London for less: cut-price culture

No visit to London could be complete without a dip in its thriving cultural scene. Sure, the star-studded plays sell out months in advance, but you don’t necessarily have to shell out to get your culture fix here. From free stand-up comedy to tours of ancient Egyptian art, the city’s distinctive blend of high-brow and low-brow is accessible to everyone.

See the Bard’s plays as they were intended, or catch a glimpse of the next big thing in one of London’s plucky under-the radar-galleries. Here’s our guide for culture vultures on a budget.

London culture for less

  • God’s Own Junkyard

    Shernhall Street, E17 9HQ

    This neon wonderland is open to the public – and free to visit – Friday to Sunday. Prepare to be dazzled.

  • The National Gallery

    Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

    Tick off Cézanne’s Bathers, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and more – it’s free to visit the permanent collections.

  • Shakespeare’s Globe

    21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT

    For the most authentic (and cheapest) way to see a play here, stand in the yard as a ‘groundling’ (£5).

  • Tate Modern

    Bankside, SE1 9TG

    Art without the entry charge: see the latest Turbine Hall installation, then climb the newer Blavatnik Building for extraordinary views.

  • Top Secret Comedy Club

    170 Drury Lane, WC2B 5PD

    This scruffy, underground Covent Garden club is famed for its free comedy nights, which star the odd big name.

  • V&A

    Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL

    Free to visit, the art and design collections are endlessly fascinating, running from delicate Qing dynasty teapots to edgy McQueen frocks.

  • The Photographers' Gallery

    16–18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW

    See world class exhibitions without paying a penny – if you visit before noon.

  • Peckhamplex

    95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST

    Cinema tickets at the ’Plex are a mere £4.99 – almost unheard of in pricey London.

  • British Museum

    Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG

    This iconic museum is crammed with treasures, from the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon marbles to its mummified cats.

  • NOW Gallery

    Peninsula Square, SE10 0SQ

    This bijou gallery in Greenwich always scores the coolest art and design talents. Previous free shows have included a live flower installation by Rebecca Louise Law.