18 things to do on a cheap night out in London

You don’t have to splurge to have a good night out in London. Save those all-important pennies with these great value things to do at night.

Going out for nights out in London can add up. If you don't fancy paying full price, we have plenty of money-saving tips for a great value night out in the capital. From thirst-quenching happy hours to live music for less, a London night out with your mates needn't break the bank. 

Although London theatres, bars and clubs are temporarily closed due to coronavirus, there are still plenty of cheap and free ways to fill your evenings from home. Find the best live-streamed performances, online classes and fun activities – many of which are free – with our Virtually London guide.

1. Make use of happy hour in London bars

You're never too far from one of London's low-cost chain bars: Dirty Martini, London Cocktail Club, Be at One and All Bar One all offer early evening happy hour London offers on selected drinks. Quirkier venues include Murder Inc. just off Oxford Street and Victorian-themed The Escapologist in Seven Dials – both bars serve up top-notch cocktails for less during happy hours until 7pm.

Soho is a great place for low-cost libations and is home to Simmons Soho's five-hour happy "hour", and Thirst Soho's "stupid hour", where your night's allowance can go a little further. Late-night venue Bar Soho and nearby nightclub Tiger Tiger also help to get the evening off to a wallet-friendly start with money off selected drinks.

Away from the West End, Waterloo's rooftop Bar Elba has two-for-one cocktails available on Sundays to Wednesdays, Bar Story's daily happy hour brings in the Peckham locals and Hackney's retro arcade bar The Four Quarters has weekday offers.

2. Catch a cheap West End theatre show

Take in some musical theatre or a drama in London’s West End. If you want to enjoy a West End show but are looking to avoid paying full price, you can head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square on the day of the performance and get cheap West End tickets for all major shows.

Book theatre tickets in advance online for the latest London theatre offers.

3. Enjoy a London night out for less

Going clubbing in London doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all-nighters. There are some top clubs with regular drinks deals and cheap entry prices that even those on a budget can enjoy. The London Nightlife Ticket is a great money-saving option, offering ticket holders free entry and special offers at a range of top London restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

4. Take an open-top London bus tour

See the best of London at night. For just £21, take a London by night open-top bus tour and marvel at some of London’s best sites in the twilight. The two-hour tour, which is available in multiple languages, includes the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace.

5. Find free music bars in London

Enjoying music in London doesn't have to cost a lot. Keep an eye out for free gigs at House of Vans, get free admission at blues bar Aint Nothin' But... (only free before 8.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays) or try The Troubadour, which offers free music with a drink or meal purchase.

Areas such as Camden and Brixton are full of grassroots music venues, and you’ll find yourself stumbling upon low-cost and free music gigs all over the place. Hootananny hosts regular free gigs and ska nights and Pop Brixton puts on free music on Fridays.

6. Sample a free comedy club night

Laugh the night away and don’t pay a single penny in the process at one of London's many free comedy nights. Try Angel Comedy at both the Camden Head and The Bill Murray or head to London comedy's worst kept secret, the Top Secret Comedy Club where most evenings are either free, or as little as £1 for entry.

If you're happy to splash out a little of your hard-earned dosh, try the Comedy Carnival at Leicester Square and Covent Garden with tickets starting from £12.

7. Soak up the views from the Sky Garden

Want a great view of London without the sky-high costs? London’s Sky Garden in Fenchurch Street is absolutely free to go to the top. Perfect for a romantic evening, enjoy spectacular views over the capital as the sun sets and pay absolutely nothing for the pleasure. Entry is limited so make sure you reserve online in advance.

8. Drink at cheap bars in London

Spend your night in one of the many cheap London bars. Low-cost cocktails can be found at Ridley Road Market Bar in Dalston, enjoy a memorable sub-zero experience with a cocktail thrown in for just £14 at Ice Bar London, or venture up to Frank's Cafe for affordable drinks and south London views in summer.

If you're in a group or on a stag do or hen outing, add some competitiveness with drinks, food and game packages at ping pong bar Bounce, Beer Pong at Belushi's or mini golf at Swingers

Cheap London pubs can also help to keep your London night out under control. Bag a budget pint at Sam Smith's The Chandos off Trafalgar Square or Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in the City of London, or sip on a great value glass of wine or the famous half-pint beer measures at the French House in Soho.

9. Dine out at an affordable London restaurant

Fill up on great food without spending a bundle at one of the glut of cheap restaurants in London. Explore the streets of Chinatown for plenty of cheap options, or pick from numerous affordable restaurants at The O2.

Make sure to check out London's food courts for delicious bites. Pick from 11 traders at Market Halls West End, dine within shipping containers at Pop Brixton or Boxpark, explore eclectic eateries at Mercato Mayfair, or find Asian-inspired fare at Bang Bang Oriental.

Late-night bites include salt beef bagels from Beigel Bake, pizza at Pizza Pilgrims and Korean fried chicken at Jinjuu Soho.

10. Visit London museum lates

Discover London's museums after dark with museum lates. They're a great way to sample a museum in a different way. Some of London’s most popular museums, including the Science Museum, Museum of London, British MuseumVictoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum, put on regular lates with after-hours access, special exhibitions and talks from experts.

Art lovers can delight in after-hours access to the likes of National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern

Also, keep an eye out for unique and unusual evening events, from ceilidhs and parties to hidden tunnel tours, at the London Transport Museum, Cutty Sark and London Mithraeum

11. Spend the evening in a pub theatre

Head to one of London’s many pub theatres, including Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, or Finborough Theatre in Earls Court, and enjoy cheap theatre tickets to edgy plays and discount offers on drinks. Or try the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, situated above the Prince Albert pub, the country’s only theatre dedicated to purely international work.

12. Tuck into delicious London street food

Sitting down and eating is overrated! Head to one of London’s numerous street food havens and grab quick, delicious food for under five pounds before continuing your night. Check out Street Feast's venues, including Dinerama in Shoreditch and Model Market in Lewisham; or pick from the traders at uber-cool Flat Iron Square, which is also home to music venue O'Meara.

Find more street food in London.

13. Join a late-night London walking tour

Catch me if you can.. 💀🔪💉 #jacktheripper #whitechapel

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Experience the fright of your life with a late night Jack the Ripper tour for just £10, or Sandeman's New London Grim Reaper tour for £14, both showcasing the area where one of the greatest unsolved crimes in history took place. Sandeman's New London also do gratuity-only London tours in the daytime.

For something a little less scary, explore some of the City of London's top sights on a self-guided tour anytime of the day or night, by following the City Visitor Trail.

14. See some of the world's best opera stars

Sample some serious culture at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and have the pleasure of watching some of the finest opera performers in the world at discount prices. Most performances offer tickets for just £10, with some as little as £3, so book quickly to avoid missing out.

If you're keen to take the teens on a low-cost night out, the English National Opera offers up to four free tickets for under-18s with every adult ticket purchased.

15. Take in some Shakespearean theatre

Head to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Bankside and marvel at some of the world’s best stage actors for incredibly cheap prices. Standing tickets can be bought for just £5. To learn more about the playwright, go on the Shakespeare Globe Exhibition Tour.

16. Eat well and pay what you like

Define your own affordable costs at one of a handful of London restaurants operating on a "pay what you like" system. Watch out for Save the Date Café's monthly pop-ups or start the night early with The Brixton Pound Cafe's vegan and veggie dishes made from surplus ingredients brought in by chefs and volunteers.

And, while Amrutha Lounge's healthy boxes cost £13.50, the vegan eatery's "fair price policy" allows customers to pay what they like if they're not satisfied – or you can even volunteer to help out in the kitchen!

17. Make use of cheap London travel

Plan the route for your night out in advance using Transport for London's journey planner and remember it may be quicker to walk between your destinations. Don't forget about the Night Tube, which runs throughout the night on five London Underground lines on Fridays and Saturdays, making it even easier to get around. The London Overground also runs into the early hours on Friday and Saturday nights, between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate.

Use your contactless card or pay-as-you-go Oyster card to benefit from a daily price cap, regardless of the number of journeys you make during one day in the capital. You can also take as many bus or tram trips as you like within an hour for just £1.50, thanks to the budget-saving Hopper fare.

Find more cheap travel tips for London.

18. Stay the night in a cheap London hotel

Stay the night in comfort without breaking the bank at one of hundreds of affordable London hotels. Try one of the city’s many budget hotel chains and cheap hotels in London to save on those all-important pennies. Or for those who love to meet people, how about a night or two in one the city's coolest hostels?

Find more cheap accommodation in London.

Discover more top of London on a budget, including our money-saving tips and free things to do in London. Make sure to check out the latest offers on attractions and London theatre tickets to save even more money.

If you're planning a big night out in London, find more inspiration for things to do at night in London, from top clubs, to live music and all-night dining.