London on a budget: the ultimate list of must-do activities this January
Whether that’s exploring the city’s iconic art galleries and museums with the family, or romantic date nights with your partner at a comedy club or west end show, there is a whole host of things to do in the capital, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do them.
From activities for free, £20 and under, or £50 and under – it’s time to kick off those slippers and start exploring some of the best value activities London has to offer.
This list has been compiled as part of the Let’s Do London programme launched by The Mayor of London in partnership with Visit London and the capital’s tourism and hospitality industry. Let’s Do London was established to help encourage visitors from all over the UK in back to the wonderful city of London in a safe manner.
Activities for FREE:
- Museums and culture: Visitors of all ages can enjoy a taste of culture in the city by taking a walk through the Tate Modern on Bankside, which is grandly positioned on the banks of the Thames. Discover the work of renowned artists such as Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Rothko, DalÍ, Pollock, Warhol and Bourgeois. The gallery’s restaurants also offer fabulous views across the city for a crisp winter Instagram shot. You can delve into the history of planet Earth in The Natural History Museum in South Kensington. With galleries to explore and unique treasures from the museum’s collection of more than 80 million specimens spanning 4.5 billion years, The Natural History Museum also hosts late night events and activities, from yoga and silent discos to dinosaur-themed sleepovers, so you can relive your ‘Night at the Museum’ movie fantasies.
- Breathe in the fresh air: At any time of the year, London’s eye-catching skyline is a must-see, with a range of locations in which to enjoy fantastic From walks along Hyde Park and rural green parks like St James, where you can stroll through with a hot drink in the winter and watch the world go by. If you’re looking for some quintessentially British hot-spots, why not check out the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace? Be in awe of the visuals and music this centuries old ceremony offers four days a week at precisely 11am.
- Take a walk on the wild side: London has some of the best free city farms on offer for you and your family to explore. Deen City Farm houses poultry, horses, rabbits, sheep and more, as well as a special ‘pet’ area. There’s also a café and shop where you can buy local farm produce such as fresh eggs, pet supplies and gifts. Hackney City Farm is also a must-have on the agenda, which is home to sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, calves and even bees! Buzz your way round the farm and spot the animals in the grazing area, garden and even explore their butterfly house.
- Discover something new: Somerset House on The Strand is home to an exciting programme of art exhibitions and outdoor film screenings. Set around a handsome 18th-century courtyard, this buzzing arts centre is the perfect place to wander and soak up the sights and sounds of the city. If you’re after something lighter, look no further than the Top Secret Comedy Club on Drury Lane. Discover some of the best and newest comedy talent at this hot spot located on Drury Lane. Main shows run between Sunday – Thursday evenings, where you can laugh the night away as a family or bond through the banter on a date night, with a bar inside for interval refreshments and snacks.
£20 and under:
- London Transport Museum in Covent Garden: Step back in time at the London Transport Museum and explore transport icons and ground-breaking designs from across the decades. From the red London bus to the first ever Tube map design, you can see first-hand how the city has grown since 1800. Tickets cost £18.50 per adult and children go free!
- Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch: When it comes to affordable nights out in London, this iconic Shoreditch hangout should be on your radar. From bottomless brunch filled with Pornstar Martinis and all-you-can-eat pizza, it’s a must have in your diary this year. There are also themed events running throughout the year, such as Bottomless Brunch, Ball Pit Bonanzas and Bottle Nights. Tickets start as little as £10 per adult.
- The Vauxhall Comedy Club: Looking for a place in the city to have a laugh with friends? The Vauxhall Comedy Club has a range of events running throughout the year for as little as £15 per person. Various comedians take centre stage, spilling jokes and aiming to entertain you all night long.
- Club Curling on Stable Street: See whether you’ve got the ability to fly out with the British curling team at the next winter Olympics. Get a feel for the ice as up to four friends can compete against each other at Club Curing in King’s Cross. Head online to book an hour slot on the sheet of ice, costing £5 per person. Stick around to enjoy the array of eateries and bars around the area.
- Emirates Air Line Cable Bar in Greenwich Peninsula: Glide above the Thames in the Emirates Air Line cable car and take in aerial views of London’s skyline as you travel from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. You can enjoy the beautiful views of the River Thames, London’s skyline and even The O2. Plus, the view at sunset over the river makes a magical date night activity where you can watch the city come alive after dark with extended night flights after 7pm. A single journey costs just £4 or take a return trip for £8.
£50 and under:
- London Shuffle Club in Shoreditch: Located in the heart of Shoreditch, this place is a must-have on your calendar this year. It’s the home of the supercharged game of shuffleboard, providing a fun and entertaining atmosphere with various additional events such as bottomless brunch, Valentine’s Day themes and more! Tickets cost £42 per adult in peak season and £25 per adult off peak.
- The London Eye on the South Bank: Enjoy amazing 360-degree views over London from the London Eye as you rotate 135 metres (443 ft) off the River Thames. You can spot some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks and top attractions, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace! Tickets cost £22 for children and £24.50 per adult.
- See a West End show for less: Take advantage of theatre’s best sale of the year, with some of London’s most exciting shows available for just £10, £20, £30, £40 or £50 in January and February. Put on your detective hat and work out ‘whodunnit’ at Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, with tickets from just £10, or nab tickets to one of the West End’s biggest new musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, from only £20. With dozens of shows to choose from, there is truly something for everyone.
- ZSL London Zoo: Meet the baby Sumatran tiger cub born in December 2021 and a range of gentle giants that reside in London ZSL Zoo. From lions, tigers and penguins, you can wonder the colours pathways and make new friends this year. Tickets start from £26 per adult for a ‘super saver’.
- SEA LIFE London Aquarium on the South Bank: Discover the depths of the ocean at SEA LIFE London Aquarium, where you can come face to face with sharks, penguins, stingrays and yet more incredible creatures. You can even enjoy the new VR experience and jump right into the water with its latest attraction. Tickets cost £27 per adult.