We would argue that no city in the world has more free things on offer to do than London. Aside from the very accessible sightseeing, there’s world-famous museums, beautiful parks and bustling markets. So if you’re on a budget but still want to take a trip, London is a great option.
Here’s our simply-must list of free things to do in London:
London is packed full of culture, and a great way to immerse yourself in it is by visiting the many world-famous museums this city is known for. And would you believe, many of them are absolutely free. The Victoria & Albert Museum, locally known as the V&A, has a collection of over 4.5 million artworks and objects, some of which dates back 5,000 years. The Tate Modern showcases works from artists like Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. And the Natural History Museum is great for a day out with kids. Meet the roaring T. rex, experience the earthquake simulator and study animal and plant specimens in the special science lab. Tick off all three institutions and you won’t have even scratched the surface. Check out our guide on Free Museums in London for more of our favourites.
For the Victoria & Albert Museum & the Natural History Museum:
Blue Route, Stop: South Kensington Museums
For the Tate Modern:
Red Route, Stop: St Paul’s Cathedral
Mooch around the markets
Milling around the markets is one of the great free things to do in London. And there’s a market for everything you could wish to shop for. From food markets and fashion markets to ones selling flowers and antiques. Portobello Market is the world’s largest antique market stretching for two miles that gets pretty lively on a Saturday. Camden Market is where the alternatives and the creatives hang out. You’ll find anything from iconic band t-shirts to sterling silver jewellery. And Borough Market is the place to visit when you’re hungry. Treat yourself to some gourmet food from around the world and browse the continuous stalls of exotic products. Of course surrounding yourself with world-class cuisine makes the top free things to do in London list. To continue your market day, check out where we think you should head to next with our guide to London’s Best Markets.
For Portobello Market:
Blue Route, Stop: Notting Hill
See the sights
The sights in this city are very accessible, so spending a day (or 3) exploring them is one of the best free things to do in London. One of the most fascinating ceremonies you can witness is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Dressed in bearskin, the Queen’s Guards march in time to music in a display unique to this city. Be sure to arrive early for your free viewing. Next, you just must see Big Ben, home to the world’s most famous clock. Then head to Westminster Abbey for a free Evensong service. This moving service plays out 5 days a week and isn’t highly publicized. Enter through the main iron gate of the Abbey - not the side entrance used for paid admissions - and the guides will show you the way. For more ideas on how to be a tourist for the day, check out our London Sightseeing guide.
For Buckingham Palace:
Orange Route & Red Tour, Stop: Buckingham Palace
For Houses of Parliament:
Orange Route, Stop: London Eye
For Westminster Abbey:
Red Tour: Westminster Pier
Get the view
A breath-taking view of the entire city is one of the free things to do in London that will show you how magnificent this city is. And there are a couple of places worth getting to for the best vantage point. Sky Garden has a viewing deck like no other, and the name gives away what makes this venue unique. An indoor botanical oasis, you can sit at the bar and enjoy a tipple while gazing out at the city skyline. Or for a more panoramic view, head to the top floor of the Blavatnik Building at the Tate Modern Switch House. Look out at the River Thames and beyond and see what sights you can spot from above. And at sunset, the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the rooftop terrace of the One New Change building is spectacular.
For Sky Garden:
Red Tour, Stop: Tower of London
For One New Change:
Red Tour, Stop: St Paul’s Cathedral
So there you have our list of must-do free things to do in London. And with all the money saved, why not splash out on a Big Bus tour to see the attractions and landmarks this city is famous for in style. With stops close by all the best bits, you can hop off and explore more when you fancy. For more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time in this diverse city, check out our guide to the 3 Days in London.