10 Top Things to do in London for FREE
15th February, 2023
Are you looking for things to do in London for FREE? Then you have come to the right place! London is known for being an expensive destination to visit, but it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of great things in London that will suit everyone’s taste. Here are the best things to do in London for free:
- Tourism in London
- Why visit London?
- Visiting London- essential packing list
- The best places to stay in London
- Why are there so many things to do in London for free?
- What are the best things to do in London for free?
- Things to do in London for FREE – further reading
Tourism in London
London is the capital of England and is best known for many things, most notably, being home to the royal family. Every year, London welcomes millions of visitors; for example in 2017 London had over 27.8 million overnight domestic tourists and had over 20.42 million inbound tourists in 2018. In 2015, it was the most visited city in the entire world as it had over 65 million visits – so you know London definitely has lots to offer. Most of the inbound tourists in 2013 came from France, the United States, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In 2017, the top visitor attractions in London were: British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery and the National History Museum, which all had around 6-4.5 million visitors each.
There is so much to do in London, and it’s particularly famous for its museums – and it has over 170 of them in total, so you will always have something interesting to explore and find out about. Additionally, 47% of London is green spaces, so it’s perfect for nature lovers who want to visit a city that is closely connected to nature. And what’s even more exciting is how many things to do in London for free that there are!
Why visit London?
Why visit London? Because it’s got so much to offer. Each borough of London has something different about it to separate it from the rest; for example, Camden is full of vibrant colours and beautiful street art on every corner, whilst Westminister is very old-fashioned and has classic architecture.
There is also an amazing transport system in London. For instance, the London Underground has over 270 stations, and there is a great bus network at most times during the day. Furthermore, there are also major train stations such as Paddington and St Pancreas which connect London to the whole of the UK and also to other countries such as France and the Netherlands via the Eurostar.
London is also very diverse and has many unique people to meet and a wide range of activities to suit every taste. Although London is known as an expensive place to visit, it is possible to do it on a budget that won’t break the bank, which also makes London a great choice for many different types of tourists, so if you’re on a budget or just wanting to find some things to do in London for free, keep on reading. Hopefully, you’ll be persuaded to visit!
Visiting London- essential packing list
What should you pack for a visit to London? When visiting London, don’t forget to take these essential items to make the most out of your trip:
- A- Z London Hidden Walks – This book has all the best-hidden walks in London to help you discover new things and learn about the past. It is a great book if you’re visiting London on a budget as it will show you all the best places to visit as well as having great tips and tricks to help maximise your stay.
- EEZ-Y Compact Travel Umbrella – In London, the weather is unpredictable, so don’t take any chances and take this compact travel umbrella with you. This umbrella is also windproof, so you don’t have to worry about the wind destroying it.
- Zipped Totebag – A must-have for all travel in the UK as many shops charge extra for carrier bags. This zipped tote bag is perfect for carrying all your belonging and any extra shopping you might do whilst looking stylish at the same time.
- bioGo Reusable Coffee Cup – Help save the planet whilst also getting a discount on takeaway drinks from certain coffee shops and cafes in the UK as many places offer money off if you bring in your own reusable cup. This sturdy coffee cup is well made with quality material, meaning your drink won’t go cold, and there are lots of colours to choose from too.
- Eva Travel Raincoat – If you don’t pack this trendy raincoat, you might regret it because you never know when it’s going to rain in London. It’s lightweight and very trendy, so you will fit right in with the other fashionable people in London.
The best places to stay in London
When you are researching things to do in London for free you will, of course, need somewhere great to stay. I have tried and tested many places across London and summarised my favourites by price.
- Queen Elizabeth Hostel – Located right in the heart of London, this is an adults-only hostel offering great value for money. Every room comes with drinks-making facilities and free WiFi, as well as regular tours of London on for guests to enjoy. There is the option of private rooms or dorms available.
- Bridge Park Hotel – Every room at Bridge Park Hotel is equipped with a hairdryer, toiletries, drinks-making facilities, and a work desk. There is also an on-site restaurant that serves delicious traditional British cuisine, as well as a bar and games room. It is the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting London on a budget.
- easyHotel Paddington – This hotel is perfectly located right next to Paddington Train Station, making it easy to get around London. There is a 24-hour reception, and WiFi is available for a small fee. It is a safe, modern place to stay for a few nights, and every room comes with free toiletries and a flatscreen TV.
- Marble Arch Inn – A stay at this inn is excellent value for money. It is only a 5-minutes walk from Oxford Street, so is very accessible. There is free WiFi for all guests, and every room is stylishly decorated and comes with an en-suite, free amenities and drink-making facilities. It is the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to all the major attractions.
- My Place Hotel – Conveniently located next Earl’s Court Underground station, this hotel has lots to offer! Every room comes with a spacious en-suite, fridge and an HD TV. There is also an all-day bar, serving a wide array of drinks to be enjoyed, and a continental breakfast is available each morning.
- Best Western Northfields Ealing Hotel – Each modern room at this spectacular hotel will have you never wanting to leave. They all come with a flat-screen TV, drink-making facilities, and a powerful shower with free amenities. Some rooms also come with a kitchenette which includes a microwave and a fridge. Every guest will also be served a continental or buffet breakfast to help start the day right.
Why are there so many things to do in London for free?
Why are there so many things to do in London for free? There are so many things to do in London for free because it’s the capital of England, and so many people will be tempted to go to more attractions if they’re free. Making an attraction free doesn’t mean there is no profit made, as often many people will feel more inclined to spend money in the gift shops, on-site cafes or donate.
What’s more, is that a lot of museums, galleries and public libraries in the UK also get government funding which helps enable them to be free for all to enjoy. They receive government funding as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) considers them important in promoting culture and education to society.
What are the best things to do in London for free?
Here are the top ten things to do in London for free based on my experience!
1. Sky Garden
The Sky Garden offers a breathtaking view of London in a very unique setting. and it is one of my favourite things to do in London for free. It is the highest public garden in London, and although tickets are free, they need to be booked online in advance. The views here rival the views you would get from The London Eye – in fact, I think the views are even better because they’re free. At the Sky Garden, there is also a restaurant and bar available if you’d like to enhance your experience.
Tickets often get reserved very quickly, but at least you know that this means that a visit here is worth it, so just be sure to remember to book before! The Sky Garden is open from 10 am-6 pm and at the weekends from 11 am-9 pm.
2. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the best-known museums in the entire world! It’s a great way to spend a few hours for any age, even if you have children, as there are lots of interactive exhibitions for them to enjoy. Be prepared to spend hours discovering and learning about the history of the world and the dinosaurs that inhabited the land long before humans. There are over 36 permanent galleries to be explored, so you can be sure to spend at least 2-3 hours in this fabulous museum.
There are also cafes and gift shops located in the museum, so you can purchase some food if you’re hungry or a keepsake to make the most out of your visit and remember it in the years to come!
You don’t have to reserve tickets online as walk-ins are welcome, but it’s always recommended to avoid any disappointment. The Natural History Museum is open every day from 10 am – 5:50 pm and is without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in London for free.
3. Platform 9 3/4
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then getting your photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 is a must! Platform 9 3/4 is located in Kings Cross Station, so it’s very easy to get to, and if you’re visiting London by train, this may even be where your train will arrive.
There is usually a small queue to have your photo taken, and you can choose which Harry Potter House scarf you want to wear. Once you’ve chosen and posed, then one staff member will let go of the scarf, and the other staff member will take a professional photo of you – this costs money, but you’re free to have someone take another photo of you instead if you don’t want to purchase a professional photo.
Platform 9 3/4 is open from 5 am till 1 am, 7 days a week. There is also a Harry Potter Shop located next to it, which sells all sorts of Harry Potter themed goodies for you to purchase and enjoy. In my opinion, this is one of the most unique and cultural things to do in London for free!
4. God’s Own Junkyard
God’s Own Junkyard is a very unique place to visit. It’s a museum and workshop dedicated to neon signs – and you can even purchase some to bring home with you if you spot one that you like. Chris Bracey is the man who created most of the neon signs and has also created them for some of the world’s most famous people, such as Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson and many more.
There is a cafe and bar in the museum, where you can eat and drink, surrounded by a wonderful atmosphere as the neon lights look great. It’s also a great place if you want to get some fantastic Instagram photos that will catch everyone’s attention! It is also one of the coolest things to do in London for free.
God’s Own Junkyard is open from Friday – Saturday from 11 am – 10 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 6 pm.
5. British Libary
The British Library is home to a wonderfully large collection of books that will have you browsing for hours. It’s one of the best things to do in London for free if you’re a book lover. The British Library has a whopping collection of over 14 million books and has plenty of exhibitions on display for visitors to learn about, as well as different types of events.
Entry to The British Library is free, and the events and exhibitions are also usually free. The British Library does do various tours, which they do charge a small fee for, but these are worth it, especially if you want to learn about the library in more depth and detail.
Every weekday, The British Library is open from 10 am till 5 pm. It is closed on weekends unless there is a special event on, where it will state that.
6. British Museum
Another one of the best things to do in London for free is to take a visit to the British Museum. The British Museum is a spectacular museum with artefacts from all over the world. It is over 14 acres big and has over 90 fascinating rooms full of history, such as Egyptian mummies and Roman coins. Even the building of The British Museum itself is interesting, as it was inspired by a temple dedicated to the Greek Goddess, Athena. Hours can be spent exploring this museum and marvelling at the history it has to offer.
The British Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10 am till 5 pm – so definitely give it a visit if you’re a history lover and want to spend a few hours seeing world-famous artefacts in person.
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the largest park in London, covering around 350 acres, so it’s perfect for every nature lover. It was once the hunting ground for Henry VII but is now a tranquil place to spend a few hours unwinding from the busy London life. There is plenty to see and do here, such as view the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, hire a bike, go open water swimming or simply sit in one of the quaint little cafes dotted around the park.
If you’re going to be visiting Hyde Park on a Sunday, then head to the infamous Speakers Corner. Here, you will be able to listen to people from vastly different walks of life share their viewpoints – you may even have your opinion on some topics changed!
8. Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard is one of the most British things you can experience in London for free. It is a formal ceremony in which the guards swap over their duties and can be seen at most of the royal residences in the UK. In London, the best place to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony is at Buckingham Palace, where it happens daily. Make sure to have your camera ready because you don’t want to miss this wonderful sight.
The time the Changing of the Guard happens is usually at 11 am; however, this can change, so do check in advance beforehand. If you want to experience one of the most cultural and traditional things to do in London for free, then this is it!
9. Tate Britain
Tate Britain is every art lover’s paradise, as it is the largest art museum in the country. It is home to various art exhibitions and often holds special events, such as talks by world-famous artists. It is one of only four Tate galleries in the UK, and it even has its own boat service on the Thames River that runs between Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
Tickets to Tate Britain don’t need to be reserved in advance. Tate Britain is open every day from 10 am till 6 pm, with the last entry at 5:30 pm. Visits to Tate Britain often take around 2 hours in total.
10. Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival is the best event on in London every year and is one of the most fun things to do in London for free. The streets of London come alive with every colour imaginable, funky music fills the air, and best of all – everyone is happy and having the time of their lives! Notting Hill Carnival is most certainly one of the best things to do in London for free, especially if you’re into live music and good atmospheres.
The Notting Hill Carnival is only on three days per year, usually at the end of August so double-check before you go. With a visit to Notting Hill Carnival, a good time is almost guaranteed.
Things to do in London for FREE – further reading
Hopefully, this post has given you lots of great ideas if you want to find some really cool and exciting things to do in London for free. Have you ever been to any of these before? Are there any other things to do in London for free that you would recommend? If you liked this post, please check out:
- 12 best things to do in Windsor for a royally good trip!
- The 9 best things to do in Hemel Hempstead
- Tourism in Birmingham- The best things to do in Birmingham and why you should visit!