18 Free Things to Do in London

Estimated reading time 6 min

London can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! As it turns out, you can see a large portion of the city’s most emblematic attractions—from Westminster Abbey to Abbey Road—without paying a cent. Here are 18 incredible (and incredibly free) things to do while you’re in London!

Green Spaces

Mosey through Hyde Park

Hyde Park covers 350 acres in central London and is perfect for a morning stroll, jog, or bike ride. Visitors can birdwatch on the Serpentine, picnic in the shade of a burbling fountain, or breathe in the sweet fragrance of the rose garden. Other (free) Royal Parks of note include Greenwich Park (overlooking the Thames) and Regent’s Park, with excellent views of the city skyline from the top of Primrose Hill.

Kensington Gardens

Playgrounds, pathways, ornamental flower beds—oh yeah, and Kensington Palace: these royal gardens have it all. Favorite sites here include the Peter Pan statue, the Albert Memorial, and the allotment garden with its resident chicken population.

Hampstead Heath

Part sprawling meadow, part lush woodland, this popular park sits just four miles from iconic Trafalgar Square. Take in the vistas from the crown of Parliament Hill, or combat the summer heat with a dip in one of three bathing ponds.

Iconic Attractions

Attend a service at Westminster Abbey

Nestled in the shadows of Big Ben and the London Eye, this historic coronation church paints a striking picture. You’ll have to pay if you want to tour the abbey, but services are free for worshippers. We recommend going in the evening for an hour-long chorale service offered on a first-come first-served basis.

Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace alone is a terrific sight, with its ornate front gate and grand neoclassical columns. No trip to London is complete without witnessing the ceremonial Changing of the Guard in the palace forecourt. Be sure to check the schedule before you go.

Follow Harry to Platform 9¾

For Harry Potter fans, it doesn’t get much more exciting than a visit to Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station. Don’t forget to take your picture with the waiting luggage cart! Who knows—you may just find yourself on your way to Hogwarts!

Recreate the magic on Abbey Road

You may have heard of a band called The Beatles, and a little-known album of theirs entitled “Abbey Road.” No? That’s okay, neither have we.

 

Cross the Tower Bridge

Opened in 1894, the Tower Bridge is one of the most defining characteristics of the London skyline. Though it costs roughly $13 per person to ride the skylift to the glass floor, crossing on the car level is absolutely free and gives you a new perspective on the city.

Window shop at Harrods

This palatial department store, originally built in 1849, is one of the largest and most famous in the world. It offers everything from fancy perfumes and caviar to clothing and giant teddy bears, all displayed in glamorous style across seven levels. You can easily keep your wallet closed and pine over the merchandise, or treat yourself to an elegant afternoon tea in the Harrods Tea Rooms.

Attend a debate in the Houses of Parliament

You’ll need to pay for a tour of the Houses, but you can sit in on a debate in the House of Commons or the House of Lords free of charge. To access either, you get to wind your way through a maze of elaborate hallways—so it’s essentially a free self-guided tour. What’s more, you get to see British government in action!

Museums

Explore the world at the British Museum

Mysterious Easter Island statues. Egyptian mummies. Medieval clocks. Samurai armor. The Rosetta Stone. Discover all of these wondrous artifacts and so many more at the British Museum. Trust us, you won’t want to leave.

Lose yourself in the Victoria & Albert Museum

Are you curious about the evolution of wallpaper design or the major fashion trends of the past five centuries? With 2.8 million items on display across 7 floors, the V&A Museum is the largest museum in the world dedicated to decorative arts. Its massive collection includes books, photographs, furniture, paintings, and medieval artifacts.

View masterpieces at Tate Modern

Artists represented in this national museum of modern and contemporary art form a Who’s Who of the world’s great masters: Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol. And don’t forget about Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, or Pierre Bonnard. Immerse yourself in the sculptures, pop art, paintings, and more housed in this renovated Bankside Power Station. For more free Tate fun, head over to the Tate Britain.

Go back in time at the Natural History Museum

Indulge your inner historian with a visit to this sensational institution. Stare into the eyes of an extinct Tasmanian tiger or size yourself up against an 83-foot blue whale skeleton. Over 80 million exhibit items await your exploration!

Other Experiences

Feast your eyes on the Columbia Road Flower Market

Situated in Bethnal Green in the East End of London, this street market is a floral paradise set amongst  cozy cafes, restaurants, galleries, and vintage shops. The market opens at 8am and you’re wise to go early if you want to avoid the crowds. If you’re planning on making a purchase, though, you might want to visit toward the end of the day (just before 3pm). This is when the vendors reduce their prices to sell off their remaining inventory.

Improve your book smarts the British Library

With over 150 million items spanning 3,000 years of history, London’s British Library is an immersive literary experience. Noteworthy collection items include the 13th-century Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s First Folio, and the Diamond Sutra—the world’s oldest surviving printed book. Add to that old works by Lewis Carol and the Beatles, as well as letters from former kings and presidents, and you’ve got yourself one intriguing visit.

Follow your nose through the Borough Market

Wander the winding lanes and let your senses lead you to artisan cheeses, oils, olives, spices, and more at the Borough Market. Situated on the banks of the Thames, this popular, buzzing produce market has existed in one form or another since the 11th century.

Get lost on Oxford Street

Even if you don’t like to shop, you can’t help but get lost in the magic of Oxford Street. This famous 1.5-mile boulevard is a shopper’s paradise, lined with shops like Primark, TopShop, Selfridges, and Marks & Spencer.

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