Cheap weekend in London

Make the most of the capital's cheap and free things to do during a budget London break.

There are plenty of fabulous free London attractions, low-cost restaurants, affordable hotels and reduced-price theatre tickets, so you can enjoy a weekend in London without breaking the bank.

Saturday in London

Morning: Sightseeing in London

Exterior of Buckingham Palace during sunset.

Admire some of London's most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square for free with a walk around the city or on a budget tour of London during a morning of sightseeing.

Enjoy a fantastic walking tour across the city, of which many operate on a ‘pay what you think the tour is worth’ basis. You can also pick up a free City Visitor Trail map to explore London at your own pace, or find your way around the capital with the official Visit London app.

Discover more of London on two wheels with a Santander Cycle, and stop off along the way to take photographs at some of the capital’s best selfie spots or catch the famous Changing the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Alternatively, jump onboard a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, which includes a walking tour and a cruise along the river Thames in the price of your ticket.

Lunch: Food markets in London

People shop for fresh fish at Borough Market in London.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to a vibrant London food market to grab a cheap bite to eat:

  • Try a huge array of cuisines at one of London’s oldest food markets, Borough Market.
  • Treat yourself to street food dishes and a cocktail or two at trendy Flat Iron Square.
  • Discover more than 40 stalls overflowing with foodie treats at the Southbank Centre Market.
  • Tuck into an affordable meal at Maltby Street Market, a must-visit hidden gem for foodies.  

If you’re looking for a wallet-friendly meal in another area of the capital, check out these affordable lunch spots in London.

Afternoon: Free London museums and galleries

Two couples stroll through the Painted Hall. There are two gold pillars either side of the couples in the foreground and the painted ceiling above them.

Stick to your budget with an afternoon at one of London’s world-class museums or galleries, which are often free to visit.

Visit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to admire more than 2,000 paintings, including works from renowned artists such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. Afterwards, hop on a Tube to Tate Modern to marvel at contemporary artworks from around the world.

Experience the delights of the British Museum’s remarkable collection, where you’ll find an array of fascinating exhibits from Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone. Or, stop off in South Kensington to explore three of London’s most popular museums: the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum.

If you’re looking to experience another area of London, Greenwich is home to the free-to-enter National Maritime MuseumQueen's House and the Old Royal Naval College.

Evening: Discount West End theatre tickets

Glinda The Good is wearing a light blue gown and is fighting of Elphaba the Wicked Witch who is branding her broom.

As night falls over the capital, drop by London’s dazzling West End to bag yourself some reduced-price tickets for top theatre shows including The Book of Mormon musicalWicked and Phantom of the Opera West End.

You can find tickets at up to 50% off at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, or save up to 66% and guarantee to see the show you want by booking theatre tickets online in advance.

Alternatively, line up at the theatre's box office to snag last-minute standby tickets. These are returned and unsold tickets for that evening's performance, so be prepared to race around for your second or third choice!

Before your West End show, treat yourself to a wallet-friendly pre-theatre set menu: enjoy an early meal at Joe Allen, dine at Indigo at One Aldwych for a fraction of the usual price, or visit French restaurant Le Garrick in Covent Garden for a budget-friendly feast.

You can also take your pick from a wide range of other cheap restaurants in London.

Sunday in London

Morning: Sunday markets in London

The colourful houses and shops along Portobello Road on a sunny day

If you can't resist a bit of bargain hunting during your weekend in London, while away the morning at one of the capital's bustling Sunday markets:

Alternatively, tick off some of these 101 free things to do in London.

Lunch: Cheap lunch spots

Red and green gate in London's Chinatown.

Once you’re feeling peckish, drop by the cool area of Carnaby to sample some of the best cheap eats in London:

  • Visit Masala Zone to enjoy a low-cost lunch in stylish surroundings.
  • Order a delicious steak for just £10 at hip hangout, Flat Iron.

You can also stop off at Carnaby's cute Kingly Court: a three-storey dining spot home to bargain bites including Pizza Pilgrims and Stax Diner. Or, experience the delicious flavours of the Far East in one of nearby Chinatown’s well-priced restaurants.

Afternoon: London parks and gardens

Reflections of trees in the water surrounding the Sackler Bridge at Kew Gardens.

Spend the afternoon strolling around the beautiful Hyde Park. Covering 142 hectares (350 acres), the Royal Park is one of London’s largest green spaces, where you can visit its famous monuments, marvel at beautiful blooms in the Rose Garden or take a rowing boat out onto the Serpentine Lake.

Alternatively, wander through the stunning Regent’s Park or visit the resident pelicans in St James Park, before stopping off at nearby Buckingham Palace to marvel at the magnificent London landmark.

If you’re looking for more ways to save your cash, search for colourful street art across London, explore the beautiful riverside area of South Bank or watch street performances in Covent Garden.

Evening: Traditional London pubs

People stroll past the riverside The Anchor pub

Round off your weekend in London with an inexpensive meal in a traditional London pub. Take your pick from classic British cuisine at affordable prices, with many pubs offering iconic dishes such as fish 'n' chips, sausages and mash and Sunday roast dinners.

If you still have some time to spare, follow your meal with a low-cost comedy show, enjoy a Choral Evensong service in a stunning London church or catch some free live music in London.

Where to stay in London

There is plenty of affordable accommodation available across the capital. Budget hotel chains such as Holiday Inn Express, Ibis and Travelodge offer comfortable accommodation throughout the city, while a B&B can provide a cosier alternative which won’t break the bank. Self-catering and budget accommodation options also include hostels and Airbnb rooms or apartments. 

For more inspiration ahead of your budget break in London, take a look at 101 of our favourite things to do in London for under £10 or check out the best free London attractions and events.