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Things To Do in London for Free

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By Anna Gevorgyan

London is undeniably a great city for students. It’s diverse, multicultural, engaging, creativity-boosting and, unfortunately, money-draining. London was ranked as one of the least affordable cities in the QS Best Student Cities 2017, and it’s especially tough when you’re an international student on a tight budget.

The good news is that London has lots to offer that’s free and there are plenty of concessions and discounts available to students. If you’re counting pennies and looking to save money, here are some tips and resources to ensure you still make the most of your time in London.

Museums and galleries are (mostly) free to enter

The British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and (my personal favorite) the Victoria and Albert Museum are all free to enter, as are many other museums and galleries. Pick one each weekend and enjoy the wealth of art and culture. Most of these museums will offer free guided tours at particular hours too, which are really engaging and insightful (especially for the modern art exhibits at the Tate Modern).

Check out the city’s parks and green spaces

Being a very green city, London offers an amazing array of parks which cater for all tastes and activities. You can go wild in Richmond Park, enjoy the rose garden at Regent’s Park, arrange a picnic in Hyde Park, or enjoy great views of the city from Hampstead Heath. All of these are free and are a great way to enjoy a fantastic day with friends. 

Keep an eye out for free and cheap theatre, comedy and film nights

This requires a bit more work but it’s possible to get great offers for gigs, musicals, films, and much more. Looking for deals can be time consuming but it’s worth it if you don’t mind planning ahead. While I was in London, I was able to get cheap tickets to see The Book of Mormon thanks to a ticket lottery. There are also free and cheap independent cinemas which make for an inexpensive night out.

Similarly, theatre productions away from the large West End theatres offer a great opportunity to see unconventional, creative shows at a much lower price.   

Explore London on a free walking tour

There are a lot of free walking tours available in London, that take you around the city’s historic places, telling you the secrets of Soho or showing you around famous film locations (Harry Potter fans, you’re in for a treat). For spectacular views over the city, book a free visit to the walkie-talkie building, where you can enjoy a drink in the Sky Garden, escape the city and enjoy London from bird’s eye view.

Save money on travel with a 16-25 railcard

Travelling can be quite expensive around London. If you commute to uni every day, you may want to buy a monthly Oyster travel card to save you some money. Regardless of whether you decide to do that or not, you might want to consider buying a 16-25 Railcard, as this can be combined with your Oyster card and save you 30% every time you use the tube. If you’re planning some trips outside London, some train and coach sites will offer cheap tickets. Megabus sometimes offer journeys elsewhere in the UK for as little as £1.

Make the most of student discounts every time you go shopping

If you’re a shopaholic like me, and enjoy buying new things once in a while, you may want to keep an eye on this website, which will keep you informed about any current vouchers or student discounts.

Earn some pocket money by becoming a lab rat

If you don’t want to work a part-time job while studying, you can still get some extra pocket money by taking part in focus groups or lab research experiments at your university. I regularly attended sessions at LSE Behavioral Lab to participate in research studies, and participants are usually paid in either money or vouchers. If your London university doesn’t offer any focus groups like this, there’s nothing stopping you from taking part in sessions at other universities.

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