of ritzy Sloane Square, in a grand Italianate redbrick building, you'll find the prestigious Royal Court Theatre. Head there at 6 pm to pick up one of their stupendously cheap 10p tickets for a performance that night. Pack your bins: the standing tickets place you in a crafty viewing window in the slips.

Revel in cut-price comedy

With an impressive mooring opposite the iconic London Eye, the capital's floating pub-cum-comedy club, Tattershall Castle regularly hosts some of the biggest names on the UK comedy circuit.

Get a £6 ticket to their Tuesday night Guinea Pig Club and you can be the first to hear new material from some of the country's best comedians.

Party with drag royalty

Depending on which night you step into East London's fabulous LGBTQ+ boozer The Glory, you could find cracking comedy, cutting-edge cabaret, daring drag or London's best disco.

Take in a show at The Glory
Take in a show at The Glory - photo courtesy of The Glory

Owned by two grand dames of the drag world (Jonny Woo and John Sizzle), this East-End boozer has a jam-packed events calendar; some nights are totally free and lots of the others are a snip at just £5 a ticket.

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Jessica Baldwin

Jessica Baldwin

Posted on Saturday 30th September 2023 in: City Europe UK

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