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Top 10 Activities in London Under £10

Top 10 Activities in London Under £10 main image

Did you choose to study in London? Well, let me tell you: good choice indeed! Not only is London home to some of the planet’s most prestigious universities, it is also the second best student city in the world, according to the latest QS Best Student Cities index. The British capital attracts thousands of students every year, who come from every possible part of the world in order to experience the London dream.

However, as you probably know, life in London is also quite expensive. Note that you will most probably have to forget your previous lifestyle and make some compromises. But of course, you can’t just stay in your room all day long. Everyone needs breaks from studies, and part of the student experience (a very important part) is your social life. Don’t you worry! Once you settle in, you’ll realize there are plenty of fun activities in London for every budget. Below, you will find my top 10 activities in London which cost no more than £10 (approx. US$17) – and in fact the first five are all completely free.

Free activities in London

1. Visit the museums (free)

London offers a wide range of museums for every person’s interest. From art to transport and history to science, the British capital has an exhibition for everything. And the best news is that many of them are free. You can just top up your travel card or get walking/cycling, and off you go to learn about ancient civilizations, extinct animals the history of psychology, the latest modern art movement – whatever takes your interest. The choice is yours, but note that you simply can’t study in London and not visit the British Museum! That one is a must-see.

2. Take a walk in the parks (free)

You have probably already heard all about the non-stop rain and fog in London, and you expect to be stuck indoors all the time. Well, the truth is that this is (more or less) a myth. London has lots of sunny and pleasant days during the year and you may well find that it’s actually not as cold and grim as you expected. What’s even better is that the city has numerous beautiful parks and gardens for you to enjoy! Have a picnic beside the water in Hyde Park, take advantage of the free sports facilities of Regent’s Park, enjoy the cityscape views from the top of Primrose Hill, or admire the swans in St James's Park – lots to explore, all free of charge!

3. Explore the famous landmarks (free)

For those of you who are interested in popular landmarks and historical monuments, you will NOT be disappointed! Lots of those have entrance fees if you want to go inside, but who’s to say you cannot admire them from the outside? The Houses of Parliament and the famous “Big Ben” clock tower will leave you breathless with their grandeur and magnificence. Tower Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, is definitely a must-see, especially when magically lit up at night or emerging from the early morning mist. Then there’s the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, the royal seat Buckingham Palace, and more contemporary landmarks such as the famous Tate Modern gallery and London Eye. The list goes on and on…

4. Take a picture at the famous Abbey Road Crossing (free)

The Beatles are one of the most famous bands of all time. If you are a fan (how can you not be?!), then you absolutely have to visit Abbey Road. The legendary pedestrian crossing is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Every day hundreds of people flock there simply to take a picture, inspired by John, Paul, George and Ringo’s famous album cover. It may sound silly, but trust me, you WANT one of those!

5. Visit Platform 9 and ¾ (free)

Platform 9 and ¾?! What’s that? Well, if you are a Harry Potter fanatic, you will know what I am talking about. (If not, disregard this and move to number 6.) The Harry Potter books have become so famous that today they are actually regarded as one of Britain’s global symbols. For locals and tourists alike, everything connected to the boy wizard has become an attraction. King’s Cross train station even has a “real” platform 9 and ¾, visited by fans every day. If you wish to take a picture at this sacred Harry Potter location, note that there are usually long queues of people who share the same obsession.

Paid activities in London

6. Watch a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (£5)

Do you enjoy theatre? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to afford it while you study in London? Think again. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, one of the most famous venues in London, offers tickets for just £5 each. Talk about a good deal! The theatre itself is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, at which William Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime. Note that the £5 tickets are for standing places; this may mean you get a little tired, but you’re also as close to the on-stage action as possible (and sometimes right in the middle of it). Theatre doesn’t get better (or cheaper) than this.

7. See London from above with the Emirates Air Line (£6.40)

If you cannot afford a trip on the London Eye, the Emirates Air Line is the next-best thing. The UK's first urban cable car, the Emirates Air Line runs between the Excel Centre at Royal Docks and the O2 Arena at Greenwich, offering magnificent views of the City, Canary Wharf, the Thames Barrier and the Olympic Park. Single tickets cost only £3.20 and return tickets are £6.40. If you have a travel card, you may use it here as well.

8. Eat fish & chips (around £8)

You can’t study in London and not try the local cuisine. And the most popular dish around here is… fish and chips! Yes, it’s not the most sophisticated meal ever, but it can actually be quite tasty. Anyway, it is another iconic symbol of British culture, so you have to give it a chance. The prices, of course, vary depending on the venue. But I can promise you, you can find pretty good fish and chips for about £8.

9. Take a walking tour (approx. £9)

The best way to experience the city is to take a themed walking tour. This way you can concentrate on one particular aspect of London’s heritage, and learn many interesting facts. Walking tours are led by experienced guides, who are really friendly and always ready to answer your questions. Among the most popular walking tours are the classic Sightseeing Tour, the ghoulish Jack the Ripper Tour, the light-hearted London Pub Walk, the off-the-beaten-track London Canal Walk and many others. Some might be slightly more expensive than £10, but usually you can easily find a cool walk for slightly less.

10. Go on a sightseeing boat cruise on the Thames (£9.75)

If you are eager to explore London, but feel tired of walking or simply want to avoid the crowds for a while, then a cruise on the Thames is the thing to do. Of course, there are many cruises, some more expensive than others, but the popular Thames Circular Sightseeing Cruise costs only £9.75. It takes about 45 minutes, from Tower Pier to Westminster and back. The boats include live commentary with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating.

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Written by Vyara Pancheva
Vyara is a journalism graduate from the University of Westminster in London and currently an aspiring writer and blogger. She has produced a couple of video documentaries and has written pieces for several websites. Originally from Bulgaria, she is now living in London and loving it a lot! Rock music, sci-fi movies and travelling are amongst her biggest passions.

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