25 Free Things to Do in London
London, the city that brings out the wallet warrior in all of us. But what if I told you there are 25 free things you can do in this grand city? From iconic landmarks to historic sites, world-class museums to beautiful parks and gardens, there’s something for everyone. So, grab your Oyster card and let’s explore!
Explore Iconic Landmarks
Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, and The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Ah, the sights and sounds of London. If you’re one for ticking things off a list, these landmarks should be at the top! Get ready to snap some photos, wander through crowds of tourists, and marvel at the history that oozes from these iconic structures.
Located in the heart of London, Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch. The palace has 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place outside the palace every day during the summer months, and on alternate days during the winter. The ceremony is a popular attraction for tourists, who flock to see the soldiers in their red tunics and bearskin hats march in formation.
If you’re lucky enough to visit London during the summer, you can take a guided tour of the palace’s state rooms, which are open to the public. The tour takes you through the lavish rooms where the Queen entertains guests and holds state banquets.
Trafalgar Square is a public square in the heart of London, known for its fountains, statues, and pigeons. The square is named after the Battle of Trafalgar, a naval battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of France and Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.
The square is a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike, who come to soak up the bustling London atmosphere. Street performers entertain crowds with their music and magic tricks, while artists sell their paintings and sketches. The square is also home to the National Gallery, which houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
Tower Bridge is a famous suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames in London. The bridge was built in 1894 and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. The bridge is often confused with London Bridge, which is a less impressive bridge located upstream.
Visitors can walk across the bridge and enjoy stunning views of the city skyline. The bridge also opens up to allow tall boats to pass through, which is a sight to behold. The Tower Bridge Exhibition, located inside the bridge’s two towers, tells the story of how the bridge was built and how it works.
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is the home of the UK Parliament. The palace is located on the north bank of the River Thames and is one of the most iconic buildings in the country. The palace was originally built in the 11th century as a royal residence, but it has been the home of Parliament since the 16th century.
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. The bell weighs over 13 tons and strikes every hour, marking the time for Londoners since 1859. The clock tower is currently undergoing renovations, but visitors can still admire the iconic clock face from the outside.
A stroll around the square is a must for any tourist visiting London. The square is surrounded by historic buildings and monuments, including the Victoria Tower, the Jewel Tower, and the statue of Winston Churchill.
So, whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or just want to soak up the bustling London atmosphere, these iconic landmarks are not to be missed!
Discover World-Class Museums
London is a city that is steeped in history and culture, and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in this is by visiting its world-class museums. The best part? They’re free! From learning about the evolution of life to admiring some of the world’s most exquisite art, there’s something for everyone’s tastes.
When it comes to museums, London is truly spoilt for choice. Here are some of the must-visit museums that you should add to your itinerary:
The British Museum
The British Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and artefacts. With a collection that spans over two million years of human history, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer scale of the building and the collections housed within. From the Rosetta Stone to the Elgin Marbles, you can come face-to-face with some of the most iconic objects from ancient history. The museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s on before you go.
The Natural History Museum
From giant dinosaurs to blue whales, the Natural History Museum is a treasure trove of natural wonders. With over 80 million specimens spanning billions of years, this museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the natural world. Don’t miss the chance to see the famous dinosaur exhibits, which are sure to delight both young and old alike. Tip: arrive early to avoid the crowds and make the most of your time at the museum.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is a treasure trove of art and design from around the world. With a collection that spans over 5,000 years of human creativity, there’s something to suit all interests. From fashion and jewellery to ceramics and sculptures, you can take a step back in time while immersing yourself in the art and design collections of the past. The museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s on before you go.
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in science and technology. With over 300,000 objects spanning centuries of scientific and technological advancement, this museum is an interactive journey into the world of science. From medical advancements to space exploration, there’s a wealth of knowledge to acquire. The museum also hosts a range of interactive exhibits and events throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s on before you go.
So, whether you’re a history buff, a science enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun day out, London’s museums have something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to explore these world-class institutions and learn more about the world around us.
Enjoy Beautiful Parks and Gardens
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a moment of tranquillity in one of London’s many parks and gardens. Grab a picnic blanket and a good book, and let’s get lost in the greenery.
The most famous park in London and a vast expanse of greenery that feels almost endless. You can rent a boat on The Serpentine, ride the carousel, and spot the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
Hyde Park is a true oasis in the heart of the city, offering visitors a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of London life. The park covers over 350 acres and is home to a variety of different landscapes, including formal gardens, woodland areas, and open meadows. With so much space to explore, it’s easy to find a quiet spot to relax and unwind.
A picturesque park that’s perfect for a Sunday stroll or a morning run. Grab a coffee and watch the wildlife swim in the lake or admire the colourful flower gardens. Don’t forget to visit London Zoo which calls Regent’s Park home!
Regent’s Park is one of London’s most beautiful green spaces, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a peaceful stroll in the fresh air. The park covers over 400 acres and is home to a wide variety of different landscapes, including formal gardens, woodland areas, and open meadows. With so much space to explore, it’s easy to find a quiet spot to relax and unwind.
Step into a botanical wonderland and explore the world’s most diverse plant collection. From towering palm trees to vibrant flower beds, there’s plenty to marvel at. You can even learn about the evolution of plants and humanity’s relationship with them at Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany.
Kew Gardens is one of London’s most popular attractions, offering visitors a chance to explore the world’s most diverse collection of plants. The gardens cover over 300 acres and are home to a wide variety of different landscapes, including formal gardens, woodland areas, and open meadows. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to spend a full day exploring the gardens and learning about the fascinating world of plants.
Breath-taking views of the city skyline and acres of beautiful green space – what more could you ask for? Take a dip in Parliament Hill Lido or explore the wildlife haven with a woodland walk.
Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most beautiful and popular green spaces, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a peaceful walk in the fresh air. The park covers over 790 acres and is home to a wide variety of different landscapes, including formal gardens, woodland areas, and open meadows. With so much space to explore, it’s easy to find a quiet spot to relax and unwind while enjoying breathtaking views of the city skyline.
Immerse Yourself in Art and Culture
London’s art and culture scene is truly remarkable. It is a city that boasts some of the most incredible art galleries, museums, and exhibitions in the world. Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, London has something for everyone.
From the National Gallery to the Tate Modern, the city is home to some of the most impressive collections of art and cultural artifacts. Best of all, many of the galleries are free to visit, making it easy for everyone to explore and enjoy the city’s rich cultural heritage.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery is a must-visit for anyone interested in art history. This iconic gallery is home to centuries of art, from Renaissance masters to contemporary painters. Take a stroll through the galleries and admire the famous works of Vincent van Gogh, Canaletto, and Rembrandt Van Rijn. The collection is truly breathtaking, and you can easily spend hours exploring the various rooms and exhibits.
One of the highlights of the National Gallery is the Sainsbury Wing, which houses the gallery’s collection of Renaissance art. The wing features works by some of the most famous artists of the period, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is a relatively new addition to London’s art scene, but it has quickly become one of the most popular galleries in the city. Housed in a former power station, the Tate Modern is dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The collections are ever-changing, with new exhibitions organised every few months.
Some of the most famous works on display at the Tate Modern include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. The gallery also features a stunning collection of contemporary art, including works by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is a hidden gem in the heart of London. Located in a grand old mansion, this collection invites visitors to step back in time and admire the luxurious life enjoyed by the 18th-century elite. The collection features a stunning array of fine French furnishings, sculptures, and porcelain.
One of the highlights of the Wallace Collection is the Great Gallery, which features a breathtaking display of 18th-century paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Velazquez. The gallery also features an impressive collection of arms and armor, including suits of armor worn by famous historical figures such as Henry VIII.
The Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre is a cultural hub that houses many free art installations and exhibitions throughout the year. From street art to photography, there’s something for everyone here. The centre also hosts a wide range of events, including music concerts, theatre performances, and literary festivals.
One of the highlights of the Southbank Centre is the Royal Festival Hall, which is home to some of the most prestigious music events in the city. The hall has played host to some of the world’s most famous musicians, including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie.
Overall, London’s art and culture scene is a treasure trove of incredible museums, galleries, and exhibitions. Whether you are a seasoned art lover or simply looking for a fun and educational day out, there is something for everyone in this vibrant and dynamic city.
Experience Historic and Spiritual Sites
London has a rich history that stretches back centuries and what better way to explore its past than visiting some of its most famous sites?
A building steeped in history and an architectural marvel. Explore the burial tombs of some of the great British figures like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking.
As you walk through the hallowed halls of Westminster Abbey, you can almost feel the weight of history bearing down on you. The Abbey has been the site of coronations and royal weddings for centuries, and it’s not hard to see why. The intricate stonework and soaring arches are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the builders who constructed this magnificent building.
But it’s not just the architecture that makes Westminster Abbey so special. The tombs of some of the greatest minds in British history are also located here. From poets and playwrights to scientists and statesmen, Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of some of the most influential people in British history.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
One of London’s most famous landmarks and a classic example of English Baroque architecture. Climb the stairs to the dome and marvel at the breathtaking views of London below.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a true masterpiece of architecture. The soaring dome, which dominates the London skyline, is a testament to the vision and skill of its builders. But it’s not just the exterior that’s impressive. Inside, the cathedral is a treasure trove of art and history. From the intricate mosaics on the walls to the stunning stained glass windows, every inch of St. Paul’s is a feast for the eyes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb the stairs to the top of the dome and take in the stunning views of London below. It’s a bit of a climb, but the view from the top is more than worth it.
The Tower of London
Home to the Crown Jewels and a symbol of London’s power. Take a free 90-minute tour with one of the Yeoman Warders, also known as the Beefeaters. They’ll regale you with tales of the Tower’s grisly past and tell jokes that’ll make your side split.
The Tower of London has a reputation as a place of darkness and despair, and it’s not hard to see why. The Tower has been the site of some of the most infamous events in British history, from the execution of Anne Boleyn to the imprisonment of Sir Walter Raleigh.
But despite its dark past, the Tower is also home to some of the most valuable treasures in the world, including the Crown Jewels. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see them up close.
And if you really want to get a feel for the Tower’s history, take a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders. These beefy, boisterous guides are a fixture at the Tower, and their tours are a mix of history, humor, and horror stories. They’ll take you through the Tower’s many chambers and tell you tales of the prisoners who were held there. Just be prepared for a few bad puns along the way.
The Old Royal Naval College
Located in Greenwich, this grand old building was once a naval hospital and is now a popular tourist attraction. Wander around the vast halls and lay eyes on the magnificent Painted Hall. It’s so grand, it’ll make you want to stand up straighter.
The Old Royal Naval College is a stunning example of British architecture. Built in the 17th century as a naval hospital, it has since been used for a variety of purposes, including as a training center for the Royal Navy.
But the real highlight of the Old Royal Naval College is the Painted Hall. This magnificent room is adorned with stunning murals that depict scenes from British history. From the Battle of Trafalgar to the coronation of King George I, the Painted Hall is a visual feast.
As you wander through the vast halls of the Old Royal Naval College, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe. The sheer scale of the building is breathtaking, and the attention to detail is truly remarkable. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in British history or architecture.
Attend Free Events and Festivals
London is always buzzing with activity and plenty of its events and festivals come at no cost. Whether you’re into music, culture or something quirky, there’s an event for everyone.
The Changing of the Guard
What’s more British than watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace? Don your best Union Jack t-shirt and stand along The Mall to witness this iconic ceremony.
The Notting Hill Carnival
The streets of Notting Hill come alive during this annual three-day celebration of Caribbean culture. Sip on rum punch, dance to the steel drum beats, and soak up the vibrant colours.
Open House London
Ever wanted to see behind the doors of some of London’s most impressive buildings? Open House London allows visitors to do just that, with hundreds of buildings across the city opening up to the public for free over the course of a weekend.
The Mayor’s Thames Festival
A celebration of everything we love about the River Thames – food, music and fireworks! Enjoy a walk by the river and make your way down to Southbank for a spectacular display of pyrotechnics.
There you have it – 25 free things to do in London. So, the next time someone tells you London is expensive, give them this guide and tell them to put away their wallets. Or just keep it a secret and enjoy all that this city has to offer for free. Either way, happy exploring!