THE BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
Budget-friendly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think of London, but there are a fair few free things to do in London if you know where to look. That’s right, it’s not impossible to explore the city without breaking the bank. 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.
Discover the history of the world’s greatest city and it’s people, we might be blowing our own trumpet but it’s true! It goes way back to the prehistoric era, all the way through to modern day happenings. There’s always an exhibit to explore.
2. 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.
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.
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.
5. 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.
6. 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 their hit-track Wannabe. You better start practising your zig-a-zig-ah…
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…
8. David Bowie’s Memorial
Brixton, the London district where Bowie grew up and 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.
9. First Thursdays
The clue’s in the name… yep, on the first Thursday of every month, over 150 galleries and museums in east London offer late night openings and events. There are exclusive exhibitions, private talks and unseen collections dedicated to this evening. It’ll defo keep you busy…
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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…
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. Tower Bridge
Take a stroll over one of the city’s most famous bridges. Unique, historical and an iconic part of the London skyline.
17. 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…
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Saatchi Gallery
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.
21. 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.
There are lots more weird and wonderful free things to do in London. How about a stroll around one of the 22. Magnificent Seven Cemeteries? You’ll find them scattered over the city, full to the brim of Victorian tombs and mighty mausoleums. You might need a little brightening up afterwards, so 23. God’s Own Junkyard should do the job, where wacky neon lights and vintage psychedelic signs are crammed into every nook and cranny.
On the other side of town, there’s something for all you Harry Potter enthusiasts. Are you more of a Ravenclaw? Or a Gryffindor? Take a trip to 24. Platform 9 and 3/4 and snap a pic with the trolley! Escape the wizarding world and head back to reality at the 25. Supreme Court, where 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. If that sparks some enthusiasm, head on over to 26. Speaker’s Corner 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…
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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’.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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…
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.
35. 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.
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?
Get out of your hood and visit another neck of the woods, some of the best include 37. Brick Lane in Shoreditch, 38. Broadway Market in Hackney, 39. Chinatown in Soho and 40. Brixton Village. If you’ve got a few hours to kill, the 41. Imperial War Museum, 42. Whitechapel Gallery, 43. Horniman Museum and Gardens and 44. National Gallery are reliable crowd pleasers. Fancy something out of the ordinary? Step into the ruins of 45. London’s Roman Amphitheatre, or watch theatre sets being made for the National Theatre at 46. Shelling High Line. In Kensington, you’ll find 47. Leighton House, an architectural treasure trove inspired by the Middle East. Whilst in the city you can rest your feet by taking a seat on one of the many benches in 48. Postman’s Park.
The fun doesn’t stop there, why not escape to the great outdoors with a trip to 50. Richmond Park and its 2,500 acres of serene greenery, or discover over 1,300 years of history at 51. Fulham Palace? Uncover more of the capital’s past at one of the many museums… 52. Sir John Soane’s Museum, 53. Bank of England Museum and 54. Museum of London Docklands are all worthy of exploring.
Keep heading back in time, more than 2,000 years ago to find the 55. Roman Temple of Mithras in the heart of the city. From Rome to Brixton, where the 56. Brixton Windmill is still milling flour for you to buy today, as well as offering plenty of garden space to admire the attraction. There’s more to see at 57. The Serpentine Art Galleries in Kensington Gardens and 58. Tate Britain in Westminster.
59. 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.
60. Old Spitalfields Market
The East London original market that 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!
61. 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…
62. 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.
63. 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.
It’s two London galleries, in Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard, represent international high-profile artists such as Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and London’s very own Tracey Emin. Contemporary, modern and quirky.
65. 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.
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.
67. 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?
Did you know there’s a bunch of 68. Free City Farms to visit? Vauxhall, Hackney and Spitalfields all offer a little piece of countryside in central London. You haven’t quite ticked all the museums and galleries off the list yet, 69. William Morris Gallery, 70. Maritime Museum, 71. RAF Museum, 72. National Portrait Gallery, 73. The Wallace Collection and 74. Natural History Museum are all free too!
Grab a book from the 75. British Library and give it a read whilst sitting in the stunning 76. Crystal Palace Park. Last but not least, 77. Camden Passage is also worth a gander. 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. See? There are plenty of free things to do in London.
What are the best free things to do in London?
There are always some amazing free things to do in London, all year round. Some of our finest museums and art galleries such as The Tate Modern are totally free to enter. Although special exhibitions do cost more, the free permanent collections contain some of the finest artworks anywhere in the world. If you’d rather spend your time out and about, London has some incredible parks and green spaces including Green Park, Regent’s Park, and Hyde Park, all smack bang in the centre of town. Then there’s the amazing things to see at London’s markets, such as discovering foodie treats at Borough (yes they will give you samples!), to soaking up the atmosphere at Portobello or Columbia Road Flower Market.
What are the best free things to do in London this week?
As well as the the things in London that are always free, there are always special events each week that are totally free to attend as well. Some of the best free things to do in London this week might include a free meal at a newly launched restaurant or a free festival such as Notting Hill Carnival or the Canary Wharf Winter Lights festival. With so much going on in London, there’s always at least a couple of free things to do that won’t cost you a penny. For more ideas, see our What’s On guide and Swag pages.
What are the best free things to do in London with kids?
Taking kids around London can be stressful and expensive – but again if you plan carefully there are tons of free things to do in London with kids. From walks in the park and playgrounds, to museums and world famous toy stores such as Hamleys, there is plenty to keep kids entertained without splashing the cash.