London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in- but that doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your lifestyle whilst you are living in or visiting the capital.
There is quite literally no end to the events and activities that you can enjoy in London- and the best part is that a crazy amount of cultural attractions are free to visit.
It is so important not to get swept up with ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ whilst in London (only, the Jones’s are no longer your neighbours with a white picket fence, they are now anonymous strangers on Instagram) as at the end of the day you will only end up struggling to make ends meet.
Whether you’re looking for a budget weekend in London, or you live here full time and you’re looking to make some savings- you will be sure to find something wonderful to do for free on this list.
We are blessed with over 170 museums in the capital city, and luckily, a whole bunch of them have no entrance fee, so you are free to while away an afternoon gazing, learning and pondering without spending any money at all.
- The British Museum– the glass roof of this museum (pictured above) attracts many an Instagrammer, and you can see why. Not only does this museum boast a spectacular roof, there are free daily ‘eye-opener’ tours throughout the galleries.
- Museum of London documents London’s rich history from prehistoric to modern times.
- Science Museum is fantastic for children and adults alike- there are lots of interactive experiences to get involved with at this museum.
- Natural History Museum not only can you browse through exhibitions on evolution, you can attend ‘Nature Live,’ a free live show held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Imperial War Museum explores the effects of wars on societies and houses a permanent WW1 exhibition.
- National Maritime Museum documents tales of exploration across the globe, there are also interactive exhibitions for children.
- Royal Air Force Museum allows you to discover more about the history of the RAF with exhibitions detailing the plights of the brave men and women in WW1.
- V&A Museum of Childhood head to Bethnal Green to visit this museum filled with toys and clothing from times gone by. Check their website for the most up to date information on their free activities for kids.
- Design Museum is the world’s leading museum for exploring contemporary design from architecture to products.
- Grant Museum of Zoology forms part of UCL (University College London) and holds over 60,000 animal specimens.
- The British Library has a huge amount of free events, and also offers fascinating exhibitions and, of course, reading rooms.
Parks and Gardens
When you are looking for free things to do in London, going for a walk or a picnic in the park is always a great choice- we are spoilt with so many green spaces in the capital- here are some favourites…
12. Isabella Plantation is a stunning garden within Richmond Park. See the flowers at their finest in April and May.
13. Richmond Park is a beautiful open park with deer freely roaming around the grasslands. It’s a must, especially for the views of the Thames as you walk up Richmond Hill to the park itself.
14. Holland Park is based in the Kensington & Chelsea borough, and also has two gardens- Kyoto Garden and Fukushima Memorial Garden where peacocks like to wander
16. Blackheath Park is situated near to Greenwich Park, and is a prime spot on Bonfire Night with an impressive free firework display.
17. Kensington Gardens houses Kensington Palace and features wide open green space with small lakes and swans.
18. Barbican Conservatory is a stunning indoor green space filled with tropical plants, cacti and even some wildlife. It is open to the public on select Sundays during the year.
19. Hampstead Heath is a park like no other in London and includes bathing ponds which are something of a novelty in London. The bathing ponds are not free, but the ticket price is £2 for a full day which doesn’t break the bank.
20. Hyde Park is probably one of the most famous parks in London due to its reputation for holding concerts and events each year.
21. St James’ Park is home to many pelicans which you can spot at feeding time. It is also close by to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.
22. Chiswick House and Gardens is home to an exquisite 18th century villa and beautiful surrounding gardens. Entry to Chiswick House is not free, but the gardens and conservatory are.
23. Walthamstow Wetlands is a relatively new nature reserve with lakes and bird watching facilities.
Many of the top galleries in the country are here in London, and luckily many of them are free to visit. From the traditional to the wacky, there is something for everyone at these free exhibitions.
24. V&A– The Victoria & Albert art museum is famous for its incredible exhibitions, but did you know there is also a huge amount to see there for free?
25. Tate Modern is a modern and contemporary art gallery with stunning free installations.
26. Proud Galleries is a stunning gallery filled with music photography and most notably a recent exhibition of the work of the late Brian Duffy. Check out their website to find out more about their current exhibitions.
27. National Portrait Gallery houses a whole host of paintings and photography, and the primary collection is over 11,000 portraits!
28. NOW Gallery is right next to the 02 arena on the banks of the Thames. Previously it has held an installation by the likes of Molly Goddard, where visitors were welcomed to embroider onto the dresses that hung from the ceiling.
29. William Morris Gallery is based in Walthamstow and houses collections from this famous artist.
30. Saatchi Gallery– their own exhibitions are free to the general public with an aim to bring contemporary art to the widest audience possible.
31. Whitechapel Gallery has an aim to be ‘the artists’ gallery for everyone’
32. The Serpentine Galleries are two contemporary art galleries in Hyde Park. They comprise of the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery- they are within a 5 minute walk of each other, linked by the bridge over the Serpentine Lake.
Most markets in London have been around for years, and are still extremely popular with locals and visitors alike. The markets are free to browse which makes them a great idea for something free to do in London. This is a great guide with some extra information on London’s best markets.
33. Broadway market is tucked away in the heart of Hackney. There is a huge choice of food here including vegetarian and vegan options.
34. Maltby Street Market is a short walk from Bermondsey station and hosts a wide range of food and drink stalls. Check out the Little Bird gin bar- they even give you a little blanket (and possibly even a hot water bottle) in the winter months.
35. Borough Market is located super-centrally next to London Bridge station. There are endless stands of fresh produce here as well as street food stands.
36. Camden Market is probably the most well-known and eclectic market in London with endless food stalls, clothing and homeware stalls.
37. Leadenhall Market is a beautifully unique market (pictured above) in the middle of London- it was even used in the Harry Potter films!
38. Greenwich Market was first established in 1737, and is set in a world heritage site. There’s something for everyone with food stalls, antiques and fashion.
Whether you’re looking for a great view point on Bonfire Night or a fabulous picnic spot on a summer’s day, these view points will not disappoint.
39. Primrose Hill forms part of Regent’s Park and at the bottom of it you can find London Zoo. As well as Primrose Hill being a stunning area of London, you can also see a beautiful view of the famous London skyline.
40. Sky Garden is right at the top of the Walkie Talkie building (pictured) right in the centre of London, from this floor you can see all over the city.
41. Alexandra Palace– as well as hosting amazing gigs and events, you can also get a brilliant view of the capital from this viewpoint.
42. Parliament Hill is situated within Hampstead Heath and has yet another great view of London city.
London is teeming with culture and has a wealth of yearly events throughout the capital. Many of these celebrations are free and anyone can join in with the festivities.
43. Chinese New Year falls between late January and mid-February each year, and London’s celebrations are the largest in the world outside of Asia.
44. Winter Wonderland is held in Hyde Park each year and is open for 6 weeks from November to January.
45. London Design Festival celebrates London as the design capital of the world and transforms areas of London for the duration of the festival.
46. Notting Hill Carnival is held each year on the August bank holiday weekend and is a celebration of Caribbean heritage and culture.
47. Pride– the Pride in London parade is held in July each year and goes through Oxford Street and all the way to Whitehall.
48. Boat race the boat race is an annual rowing boat race between Oxford and Cambridge University on the River Thames.
49. London marathon– this event runs once a year in the spring and has been a big event in the city since 1981.
As well as a huge amount of buskers in London, we are also treated to more musical delights all over the city- from gigs to public speeches.
50. Daylight Music at the Union Chapel runs on Saturday afternoons throughout the year. Although there is not a specific ticket price, the venue asks that you pay what you can at the door.
51. Street pianos– walk past one of the many street pianos in London, and there is usually someone there playing a tune. The most well-known street pianos are in St Pancras station, but they can also be found in Herne Hill and Forest Hill.
52. Rough trade often hosts music events in store, and although the gigs are not ticketed, you gain ‘free’ entry with a purchase.
53. Speaker’s corner is located in the north east corner of Hyde Park and has been a site for debates and public speeches since 1800.
There are lots of city farms in London which are there to help people connect with animals, nature and the environment whilst living in such a busy urban city.
54. Vauxhall City Farm is home to so many cute animals, like Tom, Ben and Jerry the alpacas!
55. Mudchute Farm is located in East London and houses pigs, sheep and goats who you can feed yourself.
56. Hackney City Farm is open all year round and has a large number of farmyard animals like chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.
57. Kentish Town City Farm was established in 1972 and is home to horses, donkeys, pigs and a cow.
58. Spitalfields City Farm is very central and is home to donkeys, ferrets, cats and so many more animals in their farmyard.
Is there anything better to do on a Sunday than to go on a walk after a Sunday lunch? London has so many charming places to explore, from the natural to the urban.
59. Epping Forest is accessible from the central line- it’s hard to believe such beautiful countryside can be accessed by tube!
60. Little Venice is a beautiful canal area just a short walk from Paddington basin. Take a walk around the canals and see the cute boats moored in the area.
61. Free walking tours are readily available in almost every area of London. Although advertised as ‘free’ walking tours, it is worth noting that it is customary to tip at the end of the tour.
62. Columbia road flower market is just that- a road lined with beautiful flower stalls and pretty shops. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning in London.
63. Portobello road is a colourful street in Notting Hill which is also home to the famous Portobello road antiques market.
64. Abbey Road was made famous by the Beatles’ Abbey Road cover shoot. Walk over the zebra crossing and try to recreate it for yourself!
65. Neal’s Yard is a colourful alleyway in Covent Garden with a courtyard to boot.
66. Brick Lane has just about everything you could want to browse through on a Sunday, including some seriously impressive street art.
67. The Thames pathways are beautiful, why not try walking around Kew and Richmond?
It wouldn’t be a list of free things to do in London without some weird and wonderful suggestions, if you are in the mood for something a little more off the wall, why not try visiting one of these attractions.
68. God’s Own Junkyard is one of the most fabulous free things to do in London- it has the largest stock of vintage neon and signs in Europe.
69. The Ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East- this church was largely destroyed in the Blitz and is now a beautiful public garden.
70. Highgate cemetery has some of the most beautiful architecture that London has to offer- among the most famous residents of Highgate cemetery are Karl Marx, George Eliot and Christina Rosetti.
71. Banksy graffiti- check out this map to find all of the artwork around the city.
72. The Hardy Tree grows in St Pancras Old Burial Ground where, in 1865, Thomas Hardy was tasked with clearing the graveyard to make way for a new railway.
73. Lullaby Factory is an installation of pipes and horns housed in the courtyard of Great Ormond Street Hospital to fill an awkward gap between two buildings.
74. Seven Noses of Soho are an installation created by artist Rick Buckley in 1997 and are reproductions of his nose which were placed onto buildings around Soho.
75. Tracy Emin ‘I want my time with you’ neon sign at St Pancras station.
Comedy, Open Mic & Jams
Comedy and live music can come at a price in the capital, but not at these venues!
76. Top Secret Comedy Club – on the Sunday-Wednesday shows, there are no tickets for the comedy shows, but the venue does ask that you pay what the show is worth at the end of the evening.
77. Angel Comedy Club offers free comedy shows 7 days a week and is consistently rated a top-10 London night out on TripAdvisor.
78. Ain’t Nothin’ But… is London’s original Blues bar, entry is free on Monday nights for their Blues Jam from 8pm.
79. The Blues Kitchen in Camden holds The Sunday Blues Jam on a Sunday night, starting at 8pm. You can go down there to join in, or just soak up the music. Entry is free.
Film buffs will recognise many a London landmark in a large majority of British films. These are perhaps some of the most famous film sets in London.
80. Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station is probably one of the most famous film attractions in London. Find it next to the Harry Potter store in the station.
81. The Notting Hill book shop, as seen in, you guessed it, Notting Hill.
82. Tower Bridge as seen in Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider and even Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
83. Charing Cross Underground station as seen in The Bourne Ultimatum
84. Hatton Garden as seen in Guy Ritchie’s, Snatch
85. Southbank as seen in Four Weddings and a Funeral
86. Westminster Bridge as seen in 28 Days Later and Blofeld’s helicopter crash in James Bond film Spectre
87. Millennium Bridge is destroyed by the Dementors in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Sightseeing and Photo Opportunities
If you’re a tourist visiting London, then it is almost obligatory to head to the most famous landmarks and hot-spots in London. The best part is, all of them are free when sightseeing!
88. The London Eye is one of the most iconic landmarks in the capital, and although it is expensive to ride, it makes the perfect back drop for any photo.
89. Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace occurs at different times on different dates so check to make sure you don’t miss out.
90. St Pauls Cathedral is another iconic piece of architecture in London which is worth visiting when you are in the capital.
91. Buckingham Palace is another tourist spot worth scouting out- if the Queen is at home, the flag will be flown!
92. London Bridge is a landmark like no other, and is the classic photo opportunity for anyone visiting the capital.
93. Trafalgar Square is a significant British landmark and includes the famous Nelson’s Column, surrounded by four lions.
94. Carnaby Street has quaint alleyways and eclectic shops lining the streets, but the real beauty is in the light installations which change throughout the year.
95. Chinatown is a place like no other, and as well as having a wealth of shops and restaurants, also hosts the Chinese New Year parade each year.
96. Oxford Street is usually bustling with locals and tourists alike, but is a must- see when visiting London for the first time.
London is home to some extremely expensive department stores- but that doesn’t mean that you can’t browse and window shop, especially when they have such impressive window displays.
97. Harrods’ food hall is famous for a reason- check out the delightful food stands and wonder- who has enough money to shop here?
98. Selfridges has some of the most exquisite clothing and accessories- this beautiful store is worth browsing if you are new to London.
99. Liberty London is a luxury department store, and their Christmas floor is particularly famous. At Christmas time, there has even known to be a choir singing from the balconies.
100. Fortnum & Mason is another quintessentially British department store based in Piccadilly.
So there you have it- 100 free things to do in London. You will never have to spend money on entertainment in London again if you don’t want to!
If you have enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy: Free museums in London next on your list to visit, the best car boot sales in London, the best charity shops in south London, 20 ways to make extra money in London, how to save money in London today, and how to make a flatshare feel more like home.