London: 6 free things to do

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London: 6 Free things to do
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They say the best things in life are free. And nowhere does this ring truer than in lavish London. The cosmopolitan capital regularly features on lists of the world’s most expensive cities. As tempting as it may be to dive into the city’s many diverting distractions, your wallet would soon take the hit.

Luckily, with a little insider info, it’s entirely possible to live it up in London without splashing the cash. So, read on for our nifty, thrifty list of the top 6 free things to do in London.

1. British Museum

The British Museum is one of London’s most popular museums.

With so many of the 170 museums in the cultural capital free of charge, number one in our rundown of the top free things to do in London just had to be the British Museum. The city’s oldest and arguably best-loved museum, its impressive collection spans two million, yes two MILLION, years of human history.

You’ll marvel at a multitude of unique historical artefacts of the utmost importance such as the remarkable Rosetta Stone and the controversial Elgin marbles. Other unmissable curiosities include a 16th-century double-headed serpent sculpture, an Anglo-Saxon burial helmet and even a mummified cat!

To guarantee your spot, we recommend booking online. If you’re more of a spur-of-the-moment type, walk-up visits are also possible.

2. St James’s Park

St James Park is a beautiful green space and a fantastic free thing to do in London.

If you thought there were a lot of museums in London, wait till you hear how many parks there are – over 3000! This is a good thing as Charles Dickens pointed out, “parks be the lungs of London”. London’s lungs are waiting for you, and you can experience them without paying through the nose.

It’s hard to pick just one to recommend, but St. James’s Park is a beaut. You’ll be in good company as this green oasis sits right next door to Buckingham Palace – you could say it’s the Royal Family’s back garden! And as we all know, the famous Buckingham Palace is also one of London’s top places to visit.

We recommend going for a stroll around the lovely lake to admire the ducks, pelicans and the monarch’s favourite, swans. Who knows? You could be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of the royals out for a jog.

3. Changing the Guard

Don’t miss the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony while you’re in London.

Now that you’ve seen the Royals’ back garden, it’d be rude not to pay a visit to their house.

Don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on a ticket to enter Buckingham Palace? Well, get yourself down to the palace gates with the other commoners to watch Changing the Guard, a grandiose event which is undoubtedly one of the top free things to do in London.

The ceremony marks the moment when the New Guard (the soldiers taking care of the palace) take over from the Old Guard.

The guards are immediately recognisable in their pillar box red tunics and 46-cm tall busbies (bearskin caps). The hairy headgear is controversially made from real bear fur – one black bear per cap. They were originally designed to intimidate enemies, although truth be told, they don’t look particularly scary nowadays.

The ceremony takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 10.45 am. No ticket or booking is required to see this stately spectacle, but we recommend that you arrive 45 minutes early to bag yourself a top spot amongst the throng of eager holidaymakers.

4. Borough Market

Borough Market serves up a delicious and varied selection of food.

Frequented by tourists and locals alike, simply walking through the lively Borough Market is an experience. Despite dating back to the 11th century, this modern, trendy food market will have you in foodie heaven.

Have your camera at the ready to take arty snaps of the high-end, top-quality fare. There’s something for everyone from handmade artisan pastry stalls to decadent oyster bars to the stinkiest of French fromageries.

If you’re wondering if the food is complimentary, the answer, sadly, is no. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are no rules against filling up on free samples which are plentiful and delicious!

Borough Market is no longer a well-kept secret, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to nab a seat. It’s also a great place to take shelter on one of London’s famously rainy days!  

5. Walk along South Bank

Walking along South Bank is a relaxing activity in London and, of course, it’s completely free!

Want to walk off your lunch? London’s South Bank is perhaps the most pleasant promenade in the city.

The banks of the historic Thames are bursting with the most famous of London landmarks. As you wander along this picturesque 5-km riverside stretch, you’ll spot familiar sights from Big Ben to Tower Bridge and the Shard to the Houses of Parliament.

Looking for a top London view without spending all your pennies? Don’t tell anyone, but one of our favourite free things to do on the South Bank, and a true hidden treasure, is the 8th platform of the Oxo Tower. There’s a swanky roof terrace offering superb views across the river Thames and the spectacular London Skyline. And the entry fee? You guessed it, completely free.

6. Sky Garden

See some of the best views in London for free at Sky Garden!

We’ve talked about London’s many fantastic viewpoints and verdant parks. Wouldn’t it be incredible if those two things could be combined?

Let us introduce you to the highly original Sky Garden, another of our top free things to do in London. Perched on top of the futuristic Walkie Talkie building, this 140-metre-high sub-tropical garden offers 360-degree views of the city.

Free tickets are released every Monday, 3 weeks in advance. Unsurprisingly, they sell like hot cakes, so get your skates on and get booking!

Fun in London on a budget

The saying goes that “a bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else”. As it turns out, free days out in London can be the best days of all! So, start planning your trip to London today and experience this ever-evolving, multicultural city without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Luckily for you, most of the major museums in London are free! In addition to the British Museum (above), some of the best free museums in London are:

You’ll be spoilt for choice for beautiful parks in London. Some of our personal favourites are

  • Hyde Park
  • Regent’s Park
  • Green Park
  • Kensington Gardens

You can, of course, also wander around other iconic areas in London for free, such as Leciester Square and Picadilly Circus

There are plenty of places to get stunning views of London for free! For example, the Tate Modern has a viewing platform. There’s a free rooftop garden at The Garden at 120 (the Fen Court building). And, of course, the Sky Garden, as mentioned in the article above.

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