London is a big and exciting place, but it can be too big and exciting. When you’ve got free time between classes or a day away from the books, it can be hard to know where to start exploring London.

Fear not! Here’s a list with the most essential must-dos for an international student. Read on to discover how to enjoy this city on a student budget.


1. Grab your walking shoes and explore London on foot

The best way to see London? On foot. The best thing about being on foot? It’s free. Explore London’s wealthiest areas, sleepy villages and hip streets. You can walk along the canals, stroll in the parks and hang around the likes of Shoreditch, Soho and Brixton. Just make sure those shoes are made for walking, there’s a lot of ground to cover.


2. Hide from the rain in one of London’s top cinemas

Let’s face it: the London weather can be… unpredictable, so sometimes it’s good to stay indoors. The capital is full of fantastic cinemas, showing the latest blockbusters, foreign films and independent movies. The Odeon IMAX will be an unforgettable experience with its 20-meter-high screen, but if the tickets are a little too pricey then head to the Peckhamplex in South London where they’re always under a fiver. Most areas have their own local cinemas too which are cheaper than big multiplexes, so don’t forget to search your neighbourhood for potential hidden gems!


3. Find a bargain in the charity shops

Looking through vintage stores and charity shops never gets old; from leather jackets to vintage denim to second-hand bags: it’s all there. Charity shops are on most high streets and the best vintage stores can be found in Peckham, Notting Hill and on Brick Lane. If you do make it to Brick Lane then grab a bagel – they’ve got the best bagels in town.

Charity shops and vintage shops for international students to find the best bargains
Plus, charity shops are great for shopping montages!

4. Get your caffeine boost in the coolest coffee shops

Londoners love their coffee, they’re obsessed, which is why there are tons of coffee houses in this city. They’re an ideal place to hang out and if you want to feel like a true Londoner then head there with your laptop, log onto the WiFi and ask for a flat white. There are numerous cosy coffee shops around International House London and they all take pride in their coffee making skills. The closest one? Drury Cafe, on Drury Lane and in our building!

International House London Cafe Drury Cafe
Potentially the cosiest cafe inside a language school.

5. Get up early and catch the sights

Of course, you cannot miss the tourist attractions! The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral should be top of your list, however, try and make use of your flexible timetable and visit early in the day, midweek, when it’s not too busy. 


6. Get into the nightlife in a local pub

London is full of some incredible bars and traditional pubs; you won’t have to go far to find one. The further from central London you are, the cheaper the pints will be. They often have live music, pub quizzes and board games which are a perfect distraction from exams.


7. Dance ‘till the sun comes up in London’s coolest venues

London really comes alive when the sun goes down, especially for you youngsters. Avoid the city centre and head to Hackney Wick, Brixton or Peckham. You’ll find the coolest parties and the most talented DJs. Hands down there will be something for everyone’s taste.

Nightlife in London for students
Or maybe we should say hands up? Woop, woop!

8. Get a taste of food from around the world at the street food markets

Now we get to the good stuff: food. Recently Londoners have gone crazy for street food, with markets popping up everywhere. Places like Dinerama, Mercato Metropolitano, Fulham Market Hall and Peckham Levels are not only a fantastic place to fill your belly, they’ve also got international cuisine options and there’s enough room to bring along the whole class – why not eh?!


9. Grab a ticket to some of the hottest events in town

London has some terrific events on every night of the week and most of the time they’re free. If you do your research (which I’m sure you’re used to thanks to those essays), then you can find free festivals, gallery openings and band nights. If comedy is your thing then the Angel Comedy Club has a fantastic reputation and it is always a good laugh.


10. Catch up on some culture at the museums and galleries

Believe it or not, London has some of the best museums and galleries on the planet. The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the V&A and the Tate Modern have tons of good stuff to see and they’re free to get in. Again, if you can, avoid these on the weekends, unless you love to queue.


We organise trips to London museums and galleries on a weekly basis; have a look at our social programme or come and speak to us at our reception, if you want to book your next adventure in London!

Also make sure to check out for more things to do while you are studying with us!

Learn from our experts at IH London

We’d love for you to visit and learn with us. Explore our courses and if you’d like any help choosing a course, just let us know. 

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