There are endless ways to fill your spare time as a student in London. Every week I discover new things and new places that are off the beaten track. I study and live in East London, so I admit that I’m partial to this side of the city – but there are great things to explore all across the tube network.
Here’s a list of my favourite things to do when I get a spare moment between assignments in London.
Have a drink and a wander in Shoreditch
I spend a lot of time in Shoreditch. It’s in East London, but it’s accessible enough that my friends across the city aren’t too bothered to travel over. The streets are historic and quirky, there are lots of nice shops if you’re around during the day, and there is no shortage of fun places to get a drink or a bite to eat at any time. The bars are offbeat and generally more affordable than places in central London.
Stroll down the South Bank
The South Bank is one of my favourite places in London. If you’re up for a long walk, you can wander all the way down the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge, catching iconic London sights on the way (including Big Ben, the National Theatre, St. Paul’s cathedral, Millennium Bridge, and the Tower of London). The south bank also offers its own activities, so check out what they have on.
View of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the South Bank
Museum and Gallery Lates
At the end of the month, many museums and galleries in London pick a night to stay open and host a museum “lates”. During lates, museums won’t close until around 10pm and they’ll serve drinks that you can sip while you peruse the exhibits. It’s such a great way to experience some of the most well-known centres of art and history in the world, including the Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert. And as a bonus, entrance is free! It’s one of my favourite ways to spend a Friday night in London. Look on the museum’s individual website to find their dates for the month.
The Natural History Museum
There is so much to do in Greenwich; the parks are beautiful, the pubs are cute, and it’s home to such activities as the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum. It takes you a little out of the hustle and bustle of central London, but it’s still very accessible by DLR. It’s a great place to venture when the city gets a little overwhelming, especially on a sunny day.
Catch a movie at the Genesis theatre
The Genesis is well-known among locals as a cool place to be in the East End. You can catch everything from big blockbuster movies to indie films and special showing nights. The theatre also has a café, a bar, and a restaurant inside of it – you actually don’t even need a movie ticket to hang out there. They even have live music some nights. The theatres are tiny and cozy, and they offer discounts for students. Compared to the big IMAX cinemas, it’s very affordable.
Spend a casual afternoon in Victoria Park
Hyde Park and St. James Park get a lot of attention, but Victoria Park is my personal favourite. There aren’t really any tourists, and on a sunny Sunday afternoon its filled with families walking their dogs and kids learning to ride bikes. It’s a great place to sit with a coffee or kick a football around. There’s also a great bakery and café in the park called ‘The Pavilion’ that makes a mean eggs benedict.
While you’re in this area:
- Wander down the canal in either direction, it’s beautiful!
- Stop in the local shops on nearby Roman Road; there is even a market several days of the week.
Visit Columbia Road Flower Market
To round off my list, here is a last East London treasure. Every Sunday, no matter the season or the weather, flower vendors bring their stock to Columbia Road. Even if you’re not shopping, it’s lovely and colourful to just browse. Go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and take home the best flowers or go late in the day for the last-minute discounts as vendors try to sell off their stock. Visit a nearby Hackney café for brunch while you’re there.
Sunflowers at the Columbia Road Flower Market
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