London sometimes gets a reputation as an expensive city, but savvy travelers know there are plenty of affordable and totally free ways to enjoy the UK capital. From free museums to acres upon acres of parkland, and plenty of free tours and open-access historical sights, London can be thoroughly enjoyed no matter the budget. Check out these free things to do in London to make the most of your next trip without blowing the budget.
Art and Culture
One of the best and most affordable things to do in London is to explore the city’s museums, many of which are free to the public. London is home to some of the world’s top museums, while also hosting plenty of small, offbeat museums. Do keep in mind that while the permanent collections are free to visit at the museums listed below, you will have to pay to visit special exhibitions and traveling exhibitions. Here’s what not to miss:
- The British Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world. The permanent collection is one of the finest and most extensive. Be sure to see the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian mummies.
- There’s a stretch of road in London’s South Kensington neighborhood that boasts three of London’s best museums including The Science Museum and The National History Museum, which are both great for kids. There’s also the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is internationally known for its fashion gallery, jewelry gallery and the blue-and-green Dale Chihuly chandelier in the entrance. If you’re into your museums, consider staying nearby at the lovely three bedroom Middleton vacation rental.
- Another spot for art lovers is the Tate Britain where you can see best of British art. Or head to Tate Modern for an excellent collection of modern and contemporary art.
Although not free, London has plenty of small, quirky museums too. Check out our favorite small museums in London for more ideas!
The Great Outdoors
Walking around London is not only a great way to take in the sights but it’s also completely free. These are the routes you’ll want to cover:
- London’s parks are simply magical no matter what time of year you visit. You can check out a list of our favorite parks here. Don’t miss a stroll through Kensington Gardens and the beautiful views of London’s royal sights from St. James’s Park.
- Some of London’s neighborhoods are destinations within themselves. Check out the vibrant Chinatown, which hosts the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be delighted by the authentic eateries, red lanterns and historic architecture.
- A self-guided walking tour will show you the city’s top sights. Check out our 5 Wonderful Walks in London guide to explore some of London’s must beautiful spots, from a stroll along the Thames to the best markets, parks and off-the-beaten-path locations.
- Harry Potter fans can also take themselves on a guided tour of filming location which includes Leadenhall Market and Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross. (Though they’re not free, London Perfect also offers Harry Potter experience tours.)
Markets And Window Shopping
- London has plenty of food markets, which are stocked with tempting samples. Though it’s not a free lunch, the food vendors are generally very affordable. Check out Borough Market, one of London’s oldest and most iconic food markets.
- Other non-food-focused markets to check out include the antiques-filled Portobello Road Market. And there’s also the charming Columbia Road Flower Market in Bethnal Green.
- For those who love a bit a window-shopping, check out the upscale neighborhood of Knightsbridge. Belgravia and Mayfair are also perfect for window shopping, as they’re filled with elegant boutique and heritage brands.
Enjoy The Sounds of London
- There are plenty of free concerts and musical gigs to enjoy in London. Grab a weekly copy of Time Out London for a full listing of free shows. (The magazine is free and is often distributed around the tube stations.)
- If classical concerts are your thing, check out the free lunchtime shows at St Martin-in-the-Fields, off Trafalgar Square. Keep up to date here.
- The Southbank Centre offers tons of entertainment. You can hear classical, jazz and folk—all for free. Find out what’s on here.
Take In The Views
One of the best free things to do in London is to enjoy the views, but skip the high-priced London Eye and opt for a free option instead.
- Primrose hill has 360-degree views over Regent’s Park and the city skyline.
- Hampstead Heath’s Parliament Hill also has some great vantage points over the city of London.
- Sky Garden, London’s highest public garden, has spectacular views over the city as well, and it’s free to the public.
London has lots of expensive hotels, but if you’re looking for an affordable way to visit the city, try renting your very own apartment instead. With plenty of options for solo travelers, groups and families, London Perfect apartments are not only stylish and well located, but they’re also a very good value—especially compared to hotels. Get in touch with the knowledgeable team of experts at London Perfect to find out more.