Top 20 Free Things To Do In London

Some of the best things in life are free, and nowhere is this truer than in London. The city offers visitors with the opportunity to discover some of the greatest museums, art exhibitions and monuments in the world with no admission fee. The only thing you will be short of is time. The following are the top 20 free things to do in London.

Big Benflickr/Taz Wake


1. Climb Up Big Ben

Although Big Ben is out of bounds to foreigners, British citizens can actually climb it for free. The only thing that you are required to do is write for the local area MP so that they arrange your attendance of the tour. You will be taken up the tower by a guide and see the clock mechanism, and its faces. You can even stand in the belfry while the bell goes off.

2. Ceremony of the Keys

This is a traditional ceremony where the Tower of London is locked up. This has been done every single day and night for the last 700 years. Although you will not be charged to attend the event, you are required to make a reservation for the ticket at least 5 months in advance. This is a good chance to get to the Tower to sample its best locations free of charge. Some places to see include the Bloody Tower, the White Tower and the Traitor’s Gate.

3. Changing of the Guard

Held at Buckingham Palace, Changing the Guard is so famous that not a trip to this great city would be complete without attending it. It commences at 11.30 AM during summertime and in winter, it is every other day. Normally, two detachments of the Guard will be changed. One is at St. James Palace, which is just a walking distance from the Town Mall and another at Buckingham Palace. Arrive early and get a position at the front gates.

4. Watch MPs Debate in Parliament

Many people, visitors and UK residents alike, are allowed to enter the parliament and watch members of parliament debate. This is absolutely free. Get to the back where the visitors section is located. To avoid queuing for long hours, try to arrive early.

5. Attend Evensong Service at Westminster Abbey

Getting into the Westminster Abbey nowadays is quite expensive but you can enter for free if you attend a mass. The best time to visit is when the Choral Evensong mass-cum choir is ongoing. Although you will not see the entire Abbey, the pews are set in South and North Transepts. This gives you an excellent view of the Quire, the golden altar, as well as the famous Cosmati pavement.

6. National Gallery

The majority of the biggest art galleries in London like Tate Modern and Tate Britain are free but the National Gallery, located at the Trafalgar Square, is absolutely the best of them all. It is home to some 2000 works of art from a very long time ago. You will see all of those great names in the history of art like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Da Vinci and Turner among other artists.

7. British Museum

There are lots of free museums in London such as Science Museum, the National History Museum and V&A. Of all of these though, the British Museum is the finest. It has just about everything from the medieval times of Greece, Egypt, the Orient and Africa. It is also home to colossal works by Greeks, Romans and Persians. Its highlights include the Parthenon Marbles, Rosetta Stone and Reading Room.

8. Natural History Museum

Also referred to as the “dead zoo”, the Natural History Museum is home to over 69 million specimens from the prehistoric past all the way to present times. Get to see dinosaur as well as elephants, tigers, lions and just about any other animal, like the dodo.

9. Covent Garden Street Entertainers

If you just want to relax somewhere and let go, there is no place that is better than the Covent Garden. You will be able to find lots of professional street entertainers here. They include fire-eaters, mimes and acrobats as well as comedians and clowns.

10. View from Primrose Hill

At a height of 203 feet, you will have some climbing to do. However, it is worth the extra effort. From, the Primrose Hill, you will have one of the most breathtaking views of London skyline. From its north Regent Park position, you can catch a great view of the London View. The Canary Wharf can be found to the east. There are also the Shard, St. Paul’s and the two Houses of Parliament.

11. The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in South Kensington. It was actually named in honor of the 19th century couple. It is popularly known as the V&A museum. It contains a unique and vast collection of applied arts that stretch across a number of genres, time periods and disciplines. Each piece of art is arranged by category. Some of the most popular ones include textiles, architecture, drawings, jewelry, and furniture, just to name a few. This sort of arrangement makes navigating through the mammoth museum a whole lot easier. In addition to its permanent collections, the V&A also offers some of the most diverse, temporary exhibitions and free-guided tours. The museum also has weekly public lectures that will help you to understand different cultures and civilizations. They are completely free, but special exhibits require ticket purchase.

12. The Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is one of the most popular sites for most visitors. It tells the unique story of Great Britain and the Commonwealth conflicts that occurred from 1914. It has a vast collection of military vehicles, weapons, objects and uniforms that are quite remarkable. On the second floor of the museum, there are more than 10,000 war-themed pictures from all over the world. However, the most powerful exhibits are the evocative reconstructions of the Holocaust.

13. The Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

These gardens were once the stomping grounds for King Henry VIII. They contain lush green grass that stretches all the way from Kensington Palace in the west to the legendary Oxford Street in the east. It is simply a must see for London visitors. Amidst Hyde Parks’ twisting bike and foot paths, there is a vast network of beautiful flora and fauna. You are sure to find a few unique attractions that you will leave you speechless. Visitors can also swim in the Serpentine Lido, stroll along the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, watch the swans and boats gliding over the lake or simply rent their own vessel. In addition, you must visit the Diana Memorial Fountain. It has a large Cornish granite ring that has water bubbling through it. The structure was made in remembrance of Diana’s life. Visitors are allowed to dip their toes in its soothing waters.

14. Tate Modern

Despite the fact that it is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, traveler reviews regarding the Tate Modern are a bit mixed. It is located in Bankside along the Thames in a former power plant. The gallery contains a huge collection of artwork from the turn of the century to the present day. Warhol, Dali, Picasso and Bacon are some of the well-known artists represented inside the four-level museum. The Tate Modern also has its own unique style of arrangement. All the art is grouped according to theme as opposed to the artist who created it. Apart from special exhibits, all visitors are welcome to the gallery free of charge.

15. Tower Bridge

London’s Tower Bridge is virtually one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It was made using Victorian Gothic Style stems. Due to its location, builders were forced to create a structure that was capable of blending in nicely with the Tower of London that was nearby. Most London visitors love to take photographs of the Tower Bridge, but you can also take a tour of the inside where you will have a breathtaking view of the London skyline from the walkway between the two bridge towers. There is also the Tower Bridge exhibition. This is a display area that encompasses the walkway and the two popular towers. You can actually see the Victorian engine room from this point. Visitors also have the opportunity to learn about the history of bridge through different films, photos and other types of media.

16. The Old Spitafileds Market

If you want to return home with a fresh, London look, you should definitely take a trip to the Old Spitalfields Market. It is located in the historical part of London and has a bohemian feel to it. You will find everything from ethnic delicacies to retro clothing. The market is open daily. You can access it off Liverpool St. Aldgate or the Aldgate East tube stops.

17. The Borough Market

This market has been around since the 13th century. It is absolutely ideal for food-lovers who are looking for a memorable grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. It is virtually one of the top attractions south of the river. Borough market is open from Thursday to Saturday. Most London visitors recommend that you go on Saturday when it’s bustling with people.

18. Trafalgar Square

John Nash designed Trafalgar Square back in the 1820’s, but construction began in the 1830’s. Over the years, it has been a popular tourist attraction and a focal point for political demonstrations. Within walking distance of the Square is the Covent Garden where visitors can go shopping for their favorite items. Other nearby attractions includes Chinatown, Parliament Square, Big ben, Buckingham Palace and a popular Harry Potter Film location.

19. Science Museum

The Science Museum is one of the 3 major museums located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington. It was established back in 1857 and is now of the city’s major tourist attractions. It is estimated that the museum receives more than 2.7 million visitors annually.

20. National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum is one of the biggest maritime museums in the world. It houses more than 2 million items related to seafaring. It has both permanent and changing exhibitions that cover 3 floors. Some of the most important holdings in the world related to Britain’s history at sea are found within the museum. The collection includes both Dutch and British maritime art, manuscripts, ship models and cartography.