The UK’s capital, London, is one of the most popular cities in the world. Charming pubs, rich history, a diverse population and wild nightlife makes London an exciting city to visit, study or live in.
London is the largest city in the United Kingdom, with a population of approximately nine million. The capital is home to 20 universities, two of which are ranked in the top 20 in the world. These are: Imperial College London and University College London (UCL). The student population is large and diverse, with people coming from all around the world to study in the capital.
If you’re coming to London as a student, you really can take your pick on where you’d like to live. Depending on the university you are studying at, accommodation may be provided. However, if it is not, or if you’d like alternative accommodation, here’s some of the best places to live in London as a student.
- Camden - Ideal for students at UCL , KCL, SOAS and LSE.
- Finsbury Park - Great for students at UCL, LSE, KCL, SOAS and City University.
- Stratford - Perfect for students at QMUL, UEL and LSE.
- Brixton - Ideal for students at KCL, UCL, SOAS, LSE.
- Mile End - Great for students at QMUL, UEL, LSE, KCL, UCL and Imperial College London.
- Shepherd's Bush - A good spot for students at Imperial College London, UCL, SOAS and the University of Westminster.
- Tooting - Ideal for students at London Southbank University, KCL and LSE.
- Hammersmith - Perfect for students at the University of Roehampton, Imperial College London, UCL, SOAS and the University of Westminster.
Everywhere in London is relatively easy to get to, so it is up to you if you’d prefer to live closer or further away from your university of choice. Every location offers something different. Some are more crowded with bars, restaurants and activities, whilst others are on the quieter side. Also, rental prices will differ depending on the area of London you decide to live in. Be sure to research which neighbourhood is best for you and start looking for accommodation as early as possible.
You will never be left thinking what to do in London. There will always be something that fits your tastes and mood.
As of the latest figures, the estimated monthly costs excluding rent for a single person living in London is estimated at £2020. The area you live in London will determine your living costs. You may not recognise a difference in some areas, however in terms of rent, eating out and entertainment, prices will differ.
Of course, your living costs will differ depending on your tastes, circumstances and choices. If you’re a cocktail person, you’ll likley pay £11 for one drink. However if you’d rather have a pint then it will cost on average £5.20. A dinner for two in a London pub will cost you around £37, and two theatre tickets will cost £171.
London is the most expensive city in the UK, and the second most expensive in Europe. But, don’t let the high price tag disheartened you. There are plenty of affordable rentals, restaurants and activities in the capital.
The quickest and easiest way to get around London is to use the underground, better known as the tube. The London underground is operated by Transport for London. There are 11 lines on the London Underground covering 402km and serving 272 stations. At peak times, there are more than 543 trains whizzing around the capital, taking passengers to part of the city within minutes. The London Overground and the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) are two other train services in the capital. Both of these appear on the tube map, however as most of the routes are above ground they are not classed as the London Underground.
For the cheapest tube fare, go contactless. You can get yourself an Oyster card which can be topped up or just use your contactless card at the barrier to pay for your train fare. This is much cheaper and easier than buying a paper ticket. Some stations do not have barriers, so make sure to tap in and out at every station. If you do not, you will get charged for a full journey on a line instead of just for the distance you’ve travelled.
If you’d prefer a more scenic journey, then hop on an iconic red London bus. Buses take a little longer, however they are typically less crowded and easier on your wallet. A single bus fare costs £1.65, and unlimited daily bus travel on an Oyster or contactless payment card costs £4.95.
Another affordable way to get around the capital is on the Santander Cycle bikes. For just £2 for 24 hours you access Santander Cycles. Bike docking stations are located at several points in the city, so you can park your bike up easily when you get to your destination. The first 30 minutes of your ride is free each time you hop on a new bike, so you could make multiple trips a day for a couple of quid.
Not every journey needs a form of public transportation. Many locations in London are easily walkable. For example, if you’re wanting to go from Leicester Square to Covent Garden do not hop on the Tube for one stop. The stations are only a four minute walk apart, so it's both easier and cheaper to walk it. Also, you’ll avoid the daunting stairs and queues for the lifts at Covent Garden station.
Arguably the most iconic way to get around London is in a black cab. On average, a five-mile taxi fare will cost you £26 in busy times. So, perhaps not the most affordable option, but it is too iconic to not try at least once. For a cheaper alternative, Uber does operate in the city.
If you were to write down everything you can do when the sun goes down in London the list would go on forever. The capital is widely known for its vast, diverse and colourful nightlife. Every night of the week in London is a Saturday, so whatever the day you will find a bar, club or event to cater to your mood.
Every area of London has plenty of different pubs, bars and restaurants. There are over 3500 pubs alone in the capital, so you'll never be short of options. If you’re looking for the best places to go for a night out, Soho, East London and Camden are some of the go-tos.
If you’re a student, the city has many student nights on offer. These will typically be mid-week and have cheaper drink prices and entry costs. Whether you fancy a pub crawl or a nightclub, you’ll find an event perfect for you. It’s important to note that most pubs in London will close around 11pm most days. Bars will close roughly at 1:30am, and clubs generally stay open until 4am. Some clubs stay open until 8am - perfect if you want to party until the sun comes up.
Another key part of London’s nightlife is its live music. London has countless live music venues across the city, offering an array of musical genres, from amateurs to worldwide superstars. Arguably, the most famous music venue is the O2 arena, which is located in the south-east of the city. Smaller venues include the O2 academies, for example Brixton and Kentish Town. Some pubs around the city also have live music nights and are the perfect places to discover new talent.
It would be fair to say that London is a shopaholic's idea of heaven. From highstreet to designer to independent shops - the capital has everything you could ever need.
Probably one of the most renowned shopping streets in the capital is Oxford Street, which is brimming with more than 300 shops. Here you will find both designer outlets and highstreet chains. Not forgetting the many souvenir shops - don’t forget to grab yourself a keyring. Located on Oxford Street Selfridges, one of London’s legendary department stores.
Another great place to shop is Covent Garden. Stroll through the cobbled streets and pop into Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury or Polo Ralph Lauren. For something more unique, find Covent Garden Market which is located at the heart of the square. Here you will find independent stalls selling the likes of urban streetwear, handmade cosmetics and unique arts and crafts. Don’t forget to check out the street performers once you’re all shopped out.
For something a little different, take a trip to Camden. Here you’ll find shops offering alternative clothing and unique items. Camden Lock Market is a great place for hand-crafted jewellery and vintage clothing. Once your feet start to ache, grab a bite to eat from Camden’s street food market. The food tastes as good as it looks.
When it comes to sport in London, Football tops the list. The capital is currently home to six premier league football clubs. Next season, 2022/2023, this will rise to seven, with Fulham being promoted to the league. The current six are:
- Crystal Palace
- Tottenham Hotspur
- West Ham
The city is home to some of the most prestigious stadiums in the world. The most notable would be Wembley Stadium, which hosts many domestic cup finals including the FA cup final and League cup final. England's international matches are also held at Wembley, including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers. Football is not the only sporting event held at the stadium. In the past, Wembley has hosted the Rugby League Challenge cup final and NFL games.
Rugby is another sport well established in London. One of the oldest and largest grounds in the world, Twickenham Stadium is the heart of English Rugby. The stadium hosts international matches, London Sevens finals and club competition finals.
Another major sporting event which takes place in the capital is the London Marathon. This 26.2 mile winds through the city, with many famous landmarks on its route. Runners will pass the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and Nelson’s Column before jogging up the final stretch to the finishing line located at Buckingham Palace. More than 40,000 people run the marathon each year, with many fundraising and completing the race for a charity of their choice. To take part, you will need to enter a ballot to be randomly selected. If you’re not keen on taking part, you can find a spot on the track and cheer the runners on as they pass by. Make sure to keep an eye out for the best costume - there’s always some wacky ones.
The student population is large and diverse, with people coming from all around the world to study in the capital.
Things to do
When it comes to things to do in London, the possibilities are endless. If it’s your first time visiting, you’ll need to tick off the capital’s must see sites from your London bucket list. On top of the tourist things to do, there's also plenty of interesting places to see and unique activities in London. You will never be left thinking what to do in London. There will always be something that fits your tastes and mood.
The history of London extends over 2000 years. One of London’s best things to do is to simply put your walking shoes on and wander around the city. Whether it’s historic architecture, iconic landmarks or the first red telephone box, you're bound to find a slice of British history wherever you go. Take it to the next level by doing a walking tour. Walk the streets of east london, delving into the world of Jack the Ripper, or trek the streets to discover London's most historic pubs. You can even have a cocktail in an old public toilet on London’s Loo Tour - not quite the bog standard.
Another way to immerse yourself in history is to visit one of the many museums in the capital. Explore the wonders of our planet at the National History Museum, get hands-on with interactive galleries at the Science Museum, or discover rare artefacts at the British Museum.
If you fancy a fun thing to do in London with your pals, the city has all sorts to offer. Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar, aim for a hole in one whilst sipping a cocktail at funky mini golf, or attempt to break free from an escape room. For something along the creative route, try out one of the many art classes London has to offer. Make your own pottery, attend a beginners painting class, or craft your own jewellery. Some classes allow you to bring your own booze, so you can get in touch with your creative side whilst sipping on a delicious beverage.
No trip to London is complete without witnessnessing the glamour and excitement of London’s West End. There are a total of 38 theatres on West End, all offering a variety of different shows from musicals to dance shows. Shaftesbury Avenue is the most renowned street on the West End and is home to six theatres. These are:
- Apollo Theatre
- Gielgud Theatre
- Lyric Theatre
- Palace Theatre
- Sondheim Theatre
- Shaftesbury Theatre
If you can, take your seat and enjoy one of London’s famous shows. There are plenty of prestigious shows to choose from, including: The Lion King, Wicked, Les Misérables and Hamilton. Keep an eye for new plays and musicals, they pop up quite often. The best way to bag yourself tickets is to go through the theatre's official website, or an external ticket site such as TodayTix. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, you can purchase discounted theatre tickets on the day of the show at a ticket booth in the West End. These are first come first serve so make sure you get there nice and early.
London is a city overflowing with job opportunities. The buzzing city atmosphere coupled with the scale of some of the companies operating in the capital makes London an ideal place to work.
Some of the biggest companies in the UK have their headquarters in London. These large corporations offer many jobs in a variety of different sectors. Currently, there are sectors within the capital experiencing employee shortages. These include: healthcare (in particular the NHS), construction, retail, engineering and finance. If you’re hoping for a career in any of these industries, you may find London is a good place to look.
Despite the capital having an abundance of job opportunities, the market is competitive. The capital’s buzzing working environment, unmatchable career opportunities and multicultural environment makes it a desirable place to work. But, don’t let the competitive market get you down. Hundreds of new jobs pop up every day around the city, so you’ll likely never run out of opportunities to apply for.