London is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and there certainly is plenty to do. It’s also one of the most expensive cities, so it is important to add some free attractions to your itinerary.
You don’t need to max out your credit card to see the best of what our magnificent capital has to offer. In fact, if you follow our advice you won’t even have to open your wallet.
Here are 57 free things to do in London.
As well as the iconic T. rex, the magnificent Hintze Hall is now also home to a 25-metre blue whale skeleton. There are hundreds of new specimens displayed over three floors, which are divided into colour zones that tell the story of evolution, diversity of life, the creation of Earth, and our role in the planet’s future.
Open daily 10.00-17.50.
2. Museum of London
Take a fascinating journey into the past and learn about the history of London from prehistoric times up to the present day. Discover the turbulent past of our capital city including Roman and Saxon times, the Civil Wars, the plague, the Great Fire and life in Victorian London.
Open daily 10.00-18.00.
3. Victoria & Albert Museum
After admiring this fine example of Victorian architecture from the outside, step in to discover some of the most stunning art and design collections in the world. Highlights include the Medieval Renaissance galleries, the Jewellery Gallery and the British Galleries.
Open daily 10.00-17.45, Fridays 10.00-22.00.
4. V&A Museum of Childhood
Situated at Bethnal Green, the museum houses a fascinating collection of toys, dolls, houses and construction toys dating back to the 1600s. There are also displays of objects relating to all aspects of childhood in the home and in the classroom.
Open daily 10.00-17.45.
5. National Maritime Museum
The largest maritime museum in the world houses over two million precious artefacts related to exploration and the history of the Royal Navy. Learn about life and death on the seas and see the actual uniform Nelson wore when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Open daily 10.00-17.00.
6. Science Museum
There’s a whole range of weird and wonderful interactive activities for adults and children at the Science Museum. Discover how astronauts go to the toilet in space or what it’s like to be a pregnant man! It’s also home to the Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket.
Open daily 10.00-18.00.
7. British Museum
The British Museum is home to thousands of fascinating artefacts from ancient civilisations and cultures around the world, including Egyptian mummies, Samurai armour and the famous Rosetta Stone. The exhibits are centred on the spectacular Great Court.
Open daily 10.00-17.30, Fridays 10.00-20.30.
8. Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum houses a collection of experiences of people in wartime since the First World War. Permanent Exhibitions include Extraordinary Heroes, Secret War, a Family in Wartime, and the Holocaust Exhibition.
Open daily 10.00-18.00.
9. British Library
Open to the public, the British Library also offers a free Treasure Gallery where you can see the original Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s first folio, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook scribblings, and Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon.
Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 09.30-18.00, Tuesday 09.30-20.00, Saturday 09.30-17.00, Sunday 11.00-17.00.
10. National Gallery
This spectacular building houses masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in history including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Renoir and Turner.
Open daily 10.00-18.00, Friday 10.00-21.00.
11. National Portrait Gallery
Home to the world’s largest collection of portraits from the Middle Ages to the present day in different media, including paintings, sculptures, photography and video.
See the faces of famous people in British history, from royalty to movie stars.
Open daily 10.00-18.00, Thursdays and Fridays 10.00-21.00.
12. Tate Modern
On the banks of the Thames, the Tate Modern houses a fascinating collection of modern and contemporary art from around the world, including works from Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol and Pollock. There are also activities for younger children to keep them occupied while you look around.
Open Sunday to Thursday 10.00-18.00, Friday and Saturday 10.00-22.00.
13. Saatchi Gallery
Displaying contemporary art from lesser-known artists, the Saatchi Gallery has helped launch the careers of many British artists, including Damien Hurst.
Open daily 10.00-18.00.
14. Nelson’s Column
Taking pride of place in Trafalgar Square, the statue was erected to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
15. The Monument
Built between 1671 and 1677, this vast column was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666. It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London.
16. Marble Arch
Designed by John Nash and made from Carrara marble, the arch was moved from its original position in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to its present location. The move helped to make room for extensions to the palace for Victoria and Albert’s growing family.
17. Big Ben
The clock at the Palace of Westminster is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The tower, constructed between 1843 and 1858 is over 300ft high. The tower is even more impressive at night when all four clock faces are illuminated.
18. Statue of Eros
The winged statue can be found in Piccadilly Circus and many believe it to be Eros, the God of Love. However, it’s actually his brother, Anteros, the Angel of Christian Charity. It was erected as a memorial to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1886 in honour of his charitable works.
19. London Wall
The London Wall at Tower Hill is the original wall built by the Romans to protect the ancient port of Londinium during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.
20. Hyde Park
Centrally located Hyde Park has cycle tracks, a lake and a spectacular children’s playground. It’s also home to the Serpentine Bridge, the Diana Memorial Fountain, and the famous ‘Speaker’s Corner’.
21. Regent’s Park
Regent’s Park has some stunning rose gardens, vast outdoor sports areas, and is home to wild bird species and waterfowl. It’s also home to London Zoo.
22. St James’s Park
Surrounded by 3 royal palaces, St. James’s Park has a fabulous lake where you can watch pelicans being fed at 2.30pm. It’s also where Horse Guards Parade is located.
23. Greenwich Park
Greenwich, the oldest royal park, is home to herds of deer and offers breathtaking views across the River Thames and the City of London.
24. Wimbledon Common
This large conservation area has a number of plant and insect species and offers wonderful nature walks. You may even spot a ‘Womble’ if you’re lucky!
25. Hampstead Heath
Popular with picnickers, the views from Parliament Hill are spectacular. It’s a great place to watch the sun setting over the city.
26. Kensington Gardens
The green splendour of Kensington Gardens with its backdrop of Kensington Palace is also home to the Peter Pan statue and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
27. Barbican Conservatory
See exotic fish, birds and tropical plants in the hidden garden at the Barbican Conservatory.
28. Japanese Garden
Relax and escape in the Kyoto Japanese Garden at Holland Park.
29. Chiswick House
Explore the many pathways and beautiful displays of flowers in the 18th century gardens of Chiswick House in West London.
30. Queen Mary’s Garden
Discover the amazing varieties of roses in Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in the inner circle of Regent’s Park.
31. Phoenix Garden
The beautiful community garden of Phoenix is right in the heart of the West End and has a wonderful display of wildflowers.
32. South Bank
The South Bank Walk along the River Thames near the City of Westminster is a great way to see some of the more famous London sites, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
33. Little Venice
Wander along the peaceful towpaths of Little Venice, London’s Canal district, where you’ll discover an array of waterside cafes and pubs.
34. Millennium Bridge
A stroll across the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge offers spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is linked by the bridge to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
35. Borough Market
Feast your eyes on the food stalls at Borough Market, home to small, independent producers selling a range of British and International gourmet food products.
36. Camden Market
Camden Market is the home of vintage. Browse through secondhand and retro stalls selling vintage clothing from the 1940s to the present day.
37. Portobello Street Market
Wander along Portobello Street Market and peruse the many antiques and collectables stalls the market is famous for.
38. Leadenhall Market
Admire the stunning architecture and ornate glass-and-iron roof of the beautiful, Victorian Leadenhall Market, used as the setting for Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film.
39. Columbia Road Flower Market
Breathe in heady, sweet aromas and marvel at colourful displays of flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market.
40. Fortnum & Mason
Nibble on some delicious free food samples in the fancy food halls of Fortnum & Mason. You can even sample their teas!
Browsing through the 300 retail departments of Harrods doesn’t cost a penny. Many tourists wandering the hallowed Knightsbridge institute don’t actually buy anything, but just visit for the experience.
Delight at the spectacular window displays of Hamleys on Regent Street. The displays at Christmas time are particularly enchanting.
43. Harvey Nichols
South of Hyde Park you’ll find the magnificent Harvey Nichols where you can enjoy browsing the array of handbags and trying on perfumes.
The 13th century effigies of the Knights Templar in the nave of Templar Church are must see for fans of The Da Vinci Code.
45. St Mary-le-Bow
Tradition states that only someone born within the sounds of the Bow Bells at St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside is a true cockney. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the historic church after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
46. St Olave’s
Samuel Pepys is buried in the 15th century church of St Olave’s near Fenchurch Street. Mary Ramsey, the woman believed to have bought the plague to London in 1665, is also buried here.
47. St Bride
The site at St Bride in Fleet Street is believed to date back to the 6th century. There is a plague pit from 1665 in the churchyard where numerous plague victims are buried, including the brother of Samuel Pepys.
48. Changing of the Guard
49. Platform 9 ¾
Harry Potter fans should visit Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. There you’ll find a luggage trolley partially embedded in the wall, making a perfect photo opportunity.
50. Ceremony of the Keys
Every evening the 700-year-old Ceremony of the Keys ritual takes place at 9.30 as the Chief Yeoman Warder locks the doors to the Tower of London.
51. Abbey Road
No die-hard Beatles fan can resist a photo opportunity, strolling across the famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road.
52. Covent Garden
Soak up the bustling atmosphere of Covent Garden while watching the lively street entertainers perform.
53. Piccadilly Circus
Watch the world go by and take a selfie in front of the bright neon lights in Piccadilly Circus.
54. Angel Comedy Club
The Angel Comedy Club on Islington High Street offers stand-up comedy shows on Saturdays that are free to attend. Shows start at 8pm and are very popular, so make sure you get there early.
55. St Martin’s in the Fields Concerts
St Martin’s in the Fields at Trafalgar Square hosts free lunchtime concerts featuring choral music and piano solos on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 1pm.
56. Royal Academy of Music Recitals
Every Tuesday afternoon chamber groups and solo performers from the Royal Academy of Music at Marylebone Road perform recitals free of charge.
57. The Scoop
Queen’s Walk on the south side of the River Thames is home to the Scoop, an enormous outdoor amphitheatre that hosts a range of free productions and entertainment during the summer. Events include live music performances, plays and movie screenings.
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