The Best Free Things to Do in London

Budget-friendly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the capital, but there are a fair few free things to do in London if you know where to look

That’s right, it’s possible to explore the city without breaking the bank. London is one of the best cities on the planet for culture, boasting a ton of world-leading museums and galleries, many of which don’t cost a single penny to enter. Yes you can marvel at Old Masters, look up at a colossal animal skeleton or stand face to face with incredible sculptures for free. Hitting the museums is also one of the best free things to do in London with kids as there’s plenty on inside each one to keep them entertained.

Though it’s too big to cover completely on foot, London is a very walkable city and its distinct neighbourhoods mean there’s plenty to check out just by strolling around – doubly so if you hit places like Portobello Road, Broadway Market and Columbia Road on a market day. And if you like a good walk, you really are spoiled for choice in the capital, with everything from an abandoned railway line to iconic parks to an actual forest waiting to be explored.

You can even travel back in time in London – totally free of course – by exploring remnants of the city’s ancient past, like the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre at Guildhall and the archaeological finds at Fulham Palace, and by watching longstanding traditions, like the Ceremony of the Keys and the Changing of the Guard, take place.

So whether you fancy taking a seat in the gallery of the Supreme Court, or visiting a neon wonderland in Walthamstow, these are the best free things to do in London. And well as the things in London that are always free, there are always special events each week that are totally free to attend as well, so check out our What’s On guide as well.

1. Tate Modern

This is one member of the Tate family and its four galleries across the country, showing the very best international and contemporary art. There’s plenty to see inside, but there’s also a bloody good 360-degree view of the city from its outside viewing level. Surely one of the best galleries in the world and definitely one of the best free things to do in London.

2. Columbia Road Flower Market

A colourful oasis in London’s East End, where you can find everything from bedding plants to a 10-foot banana tree. Take a stroll around the flourishing market stalls, barter for some busy lizzies, visit one of the many ridiculously hipster cafes, and it’ll be a Sunday well spent.

Free things to do in London Columbia Road

3. British Museum

Get your geek on with a trip to the British Museum and peruse its collection that spans over two million years of human history. It’s not just London you’ll learn about, as there are Egyptian mummies and Greek sculptures within its works too.

4. The Sky Garden

Experience the capital from a different perspective and head on up to the 43rd floor of this skyscraper for panoramic views. You can see pretty much everything through it’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows and there’s even an open-air terrace for when the sun is beaming.

5. St. Pancras Hotel Staircase

Otherwise known as the Spice Girls staircase. Visit this swanky hotel to take a trip down memory lane and recreate that iconic scene where the nation’s favourite girl band filmed the vid for their hit track ‘Wannabe’. You better start practising your zig-a-zig-ah…

6. Barbican Conservatory

A tropical paradise in the heart of the city, sprawling with palm trees, cacti and lush green leaves. As well as its impressive 2,000 species of plants, there’s a fish pond full of koi carp and terrapins basking on the rockery. Go back to nature and get lost in the jungle…

7. David Bowie’s Memorial

Brixton, the London district where Bowie grew up, is now home to the graffiti mural that remembers this iconic music legend. David Bowie and his infamous lightning bolt make-up light up the street for the many fans that visit.

8. House of Hackney

Take a peek inside London’s hottest clothing and interior design house. It’s a feast for the eyes, with outlandish prints, gorgeous colours and retro textures lining the walls throughout. The very best interiors, fashion and accessories all under one roof in a Shoreditch townhouse.

9. Science Museum

Fancy flying with the Red Arrows? Or taking a trip to the stars on an Apollo space mission? A visit to the Science Museum can make those dreams come true, as it’s seven floors are kitted out with advanced technology and 4D simulators to help bring science to life.

10. The Old Blue Last Gigs

Nearly each and every one of London’s music sensations started their career by playing at this East London pub. Since 2004, they’ve brought some of the biggest names like Florence and the Machine, The Horrors and Arctic Monkeys to Shoreditch. See the next big thing for free, before they start selling out arenas…

11. Little Venice

A slice of Italy in Maida Vale. Whilst you won’t find Italian gondolas or a stunning Venetian skyline, you can expect beautiful canals with narrowboats cruising along and waterside cafes and restaurants to enjoy the picturesque scenes.

12. Neasden Temple

Neasden isn’t usually on our list of must-visit London hoods, but after discovering this traditional Hindu temple, it’s gone to the top of the list. It stands 70 feet tall and is carved entirely from stone. It’s impressive from afar, but get up close and personal to really appreciate this beauty.

13. Street Art in East London

Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hoxton, Hackney and every other East London hood is an ever-changing canvas. There’s street art, graffiti, murals, stickers, stencilling and more. You’ll find the famous works of Banksy, the colourful and bold back streets of Brick Lane, and a huge 30-foot bird plastered on the walls.

14. Tower Bridge

Take a stroll over one of the city’s most famous bridges. Unique, historical and an iconic part of the London skyline.

free things to in london tower bridge

15. Walthamstow Wetlands

Calling all nature enthusiasts. There’s 13 miles of pathway to explore, as well as an abundance of wildlife awaiting, including grey heron, tufted duck and wildfowl. Who knows what else you’ll find along the way…

16. London LOOP

How well do you really know London? Well after walking this 240-kilometre public footpath, you’ll know it inside out. It’s the equivalent of walking the M25, without the roadworks, accidents and traffic congestion.

17. Design Museum

It pretty much does what it says on the tin, offering exhibitions and activities all about design in an incredible new building designed by architect John Pawson. There’s fashion, architecture, furniture, graphics, products, transport, digital… the list goes on. Inject some creativity and prepare to be inspired.

Another one from London’s collection of galleries, but this is all about showcasing the works of young and international artists. It’s fresh, innovative and inspiring.

19. South Bank

Are you really a Londoner if you haven’t strolled the South Bank? It’s as close as you’re gonna get to the Thames and it gives the perfect view of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, National Theatre and other national treasures.

20. Magnificent Seven Cemeteries

Stroll around the seven large cemeteries in the capital – Highgate, Brompton, Abney Park, Kensal Green, Tower Hamlets, Nunhead and West Norwood – which are full to the brim of Victorian tombs and mighty mausoleums.

21. God’s Own Junkyard

Wacky neon lights and vintage psychedelic signs, including everything from Chris Bracey’s signage for Soho sex clubs in the 60s to movie props, are crammed into every nook and cranny of this Walthamstow space. It’s blindingly good.

22. Supreme Court

Members of the public can visit the grand three-storey building as well as take a seat in a courtroom to watch all the action.

23. Speaker’s Corner

Head to this spot in Hyde Park to watch public speeches and debates unfold. Back in the day, even the likes of George Orwell and Karl Marx took to the stage to demonstrate, now it’s your turn…

24. Regent’s Canal

Escape the busy street’s and step onto the towpath for a stroll that takes you from Paddington to Limehouse. You’ll go over and under bridges, through the capital’s stunning green parks and be spoilt for choice with picturesque cafes and bars on this 9 mile stretch of canal.

25. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Follow the footsteps of the world’s best athletes and relive the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic Games. There’s parklands, waterways and walking trails to get lost within, artwork and architecture to admire and the world’s longest tunnel slide awaiting…A £6 billion investment well spent.

26. Kyoto Gardens

Londoners can find their zen with a visit to this oasis of tranquility and peace. Who needs a trip to Japan when Kyoto Gardens is hidden in Holland Park? Feel one at nature and get a few shots for Instagram.

27. Changing of the Guard

Can it get more British than this? We don’t think so…outside Buckingham Palace you can watch the New Guard exchange duty with the Old Guard along with every single tourist in the city. A ‘must-see’.

28. Borough Market

It’s best to visit on an empty stomach to truly make the most of a visit to London’s best food market. Feast on some of the finest foods from across the country and tuck into some grub from traders offering international delicacies. If you leave feeling full, you know you’ve done it right.

29. Queen’s House

A few miles down the river from the most famous royal residency of them all, is this architectural gem of Greenwich. Although it’s famous for its previous occupants, it’s now displaying impressive art collections from over the years.

30. Evening songs at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Have you got what it takes to become a part of the St. Paul’s Cathedral choir? Find out at their daily Choral Evesong, where you can take a seat under the dome and belt out some hymns. Anyone is invited to take part, so what have you got to lose…

31. V&A

They don’t call it the world’s leading museum of art and design for nothing, it’s seven floors are full to the brim with original paintings, posters, jewellery, ceramics, sculptures, textiles and more. It’s constantly housing new exhibitions and running events for all to enjoy.

32. Portobello Road

Every Saturday this half-mile-long stretch of road is transformed into a cave of hidden treasures. There’s something for everyone, from bargains and bric-a-brac to pearls and pricey antiques. Prepare to see some weird, wacky and wonderful sights.

33. Abandoned Finsbury Park Railway

Wander in tunnels and take a detour through overgrown woodlands, in an attempt to trace the remains of this abandoned railway line. Getting lost is all part of the fun, right?

34. Imperial War Museum

Focusing on the history of war from 1914 to the present day, the IWM gives you the chance to see conflict through the eyes of people that lived through it, with some powerful permanent displays.

One of the best art galleries in East London, the Whitechapel Gallery is known for mounting shows of contemporary art from across the world, with an emphasis on making it accessible to everyone.

36. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Head to South London to check out this anthropological museum that boasts an impressive collection of taxidermy and musical instruments – and don’t leave without a spin round the gardens.

No trip to the capital is complete without a visit to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Housing masterpieces by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Van Gogh, Titian, Velazquez, Hogarth, Caravaggio, Monet, Botticelli and Vermeer, you could spend a whole day here marvelling at the artworks.

38. London’s Roman Amphitheatre

Step back in time to ancient Rome by stepping into the ruins of London’s Roman amphitheatre, which were discovered during the construction of the Guildhall Art Gallery in 1988.

39. Postman’s Park

Rest your feet after touring the City by taking a seat on one of the many benches in this quiet park close to St Paul’s Cathedral.

40. Richmond Park 

Escape to the great outdoors with a trip to Richmond Park and its 2,500 acres of serene greenery, complete with resident deer.

41. Fulham Palace

Home of the Bishops of London since the Tudor period, Fulham Palace is not only rich with early modern history but important archaeological finds dating back to 4,000 BC have been found on the site too.

42. Sir John Soane’s Museum

Set inside what was the renowned neo-classical architect’s home once upon a time, Sir John Soane’s Museum has been kept exactly as it was when he died in 1837. Marvel at Soane’s immense collection of antiques, furniture, sculptures, architectural models and paintings.

43. Bank of England Museum

Head inside the Bank of England and discover the role it has played in the UK’s economy since its foundation in 1694.

44. Museum of London Docklands

See how the Thames and the docks transformed London into the city it is today at this museum in Canary Wharf.

45. Roman Temple of Mithras

Keep heading back in time, more than 2,000 years ago, at the reconstructed remains of the Temple of Mithras next to Bloomberg’s European HQ.

46. Brixton Windmill

This South London landmark is still milling flour for you to buy today, as well as offering plenty of garden space to admire the attraction.

47. The Serpentine Art Galleries

If you don’t fancy taking a dip in the lake, you can admire groundbreaking contemporary art across the two Serpentine Galleries and the Pavilion, which is taken over by a different internationally renowned architect each year.

48. Tate Britain

As you may guess from the name, art made in Britain from 1500 to the present day is the focus here. The permanent collection is arranged by date and includes works by William Hogarth, John Singer Sargent, Gwen John, Francis Bacon, and David Hockney.

49. Somerset House

You’ve probably seen it on Instagram, whether it be adorned with white and pink blooming flowers to celebrate summer or bustling with ice-skaters in its courtyard for the winter months. It’s a spectacular cultural, artistic and creative centre.

50. Old Spitalfields Market

The original East London market combines independent market traders with our fave high-street shops. There’s food, drink, music, fashion, arts, jewellery, furniture, books and everything else all under one roof!

51. Ceremony of the Keys at Tower of London

Fancy locking up the Tower of London for the night? Go in after hours to watch the gates close, the doors lock and the keys get put away for safekeeping in this ancient tradition. Just make sure you turn off all the lights before you leave…

52. Hyde Park

The busiest and best London park. It’s a breath of fresh air in the heart of the city, perfect for picnicking and meandering, but if that doesn’t float your boat, maybe a pedalo on the Serpentine will? Throughout the seasons it hosts events and festivals, making it one of the best city parks in the world.

53. Epping Forest

London and Essex share joint custody of this EPICALLY sized forest. If you need a nature retreat, Epping Forest is the answer. We’d recommend doing a little research before wandering into its 6,000 acres of trees, rivers and lakes. It’s time to live that country bumpkin life you’ve always dreamed of.

Its two London galleries, in Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard, represent international high-profile artists such as Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Contemporary, modern and quirky.

55. London’s Skateparks

Test your board skills with a visit to one of London’s many skateparks. Admire the Thames whilst skating at Southbank Skate Spot and watch the crowds gather, or go underneath Waterloo Station at the capital’s first indoor skate park. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, put your helmet on and prepare to bruise your knees.

56. Maltby Street Market

Another foodie haven plonked underneath the railway arches on Maltby Street. It’s one of the capital’s smaller markets but that doesn’t stop crowds flocking at the weekends. What it lacks in size, it 100% makes up for in cool vibes, culinary delights and quirky beer joints.

57. Grant Museum of Zoology

The exhibits are crammed full of skulls, skeletons and species floating in conspicuous fluids. In fact, there’s more than 67,000 on display from the bones of the extinct dodo to the 99-inch wide elk antlers. At the end of your visit, why not adopt one of these weird and wonderful specimens?

Natural History Museum | London On The Inside

58. Free City Farms

Did you know there’s a bunch of free city farms to visit? Vauxhall, Hackney and Spitalfields all offer a little piece of countryside in central London.

This gallery, located inside his former home in Walthamstow, is dedicated to the life and work of English Arts and Crafts designer William Morris and features a range of textiles, wallpaper, furniture, ceramics, prints and paintings.

60. The British Museum

The world’s oldest national public museum houses the most comprehensive collection of pieces exploring two million years of human history, art and culture in existence.

With works spanning photography, painting, drawing and sculpture, the National Portrait Gallery holds the world’s greatest collection of portraits from the Tudor period to the present day.

62. The Wallace Collection

Considered to be one of the finest collections in the world, The Wallace Collection features a range of furniture, paintings, sculpture, arms & armour, and porcelain, with a particularly rich selection of French 18th century decorative arts.

63. Natural History Museum

Explore the past 4.5 billion years of history through 80 million objects at the National History Museum whose collection covers botany, entomology, zoology, mineralogy and palaeontology, and the massive skeletons hanging in the main hall.

64. Crystal Palace Park

Forget Jurassic Park, the place to see dinosaurs is Crystal Palace Park where 30 statues of dinos, reptiles and amphibians have been standing since 1854.

65. Camden Passage

Go for a browse and we bet you’ll leave with an antique piece of furniture for the house or a vintage collectable to add to the collection.