Entertaining yourself for free in the capital
By Adam Stokes
With London forever being considered one of the most expensive places to live, we thought we’d set the record straight by offering you 20 top attractions that you can visit, absolutely free. From galleries and museums to parks, walks, films, markets and more – if you know where to look, you can keep yourself busy while leaving your wallet at home. Scroll down to see our top 20 things to do for free in London.
#20 Visit a museum
With uncountable amounts of museums dotted all over London, it shouldn’t take long to find one your interested in, from science to history, art and more. With free entry and diverse opening times, this one’s an easy crowd pleaser. Check out this list of the major London museums.
#19 Visit a gallery
Galleries are just as popular as museums in London, so if you’re looking for things to see in London, there’s more than enough choice. From major galleries like Tate Modern and The National Gallery to smaller, more niche venues, there’s a lot to be seen.
#18 Walk along the River Thames
Okay, so this one might seem a little obvious, but have you ever really walked the whole stretch of the River Thames? With so much to explore, it’s the perfect free thing to do in London on a hot summers day.
#17 Visit Royal Parks
If the Thames is less your thing, but you still want to get out and about and enjoy a bit of nature, then why not enjoy one of London’s many Royal Parks. With so many to choose from located throughout the capital, they’re perfect for a stroll or picnic with a loved one, friends or even on your own!
#16 Visit a street market
There are some things that you can only experience in London, and although you can find street markets all over the world, you won’t find one quite like in London anywhere else. Check out our top 5 markets for our best picks.
#15 Catch a free film
With cinema tickets having become so expensive over the last few years, a chance to catch a free film screening is not one to be missed. Check out this list of free film festivals taking place in London and also free film screenings.
#14 Go on a free walking tour
Going on a free walking tour is a great way to really get out there and explore London in the best way possible. With various routes all over the city, you can choose the areas you’re most interested in and find out more about the history and heritage while taking in the scenic views.
#13 Climb up Big Ben
Not exactly one for those who’s idea of enjoyment is a relaxing picnic in the park, this free activity in London was designed for those looking for something a little more challenging. You have to write to your local MP before you can gain tickets, but once you hit the top it’ll all be worth it.
#12 Catch a free lunch time concert
Not all free things to do in London have to be day activities on the weekend. If you have a spare hour or so for lunch, why not check out a free lunch time concert before heading back to work.
#11 Watch the changing of the guard
Buckingham Palace is one of the major tourist attractions of the capital, and for good reason. If you have time to catch a glimpse of the changing of the guards, its certainly a rewarding show.
#10 Watch a trial at The Old Bailey
The most famous criminal court in the world, the Old Bailey public gallery is open from 10am, Monday to Friday – so you can finally cross off watching a trial from your ‘experiences from TV’ bucket list.
#9 Attend a TV Show recording
Getting free studio audience tickets is a little harder than just turning up on the day. For most, you have to apply and then wait to see if you’ve made the shortlist. It’s always worth applying to any you’re interested though, as live recordings are way different to what you see on TV!
#8 Attend a lecture
Free lectures are on throughout London all the time, ready to inform, educate and impress those who are interested. With a variety of topics and locations on all throughout the year, finding one that suits you shouldn’t be too difficult.
#7 Visit Speaker’s Corner
Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park is a platform for public speaking that has been running for more than 30 years, promoting free speech, debate, discussion and performance – not one to be missed if you’re in the area.
#6 Attend a free comedy night
Every Monday from 8pm, Theatre Royal Stratford East put on a free comedy night. Usually consisting of one headliner, a supporting act and a compere, the shows prove to be entertaining for all. If that’s not enough, then check out these 7 venues to find free stand-up comedy in London.
#5 Visit the Barbican Conservatory
The second biggest conservatory in London, Barbican is home to an array of exotic fish as well as over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees – perfect for a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.
#4 Visit a farm
Probably not the first thing you’d associate with being in the city, London’s farms offer you one of best ways to see animals in the capital. They offer farmyard animals, petting zoos, gardens, and sometimes even fresh produce to take home with you.
#3 Watch the opening of Tower Bridge
Another must see in London, the opening of Tower Bridge is a spectacular phenomenon to witness, day or night. Opening anything from 2-6 or more times a day depending on water traffic, check out the times and head on down to see one of London’s most viewed attractions.
#2 Visit one of the Olympic Parks
Since the end of the 2012 Olympics, some of the venues have been transformed into parks for the public, with the Stratford site becoming Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Other sites include the Aquatics site and Velopark, both of which are definitely worth a visit, too.
#1 Watch a Street Performance
Covent Garden Market has street performances every afternoon. All acts have to pass an audition to get a license to perform here, so you know that you’ll be in for a good show. If you’re lucky, you might even get asked to participate yourself!
With heaps of things to do and see in London, you’ve got no excuse not to get out and explore the capital. From walks and tours to galleries, museums, shows and performances – you’ll never run out of free things to do in London, whatever time of day, whatever time of year.
Check out our entertainment section for more information on things to do in the capital.