Since the buzzing city is one of the most expensive capitals in Europe, if not worldwide, it may seem like there aren’t many free things to do in London.
It doesn’t sound like the ideal destination if you’re traveling on a budget.
One surprising thing that I found though – and also fantastic news to any traveler out there – is that because the city is so big there are quite a number of free activities!
They range from free admission to most of the must-visit museums, free entrance to beautiful parks and even some cultural and musical events all over the city.
Book your tickets to London now, because I’m going to give you 123 Free Things To Do in this fascinating city right here – divided into different types of free activities.
123 Best Free Things To Do In London
- Markets & Shopping
- Various Free Tourist Sites & Attractions
- Free Events & Activities
- Parks & Beautiful Scenery
- Free Museums & Galleries
- Free Seasonal Events
Free Markets & Shopping in London
Though shopping is most definitely not free, it’s still worth a visit to any or all of the markets listed below. Check out these bustling markets and experience your senses come to life!
Most food markets even give out some free taste tests so you can experience many different cuisines and types of food before deciding what to buy or not to buy.
- Borough Market – THE Go-To market for foodies. Find the freshest produce and a lot of unique gastronomical delights.
- Columbia Road Flower Market – THE market for flowers and plants and anything garden related. Step into this world and be confronted by many different fragrant blooms.
- Covent Garden – A busy and bustling area and a shopper’s paradise. Find a wide variety of shopping here from popular luxury brands like Chanel to artisanal homegrown ones. It’s also a food lover’s must visit as there is so much variety here!
- Portobello Road Market – The world’s’ largest antique market. Absolutely check out all these unique items
- Daunt Bookshop – The perfect shop for book lovers – it has books of EVERY kind.
- Camden Market – A bustling market that features around 200 stalls. Here you can find many one-of-a-kind-pieces as many sellers sell their own jewelry and designs. There’s also a wide variety of food stalls – yummy!
- Regent Street – One of the major shopping streets in London.
- Stables Market Camden – You must visit this one before leaving Camden market! You can find a lot of vintage items and antiques.
- Brick Lane Market – Located in the hipster part of London, Shoreditch, this Sunday market won’t disappoint. People watching, live music, flea market shopping and tons of street food. One of my favorites!
- Harrods – Do some window shopping at this iconic luxury department store
- Fortnum and Masons – A beautiful store that has mostly specialty food and teas, check out their spectacular atrium even if you’re not planning to buy anything!
- Oxford Street – One of the best shopping areas in London! Well known for its high street retailers and many other department stores.
Free Tourist Sites & Attractions in London
Check out these places at no extra cost – some of them are wildly popular, like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but there are also some “secret” and not so usual places dotted all over London that are worthwhile to see!
- Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace – Go to Buckingham Palace and witness the changing of the guards. You can check out their website for the schedules so you won’t be waiting around for nothing.
- Ceremony of the Keys – Every night at the Tower of London, this gate closing ceremony takes place. Tickets are free but they only take about 40-50 people to watch so you must book way in advance.
- The Thames – Walk along this iconic London River and soak in the scenery and views all around.
- Barbican Center – An arts and learning center in an area of London with many interesting buildings. There are a lot of activities and performances that go on here as well. There’s free Wi-Fi around so you can even just come over and chill and watch the world go by.
- Trafalgar Square – One of the most iconic London Landmarks. Check out the famous stone lions, fourth plinth, and Nelson’s column.
- Old Bailey – You can watch an actual criminal trial in court. It’s a pretty interesting and unusual activity to do in London, I would say!
- Tower Bridge – Watch the tower bridge open from a good spot along the Thames. It opens twice a day so be sure to catch one of those. Lifting schedules are posted on their website.
- British Library – Bookworms will absolutely love it here as it’s the biggest library in the world.
- Primrose Hill – Situated in The Regent’s park, this spot has one of the best views of London.
- King’s Cross Station – The most popular attraction here is definitely platform 9 3/4. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to get a photo crossing the magical barrier that will take you to Hogwart’s express.
- Piccadilly Circus – One of the busiest and also most visited areas of London. Take photos of the bustling world as it goes by, check out the statue of Eros or use this as your starting point to walk to other popular destinations like Soho and Regent’s street.
- Vauxhall City Farm – Check out some animals at this farm in the middle of the city. They even have alpacas! It’s also a lovely place to have a picnic.
- Millennium Bridge – The first pedestrian bridge in London. Here you can get good views and photo ops for Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Thames.
- St Bride’s Church – One of the most famous and historic churches in London. It is also called the “Journalist’s Church”. Several memorials of journalists may be found and it was once home to the first printing press.
- Westminster’s Abbey – It costs money to enter but on Sundays, everyone is welcome for Sunday service. Drop by and marvel at the beautiful interiors and architecture.
- New London Architecture – Check out a huge scale model of central London and feel like a giant when you gaze upon a miniature of the famous city skyline and important building.
- Chinatown – Wander through this colorful district and immerse yourself in a different world.
- Big Ben – Another iconic site of Britain. Come and gaze at the spectacular clock tower and hear the bells chime. Try to visit it at night as well, as it looks so beautiful all lit up.
- Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground – A wonderful playground with a Peter Pan theme that’s located near Kensington Palace. Kids will love it here!
- Little Venice – Walk around the charming streets that are set around canals and waterways. Hang out in one of the many quirky waterside establishments.
- Brompton Cemetery – A Victorian cemetery that holds thousands of monuments with historical importance. It also houses a variety of wildlife.
- Abbey Road – The must visit site of any die-hard Beatles fan. The famous zebra Crossing (as seen in one of their album covers) is found here. Go ahead and recreate the photo for your Insta!
- Highgate Cemetery – Over 170,000 people are buried here with some notable and famous Brits like George Michael.
- South Bank Area – Go on a stroll along this area as you are sure to see a lot of sites and some picturesque views. It’s located between Westminster and London Bridge on the south side of the river.
- All Hallows by the Tower – The oldest church in London. Visit for an afternoon of history and beautiful architecture.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral – Church with the most beautiful interiors. It also has crypts and tombs of some of Britain’s greatest heroes.
- Old St. Pancras Churchyard – One of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England.
- Fulham Palace St. Dunstan In the East – Owned by bishops for over a thousand years and was their country home in the 11th century. Check out the museum and the beautiful botanic gardens.
- Houses of Parliament – This is a free activity only if you’re a UK resident and arrange it through your local MP.
- The King’s Cross Tunnel – a newly built, 90meter long pedestrian tunnel. This gently curving underground tunnel features an ‘art wall’ made from LED lights, which is used to showcase artistic commissions.
Free Events & Activities in London
If you want to see a show or spectacle without shelling out the cash, then don’t worry – I got you! There are many free ones all over the city.
- St Martin’s in the Fields lunchtime concerts – Lunchtime concerts are given in the famous Anglican church near Trafalgar square.
- Royal Festival Hall – Several free classical music concerts are held here.
- BFI Mediatheque – Catch a screening if you’re a film lover.
- Supreme Court – Observe a case at the Supreme Court, the UK’s final court of appeal.
- Swiss Church – Check out their free lunchtime concerts!
- Somerset House – A major arts and culture area set against a beautiful neoclassical building. Catch some of the open air concerts or simply soak in the scenery. The place has over fifty fountains!
- Skateboard Park – Even if you’re not a skater you can come here and just watch all the exciting action.
- The Scoop – An outdoor amphitheater where you can catch many live performances all for free.
- Gresham College – Gives free lectures to the public with an interesting variety of topics
- St Giles in the Fields Church – Also called the ‘Poet’s Church’. Concerts and live events are also held here often.
- London Street Art – Discover all the street art in the city and get to see some works by Banksy and Robbo. Check out Shoreditch, Camden Town, and Brick Lane.
- London School of Economics – Free lectures are given to the public for those interested in feeling like a student again.
- Speaker’s Corner – A very interesting corner located in Hyde Park. Every Sunday since 1866, speakers gather in this corner. Some of these were famous ones throughout history like Karl Marx and Lenin.
Free Parks & Beautiful Scenery in London
- Hyde Park – One of the most beautiful and largest parks in London. Engage in many of the activities going on here or simply walk through at a relaxing pace.
- Wimbledon Common – This is one of the best places to walk or go for a run (if you feel like keeping in shape during your trip). It’s a beautiful and very calm atmosphere that’s great for everyone.
- Golders Hill Park – A small but really lovely park that is just off Hampstead Heath. It has picturesque scenery with many plant displays including a Mediterranean and water garden. There is even also a small zoo in it!
- The Regent’s Park – See all the beautiful landscape and gardens – one of which is the famous rose garden with approximately 12,000 roses.
- Hampstead Heath – One of the most popular open spaces in London and located just a few kilometers from Trafalgar square. This place has a very countryside feel, a zoo and a lot of recreational activities to do.
- Cannizaro Park – Located just south of Wimbledon Common. It’s known for its ornamental landscaped gardens and you can see some of the most beautiful flowers here!
- St. James’ Park – Another huge park found in the city (23 hectares). It’s bounded by the Buckingham palace so you can visit this along the way if you’re going to or coming from the famous building. Best part: There are lots of squirrels running around – so cute! Also look out for water birds, owls, woodpeckers, and bats. Every day at 2:30pm, the Pelicans are being fed.
- Parliament Hill – Found inside Hampstead Heath, it’s another place where you can get great views of London. There’s also an adventure playground nearby.
- Green Park – One of the Royal Parks of London, it is located between Hyde Park and St. James’ Park. The park consists mostly of mature trees and has no lakes and monuments like the other parks. Perfect spot to find shade in!
- Richmond Park – Get a feel for the countryside as it will be like you’ve stepped out of the city. The park is the largest in London and you get to go deer spotting as about 650 of them roam about here.
- Epping Forest – One of London’s special areas for conservation where you can find forests with many rare plants and insects.
- Highgate Wood – Another interesting green area in the suburbs of London that feature ancient woods and also a railway line that’s been disused. This place is sure to give unique photo opportunities for you!
- Kensington Gardens – Used to be the private gardens of Kensington Palace but now the public can enjoy it as well. There are so many corners and spots all over that you can enjoy. Check out the Peter Pan statue, the Rose Garden, the lake and some parrots. You can even see the Kensington Palace from here!
- Bushy Park – The second largest park that is home to more deer! It features ancient trees, woodland and a diversity of plants and animals.
- Greenwich Park – One of the Royal Parks of London and also one of the oldest. It’s home to a small herd of deer as well. You can enjoy beautiful views of London and the Thames as it’s situated on top of a hill. It’s also part of the Greenwich World Heritage site where the Prime Meridian Line is located.
- Sky Garden – You can enjoy the most magnificent views of London from here. Entrance is free but limited so be sure to reserve ahead online!
- Crystal Palace Park – A large palace park that is home to the Crystal Palace Exhibition. It also features huge dinosaur models that lurk amongst the trees!
- Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Check out the venue where the 2012 Olympics were held!
- Phoenix Garden – A gorgeous little space that has a number of mammals, birds and insects. You get to spot peacocks here, how cool is that! Walk through the extensive woodlands and have the loveliest afternoon here!
- Postman’s Park – A small green area in central London that’s a nice spot for snacks. Grab some sandwiches and drinks and have a peaceful lunch here in the midst of a busy day. It has some interesting history to it and is a memorial as well.
- Holland Park – This park has a beautiful Japanese Garden in central London, and is home to a surprising range of mammals, birds, and insects, including peacocks.
- St. Dunstan in the East – Explore the magical ruins of a church bombed in the Blitz in these pretty gardens.
If you’re an outdoorsy type of person, check out my inspirational guide to hiking in England – you’ll be surprised about the stunning landscapes!
Free Museums & Galleries in London
One amazing thing is that almost all of the museums in London have free admission. Imagine seeing all these wonderful works of art, objects, and displays all at no extra cost. Take advantage of it!
- Tate Modern – Features international modern and contemporary art. You can also get a really stunning view of the river Thames and a 360-degree view of the London skyline from up the museum’s top floor viewing terrace.
- Victoria and Albert Museum – A design and art museum that features beautiful pieces from different periods. From numerous Artwork to books to jewelry, this museum has over 2 million objects on permanent display.
- Natural History Museum – Discover the natural world and get to see humongous dinosaur bones and millions of other specimen spanning billions of years. Marvel at the architecture inside and out as the building is really beautiful.
- National Portrait Gallery – Check out the largest collection of portraits in the world. See portraits of men and women who have shaped British culture and history, from the past to present.
- South London Gallery – Displays of contemporary art. It also holds several performance events throughout the year and has quite an interesting garden designed by Mexican artist Gabriel Orosco.
- Wallace Collection – National Museum which holds artwork in a historic house in London. The interiors are absolutely beautiful here. There isn’t a huge crowd very often so you can admire 18th-century paintings, French furniture from the 17th century and porcelain all in peace.
- White Cube Gallery – An interesting gallery featuring modern works of art.
- Geffrye Museum – Features the history of the home and the way people live for the past 400 years. It also features period rooms and period gardens.
- British Museum – Holds a myriad of artifacts collected from all over the world from different time periods throughout history. You can view the Rosetta stone, some Egyptian mummies and sculptures from the Parthenon in Greece.
- Museum of London – Discover the history and timeline of London – the time before the city was even built to how it is today.
- Museum of London Docklands – Get to know more about the history of the River Thames and London Docklands through time.
- Bank of England Museum – You can hold a real bar of gold at this museum.
- V&A Museum of Childhood – The National Museum of Childhood is the largest of its kind in the world. Check out exhibits and objects all relating to childhood.
- National Gallery – This art museum holds over two thousand paintings from the 13th up to the 19th century. It’s also just located in Trafalgar Square (where you will most definitely be going) so pop in for a bit to see all the beautiful artwork.
- Science Museum – Check out their world collection of scientific, medical and technological achievements curated from all over the world.
- National Maritime Museum – Set in beautiful Greenwich Park, discover the stories of the seas, ships, sailors and battles here.
- Serpentine Galleries – Features contemporary art and has been holding exhibitions of more than two thousand artists from all over the world.
- Saatchi Gallery – Gallery of contemporary art, featuring lesser known international artists.
- Wellcome Collection – The eclectic collection here contains a vast amount of medical equipment and artwork collected by Henry Wallace. Besides that, there is also a lovely and quiet reading room if you’re looking for a place to just chill out after the hustle and bustle of London.
- Grant Museum of Zoology – Museum of Zoology in London. Ogle at more animal bones and even get to see a brain collection. It’s a pretty interesting way to spend your time if you have an hour or so to kill.
- The Anaesthesia Museum – This weird, fun place displays the history of anaesthesia from 1846 to today.
- Royal Airforce Museum – Also commonly referred to as the RAF Museum, this is dedicated to the history of aviation and royal air force. If you’re an airplane aficionado, you will definitely love it as you can still see some of the planes in excellent condition.
- Tate Britain – Features British art from the 1500’s to the present. The building is also very beautiful – both during the day and night.
- Whitechapel Gallery – Holds different exhibitions that are both interesting and stimulating. It doesn’t hold a permanent core collection though so maybe it’s a good place to pop in if you are in the area and have a little bit of time to kill.
- Sir John Soane’s Museum – This is the house of architect Sir John Soane which has been left untouched since his death. It’s been open to the public since and is definitely an unusual and quirky place as the owner amassed quite a number of fascinating objects throughout his life.
- Ragged School Museum – If you’re curious to see what school was like for children in the Victorian Era then check this out. It shows you what it was like for the children at that time and they even have mock classes and other activities that you can participate in!
- Barbican Art Gallery – The largest performing arts center and a fantastic free activity in London for art lovers. The Curve at the Barbican Centre hosts a string of free temporary exhibitions.
- London Transport Museum – Features a fascinating and colorful display of the transport system of London since the 1800s. They even have interactive displays where you can drive a bus, a boat or a train. This is great if you have kids with you!
- Horniman Museum and Gardens – Has displays of anthropology, natural history, musical instruments and also quite a large collection of taxidermy animals. Besides the interesting displays, the gardens are beautiful and it has some of the best views of London.
- Guildhall Art Gallery – Houses all the artwork of the city of London from the 17th century to the present. There are also ruins under the gallery of a Roman amphitheater that are worth the visit!
- Imperial War Museum – Very interesting museum with displays relating to modern war. Features war paraphernalia like tanks and warplanes. You can also have the trench experience in one display here. Also important to check the Holocaust exhibit.
- Hunterian Museum – Probably one of the most fascinating museums as you get to see both animal and human bodies preserved here. They also have an interesting exhibit that features a Roman wall and other Roman artifacts.
- William Morris Gallery – Discover the life and works of one of Britain’s most inspiring designers.
- The Chocolate Museum – Brixton is home to the only chocolate museum in London. The highlight is the ‘Choco-tale’, an interactive tasting trail that spans the whole history of cocoa.
BONUS: Free Seasonal Events
- Be dazzled by not one, but two stunning free light festivals: Winter Lights and Lumiere (both in January).
- Partake in London’s Chinese New Year parade, the largest outside of Asia (February).
- Cheer on your favorites at The Boat Race (March).
- Cheer on your pals in the London Marathon – or stump up the cash and run it yourself… (April).
- See all of London in bloom, from bluebells, to daffodils, to wisteria (April/May).
- Find hidden green spaces during Open Garden Squares Weekend (June).
- Get your new profile pic at Mayfield Lavender Farm – it’s free for under 16s, adults will have to pay a whopping £1 to see the lavender fields (June to August).
- Show your true colours at Pride in London (July).
- Boogie your way around Notting Hill Carnival (August).
- Wander around London’s most impressive buildings for free at Open House London (September).
- See the splendor of the Lord Mayor’s show (November).
- Feel the festive cheer at one of London’s Christmas markets (November/December).
There really is no shortage of free things to do in London. London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a must-visit – even if you’re traveling on a budget.
Are you in town for a little longer? Why not take a short day-trip to Cardiff and cross off another country (Wales) from your list? It’s a beautiful town that’s definitely worth the visit – castles, nature and a romantic harbor are waiting for you!
Written by: Christina, a solo Traveler from Germany, based in Egypt. Originally published in Free Things To Do In London .