Looking for cheap things to do to pass the time while you’re studying? University isn’t all about partying and studying and you’ll probably find yourself with a lot of time on your hands.
While you’re not busy with your degree, university is actually one of the only times in your life when you’ll have plenty of free time to explore and try new things before you get into working full-time and have rare time off, so you’ll want to make the most of your uni weekends and free afternoons!
Obviously, students are on a budget and it can be tricky to think of cheap things to do but we’ve got it covered with 50 cheap (or even free!) activities you can plan to do on your weekends or during your spare time.
50 cheap activities for students
Museums are nearly always free, or inexpensive at least. Museums are a great way to spend a day out and there’s a huge selection of museums in the UK covering a range of weird and wonderful things. There also might be some limited-time-only exhibitions on in your local area, so definitely check what’s on near you to plan a day out.
2. Board game night
Another free activity is to host a board game night with your friends. Of course, this does require already owning the board games, but you can nearly always find some in charity shops for a fraction of the original price. Invite your friends over and let your competitive side come out.
3. Art galleries
Art galleries are also nearly free and can be really fun and interesting to look at. It might not be everyone’s thing but if there are some special exhibits or galleries on in your local area, it’s well worth checking it out even if it’s just for a few hours.
If you want a fun night out that’s different to your regular Friday night, why not try a karaoke night? You can look for local karaoke venues or you can do it the good old-fashioned way, with YouTube and a speaker straight from your uni kitchen.
5. Pub quiz
A good old-fashioned pub quiz is a fun activity to do that can really test your random general knowledge and it’s a great excuse to head down to your local.
6. Bike rides
Riding a bike is free and if you don’t own one, you can normally rent or hire them in the majority of major cities. Map out a route you’d like to try or simply wing it, but it’s a great way to get some fresh air, see the sights and get some exercise in too.
Moving to university means that you’ll be in a new place, which means plenty of places to explore. You might be lucky enough to live close enough to a hiking trail or a national park, but if you don’t you can always plan a day out to one, as after all hiking is a free activity that anyone can enjoy.
8. Outdoor picnics
Weather dependant of course, but picnics are a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. You don’t have to go all out with the food either, just a few of your favourite snacks and you’re good to go.
Arcades are a huge nostalgia hit, a great way to get rid of any loose change you may have lying around and a fun fairly cheap day out. It is pretty easy to get carried away with how much money you’re spending trying to win things on certain machines though, so maybe limit yourself to £5-10 of spending money.
Bowling is a fairly cheap activity in the first place, but it’s even better when students can get a student discount at Tenpin to save on bowling and drinks.
11. Bus tours of local cities
Big cities in the UK will operate open bus tours so you can learn more about the history of the city and its landmarks and attractions. Bus tickets are normally fairly affordable and it’s a really nice way to see new things without having to walk.
12. Book a coach trip to a new city
Trains can be expensive, so use National Express to book coach tickets to explore new cities and save some money on the travelling part.
13. Escape rooms
Escape rooms are a really good way to test your friendships. You might end up arguing a few times during, but working together to try and beat the clock is a fun team-building activity either way.
14. Visit the beach
If you don’t live near a beach, now’s your chance to plan a day out to one. It doesn’t have to be summer either, as sometimes the best UK beaches are enjoyed during colder weather. Beach and seaside towns normally have tonnes of independent cafes and restaurants and individual tourist attractions to see too!
15. Host a dinner party night
Invite your friends over or team up with your housemates to pull off a Come Dine With Me style dinner party. You can each cook a certain part of the meal and enjoy a home-cooked meal without having to spend a tonne of money.
16. Experience days
Experience days allow you to try anything from skydiving to spa days. Check out websites such as Groupon, Wowcher, Buyagift or Red Letter Days to see what experience days you can try out in your local area and use your Student Beans account to get some additional money off the already fairly affordable experiences.
17. Make cocktails at home
Ditch your local bar and try your hand at making your favourite cocktails straight from the comfort of your front room.
18. Go charity or vintage shopping
If you’re a charity shop professional you’ll know that you can find some absolute bargains in charity shops for as little as around 30p. All towns will have charity shops and you may even have some great vintage shops too, so take a day to take your time and explore and see if you can find some real gems.
19. Watch the sunset or sunrise
Are you a morning person or a night person? Whatever you prefer, sometimes it’s worth getting up early or staying up late just to watch a beautiful sunset or sunrise.
20. Crazy golf
Crazy golf has gotten more extreme and fun in recent years, with venues like Junkyard Golf offering a whole new fun crazy golf experience.
21. Rock climbing
Rock climbing is not only fun and inexpensive but it’s also a great strength workout. Check your local area for rock climbing places and see if they offer any student or off-peak discounts.
22. Comedy shows
Comedy shows are normally free and chances are you’ll find plenty that are on regularly in local venues in your uni town or city.
23. Gaming tournament
Invite your friends over to play Mario Kart or other fun multiplayer games for an afternoon of competitive fun. You can also get a student discount at My Nintendo Store to treat yourself to some new games for your gaming marathon.
24. Movie marathon
If you fancy a more chilled day and don’t want to go out, gather up your friends for a movie marathon at home. Bring snacks and get stuck in to a back-to-back screening of all of your fave movies.
Cinemas normally offer their own type of student discount or deal or show films for cheaper at certain times, so keep an eye out for exciting film releases. Remember not to buy any food at the cinema and to bring your own snacks to save a bit of cash too.
26. Exercise classes
Working out might not sound like fun for everyone, but there are always fun new exercise classes out there that can make it more exciting. Check your local gym for what’s on, or try new classes near you by using websites such as Class Pass to get free credits to try things out.
Aquariums such as Sealife offer student discounts, so you won’t have to break the bank to visit and check out the aquatic life.
If your uni has a swimming pool it might be free or cheap to access, but if it doesn’t you’ll definitely have a local leisure centre which should be affordable for a day pass or membership if you’d like to go swimming more regularly.
The UK has a huge selection of castles which all tell a great story. This map shows where castles are situated in the UK and what ones you can plan to visit.
Theatre tickets aren’t always cheap, but sometimes if you check out local productions or use student discounts you can score some pretty cheap tickets. Keep an eye out on Student Beans for discounts that can be used at local theatres.
31. Ice skating
This is definitely a seasonal activity, but as soon as it starts to get cold why not plan a trip to your local ice rink?
If you’d like to unleash your creative side, painting or making pottery is a relaxing, cheap and fun activity that you could spend all afternoon perfecting.
33. Trampoline park
If you live near a trampoline park, check to see if they offer student discounts. Trampolining is an activity that’s not to be underestimated, it actually requires a lot of stamina, but best of all it’s a super fun workout.
Baking can be a really therapeutic activity and ingredients are normally fairly cheap too. Whether you’re baking a cake for an occasion or just for fun, you’ll find the afternoon fly by and you’ll get a delicious sugary treat at the end of the day too.
35. Cheese and wine night
Invite your friends over to enjoy a cheese and wine night from home. All it takes is a quick trip to the supermarket to grab an inexpensive bottle of wine and a selection of cheeses.
36. Garden centres
Garden centres are free and often hide some real gems. It’s not just garden stuff that they sell, you can buy plants and flowers to decorate your uni room and the cafes are normally great too.
37. River cruise
If you live near a river, check out what boat rides or river cruises are available. If you’re based in London you could even get an Uber Boat, just for something fun to do.
38. Cheap gigs
Check your local area and venues to see what live music is on, it might not be an artist that you know but it can definitely be a fun night out.
39. Murder mystery night
You can order murder mystery packs for cheap on Amazon if you and your friends are up for the challenge of trying to crack the mystery.
40. Coffee shops
There will be tonnes of independent coffee shops in your uni town, so make it a personal goal to try them all and see what they have to offer!
41. Customise clothes
If you want to combat the problems associated with fast fashion, the best way is to customise your old clothes and repurpose them instead of throwing them out and buying new clothes. Whether you’re tie-dyeing clothes or turning jeans into shorts, the possibilities are endless.
42. Food festivals
Food festivals often crop up in your local area, where you can sample some delicious snacks and treats. You’ll normally have to buy a ticket for entry but it probably won’t be more than £10.
43. Visit markets
Your town or city will probably have a local market every week or month where you can grab some great bargains or try some local cuisine.
44. Laser quest
Laser quest is another cheap activity that can occupy a boring afternoon and unleash your competitive side. Check out LaserZone to get a student discount on your next trip.
45. Visit Ikea
As a student, your personal style will probably change over the years and you might want to completely redecorate your uni room. If you live near an Ikea it’s a super fun day out, even if you’re just browsing and having lunch in the cafe.
This isn’t exactly an activity as such, but volunteering programmes are something that will be run by the majority of universities and it’s great to use your spare time to give back to the local community.
47. Pub golf
Ok, so pub golf might not be the cheapest activity but it is a good day out. Instead of trying to hit a full 9 or 12 pubs, maybe condense this to 3-4 local pubs to keep it fun but affordable.
If you’ve got camping gear leftover from a festival, why not brave the great outdoors and organise a camping trip with your uni friends? You can bring your favourite snacks, drinks and have a super chilled and fun time on a budget.
49. Afternoon tea
50. Late-night shopping trip
If you or one of your friends has a car, you’ll know that nothing beats a late-night trip to the 24-hour supermarket to get snacks.
For more affordable and cheap things to do check out 60 cheap dates ideas you’ll actually want to do.