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Free (and almost free) Things to do in London

In the 19th century, London became the world's largest city and the capital of the British Empire. London has many things to offer tourists such as museums, cathedrals, parks, art, and history. In 2019 before COVID-19, roughly 21 million people visited this capital port city of the United Kingdom according to City of London.

When you first start researching this beautiful city, it seems like it is heavy on the wallet, and it is true if you do not plan out your trip well and in advance. London is expensive and it can be hard to budget.

While I have only stayed in London for a limited amount of time, I have found many fun activities that were free. In addition to my recommendations, I have added a few spots that I personally researched for you to get the most bang for your buck in London through guided tours with my favorite company GetYourGuide (at the end of the post)!

Of course, one thing to note is that to travel to these free attractions, transit around the city is required, and this does incur a small fee depending on the distance. Walking is a great free option for most locations in certain parts of town, but with a city this large, public transportation is vital. London has a great free tool to calculate your fares and find maps here.

So, let's go over some of the free places you can go. Some of my favorite free things to look for when I travel are art exhibits, museums, UNESCO sites, and public parks. These are great options to explore when you are traveling to London on a budget.

Free Activities in London
London Tube Entrance

Art Exhibits and Museums in London

The inspiration for my short trip to London started with an art exhibition. My favorite artist CJ Hendry was putting on a free show entitled Epilogue in London's Mile End suburb where she converted an old church into a live art exhibit with increasingly popular pieces to acquire.

For art enthusiasts visiting London, the city offers a rich tapestry of artistic experiences spanning centuries and cultures.

Here's a guide to help tourists explore London's vibrant art scene:

Tate Modern: Situated on the South Bank of the Thames, Tate Modern is home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney.

National Gallery: Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a vast collection of European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries, featuring masterpieces by Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt.

Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A): The V&A is the world's leading museum of art, design, and performance. It showcases a diverse range of exhibits, including decorative arts, fashion, and sculpture.

Saatchi Gallery: Situated in Chelsea, the Saatchi Gallery is renowned for its contemporary art collections, featuring works by emerging artists from around the globe.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

If you are wondering what exactly a World Heritage site is, it is defined as a landmark or an area that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has deemed to have cultural, historical, scientific, or other form of significance and is to be preserved and protected without alteration.

London’s four UNESCO World Heritage sites are: Palace of Westminster, the Tower of London, and Maritime Greenwich.

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster is the seat of the UK Parliament. It's located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The palace is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and is renowned for its iconic clock tower, housing the famous Big Ben bell. It serves as the meeting place for the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.Visitors can explore the palace through guided tours, witnessing its grand interiors, historic chambers, and significant landmarks such as Westminster Hall.

The iconic Tower of London is situated on the north bank of the River Thames, the Tower of London is a historic castle and fortress dating back to the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century. It has served various purposes throughout history, including as a royal palace, prison, treasury, and armory. The Tower is famous for housing the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, including the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. Visitors can explore its towers, walls, and exhibits, learning about its rich history, royal residents, and infamous prisoners, including Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes.

Maritime Greenwich is a historic area in southeast London, situated along the banks of the River Thames. It's best known for its maritime heritage and architectural landmarks, including the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park, and the Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory Greenwich is famous as the location of the Prime Meridian, dividing the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth.Visitors can explore the museums, parks, and historic buildings of Maritime Greenwich, learning about its naval history, scientific discoveries, and cultural significance.

*Note that although London has several separately inscribed World Heritage sites, two of the sites actually include a number of buildings. The Westminster designation includes 3 main buildings and the Greenwich designation protects an entire area with at least 9 significant sites.

Public Parks in London

London offers several public parks that are free to enter. These parks provide opportunities for relaxation, recreation, and enjoying nature, all without an entrance fee.

Some of the most notable ones include:

Hyde Park: One of the largest parks in London, Hyde Park offers vast green spaces, a lake, and various recreational activities. It's located in central London, near attractions like Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street.

Regent's Park: Another large park located in central London, Regent's Park features beautiful gardens, sports facilities, and the famous London Zoo. While the park itself is free, attractions like the Zoo require a ticket to get in. Get you London Zoo Tickets here!

Greenwich Park: Situated in southeast London, Greenwich Park offers stunning views of the city skyline and the River Thames. It's home to the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian Line.

Regents Park Gate London
Regent's Park Gate

No matter what time of year you visit London you can count on one thing, it will be expensive! Hopefully this article has highlighted that there is much of London and it's history that can be explored with out any fees. Looking for free activities is a great way to maximize any vacation in another country.

However, we know that there are many items on this list that include just walking around huge chunks of land and looking at buildings. That is completely okay if that is not your vibe. Here are some tour options from my favorite tour provider GetYourGuide. These tours were hand selected to provide a good experience all while providing convenience and keeping you on budget.

Embark on a one-way or round-trip cruise journey from Westminster to Greenwich, and marvel at the sights of London along the picturesque Thames River. Delight in a downloadable audio commentary as you glide past iconic landmarks such as the Tower of London, enriching your experience with fascinating insights into the city's history and culture.

Immerse yourself in a captivating walking tour through London, discovering four hidden pubs brimming with royal history. Delight in enchanting tales of England's legendary figures, from monarchs like the Queen to stalwarts like Churchill, as you weave through charming alleyways steeped in centuries-old secrets.

Join an immersive Harry Potter tour through the heart of central London led by a knowledgeable guide. Opt for either a magical boat journey or an enchanting exploration via the London Underground, as you uncover the hidden wonders and iconic locations inspired by the beloved wizarding world.

Free Activity London Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, London

In London, hospitality and charm are woven into the fabric of the city, ensuring that every visitor feels welcomed and embraced by its unique character. Whether you're wandering through historic neighborhoods, indulging in world-class cuisine, or immersing yourself in its rich cultural tapestry, London never fails to enchant and delight.

To make the most of your London adventure and stay informed about the latest recommendations and insider tips from The Holiday Lab, subscribe to our newsletter today! Join our community of fellow travelers and receive exclusive updates on must-visit attractions, hidden gems, and upcoming events in the city. Let us be your trusted companion as you explore the vibrant streets and iconic landmarks of London, ensuring that your journey is filled with unforgettable moments and treasured memories. Subscribe now and embark on a journey of discovery with The Holiday Lab!



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