12 Best Free Things to do in London
When people think of London, they automatically think 'expensive'. But little do they know there’s so much to do in the city that costs absolutely nothing. So if you’re on a tight budget, don’t rule London out. In this list, you’ll find incredible things to do in London for free (which means you can save some pounds for good food and travel costs). From free festivals like Notting Hill Carnival to beautiful Royal parks, your wallet will thank you...
Watch our video on London's Best Free Things to Do:
Need somewhere to stay in the English capital? St Christopher's hostels in London are dotted all over the city
1. MUSEUMS GALORE!
The British Museum
When looking for free things to do in the city, London’s myriad of museums come into play. The majority of permanent exhibitions in London, including the Tate, Tate Modern, Natural History and the Victoria & Albert Museum don’t charge an entry fee, and they’re packed full of worldly treats. In fact some of the most popular museums and art galleries are free-entry.
2. Free walking tour
Sandemans Walking Tours are famous in cities around the the world for serving up amazing insights into little known sights and city history. They don’t ask for money in exchange but instead invite you to be honest and tip your guide if you think they earned it, by doing a good job.You can sign up for this walking tour at the St Christopher’s London hostels (except for Liverpool Street). Or better yet, take a walking tour of the city on your own. Walk around from site to site. Iconic sites such as the Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament cost absolutely nothing to simply sit and gaze at.
3) Enjoy the parks
Walking through the city’s parks are of course FREE FREE FREE. Thanks to the green fingers of King Henry VIII, London today is officially the greenest city of its size, anywhere in the world. In fact these leafy, open to the public areas cover close to 40 per cent of greater London. That’s close to 70 whopping square miles. Some of the best spaces include St James’ Park near Buckingham Palace and Regents Park in Primrose Hill. You can even do some deer spotting in Richmond park.
4 Southbank Skate Park
Found next to, or rather beneath the Royal Festival Hall, this under croft area is a famous haven for boarders, bikers and skaters, and a tourist attraction in itself. Known for it’s expertly gratified walls, you can easily spend hours here admiring the skills (and graceful recoveries) of the athletes on show. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX
5 Check out some street art
London’s walls are filled with street art - you just need to know where to look. From big names on the street art scene from Banksy to Space Invaders, see if you can spot their work while your moseying around London. Street art hotspots include Camden (near our Camden hostel), Brick Lane (near our Liverpool Street hostel) in Shoreditch and Brixton.
These are 9 Things to Do in Camden
6 Watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony
For a taste of London's more patriarchal side, make sure you wake up nice and early to see this. The Changing of the Guard ceremony starts at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 11.00-11.45am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday - and it’s completely free. Spectators gather to watch the Queen’s guards carry out the ceremony. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place between three locations – Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barrack so head to any of these places at the right time to watch!
7 Harry Potter fans, head to Platform 9 ¾
One for all the Harry Potter fans. Head to Kings Cross St Pancras station to get a picture at platform 9 ¾. You can take a photo holding the trolley going through the wall to magical wizarding world. Did you know Harry Potter was actually filmed in this station? You'll also find a Harry Potter shop in the station where you can browse all the merch from House robes to time-turners. There's sometimes a queue of people waiting to get a photo (so get there nice and early, or go later in the day).
8 Take in the views from London’s spectacular bridges
London’s bridges are a sight in themselves. But the view you'll get from them are also stellar. Check out Tower Bridge, The Millennium Bridge, The Jubilee Bridges, London Bridge, Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge. All of the bridges cross over the River Thames and whenever you can see the river in the city, you're never far from one of the famous bridges.
9 Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles
Cross the famous Abbey Road where the iconic Beatles photo was taken for their 1969 Abbey Road Album cover. This road is best known for the Abbey Road Studios, where the no 1 album was recorded. The nearest Underground Station to Abbey Road is St. John’s Wood.
10 Walk around the markets
You don’t have to buy anything but walking around London’s best markets are an experience in themselves. Taste the free samples of food and admire the antiques, jewellery and unique things on offer.
Check out the 7 Best Markets in London
11 Attend a free festival
There are various free festivals that take place around London throughout the year. The ones we recommend are:
Notting Hill Carnival
The streets of Notting Hill come to life with this annual free festival to celebrate Caribbean communities. Full of energy, colour, authentic Caribbean street food and live performances and music, this festival is not to be missed. It’s London’s biggest open-air street party. Expect delicious jerk chicken (you will have to pay for food)...
London Free Film Festival
This festival brings people together to enjoy their local cinemas and films for free. Taking place this September, film lovers won’t want to miss this. From open air cinemas to indoor film spots in various London locations, this free festival is a great way to meet new people and enjoy the best of cinema.
The Lumiere Festival lights up the city and its skies. It’s the UK’s largest light festival and it’s running over three nights in January. In 2016, the festival came to London for the first time and we’re delighted to know it’s returning in January where amazing lights will transform the city.
12) Admire the views from The Sky Garden
Another great way of getting to see all of the city in one go is by heading to Sky Garden. 155 metres up, this stunning indoor garden offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city! Entrance to The Sky Garden is free but you have to book tickets online to go up there (so that you have your own slot). Compared to the Shard that costs around £30 to get to the top, this is surely a winner with a view just as good if not better. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset over the capital.
Need a bed in London? Check out our 8 hostels
Latest Travel Articles
10 Tips for First-Time Backpackers in Europe
The ‘German Backpacker’ gives us his best backpacking tips…