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57 Free Things to Do in London

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.

Museums

1. Natural History Museum

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.

Natural History Museum

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.

Galleries

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.

Monuments

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.

big ben

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.

Parks

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!

squirrel

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.

Gardens

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.

Walks

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.

little venice

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.

Markets

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.

Stores

40. Fortnum & Mason

Nibble on some delicious free food samples in the fancy food halls of Fortnum & Mason. You can even sample their teas!

41. Harrods

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.

42. Hamleys

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.

Churches

44. Templar

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.

Popular Attractions

48. Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard takes place most days at 11am. The best viewpoint is from the railings at Buckingham Palace, but be sure to get there early as it gets very crowded.

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.

Entertainment

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.

Premium Tours offer a range of luxury and open-top bus tours around the capital. Have a look at all our London tours here.

shopping

7 Vintage Shops in London We Love

Unique, one-of-a-kind, a piece of history, and every item with its own story to tell: that’s the beauty of vintage clothing, and that’s why we love it so much.

In London, where fashion and history blend seamlessly together, you’ll find some of the best vintage clothing stores in the world.

If you’re looking for a truly special memento that can’t be found on the capital’s high streets, here’s a roundup of seven vintage shops in London you’re sure to love.

1.Rokit, Covent Garden

The retro clothing giant started life as a humble market stall in Camden and has since expanded to several large stores across London.

Here you can pick up some real bargains for men and women. Take your time to hunt through the racks and you may find a designer gem or classic dress from the 1940s.

2. Rellik, W10

A favourite with celebrity shoppers, designers and fashion editors, Rellik has a fantastic display of designer womenswear dating from the 1930s to the present day.

The displays are beautiful and the bare wall backdrop adds to its retro feel. If you’re a Vivienne Westwood fan, you’ll love Rellik.

relik

3. The Vintage Showroom, Covent Garden

This famous London store focuses exclusively on menswear from the mid 20th century. If you’re looking for a unique gift for your husband, boyfriend or son, you’ll be amazed at the extensive selection of denim, shirts, leather and shoes on offer.

4. Beyond Retro, Brick Lane

You could easily get lost in the largest and most affordable vintage store in London. Beyond Retro has something for everyone, from 1960s party dresses to antique accessories and vintage shoes.

Beyond Retro only sources items from charitable organisations, and they even have their own fashion label. There are two more branches in Dalston and Soho.

5. Absolute Vintage, Spitalfields

Just around the corner from Brick Lane, you’ll find Absolute Vintage, a treasure trove for shoe lovers. Vintage shoes cost between £10 and £20, and clothes start from £1!

You have to rummage around the enormous amounts of clothes in the bargain bins and racks, but with a little patience, you can find some real gems such as a cabinet filled with rare Chanel bags.

shopping lady

6. One of a Kind, Portobello Road

Situated on iconic Portobello Road, One of a Kind stocks a range of luxury designer labels such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Dior and Gucci to name but a few.

It’s also a favourite shopping haunt for celebrities including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss.

Prices are hefty but the clothes are in pristine condition, sourced by the owner from auctions, markets and jumble sales.

7. Camden Market, Camden

You can’t shop for vintage clothes in London without stopping off at the famous Camden Market. Nowhere else will you find such an amazing and eclectic range of one-off gems, vintage bargains, haute couture, and classic dresses from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. You’ll even find 70s and 80s disco wear if that’s your thing.

From secondhand clothes shops to specialist stalls, Camden Market is a vintage clothes lover’s dream.

With a unique knowledge of London, Premium Tours run London tours that are filled with insider information, such as where to find the best vintage stores. There are also plenty of tours from London to other fascinating places, so whatever your interests are you’ll be able to find the perfect tour for you.

brick lane

6 Great Spots for a Curry on Brick Lane

If you’re visiting London, make sure to complete your visit with an Indian curry at the iconic Brick Lane, the vibrant hub that’s full of colour, music and the unmistakable aromas of Indian spices.

With so many eateries to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. And, let’s face it, almost every restaurant website here boasts that they’re the ‘best Indian Restaurant on Brick Lane’.

To help you choose, here are six great spots for a curry on Brick Lane.

1. City Spice

The award-winning ‘King of Brick Lane’ was the winner of the Masterchef Curry Award 2017. The lively, buzzing local has been recently refurbished with a modern, Indian-influenced decor.

The menu is based on ‘Indian food served to the Mughal Emperors at the time of British India but with a little Bengali twist’.

Specialities:

  • Thatul Tanga Bhujon – chicken, lamb or vegetables cooked in a sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
  • Shahi Chingri Bhuna – a classic dish served to the mogul emperors of king prawns baked in their shells in a tandoori oven and finished with a mixture of spices served with baked tomatoes.

city spice

2. The Famous Curry Bazaar

This elegant, modern and spacious restaurant is popular with celebrities and serves typical dishes with a modern twist, including a variety of vegetable options. It’s ideal for parties and get-togethers with friends.

Specialities:

  • Spicy Lamb or Chicken Tawa – made with fresh tomatoes, onion, capsicum, ginger and fresh green chillies.
  • Lamb Shashlik Bhuna – skewered with capsicum and onion, then grilled in the tandoori.

3. Bengal Village

Enjoy a blend of Indian dishes made with the freshest, local ingredients in relaxed surroundings. Bengal Village takes pride in producing Bangladeshi dishes using local produce that’s delivered daily.

Specialities:

  • Karai dishes cooked in a sizzling iron wok, which gives them a delicious smoky flavour.
  • Tandoori Lamb Chops Massala Karahi cooked with fresh herbs and spices, ghee and garlic.
  • Banana or Mango Lassi.

4. Sheba

Established in 1974, the chic and stylish decor of Sheba belies its reasonable prices. As well as traditional dishes, the restaurant specialises in lamb shank dishes that literally melt in the mouth.

Sheba was voted ‘Best Curry House in the UK’ by the Cobra Good Curry Guide 2015.

Specialities:

  • Bengal Lamb Shank – slowly roasted with carrots, spices and saffron.
  • Bollywood Blast – for hot chilli lovers, tender lamb chunks cooked with a variety of chillies.

5. Aladin

Applauded by Prince Charles and listed by the BBC as one of the world’s best curry houses, this bustling, lively restaurant prides itself on its authenticity.

Specialities:

  • Chicken or Lamb Sizzler – made with onions, tomatoes, green chilli peppers and pistachios.
  • Haryalic Chicken Masala – marinated in spinach and mint, grilled then cooked in a creamy sauce.

aladin brick lane

6. Cinnamon

This is one of the most popular restaurants on Brick Lane so it’s wise to book in advance. Winner of numerous awards, Cinnamon is famous for its grilled meat specialities.

Specialities:

  • Lamb Shatkora – cooked in a thick Bengali sauce using ‘Shatkora’, a special lime exclusive to the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
  • Lemon Grass Chicken – a medium, spicy sauce cooked with lemongrass.

With extensive local knowledge, Premium Tours offer a number of London tours where you can get the lowdown on things in the city, such as where to find the best curry. You can have a look at all of our tours here.