London for free: places to visit and things to do

London for free

Let’s admit it, when someone asks which city is the most affordable one to visit, London does not come to mind. It is famous for being extremely expensive, starting with food and ending with transportation. But what if I say that you can do London for free? I don’t mean that you will get free rides in the tube or you will not have to pay for your meals. I mean that there are lots of amazing places in London that you can visit for free, and the list of those places is quite long and enough to keep you busy for some days.

Let’s start!

1. Museums

It might come as a surprise to you, but almost all museums are free in London. Considering their diversity, everyone can find something to suit their taste.

British Museum

British Museum | London for free: places to visit and things to do
British Museum

It is not a coincidence that the British Museum is the first one in this list: it is my absolutely most favorite place in London! I love it for its huge collection of artifacts from the Ancient world: if you want to see the enormous monuments and sarcophagi from the Ancient Egypt, the winged bulls from Assyria, the Moai statue from Easter island, the famous Rosetta stone, relics from the Ancient Greece, that’s the place you need. I spend hours in the museum!

Science Museum

Science Museum | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Science Museum

Well, the name has it all: this is a museum for all things scientific, including cars, planes, robots, and space exploration exhibits. If you have kids, they will love the place!

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Natural History Museum

I guess this museum became an iconic sight thanks to its huge dinosaur just in the center of the building, but it is much more than its dinosaur gallery. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, human biology exhibits will definitely interest adults and kids alike. My favorites are the hanging skeletons of monkeys 🙂

Victoria and Albert Museum

I did not visit the museum myself, but judging by its website I would love the place. It holds a huge collection of objects from the Middle East, fashion, wedding dresses, European Renaissance masterpieces: it is definitely a place for art lovers.

National Gallery

National Gallery | London for free: places to visit and things to do
National Gallery

The National Gallery is all about paintings, so if these names – Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Rubens, Rembrandt, Bruegel, Goya, Degas – sound like music to your ears, then be sure to visit the museum on your trip to London.

Tate Modern and Tate Britain

Tate Modern | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Tate Modern

These are another two museums with huge painting collections. Tate Modern houses the international contemporary art exhibits starting with the early 20th century, while Tate Britain concentrates on the British art. What can I say, London is a paradise for art lovers 🙂

2. Churches

Unfortunately, the most interesting and important from the historical point of view churches charge entrance fees, but there is a way to see them for free.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral | London for free: places to visit and things to do
St Paul’s Cathedral

Undoubtedly, St Paul’s Cathedral is the most majestic church in London, and it is not entirely free. Actually, visitors have to shell out 18 pounds to enter, but there is a way to cheat the system. According to the official website they claim that people attending the religious ceremonies do not pay to enter the church, so if you are really out of money going to a service is a way to get inside. Of course, in this case you can’t keep wandering around the cathedral or take pictures.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, the coronation place of English monarchs, is one of the iconic sites of London, and it costs 20 pounds to get in, but, as in the case of the St Paul’s Cathedral, services are free to attend: just be discreet and don’t wander around taking pictures.

Temple Church

You will have to pay 5 pounds to follow the steps of Robert Langdon in the famous Temple Church, but you can visit it for free if you want to pray. According to the website, you will be directed to the east end of the church, so I don’t know how much you will see from there.

4. Parks

Yes, London is famous for its parks, and each one of them is worth a visit. My favorite is the St James’s Park with its tame pigeons 🙂

St James’s Park

St James's Park | London for free: places to visit and things to do
St James’s Park

You can’t miss the St James’s: walking through the park is the most picturesque way to get from the Westminster Abbey to the Buckingham Palace. There is a nice lake in the park with pigeons and water fowl. And the pigeons are tame and not afraid to fly really close, sometimes they just sit on the visitors’ hands. Make sure to bring some food for them, and that’s going to be an experience to remember.

Greenwich Park

The Greenwich Park is quite far from the city center, but is definitely worth a visit. It is mainly famous for the Royal Observatory, which holds the only planetarium in London, but, unfortunately, it is not free of charge. Anyway, the observatory is not the only interesting thing in the park: here you can see the Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, the Flower Garden, and the deer park among others.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Hyde Park

I guess the Hyde Park is by far the most famous and the biggest in London, and, consequently, the most visited one. Initially it was used as a hunting ground by Henry VIII. The park had been private for about a hundred years until Charles I opened it to the public in 1637. Now it is a nice place to sunbathe with chairs available along the lake.

Regent’s Park

Regent’s Park is home to the London Zoo (entrance is not free, unfortunately) and the notable Queen Mary’s Garden with about 12.000 roses planted there. There are some amazing statues and fountains there, but the park is more notorious for its wildlife. If you are lucky, you can see hedgehogs, squirrels, and lots of birds that I have never heard about like willow warbler and more familiar ones like swans, ducks, martins, and geese.

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Kensington Gardens

Many people – including myself – consider Kensington Gardens part of the Hyde Park, and it was till Queen Caroline ordered their separation in 1728. The Kensington Palace faces the gardens, and as it is open to everyone lots of locals do their morning jogging here. And if you are a fan of Peter Pan, you can look for his statue in the midst of trees.

Battersea Park

With lots of gardens, Battersea is another park famous for its wildlife: you can spot here terrapins, hedgehogs, squirrels, bats, and even foxes if they are in the mood to meet with humans. But it is not only the fauna that makes this place special: the Peace Pagoda, a gift from the Japanese Buddhists, was erected there to show that we should seek peace not war. By the way, as the park is right at the waterfront, visitors get amazing views of the city from there.

5. Famous Streets

We all have heard about the famous shopping streets of London: there are shops here for all budgets starting with the really expensive ones and ending with cheaper brands.

  • Piccadilly
  • Regent Street
  • Oxford Street
  • Pall Mall

Naturally, the streets are free to walk along, so you may spend some pounds in the stores 🙂

Piccadilly | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Piccadilly

Pall Mall | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Pall Mall

Oxford street | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Oxford street full of busy shoppers

6. Bridges

What would London do without its famous bridges?

Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge | London for free: places to visit and things to do
The Tower Bridge

Westminster Bridge

Westminster Bridge and Big Ben | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Westminster Bridge and Big Ben

Millennium Bridge

Millenium Bridge | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Millenium Bridge

7. Rest and shop

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Trafalgar Square

This is the most popular square in London, with Nelson’s column and the lions being its highlights. It is a really nice place to spend an evening there, but, as there are no benches, you will have to find a place to sit on the edge of fountains 🙂

Harrods

Being honest, I just passed it by, but it doesn’t mean you have to do the same 🙂 After all, it is an iconic landmark of London, and even if you are not going to buy anything, it is nice to walk around. By the way, did you know that Harrods is owned by Qatar?

Selfridges

Selfridges | London for free: places to visit and things to do
Selfridges

Another department store with designer clothes, shoes, jewellery, bags, beauty products, and food. You won’t miss it if you stroll along the Oxford Street.

7. Markets

I think markets are the very place where one can really feel the vibe of the city and its residents. Shame on me here, but despite visiting London several times, I have never been at any of them. Well, at least I know what I will do when I am there 🙂 London is a huge city, and, naturally, it has a lot of markets, but the most famous are Borough, Camden, Portobello Road Markets. You can see a fuller list here.

8. Bonus: SkyGarden

I found out about this place by accident: I was scrolling my Pinterest feed when an article with a list of places that allowed to see London from above caught my attention. SkyGarden is one of those places, and the most important thing about it is that it is free! If you fancy a view of London from the height of 155 meters, give this place a try. Just remember: you have to book a free online ticket on their website.

I hope you are convinced that one can do London for free 🙂 Do you know any other places with free entrance in London?

More on London:

1 Day in London Walking Itinerary
12 Things to Know Before Travelling to London

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Travelling London, the UK: places to see and things to do for free

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