LONDON UK

30+ Free Places to Visit in London

There are so many free places to visit in London! London has got world-class museums, beautiful parks, busy markets, stunning churches and extraordinary viewpoints.

And for a lot of people seeing, hearing and breathing in the sights and sounds of London is the culmination of a life-long dream. I often feel so lucky that this incredible city is right on my doorstep and more often than not, take London for granted.

London is a city of dreams and there are hundreds of reasons why it was named as the capital of the world this year. Whether you visit in the summer and take a picnic to Hyde Park or visit in the winter and take a trip to Winter Wonderland.

I love London and when I think about it I get all excited. There’s something hectic and chaotic about London but I love it. I can’t believe that despite living within an hour of London for over 27 years I have still not managed to get to grips with the underground, the many districts and the cultural sights.

If you’re heading on a trip to London this summer, make sure you keep reading for my list of 30 free places to visit in London…

Free Places to Visit in London

 

Free Places to Visit in London

How to get to London

Travel to London by train, by Eurostar, by ferry, by coach, by car, by motorcycle, or by plane into one of London’s five airports.

If you are like me, based in the UK, the quickest transportation is the train as it drops you straight into central London, however, if you are coming from abroad simply jump on a flight to Heathrow, City or Luton and jump on a train from there.

 

When to go to London

London can be visited at any time of year, as it has a mild climate and extreme weather is rare. But my favourite time of the year to visit would be in the spring when the gardens and parks of London come alive, there is longer daylight hours and the weather is warm. However, rain is likely so pack your raincoat. 

Summer is also a great time to visit, with warm (sometimes even hot!) weather where you can make the most of London’s parks, beer gardens and rooftop bars. You will expect to find a temperature of around 18°C. Autumn is also lovely when the city turns orange, and temperatures are still mild at around 11° to 15°C, and you can enjoy an array of events through the season.

And last but not least, Christmas in London is magical.  Although bring a coat as the temperatures are between 2°C and 6°C!

 

London Somerset House

Free Places to Visit in London

Museums

1. Tate Britain

Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in London. It is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group. It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark.

2. British Museum

One of the world’s oldest museums, The British Museum, has a remarkable 80,000 objects on display, that span across millennia. Remarkably, the 80,000 objects on display at any one time only make up 1% of the eight million objects in the museum’s possession. SAY WHAT!?

3. Science Museum

A visit to the Science Museum is a must when you are visiting Kensington. The museum is set over seven floors of exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. There is also a cinema showing films in 3D, of the ocean and outer space, or if you want to learn more about the history of transportation, there is also The Energy Hall where you can find the first steam locomotives, hot-air balloons and flight simulators.

4. Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museums is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. Founded as the Imperial War Museum in 1917, the museum was intended to record the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire during the First World War. The Imperial War Museum London documents most conflicts since 1914 and here you can find a Spitfire, a 14 metre high V2 rocket bombs, a harrowing Holocaust exhibition.

Free Places to Visit in London

READ MORE: 4 Day Itinerary for London

Free Places to Visit in London

Museums

5. National Gallery

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Masterpieces are housed here by painters including van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci and Michelangelo. The National Gallery is home to one of the world’s most impressive art collections in the world and gets over six million visitors each year.

6. National Portrait Gallery

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Highlights include portraits of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth II, and icon Andy Warhol.

7. Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery is a London gallery for contemporary art, opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985 in order to exhibit his collection to the public. The Saatchi Gallery displays contemporary art from lesser-known international artists who have mostly not been exhibited in the United Kingdom. It gets 1.5 million visitors per annum.

8. British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by a number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 170–200 million+ items from many countries. Highlights include a single room dedicated to the Magna Carta, also a Gutenberg Bible, Charles Dickens’ manuscript of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’, Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ just to name a few.

9. Natural History Museum

One of the most well-known and popular tourist attractions in London is the Natural History Museum. It owns a huge amount of items, apparently more than 80 million all related to nature and wildlife. The opening of the main hall used to be dominated by a dinosaur but in recent times has changed to an enormous blue whale skeleton. It’s free and well worth a visit!

10. Victoria & Albert Museum

Another museum worth visiting in Kensington is the V&A Museum over the road with over 2.3 million objects, this is an enormous collection. Whatever your love, you’ll find part of its history here, with displays dedicated to fashion, furniture, sculpture, jewellery and performance to name but a few.

 

READ MORE: A Guide to Bottomless Brunch in London

Free Places to Visit in London

Free Places to Visit in London

Markets 

11. Borough Market

Borough Market is a wholesale and retail market hall in Southwark, London, England. It is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century. Borough Market is one of London’s more established haunts and showcases London’s best producers. Here you can get fresh pasta, cured meats, coffee or oysters!

12. Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road is a street in the Notting Hill district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London. It runs almost the length of Notting Hill from south to north, roughly parallels with Ladbroke Grove. Portobello Road has everything from food, to vintage clothing, and records to antiques. 

13. Columbia Road Flower Market

One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday is to visit Columbia Road Flower Market. Come rain, wind or shine this east London gem is open every Sunday from 8am-3pm and is one of my favourite places to take a stroll that Columbia Road. There are all kinds of flowers to look out for, from herbs and shrubs to flowers and houseplants. My fave is eucalyptus! 

14. Spitalfields Market

Spitalfields Market is a lively east London market open seven days a week, and is one of London’s busiest shopping destinations. Here you can find independent vendors selling clothing, jewellery, home items, art and gourmet products. Entry is completely free too so you can just have a wander around. 

free things to do in London

Free Places to Visit in London

Tourist Highlights

15. Houses of Parliament

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It’s also home to the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben and if you’re lucky, sometimes you can go inside to watch British democracy in action.

16. The Changing of the Guard

Another tourist attraction is the Changing of the Guard which takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 10.30 am outside Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s Guard walks around their station in time to music as they switch responsibilities with one another. I’ve watched this a few times and don’t really understand what they are doing other than clocking on and off shift.

17. Performers in Covent Garden

The best seats in the house can get pretty pricey in Covent Garden especially those at the Royal Albert Hall. However, simply take a step into Covent Garden and you can see free shows from many street performers have been entertaining crowds since the 17th century. From comedians to escapologists, opera singers to mimes, you can get a front-row seat for free. 

18. Daunt Bookshop

Daunt Books is an original Edwardian bookshop with long oak galleries and graceful skylights situated in Marylebone High Street opened by James Daunt to provide an alternate browsing experience for the reader. All the books are arranged according to their country, irrespective of the genre they hail from.

free things to do in London

Free Places to Visit in London

Tourist Highlights

20. Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross

Every Harry Potter fan will want to visit this coveted King’s Cross hotspot for a photograph in front of the iconic Platform 9 3/4. However, be prepared to queue as every time I have passed through the station recently there has been a queue of around 40 people. If you visit unprepared, don’t worry because there’s a Warner Bros shop right next to it.

21. Walk along the Southbank​

Beside the River Thames, the South Bank is a great place to eat, shop and hang out any time of the year. Here you will also find The Southbank Centre, National Theatre, and BFI film theatre, as well as historic pubs, and events. There are also great views of iconic landmarks like Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral from the London Eye Ferris wheel.

22. Abbey Road zebra crossing

Abbey Road Crossing in London, also known as the Beatles Crosswalk. Located in the north London neighbourhood of St. John’s Wood, it is easily accessible by the London Underground. Bare in mind though, it is a real road, and it’s busy so don’t get run over!

23. Sky Garden

Known as the walkie talkie due to its unique shape, this skyscraper features a top-floor restaurant and botanical gardens within. The Sky Garden is a free indoor viewing deck occupying the top three floors of 20 Fenchurch Street. It is open daily, but you’ll need to book your tickets in advance.

24. God’s Own Junkyard

This showroom in Walthamstow is the late neon artist Chris Bracey’s personal collection of work including psychedelic paradise of neon lights and vintage signs. Walk around the small space taking in the vibrant displays of neon signs. It contains signs from Soho clubs, to ones that have featured in Hollywood films.

25. Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall City Farm is a city farm located in Vauxhall in the London Borough of Lambeth. The farm is run as a charity focusing on education, youth work, animal care and horticulture and is a centre for Riding for the Disabled. There’s smaller creatures too for petting, such as guinea pigs and rabbits.

26. Hampstead Heath

One of the city’s wildest green spaces, Hampstead Heath spans a huge proportion of north London. At Hampstead Heath you will also find a zoo, three swimming ponds and plenty of spots for a picnic. You can also get amazing views across London from Parliament Hill. If you fancy a dip, the lido is on one side of the hill and the bathing ponds on the other. 

free things to do in London

Free Places to Visit in London

Parks and Green Spaces

27. Greenwich Park and Observatory

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is an observatory situated on a hill in Greenwich Park, overlooking the River Thames. It played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and because the prime meridian passes through it, it gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time. Head to the top of the hill in the centre of Greenwich Park and you’ll be treated to a spectacular free view of the city.

28. Hyde Park

As well as green spaces abundant enough to dodge the crowds, you’ll find historic monuments to explore, around Hyde Park as well as famous fountains to splash about in, art installations, and free exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery a short walk away from the lake.

29. Kensington Gardens

The western half of Hyde Park, known officially as Kensington Gardens. There’s plenty to see and do there — the magnificent Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue, the Serpentine Gallery, the Round Pond and the Diana Memorial Playground. The palace is even the official residence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, so you’ll be in good company.

30. St. James’s Park

St James’s Park is a 23-hectare park in the City of Westminster, central London. It is at the southernmost tip of the St James’s area, which was named after a leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less and is popular with many regulars to London and locals. I would also recommend St. James’s Park as it offers one of the best views of Buckingham Palace.

 

What are your favourite free places to visit in London? 

 


Other posts that may help you:

Ultimate Guide to Bottomless Brunch (& prosecco) in London

10 of the Best places to eat Brunch in London

The Best Weekend Trips in the UK

Ultimate Guide to Columbia Road Flower Market London

Log cabins with hot tubs in the UK

 

Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

 

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  • Dylan Jones
    11/14/2018 at 21:00

    There really is so much free stuff to do, isn’t there. Lots of useful information here, thanks!

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