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May 31, 2016 10:27 AM   Subscribe

What are some cool things a solo traveler can do in London from 6 to 10 pm for under £10?

I know this is a weirdly specific question, but - I'm in London for two weeks on a research trip, and need to be spending most of my daylight hours in the British Library, and don't want to stay out too late as I need to get an early start in the mornings. Still, I would like to try to squeeze in some fun things to see/do/eat/experience while I am here. I'm looking for suggestions of things to do during this limited amount of time: interesting walks? Cheap but tasty dinner recommendations? Free museums that are open in the evenings? I have been to London before and seen most of the major tourist attractions/museums so looking for something slightly different/off the beaten path. Central London is ideal (I am staying in Fitzrovia) but definitely willing to go elsewhere for cool things that fit the bill! I am female if that is relevant to any suggestions.
posted by Owl of Athena to Travel & Transportation around London, England (19 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Roti King (just around the corner from Euston, and probably no worse than 15 mins walk depending on where exactly in Fitzrovia you are) is outright incredible, and unbelievably cheap.

It doesn't look like a destination restaurant though - be warned - and you have to queue, so the earlier you get there the better.

If you felt like doing something similar, but not exactly the same, on another night - Drummond Street, on the other side of Euston is packed with vegetarian Indian buffets. Diwana is said to be the best from what I've read. Will be slightly more sociable than Roti King, even if the food costs more, and isn't as good.
posted by bifter at 10:37 AM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also - the Museum of London isn't especially close, but I believe it's free and interesting enough for at least one visit. Doesn't look as though it's open in the evenings at all though, so you'd have to find a day when you can take a long break at lunch or somesuch.
posted by bifter at 10:39 AM on May 31, 2016

The Wellcome Collection is just across the road, it's open till 10pm on Thursdays and the first Friday of each month.
posted by penguinliz at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2016 [7 favorites]

Very tasty pizza for well under £10 at Franco Manca, which has many locations including a few in Central London.

I really enjoy walking along the South Bank. Probably nothing you haven't seen before, but for me, it fits into the category of "no matter how many times I visit London I enjoy doing this."
posted by tiger tiger at 11:10 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

....And if you're on the South Bank you could see if they have any cheap on-the-night tickets for productions at the National Theatre or Royal Festival Hall. Often <£10.
posted by mymbleth at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh god, seconding Franco Manca. YES.
posted by Kitteh at 11:44 AM on May 31, 2016

I really like walking around the Heath Extension and finding the Pergola and Hill Garden.

You could go to Evensong at St Paul's cathedral - a real experience.

It's worth a walk around any of central London in the evening - there's always something going on. The Southbank is a good bet, as is Covent Garden but really the whole area.

If you like opera you could see if you could get last minute cheap seats at The Coliseum (ENO) or the Royal Opera House.
posted by kadia_a at 11:56 AM on May 31, 2016

The Science Museum does 'Lates' once a month. These sometimes cost, though should be under a tenner, and they're in the 7-10pm time bracket.
posted by AFII at 12:23 PM on May 31, 2016

The Place (also opposite BL) has incredibly cheap dance performances. It's mostly people workshopping contemporary pieces but there are theatre and multimedia pieces and other dance styles too. Tickets are £10-20.

The British Museum is open late on fridays, the Sicily and Underwater Cities exhibitions on at the moment are supposed to be good.

The National Theatre has lots of tickets for £15, though they go quickly. The Globe also has some cheap tickets as I recall, and does more than just Shakespeare. Also on the Southbank at the moment is the Udderbelly marquee (comedy, fringe theatre and circus-type stuff).

The Royal Opera has a free outdoor Summer Screen programme - bring a picnic rug / bottle of wine. Or there are lots of other open air cinemas (Luna cinema, Queen of Hoxton - here's a time out page with a list of them)
posted by tinkletown at 12:24 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh and if you like Sichuan food, Chilli Cool (Bloomsbury) is amazing. Get there early, it gets busy by 7.

Or have a swim in the 2012 Olympic aquatic centre in Stratford. Bit far out, but the tube connections are quick from Kings Cross (19mins via Liverpool St) and it's open til 22:30.
posted by tinkletown at 12:36 PM on May 31, 2016

The Museum latest are usually different to their regular openings, with music and talks and activities, so even if you've been before, worth visiting again.

The universities often have public talks in the early evenings, look up their events pages for details.

Go for a walk along the river. If the tide's out, go on to the foreshore at Bankside.

Look up what's happening at the south bank centre, there's often free stuff there.

Walk along the Regents Canal in the early evening.

Visit St Pancras Old Church yard, just up the road from the British Library , great for a lunch break too...
posted by Helga-woo at 2:02 PM on May 31, 2016

Oh, and if swimming's your thing, there's an open air swimming pool tucked away in Holborn.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:04 PM on May 31, 2016

You could try for a free ticket to a BBC recording.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:10 PM on May 31, 2016

I would take all the free evening walking tours.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:18 PM on May 31, 2016

If you're there on the first Tuesday of the month, queue for the (free) candlelit tour of Sir John Soames' house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. You should try to get there before 6 to be guaranteed a spot.
posted by tavegyl at 10:29 PM on May 31, 2016

Thank you all so much for these great responses! I best answer-ed all the ones I'm definitely going to try out, which is basically all of them except that I'm not much of a swimmer. :) I had wanted to go to Evensong at St. Paul's and completely forgot; the others are all new (and very welcome) to me. Much appreciated!
posted by Owl of Athena at 1:44 AM on June 1, 2016

You may be all researched out by early evening, but if you're still up for more, it's always worth keeping an eye on the free evening research seminars that the School of Advanced Study at the University of London holds down at Senate House. Here's what the Institute of Historical Research has going on over the next few months, for example, and here's the programme for the Institute of Classical Studies. Use the drop-down menu here to see all the SAS's Institutes' coming events and seminars.

If you're down that way, Store Street Espresso does some of the best coffee in Bloomsbury.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:38 AM on June 1, 2016

Friday is late opening for the National Gallery, Tate Modern and the V&A as well as the British Museum. These are just normal museum hours extended into the evening, not the special-event "Lates" that the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A hold on the last Friday of each month.  (Are you already in London, by the way?)

Conway Hall often has evening lectures, on all manner of subjects.

As has been mentioned, Sir John Soane's museum opens late on the first Tuesday of each month, so that's the coming Tuesday.

There are often talks and signings at the big bookshops - Foyles, Blackwell's, Waterstones.

Londonist sends out a daily email listing interesting things going on the next day; they're not all evening activities, but many are.

You might also like to pop across the road some lunchtime and see if there's anything on in the Crypt Gallery at St Pancras Church.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:43 PM on June 2, 2016

Thank you all so much for all the great suggestions! Here are the ones I tried and loved:

-Roti King (I went twice. So cheap, so good.)
-Franco Manca (yum yum yum)
-Wellcome Collection (their library space was an amazing surprise - a great place for an introverted solo traveler to just chill out for a while.)
-V&A and British Museum late openings
-National Theatre and Globe cheap tickets (I believe the Globe's returns queue opened around 5:45)

There are two other things that meet my criteria above that I really enjoyed, which I tried based on non-MeFi friends' recommendations: the London Walks (fun, low-key, they have quite a few in the evenings) and Scandinavian Kitchen (only open till 7 but I got so much delicious food for not too much money). And though this doesn't precisely fit my criteria, I was able to nip into Borough Market on a Friday (only open till 6 pm), which was a fun experience with some great food. I really wanted to check out the St. Paul Evensong and Sir John Soanes candlelit tour, but wasn't able to make them as they were a bit too early for my schedule - I'll just have to keep them on the docket for next time. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by Owl of Athena at 11:15 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

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