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London is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, attracting over 30 million visitors each year from around the world. Not to mention, it has one of the world’s busiest airports, such as London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airports. Despite high prices on visiting London, especially if we speak about accommodation or eating out, luckily, there are loads of free places and free things to do in London, so that you can literally see the entire London for free if you travel smart.
This post covers all of the top things to do in London for free. Whether you’re traveling to London with kids or on your own, you’re bound to find some fun activities throughout this post.
Check this itinerary of things from a local that you can do for free, including some nice day trips from London that could cost you little but nothing, such as visiting Stonehenge or exploring Dorset Region.
Without further ado, here are the 16 best free things to do in London!
Best Free Things to do in London
If you are in London, there is no way you can miss the famous Tower Bridge, one of the main landmarks of this city built between 1886 and 1894. Nowadays, it became an iconic symbol of London.
Getting to Tower Bridge is quite easy, the nearest tube station is called London Bridge. But don’t get confused by London Bridge, which is 500 m away from Tower Bridge. The majority of tourists get lost and end up on the other side.
When you exit from the station, turn right (not left!) and you will pass through Hays Gallery filled with nice boutiques, floor fountain jet which is so much fun for kids, especially if it is a sunny day, a couple of good restaurants, cafes and snack bars, and an amazing green area where you can sit and relax for the whole day admiring the view of the Tower Bridge.
On the other side of the Tower Bridge on your right, you will find an area called “Girl with a Dolphin Fountain.” This area is an actual food court filled with lots of small stalls offering food from all over the world.
It is nice to walk through the other side, as you will enjoy spectacular views of London’s skyscrapers, such as the Shard.
The views are so bewitching that you will not notice how you will reach the Millennium Bridge in half an hour. This footbridge is constructed for pedestrian crossing only and is worth walking across for the views of the Thames riverbank and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Before you step on the Millennium Bridge, make a stop at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral remains one of the most famous and most recognizable sights in London. Indeed, you may find a lot of images of St. Paul’s Cathedral on Instagram. One secret spot is located in front of the shopping mall called One New Change, where you can also grab some food or enjoy a few fancy drinks on the rooftop with the magic view of the cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is not only a beautiful building, but its dome has also dominated the skyline for over 300 years and remains among the highest in the world up to date.
One of the legendary places in London’s West End is Covent Garden. It is situated right behind St. Paul’s Cathedral and offers various entertainment, including shopping and eating out. It is such a relaxing vibe over there that you will not want to leave.
If you are searching for some souvenirs, this is one good place to buy them.
Tate Modern Museum
Tate Modern Museum is located on the other side of the Millennium Bridge. As you may already know, all museums in London are free of charge. How cool is that?!
Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art. It is enormous, and there are lots of exhibitions going on every day. You can always choose what you want to see, and some exhibitions may be of an extra charge.
Another half an hour and you are at the famous Trafalgar Square, where you will see Nelson’s column in the center and the National Gallery in front of it.
If you do not wish to walk, the nearest tube is the Charing Cross station. Trafalgar Square is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces, and historic buildings. So, it is worth exploring.
St. James Park
Right next to it, there is an entrance to St. James Park, which is a fantastic and lovely park. It has a pond in the middle of it with ducks, geese, swans swimming, and loads of squirrels running around.
There is also a nice café with a terrace to relax before your next stop.
If you walk straight crossing the entire St. James Park, you will face Buckingham Palace. Amazing statues, columns, flower beds surround Buckingham Palace. If you wish to visit a vast art collection containing over 450 works of art, it will cost you £12, but the experience can be entirely free if you are up to enjoying watching the guard change. It happens at 11:30 am, as well as the horse guards at Whitehall at 11:00 am.
When you had enough of parks and the palace, on the other side of St. James Park, you will find the famous Big Ben that is expected to be opened again in 2021. Just before reaching Big Ben, you will have an option to take photos in one of the classic telephone kiosks and admire the Palace of Westminster.
Natural History Museum
Speaking of museums, one of my favorites is the Natural History Museum. I have been there four times by now, and it seems never enough. Every time there is something to explore. I’d suggest downloading the map online and choosing what you are looking for to visit.
One of the most popular halls is considered to be the dinosaurs and mammals, including a blue whale in the blue zone. There is also human biology in the same zone, and it has a lot of interactive games and quizzes that can take you hours to pass through. Green zone has a fantastic interactive hall with creepy crawlies. But I also highly recommend spending some time in the red zone visiting the displays with volcanoes and earthquakes and learning about the restless surface.
Surprisingly, London is an extremely green city. You will find parks everywhere you go in the center. One of the most gorgeous parks is Hyde Park, which also offers a huge spectrum of activities, events, and celebrations.
Hyde Park is so long that there is lots of space for runners, cyclers, and dancers. Roller skating is quite popular there too, and oh my, sunsets are gorgeous!
One of the biggest events celebrated in Hyde Park in winter is Winter Wonderland.
Another famous park situated in central London is Regent’s Park. It is absolutely fabulous in the summer. You can spend the entire day here having a picnic, eating ice-creams, enjoying the views, doing sports, and playing games.
It also has a London Zoo inside!
Walkie Talkie is one building of a kind where you can admire the 360° view of London. The best thing about it is that you can get a breath-taking bird’s eye perspective on the capital without spending a penny, but the catch is that you have to book your slot three weeks in advance. The slots usually open every Monday, be ready to be the first in the queue!
Portobello Road Market
There are numerous of London’s famous markets. One of the main is called Portobello Road Market that is located near Notting Hill.
Don’t underestimate it, this market is very long. You will find lots of unique and antique things you would have never thought about. The chance that you are left empty-handed is close to zero.
Also, Portobello has these colorfully painted buildings which I have never seen before.
Camden Town is another popular market in London; however, it is located a little bit further up north. It has a completely different vibe compared to the Portobello market showcasing lots of graffiti, statues made out of the chain, and steel.
The market is so unique offering delicious food from anywhere in the world. There is even one of the most famous Argentinian restaurants serving homemade empanadas, and that paradise serves 100% vegan burgers for vegan lovers.
Apart from food options, there is also a lot of entertainment, such as plonk crazy golf and clubs of all sorts.
Day Trips from London: Stonehenge, Oxford, Dorset Region
Finally, if you have some time left and wish to explore more of England, there are a few day trips that can be free.
Ideally, if you sort out the transport, such as borrowing a car from a friend, you could visit Stonehenge absolutely for free. Instead of purchasing the ticket on the bus that will take you to the site, you can walk all the way (around half an hour) and see the site for yourself.
Another nice option is to hop on the train and spend the day in Oxford wandering around. There are loads of free things to do in Oxford.
Finally, visit one of the most beautiful regions in England – Dorset with its sandy beaches and miraculous landscapes. The Jurassic Coast beaches stretch for 95 miles and are UNESCO-protected. You will need about a week to see the whole Dorset, but one weekend or one day to Wareham visiting Durdle Door will make your trip forever!
Enjoy Your Trip to London with this free things to do in London guide!
Meet the Guest Author: Ana
My name is Ana and I love moving around the world. I was born in Latvia and left the country when I was 21. After my epic eight years of expatriating in China and exploring entire South-east Asia, I gave away everything to charity, sold my business shares, did necessary vaccines, and left with one luggage to explore South America.
I moved to Buenos Aires and became a Chinese teacher at the university. After a year, I moved with my partner to the Czech Republic where our son was born. Just under three years, we have moved to five different countries and lived in three continents, including England and Mexico.
Continuing my passion for travel & expatriate life, I have started my blog Parenthood4ever, where we try our best to motivate and support other young families and travellers with kids by sharing parent tips, trip itineraries, expat life, travel resources, and crazy stories.
Are you planning a trip to England? That’s so exciting! I have many other great England posts to help you plan your itinerary.
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