30 Free Things to Do in London
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30 Free Things to Do in London

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The Big Smoke is one of the best places to visit if you want to enjoy some of the best tourist attractions in the world. There are some excellent things to see and do in London, and, plot twist, they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg! In fact, there are a lot of awesome, free things to do in London! This is the perfect guide for those looking to visit the English capital for a few days. Now you’ll never be short of things to see and do, no matter what your budget.

The Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington SW7 2DD

As with all major museums in London, The Science Museum is free to visit. What sets it apart from other London museums is how interactive and intriguing the museum is. It’s the perfect family day out (the kids will go wild), and you’ll learn some cool things you never knew!

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Check out the robot exhibit if you want your mind officially blown. It will cost you around £13 but is well worth it if your budget can stretch.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN

One of the most renowned and respected art galleries in the world, the National Gallery is a must-visit place in London. If you want to get a bit of culture and enjoy some world-class art up close and personal, this is the place to be. There are over 2,000 paintings to be enjoyed here, ideal for an afternoon of browsing.

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Book a free creative session where you can draw, and talk, and explore how to create your own art. There is a link available on the website.

Cubitt Sessions, Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross NC1

If you’re looking for free things to do in London between July and August, you can enjoy some amazing live music and performances at Cubitt Sessions, a free outdoor festival. Head for Lewis Cubitt Square and indulge in an afternoon of relaxation and entertainment free of charge; you could even bring a picnic with you!

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There are limited places to each of the sessions so don’t bank on getting tickets on the day. Instead, make sure you book online well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, Bromley SE19 2GA

This beautiful and picturesque park is the perfect place to visit on a sunny afternoon in South London. You can enjoy a picnic, take a walk, or lounge on the grass and soak up some rays. It’s some of the best open space in the capital and has a wonderful woodland, not to mention a great children’s play area.

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Did you know, the park is actually home to the oldest dinosaur sculptures in the world! These look cool and are a quirky addition to the park – perfect for families with inquisitive kids.

Tate Modern, Sumner Street, Bankside SE1 9TG

One of the most famous modern art galleries in the world, the Tate Modern is something of an institution in London these days. No matter what your opinions on modern art, the Tate is certainly a place you should visit. It’s free all year round unless you want to check out a special exhibition.

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There are loads of free guided tours available, and I definitely recommend taking one. I would suggest the Performer and Participant, or the Between Object and Architecture tours – these make a big difference to your experience of the museum.

Platform 9 ¾, King’s Cross Station, Euston Road N1 9AL

One of the most enduring and iconic symbols of Britain and London has got to be the famed Platform 9 ¾. This is, of course, the location of the Hogwarts Express from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise. Pay a visit to the platform, and you’ll find a trolley protruding out of the wall. Take a photo and become a part of the Harry Potter universe yourself!

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Everyone knows the story, that when Rowling wrote the books, she mixed up King’s Cross and Euston. As such, here, platforms 9 and 10 are separated by tracks. But, you can find 9 ¾ on the wall by the platform entrance.

Hampstead Heath, Hampstead NW3 1BP

Hampstead Heath is one of the largest outdoor areas in London, and there is so much to do here. From woodland walks to expansive outdoor runs, to picnics beneath the summer sun. It’s great to get out and about and explore the great parks in London – this is one of the best choices for people looking for a free experience in London.

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The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon because this will avoid crowds and walkers. You might even decide to do the walk from Highgate to Hampstead to make the most of the experience.

Big Ben, Westminster SW1A 0AA

Elizabeth Tower (also known as Big Ben) is arguably London’s most famous landmark and a definite must-see for anyone visiting the city. You can easily see the clock tower from a distance, and there is a great view across the river, and in front of the tower. This means you don’t have to shell out to actually experience one of the most famous monuments in the city.

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Visit www.freetoursbyfoot.com and you can organise to have a free tour of Big Ben and find out more about this iconic and quintessentially British landmark.

Buckingham Palace, Westminster SW1A 1AA

Fancy going to see the Queen? Well, we probably can’t arrange that (we’re sure she’s very busy), but you can enjoy the next best thing. Take a visit to Buckingham Palace, and bask in the regal opulence of this iconic and beautiful building. There are tours of the palace that will cost, but you can always spend time at the gates and fountains outside for free.

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The palace gets crazy busy, especially in the summer (probably because it is one of the most popular free things to do in London)! Try to avoid weekends, and make sure you show up very early in the morning, or very late in the afternoon, so it’s less busy.

The River Thames, Tower Bridge SE1 2AA

The River Thames is part of the very fabric of this great city. An enormous, glassy, snaking river, winding away into the great beyond. At night it’s picturesque and tranquil, and the perfect place for a romantic walk. If you’re visiting as a couple, you should wander along the banks of this great river, and enjoy some of the breathtaking sights of London.

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If you plan your route out properly, you can enjoy St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, the Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge all during your walk.

Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, Chester Road, Regent’s Park NW1 4NR

Another great park in London is the vast and sprawling Regent’s Park. You can’t visit here at any time of day and find something excellent to keep you entertained. Within the inner circle of the park is Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, a gorgeous display of over 40,000 roses in a circular display. It’s one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen.

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If you are a photographer this is the perfect place to get some incredible shots of the natural beauty that’s on offer in London.

Daunt Books, Marylebone High Street W1U 4QW

If you are a voracious reader, you should head to Marylebone High Street and pop into Daunt Bookshop. This is a treasure trove of tomes and volumes in all kinds of categories and genres. The layout of the shop is incredible, and the Edwardian architecture adds to the mystical feel of the place. Even having a browse is a wonderful experience, and you might just find a second-hand gem to buy!

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This shop is considered to be one of the leading stores for travel books, so, if you’re planning your next holiday, this is definitely the place to be.

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury WC1B 3DG

The Science Museum is cool and a little futuristic, but the British Museum is the perfect way of experiencing the history of Britain. There are amazing artefacts from years gone by and over 80,000 objects are on display here. It is one of the seminal free attractions in London, with so much to offer tourists and Londoners alike.

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Make sure you tackle the popular exhibits first, like the Rosetta Stone. These will become incredibly busy and the hours draw on, so enjoy them fully by getting them seen first.

Street Art, Brick Lane, Shoreditch E1 6QL

East London is so great for so many reasons, and, one of the big ones from a tourist perspective is the fact that there is some incredible street art to see. If you check out the likes of Shoreditch and Brick Lane, you will see some of the wonderful street art the city has to offer. This is a great way of soaking up some of the local artwork and getting a few cool pictures too.

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If you want to make a real experience of it, you should definitely book a free Street Art & Graffiti Tour – there are several companies that offer them. 

Borough Market, Southwark Street, London Bridge SE1 1TL

Borough Market is one of the most popular free things to do in London, so much so that even Londoners love a visit. This is one of the best open air markets in the country, packed full of amazing local food, drink, and produce stalls. It’s well worth a look, and a window shop. Unless there’s something that really takes your fancy!

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Almost all of the stalls will offer free samples so try to make sure you experience everything. This is a good way of finding something you like, and it’s not going to cost you anything!

Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace W2 2UH

Kensington Gardens are beautiful, jaw-dropping, and captivating. They are the perfect way of bookending a day of sightseeing with something aesthetically pleasing. Situated in the palace grounds, these gardens are a living testament to the beauty of nature and the innovation of design. You could comfortably spend hours wandering around here and taking it all in.

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There is a lovely memorial here to Princess Diana – known as the Diana Memorial Playground. This is well worth checking out to pay your respects to the late Princess of Wales.

Sky Garden, Sky Garden Walk, Fenchurch Street EC3M 8AF

Sometimes all you need is a great view to realise there are so many wonderful things in this world. And, in London, there are few places to get a better view than Sky Garden. Access to the Sky Garden is free of charge, and you can enjoy one of the best views of the city. Locals refer to the building as the ‘Walkie Talkie,’ and it’s an awesome free place to hang out in the city.

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Make sure you book your visit in advance because there is only a limited amount of space, and it can fill up quickly.

St. Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9ED

Don’t confuse this with St Paul’s Cathedral – that is NOT free, however, the church is. This Covent Garden-based church is known as the Actor’s Church due to its long association with the world of theatre. It was the scene of the first recorded performance of Punch & Judy, as well as the setting for the first scene of the play Pygmalion. It’s scenic, picturesque, and steeped in history, and somewhere that’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for free things to do in London.

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We know what you’re thinking, a church is a church, right? Well, yes, but this church, in addition to being great looking, also has memorials to Vivien Leigh and Charlie Chaplin that are well worth checking out.

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge SW7 2RL

Another excellent museum in London, the V&A is considered to be the leading museum of art and design in the world, and that’s some accolade! It has been open for over 150 years and is home to 4.5 million artefacts, decorative arts, and exhibits – check out the Asian exhibit on the first floor, it’s one of the best exhibits in the museum.

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There are 7 miles of galleries to choose from, and that can be pretty intimidating! So, the best thing to do is to use the free map and plan to visit the galleries that seem the most appealing to you.

Portobello Road Market, Portobello Road, Notting Hill W11 1LJ

Perhaps the most famous market in the world; certainly the most famous in London. Portobello Market was popularised by the movie Notting Hill, and it’s pretty much exactly as it’s shown. Here you’ll find everything from antiques, to vintage clothing, to delicious street food. It’s a must-visit for tourists in the city.

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Most of the street vendors here don’t take card so, if you want to buy anything while you’re there, you’re going to have to take cash with you.

Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9DD

Okay, you may not think this is a free attraction in London, but, in reality, there are plenty of free concerts you can take advantage of, it’s just knowing when and where to look. Every Monday lunchtime, at around 1pm, there will be free recitals at the Royal Opera House. You get to see young artists up close and personal, and enjoy some great music on your lunch.

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Free tickets are available on a limited basis from the Royal Opera House Box Office. These are on a first come first serve basis and are available up until 11am, so try to get them as soon as you can.

Live TV Audience – Various

It might seem odd, but, this is actually quite a cool free thing to do in London. TV programmes need an audience, and they often look out for people to be in their audience. You can apply for free tickets online, but there is only a limited number. Still, this would be a cool way of spending an evening in the capital.

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If you do get tickets then make sure you turn up early! Shows tend to be overbooked and it will be first-come, first served. Even if you do have a ticket!

Angel Comedy, Camden Passage, Camden N1 8DY or Bill M

This is a great place to come if you want to see some of the biggest names in the comedy world strut their stuff. You’ll generally get new material on a test basis, but that’s still pretty great. Some of the big names to have performed here include people like Russell Howard and Dara O’Briain!

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Shows start from about 8pm, but we would advise you to get there early as it can get really busy very quickly and tickets to free shows are very limited.

Cycle the City – Various

Have you come across all those bikes lined up in a row? Well, those are the famed ‘Boris Bikes,’ (now called Santander Cycles) so named after one-time Mayor of London Boris Johnson. These are available to rent, and a great way of getting around the city. Okay, so it’s not 100% free, but the rental is very cheap, and you can get around without having to pay for public transport.

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You’ll find plenty of free cycle routes around London online, all for various skill levels. If you’re not keen cycling on the roads, hit the many parks instead. 

Acting Masterclass at Theatre Royal Haymarket, Suffolk Street, SW1Y 4HT

Ever fancied being the next Marlon Brando or Meryl Streep? Well, the Theatre Royal Haymarket offers some awesome acting workshops completely free of charge! These include talks by those involved in the theatre industry, acting classes, tips, and career advice. Big names including Idris Elba have previously been involved in the programme. This is definitely one of the best free things to do in London!

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Bear in mind that this isn’t free for everyone, it’s only available for those aged 17-30, so, if you’re young and hungry to get into the industry, this is perfect for you.

Attend a Public Lecture, LSE, Houghton Street WC2A 2AE

The London School of Economics and Political Science hosts public lectures on a regular basis. These are free for anyone to attend and are a great way of learning something and keeping yourself engaged as much as possible. Lectures will occur on different subjects across the social and political spectrums.

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To guarantee tickets you need to make sure you get there as early as possible. The Department of Economics has a YouTube channel where you can view previous lectures and get an idea of what to expect.

BFI Mediatheque, Belvedere Road, Southbank SE1 8XT

The BFI is one of the finest cinemas in the city, and the perfect venue to enjoy a free movie. The BFI Mediatheque has over 2,500 films or TV programmes to choose from, and many of them are influential and iconic films. There is also sports on offer too – and you can watch a rerun of the 1966 World Cup Final, should you be so inclined!

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Get online before you go and have a look through the archive. That way you’ll be able to decide what you want to see well in advance.

Attend a Trial, The Old Bailey, EC4M 7EH

Believe it or not, you have a great opportunity to attend a trial free of charge! You won’t be able to get involved, and you certainly will have to be a passive observer. But, this is still something really cool to experience in your life. The public galleries in the Old Bailey are open to everyone and are perfect for an intriguing spectacle.

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Keep in mind, you are not permitted to take bags, mobile phones, or cameras into the Old Bailey, and there is no cloakroom, so prepare before you leave the hotel. 

Good Gym, Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, working out isn’t what you had planned on your city break. But, there are plenty of fitness freaks out there, and this would be right up their street. Good Gym is a not-for-profit outdoor collective who pepper workout sessions with good deeds. So you can work out and get karma points at the same time!

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This is entirely free, but these guys rely on donations to keep them afloat, so you might consider making a donation (any amount will be fine).

Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park W2 2EU

This is an iconic spot in London where you can hear people preaching, prophesying, lecturing, speaking, or ranting. It’s one of the things you simply have to do when you’re in the city. You might even consider getting up on a soapbox and having a go yourself, assuming there’s a topic you feel strongly about.

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If you want a quieter and less stressful observing experience, make sure you get there before midday. There is pretty much no one there before lunchtime, especially on a Sunday.

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