Things to do in London for under a tenner

Explore London after dark and on the cheap

© Ming Tang Evans

A night out in London need not break the bank - why not test your confidence at an open-mic night or sink a pint of real British ale? Use Time Out's guide to things to do in the evening for under ten pounds and enjoy London life for less. Got some suggestions of your own? Add them in the comments below

  • Cheap theatre

    Some of London’s best theatres offer cheap tickets with decent sightlines. Travelex £10 at the National Theatre, £10 Mondays at the Royal Court and £10 nights at Lyric Hammersmith will give you a cultural night out on the town.

  • Attend a gig in a record store

    Instore gigs have become central to a band's marketing plan, so most of the retail giants regularly host free gigs, as do independents such as Rough Trade East. Check the website for details of performances. You may need to apply in advance to gain entry if it's a popular band.

  • Watch a film on the cheap

    7 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BP

    Visit the Prince Charles Cinema in Soho to go back to the days when cinemas varied their programmes and charged less. Take in a relaxing weekend matinee for £5, or an incredible £1.50 if you’re a member.

  • Swap clothes at a party

    91-93 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3HZ

    Call them what you like: swapping, swishing or ditching 'n' switching events, where you exchange your clobber for someone else's. The cheapest way to do it is to hold your own clothes-swapping party but at the other end of the spectrum there are organised club nights such as Favela Chic's Swap-a-rama Razzmatazz which invites guests to get swapping with their neighbour on the dancefloor. Check the website for details of this monthly event.

  • Buy a brilliant British beer

    It's hard to spend less than £4 on a pint in central London these days but at least at the following places your money will buy you a great British gourmet treat. Greenwich Union makes the most of the training and recipes its founder Alistair Hook gleaned at age-old institutions in Germany whilst the creaking and cosily tatty little pub Jerusalem Tavern serves sought-after ales of Suffolk's St Peter's Brewery. The Pembury Tavern in Hackney serves fine real ale from Cambridge's Milton Brewery with billiard table and board games or bend an arm at the stupendously popular stalwart White Horse which serves a dizzying array of beers (60 available).

  • Swill some Champagne

    Bars selling Champagne aren't rare, but a classy joint offering fizz for under a tenner is a less common occurrence. Sip bubbly at the elegant Kettner's where a glass comes accompanied by a pianist every evening or take a seat at the impressive St Pancras Champagne Bar which boasts the 'longest Champagne bar in Europe'. Other good places to sip fizz include Le Grande Marque, popular with the well-heeled City crowd, or the super sexy Boisdale of Bishopsgate.

  • Smoke a shisha

    133 Brick Lane, E1 6SB (7033 9072)

    Sishsa, hookah, nargileh... the names vary but the waterpipe is pretty much the same throughout the Middle East. London's weather may not be so congenial but sit with a friend at Hookah Lounge on Brick Lane and watch the world drift by while savouring some apple tobacco and a mint tea.

  • Star in a show

    Delamere Terrace, Little Venice, W2 6ND

    Tired of listening to celebrity self-publicity? Well, Spark is your chance to star - along with other 'ordinary people' - in your own tragi-comic story. On the first Monday of every month at the Canal Café Theatre in Maida Vale performers - including teachers, barristers, mothers and car dealers - stand up in front of an audience and spill their beans loosely structured around a theme (such as 'mistaken identity' or 'under the influence').

  • Beautify on a budget

    48 Margaret Street, W1W 8SB

    We recommend a trip to the Esthetique Salon - part of the London School of Beauty, where supervised students will soothe away worry lines, aches and pains. Eyebrow and eyelash treatments start from £5 with a manicure available at just £9. Booking in advance is recommended as slots fill up fast.

  • Give a performance

    Whatever flavour of performance you're into, open mic nights offer a unique opportunity for beginners to get over the hurdle of playing in front of an audience. Test your confidence at eAR music, Rockaoke and Half Moon. Check the websites for further information.

  • Go to a gig

    22 Blenheim Gardens, Brixton Hill, London, SW2 5BZ

    The Windmill is a great live music venue in Brixton without a whiff of corporate sponsorship and an adventurous bookings policy. Tickets hover around the £5 mark.

  • Smarten up with a Gresham College lecture

    Barnard's Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

    This independent educational establishment offers free lectures (first come, first served) delivered by its eight professors representing fields as diverse as music, law and divinity.

  • Have a folk night out

    Stag's Head, 55 Orsman Rd, N1 5RA

    Live music and DJs on the second and last Sunday of every month at Hoxton's Stag's Head pub. Entrance is free, though a donation is requested during the main act.