So, you decided to visit London, but you are on a tight budget! Then, you shouldn’t worry at all. London may be considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, but despite that, there are plenty of free things to do Here I am presenting you 101 of the best free things to do in London that can easily keep you occupied for weeks!
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This means that the only costs you will have during your trip to London are accommodation, transportation and food. You can easily find cheap accommodation by choosing hostels, places outside the city centre or even trying couch surfing. Transportation-wise you should plan about £10 per day for a daily oyster card ticket unless all the places you will visit are within walking distance. Finally, there are plenty of cheap food options in London, look for fast food places and chain restaurants with lunch-time deals.
So, let’s see what you can do in London with no budget!
101 Best Free Things to Do in London
Here is an overview of the best free things to do in London. If you want to skip to a specific section, just click on it.
- Photograph London’s most famous landmarks
- Walk in the busy streets of London
- Wonder in the halls of London’s free museums and galleries
- Have some time off at London’s parks
- Enjoy the views of London’s skyline
- Feel the vibes of London’s markets
- Window shop at London’s famous shopping stores
- Become one with history at London’s historical places
Photograph London’s most famous landmarks
Obviously, the first thing you need to do when you are in London is to photograph the landmarks of the city! It’s absolutely free to walk around the places and snap a few photos. Don’t miss:
1 + 2. The Houses of Parliament* with Big Ben in Westminster.
3. The London Eye in Southbank.
4 + 5. The Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral in Bankside.
6. The Tower Bridge connecting the two sides of the River Thames (Bonus: Check the lift times).
7 – 9. London’s iconic red Double Decker Buses, Phone Boxes and Letter Boxes that you can find everywhere.
10. Piccadilly Circus’ bright billboards and the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, with a statue of Anteros.
11. Convent Garden‘s covered market and street performers.
12. The lions and Nelson’s column at Trafalgar Square.
13 + 16. The Shard and the other tall buildings in the City of London, such as the Gherkin (30 St Mary’s Axe), the Walkie Talkie Building (20 Fenchurch Street) and the Cheese Grater (122 Leadenhall Street).
17 – 20. London’s royal sites such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace and the Tower of London.
21. The Change of Guards Parade that takes place between St. James Palace, Wellington Barracks and Buckingham Palace.
22. Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4 at London King’s Cross Station.
23 – 25. London’s top entertainment venues like the O2 Arena, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Albert Hall.
26. The ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
27. The Abbey Road crosswalk close to St John’s Wood Underground Station for some Beatles moments.
*If you are a UK resident you can request a free tour of the Houses of Parliament. Check their website for more details.
Walk in the busy streets of London
Another free activity in London is walking and luckily, London is a very walkable city! You can spend hours exploring the busy streets of the British capital, admiring its people and monuments. And don’t worry, it’s completely normal to start walking on one side of the city and end up on another. It happened to me many times! Here are some areas you could go for a walk:
28. West London’s Soho streets with its theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, shops on Carnaby Street and restaurants all over the place.
29 + 30. Leicester Square with its cinemas, and the adjacent China Town, full of Chinese cuisine restaurants.
31. Neal’s Yard, a small vibrant space in the heart of London, close to Covent Garden.
32 – 34. Oxford Street, Regent Street, Old Bond Street and Burlington Arcade (adjacent to Piccadilly road) for some window shopping.
35. Notting Hill, known for its colourful houses and carnival in August.
36 + 37. Little Venice in Paddington and Regent’s Canal in Camden Town and King’s Cross for some tranquil moments.
38. Thames Path which crosses the whole of London, or just focus on the popular areas of Southbank and Bankside.
39. The streets of the City of London to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall and the Barbican Centre.
40. East’s London Shoreditch is famous for its street art and hippy vibes.
41. Canary Wharf, a business and corporate hub with skyscrapers and docks, (and which is empty during the weekends).
42. Combination of the above, if you go on a free walking tour to learn more about the history of the city while sightseeing.
Wonder in the halls of London’s free museums and galleries
London’s art and culture are at people’s disposal whenever they need them! A surprisingly large number of museums and galleries have free entries to their permanent and sometimes temporary exhibitions, so it is easy to spend days, if not weeks going from museum to museum. Below there are some of London’s free museums and galleries that you can visit.
43. Learn more about art and culture around the world at the British Museum in Bloomsbury.
44. Browse the art and design exhibits at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington.
45. See the blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.
46. Enjoy some hands-on activities at the Science Museum (also) in South Kensington.
47. Learn about the history of the city at the Museum of London in Barbican.
48. Explore military history at the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.
49. Improve your knowledge of maritime history at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
50. Walk in the rooms of one of the leading galleries in the country, The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
51. See the portraits of important British figures at the National Portrait Gallery.
52. Wonder around the modern art exhibits at the Tate Modern, housed in a former Power Station in Bankside.
53. Browse some contemporary British Art at the Tate Britain in Millbank.
54. Have a contemporary art break at the Serpentine Galleries while walking in Kensington Gardens.
55. Visit the Whitechapel Gallery with its long history next to the Aldgate East Underground Station.
Have some time off at London’s parks
London is as equally full of green spaces as it is of concrete. All the parks below are free to enter during the park’s opening hours (usually from dawn to dusk). Most of them have different amenities, such as public toilets, cafes or some snack bars. Go to have a leisure walk or some exercise. Don’t forget your camera, there are usually some places of interest there too.
56. Relax in central London’s largest park, Hyde Park.
57. See the statues of Queen Victoria and Peter Pan and the Albert Memorial at Kensington Gardens.
58. Walk in the Japanese Garden Island of Regent’s Park.
59. Enjoy some time at Green Park, a quiet park next to Buckingham Palace.
60. Walk from Buckingham Palace along the lake of St. James’s Park to reach the Guards Memorial.
61. Wander in the Dutch Gardens and the Kyoto Gardens of Holland Park.
62. Find the Prime Meridian by the Royal Observatory Greenwich at Greenwich Park.
63. Photograph some wild deer (from a distance) living at Richmond Park.
64. Go for a swim in one of Hampstead Heath‘s bathing ponds.
65. See some of the buildings that used to house the Olympic Games in 2012 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
66. Photograph the more than 150 years old dinosaur displays at Crystal Palace Park in South London.
67. Explore the flora and fauna found along with beautiful gardens at Alexandra Park in North London.
68. Watch some skaters practise at the House of Vans Skate Park* or browse at one of the exhibitions.
*This is not technically a park as it is underground, but goes in here because of the name.
Enjoy the views of London’s skyline
You don’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy views of London from the top. Here are eight places that allow you to have some great views of London’s skyline for free:
69. Soak in the best free views of London from Sky Garden, a rooftop tropical garden at 20 Fenchurch Street.
70. Enjoy the view close-up views from the Garden at 120, a few meters from the previous viewpoint.
71. The entrance to the Royal Observatory Greenwich at the top of the hill at Greenwich Park offers some great views of London.
72. Climb up to the top of Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath
73. The walk up to the top of Primrose Hill at Regent’s Park is only a few minutes long.
74. Get the lift up to the top floor of Blavatnik Building, which houses Tate Modern for an open-air viewing platform.
75. Have the City of London on your plate at the roof terrace of One New Change shopping centre, across St Paul’s Cathedral.
76. Travel to the north of London to Alexandra Palace for some distance views of London’s skyline.
For more information about the best places to enjoy views of London, check out this post with the best London viewpoints.
Feel the vibes of London’s markets
London is full of markets, and you need at least one, to get a first-hand experience of the places. Even though, you can’t buy anything for free there (although you can find good bargains, both on food and other items if you want to spend some money), you can still enjoy the vibe and become one with the crowds. Here are eleven markets you can visit in London:
77. Borough Market, a food and drink market near London Bridget the food of the Shard.
78. The antique stalls of Portobello Road Market, become one with the colourful houses of Notting Hill.
79. Leadenhall Market, a covered market for business people working in the City of London.
80. Food, fashion and art, become one at the Old Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street Station.
81. Combine a visit to Greenwich Market full of food, antique, and craft vendors with the other sights of the area.
82. Apple Market is the covered market, selling clothing and other crafts in Convent Garden
83. Go to smell the food and listen to the music bustling from the Camden Market in Camden Town.
84 – 86. Find more food stalls at the Upmarket, try on some second-hand clothing at the Brick Lane Vintage Market and browse handmade jewellery at the Backyard Market, all on Brick Lane in East London.
87. Enjoy the smell of the beautiful flowers in Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday morning.
Window shop at London’s famous shopping stores
You may not be able to afford to shop at London’s famous shops and department stores, but you can still browse their (usually) impressive window displays or even get inside and have a look at their range. Some of them are unique to London, while others are only present in a few cities around the world.
88. Check out the top-end brands (and the gift shop on the lower ground floor) at Harrods in Knightsbridge.
89. Fortnum & Mason has gift hampers for all occasions, as well as other luxury items in the multi-level shop on Piccadilly road.
90. Resist the temptation to buy some chocolate from one of the four floors of M&M’s World in Leicester Square.
91 + 92. Browse the extensive range of Legos at the biggest Lego Store in the world, as well as hundreds of different flavours of tea at TWG Tea, both in Leicester Square.
93. Another luxury department store in London (this one is in Soho), Liberty is known for its Tudor-style building.
94. You can find Daunt Books in different locations, but head to the original Edwardian one in Marylebone.
Become one with history at London’s historical places
It’s true that London’s most historic places are not free to enter, but there are some which are completely free to enter and walk around. Some examples include:
95. The British Library, with millions of books to keep you company.
96. The remains of the Winchester Palace, hidden in the streets of Southward, that date to the 13th century.
97. The Cenotaph in Whitehall, an empty tomb monument in memory of those who died in the First World War.
98 – 100. London’s three arches: Admiralty Arch, Marble Arch, and Wellington Arch all lead to Buckingham Palace.
101. The London Wall, or at least what remains of the Roman defences of Londinium, across the Tower of London.
Map of the Best Free Things to Do in London
As you can see, all of the 101 best free things to do in London are scattered in different parts of the city. So, I created this map to help you navigate your way around the British capital. I colour-coded each place based on the categories above.
Have fun in London!
All photos were taken using the camera Sony ILCE-5100 [AD] and the 16-50mm [AD] or 55-210mm [AD] lense unless otherwise specified.
P.S. This was such a big list, and yet these are only the best of the free things you can do in London. I didn’t include any free festivals or seasonal events (e.g. all the Christmas markets) that can pop up in the city. So, let’s overfill the list in the comments! Do you know of any other free London attractions or activities? Share them below!