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London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, though visitors generally worry that the city is an expensive destination to see. But don’t let people put you off with tales of how expensive London can be – should you choose your attractions wisely, there is an incredible amount to do throughout the city without spending any money.

For instance the city boasts spectacular parks and gardens, people watching opportunities which will make you stare, and travelers will find all of London’s major museums are free. Historic markets like Covent Garden don’t charge admission, and it is here where the city comes alive with street performers and musicians…for free!

Breathe in the fresh river air while walking along the Thames, wait to watch Tower Bridge open and close, enjoy galleries featuring some of history’s best art, and marvel in the architecture of palaces and parliament buildings from the outside. The reality is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy London for free. Here are just 7 fabulous ideas to start with.

Free Walking Tour

London Walking Tour

Walking tour which led to Buckingham Palace.

London aims to be one of the most walkable cities in the world, and it’s really easy to catch a free walking tour here. Students and freelance tour guides offer tours with no upfront cost, and this is a fabulous way to orientate yourself with the city while taking in popular tourist destinations like Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.

Though for those who don’t like group tours, or aren’t fond of feeling pressured to tip, it’s just as easy to download a free walking map of the city for a self guided tour.

Art Galleries

London galleries feature some of the finest artworks in the world, and you will find free admission at the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gellery, National Gallery and The Wallace Collection.

Tate Modern houses contemporary art, and even if you’re not a fan of this type of collection, the building is amazing in itself. The Tate Britain exhibits British Art dating back to the sixteenth century, and the National Portrait Gallery houses pictures of aristocracy through the ages.

Most major galleries stay open late. Galleries like the Tate Modern are located incredibly close to London’s most stylish and affordable hotels.

Museums

Natural History Museum. Photo CC by Mr Moss

London’s major museums are all free, though do note that the majority of them offer special exhibitions which do run at a fee. The Natural History Museum is one of the world’s finest, and the Museum of London will educate you on the history of London from Roman times to today.

Also check out the British Library. Not just for researchers and scholars, this is a huge complex which includes the Treasures exhibition, a display with literature as diverse as Magna Carta and original Beatles lyrics.

Free Music & Entertainment

Street performers in London are some of the finest, and found throughout the energetic marketplaces like Covent Garden and Camden Town. Though there are also regular free concerts open to the public at the National Theatre, and you can’t say you’ve visited London without hearing Big Ben chime. Stand in Parliament Square at noon and listen as he makes his music!

Those interested more in the small screen can catch a TV show being recorded at the BBC – it’s free to be part of the studio audience as it’s being recorded. It’s also free to watch a trial at the Central Criminal Court if live legal proceedings are more your speed.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for free WiFi throughout the city, hit up any of London’s Apple Stores, Starbucks, Pret a Manger or McDonalds.

Military Traditions

Changing of the guard. Photo CC Gabriel Villena.

Granted, Changing of the Guard is a tourist trap, though it’s something everyone must see. It runs ever day in the summer at 11.30, and visitors are advised to arrive early.

Those who request permission in advance can also witness Ceremony of the Keys, the nightly lock-up of the Tower of London. Every night for the past 100 years, the Teoman Warders have performed the same gate-closing ritual. It has never been cancelled.

Parks & Markets

London is quote famous for a number of popular street markets. From Camden Market and Portobello Market, as well as Greenwich Market, there are a fabulous range of window shopping opportunities to keep you on your toes. The markets have a fabulous atmosphere if you’re not there to spend.

In terms of parks, Hyde Park is obviously a must, though other popular spots also include the Queen Mary Rose Gardens in Regent’s Park, feeding the ducks in St. James’s Park, and Kensington Gardens where you will find the memorial to Princess Diana. There is a zoo in Regent’s Park too.

Photo Opportunities

Photo opportunities in London are abundant. Photo CC by E01.

Photo opps in London are plentiful, and the best part is, they’re all free! Visit 10 Downing Street, snap a photo in a red phone box, or take one of a famous red double-decker as the buses go bustling by.

Take a tour of the Monopoly Streets, visit Kings Cross Station for Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, or why not even try to catch the Queen! The streets of London are a magnet for celebrities, so have your camera at the ready to snap a selfie should the opportunity present.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    22 Comments

  1. London is a very expensive city, to travel london is a dream of many people. I enjoyed your blog post, truly amazing. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • So glad you enjoyed the blog post Tom :) Yes, London can definitely be a very expensive city if you let it, though hopefully now you’re all set with a fab list of things to do for free :)

      Happy travels!

  2. London has some wonderful museums and parks to visit that are absolutely wonderful! Hyde Park and the Victoria and Albert Museum are some of my favorites. I didn’t know you could watch a BBC show being filmed–that would be awesome!

    • Glad to hear you’re also a lover of London Brooke! Aren’t the parks the best! One of my favorite things to do in London is to spend time in Hyde Park – even if it’s just people watching, the atmopshere in the afternoons is so alive and energetic. Just puts you in a good mood!

      Hope you can manage a BBC show soon!

  3. Great timing! I am flying to London tonight and have a week to explore, and entertain two small children at the same time! We will definitely be watching the Changing of the Guards and will take them for a wander through some of the parks and markets too. And the National History Museum to see the dinosaurs of course! Hopefully will help off-set some of the expensive ticket prices for everything else we want to do!

    • Glad we could catch you with some itinerary ideas before you landed :) Changing of the guards will be great – do make sure you get there early though so you can get a spot right up at the gate – otherwise the kids might not be able to see.

      And the National History museum will be awesome too – the museums are so kid friendly, one thing I was really impressed with :)

      Happy travels! Enjoy London!

  4. Thanks for mentioning all the ways that London can be much more affordable for travelers! It’s true that this city is nuts in many respects, but you can also add to the list: amazing (and huge) parks, and plenty of ad-hoc events that I usually find in Time Out magazine (which is given out for free everywhere on Tuesdays). Cheers!

    • Thanks for your comment Julie – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post :) That London is a little nuts is what I love most about it :D We’re generally not huge fans of cities, but there really is something about London which makes you fall head over heels in love. One of the few destinations I could just keep on going back for!!

      Thanks for the awesome tip on Time Out magazine – noted to pick up a copy for when we’re there next :)

  5. Great tips and suggestions – and the photo you took for photo ops is really wonderful. It’s nice to see a really unique photo of London.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post and photos Rhonda! I wish I could claim the photo for the shot under photo opps, though that one’s a Creative Commons share – I do love street photos like this though which portray what it’s like to actually be there experiencing the movement of the scene. Need to hone my own photography to take more shots like it!

  6. One thing I really miss about the London and the UK on a whole is that most – if not all – museums and art galleries have a free entrance policy.

    Culture is so important to humanity that it seems crazy to price people our of experiencing it.

    • And I think London really does exhibit that motto that culture is important to humanity; I really love how they make history and culture available and accessible to anyone who wants to consume it :)

      London is the best!

  7. to be honest I’m not a big fan of London but I’m willing to give it another chance soon so this post and tips will come very handy! Thank you for the recommendations Megan!

    • Glad to hear Kami … that you’re willing to give it another chance! I’m not a huge fan of cities overall, though I feel London is my favorite as it completely breaks free of the cookie cutter mould that so many cities are now morphing to be.

      Obviously not every destination is for everyone, though I hope you manage to discover it’s magic like it has done for me!

  8. London has so many great (and free) things to do! I especially loved visiting the Tate Modern during my last trip :D

    • So glad to hear you got a few museum visits in on your last trip Chanel! London is one of my favorite cities in the world – love, love, love it! Anyone who tells me that London is expensive, I say they’re not being creative enough!! So much to do :)

  9. My favorite free London activity is the British Museum. Such a wonderful place. I spent two hours there (or roughly, two hours) but I could spend a whole day there.

    • Absolutely agree with you – the British Museum is one of my favorites too :) So refreshing that a destination makes culture and history available to the general public at large – normally museums of this standard charge extreme entrance fees, so that’s definitely something which makes London unique!

  10. The changing of the guard was one of the highlights of our time in London. I actually went back 3 or 4 times that week!

    • Fabulous Monique! So glad to hear you enjoyed your time in London – Changing of the Guards is definitely one of those long standing traditions you just have to see :)

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