The Best Cheap and Free Activities to do as a Student in the UK

By Mackenzie Glachan

Exploring Greenwich – Old Royal Naval College

One of the things I remember the most fondly from my time in the UK was how easy it was to do activities that were cheap, or even free! As a student, I was very conscious of my budget, so I discovered a lot that I could do while not spending too much (or anything at all). I lived in London, so I will detail some things in London that were cheap or free, and then talk about other things across the UK!

London

There are a multitude of free things you can do in London, depending on your interests:

Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Museums/Galleries – I studied history, so I spent a lot of my time in the free museums of London. There is the option for a donation upon entry, but you are not obligated to do so. My favourites included:
    • The Victoria and Albert Museum (free)
    • The British Museum (free)
    • The National Gallery (free)
    • The National Portrait Gallery (free)
    • Museum of London (free)
    • Museum of London Docklands (free)
    • Natural History Museum (free)
    • National Maritime Museum (free)
    • The Queen’s House (free)
    • Sir John Soane’s Museum (free)
    • The Royal Observatory (free)
    • The Wallace Collection (free)
    • … I could go on and on! There are SO many free museums in London!
  • Sky Garden – Forget the Shard! If you want some amazing 360 degree views of London, while exploring a beautiful public garden (at the top of a skyscraper), the Sky Garden is a must-visit and it’s FREE admission! You must book in advance online for a visit slot, but it is free to do so.
  • Parks and green spaces – One of my favourite things to do in London was visit the parks and greenspaces for a stroll, or even a picnic. Pick up some cheap snacks and visit any one of my favourite spots:
    • Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens
    • Hampstead Heath
    • Green Park
    • St. James’s Park
    • The Regent’s Park
    • Greenwich Park
    • Richmond Park
    • Lincoln’s Inn Fields

…and the rest of the UK!

  • Inexpensive day trips – if you book well enough in advance, you can get the train or a coach bus to anywhere in the UK, whether a short or longer trip. I did this many times for well under £20, and would just explore new towns and cities for free. They often have free attractions as well, and the only things you need to pay for are the ticket there and a spot of lunch!
  • Theatre/Music – most theatres and concert halls offer student priced tickets that are MUCH cheaper than a standard admission price! I saw plays and musicals for as little as £5-15. Look for “concession” prices or student prices before buying!
  • National Trust, Historic Scotland, or English Heritage properties – so many of the UK’s amazing properties and estates are incredibly inexpensive to visit, and also offer student discounts on their entry fees. Some of my favourites I was able to visit were:
    • Prior Park Landscape Gardens, Bath
    • Bath Assembly Rooms, Bath
    • Lacock Abbey, near Chippenham
    • Saltram House, Plymouth
    • The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
    • Chiswick House, London
    • Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
    • Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra
    • Clava Carins, near Inverness
  • Hiking­ – I loved hiking in the UK. There are so many stunning places to take a hike, whether you want to spend one hour or several!
  • Student discount schemes – There are a ton of student schemes and discount cards available to you in London and the whole of the UK. This includes UNiDAYS (discounts on almost everything!), tastecard (save money on food!), Totum (formerly National Union of Students) card, student passes for transportation, and student prices on membership cards to the historic and heritage organizations I mentioned above.

As you can see there is SO much to do in the UK, and so much of it is free or cheap for students! Take advantage while you’re studying in the UK – you will not regret it!

Interested in studying in the UK? You can find out more by contacting one of our advisors!

Sources

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

https://members.historic-scotland.gov.uk/

https://www.myunidays.com/GB/en-GB

https://www.tastecard.co.uk/https://www.totum.com/

https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/entry-pass