15 Free Things to Do in London on Your Travels

Steve Cummings

If you plan a trip to London this year, you may be concerned by inflation and the cost of living crisis that the country is still working to recover from. However, with some thoughtful and clever planning and the help of this guide, you'll uncover many free things to do in London. In the following post, we will highlight 15 great suggestions to appeal to a wide range of travelers, from those traveling alone to those with children and partners looking for food adventures to history buffs, art lovers, and culture vultures. 

1. Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square
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One of the city's most iconic areas, Trafalgar Square, is often visited as part of London's many free walking tours. As it is outside and unrestricted, there is no cost to spend some time in this stunning part of the city. There are many excellent sites and attractions, like Nelson's Column, Fourth Plinth, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Canada House. 

You can get pictures of all these critical locations at no cost. 

2. British Museum

British Museum
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The British Museum is famous worldwide for having one of the most extensive collections of artifacts, essential documents, and exhibits covering 2 million years of history and 8 million objects. One of the great things about this incredible step back through history is that it is among the many free museums in London. You can wander around the Rosetta Stone, see Sutton Hoo Mask, and visit the Enlightened Gallery. If you want a deeper, more systematic dive, there are various tours you can take, which may cost money.

The museum is divided into sections and has one of the most detailed explorations of the different global powers the world has seen throughout its history, from Egypt to Greece, Rome, and Britain. 

3. Kings Cross Station and Platform 9 ¾

Platform 9 ¾
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If you are looking for free fun in London and are a Harry Potter fan or traveling with children who love JK Rowling's books and movie adaptations, then King's Cross Station and the iconic Platform 9 ¾ are a must. Curiously, as is the case in the HP world, it can be difficult to find if you are visiting for the first time, but just speak to one of the staff members, and they will be happy to direct you to the right place. 

There, you will find a luggage trolley sitting against the wall, and it's a brilliant place for some memorable snaps. There is also a small shop where you can buy cool gifts and treats.

4. Big Ben

Big Ben
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As you probably realize, there are many great free things in London to see and do, and one of the most iconic landmarks of the city's skyline is Big Ben. You can visit Big Ben, the Houses of Commons, and the House of Lords for free while in session. You will find that tours are regularly hosted in these places. 

These sites are also great places to walk around at night when they are all lit up. In Westminster, where you will find these important attractions, you can also take in the cultural and regal attraction of the Changing of the Guards. However, please note that this happens every other day except during May and June when it is daily. 

5. Sky Garden

Sky Garden is another of the best free places to visit in London. It is found in the Walkie Talkie Building between the structure's 34th and 37th floors and is great for couples looking for a bit of romance, as it offers fantastic views across the city. One warning we offer is that although it is free to enter, you should try to book tickets to get a slot, as spaces go quickly due to high demand. 

From the terrace, you can take a detailed view of the London skyline, including the London Eye, the Shard, Canary Wharf, and many other vital landmarks the city is renowned for.  

6. St. James Park

Among the many things to do in London for free, a trip around St. James Park should be on your list. Ideally, you should wander across the beautiful Blue Bridge for impressive lake views while also taking in vistas of the glorious Buckingham Palace. Another iconic spot you should stop by is the Horse Guards Parade Ground. The park is full of open green spaces and many pretty flower beds. 

If you want a leisurely walk, follow the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, which connects with other amazing city parks like Green Park and Hyde Park. We recommend taking some time from your busy London trip to schedule a leisurely stroll, enjoy the natural beauty, and glimpse the various landmarks visible from this stunning park. 

7. National Gallery

Another free attraction in London that is perfect for history buffs and art lovers is the remarkable National Gallery. Within the hallowed halls of this magnificent building, you will find works by such celebrated artists as Constable Turner, Canaletto, Monet, and Vincent Van Gogh. 

In addition to these pieces, there are incredible exhibits from the XVI and XVII centuries and works by Michelangelo and Titian. 

8. River Thames

River Thames
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Although it may cost to enjoy a pleasant boat trip along the River Thames, there are still many things to see and do that do not cost a penny, making it one of the great free places in London to visit. The iconic and impressive river that runs through the city can be toured for free from Fulham Palace, and there is a sculpture garden and urban beach close by, too. 

Walking along the river with your family or partner is free, and this is one of the best and most relaxing things to do while in London. You'll be amazed at the many great sites and attractions along the riverbanks. 

9. Kensington Gardens

Many of the places to visit in London for free are the museums and galleries. Interestingly enough, three most iconic and popular are found near the stunning Kensington Gardens. The Gardens themselves are free to wander around and explore. While in the gardens, you can visit Kate and Wills' House and just get lost enjoying the sights and smells of the flowers and greenery. If you are interested in some exquisite window shopping, it is also close to the illustrious department store known as Harrods. 

10. Hyde Park

Hyde Park
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All of London's city parks are worth visiting. If you are looking for free activities in London, then Hyde Park should be on your list. This iconic location is famous for the expansive 350 acres of greenery and the stunning Serpentine Lake. You can also go to Speaker's Corner, where many interesting free speech events and debates are held. 

Remember, if you take the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk Route, you can easily get between Hyde, Green, and St. James Parks. 

11. Victoria and Albert Museum

As a cultural and historical melting pot, it makes sense that many of the best free visitor attractions in London are the galleries and museums. We have already mentioned a number of them. The Victoria and Albert Museum is famed for its impressive collection of fashion and decorative arts. There is a lot more to the building than you would first expect. 

When you enter the museum from Cromwell Road, the first thing you will see is the beautiful blown-glass chandelier made by Dale Chihuly. As you make your way through the museum, you will find many light and open areas decorated with sublime Renaissance sculptures, including the famous Paul and Jill Ruddock Galleries. For fans of all things sparkly, the Jewellery Room is a must for lots of precious, contemporary pieces.

12. Natural History Museum

While we are on the subject of all the best free things to do in London – the many galleries and museums – we need to include the spectacular Natural History Museum. Find out why more than five million people visit this site yearly. The building has four zones: the Orange Zone, Red Zone, Green Zone, and Blue Zone. Head to Central Hall for the world-famous Dippy, the Dinosaur skeleton hanging from the ceiling. Within the Blue Zone, you will find a mammoth selection of exhibits of amphibians, mammals, dinosaurs, and many other species.

Perhaps one of the most stunning pieces in the museum is the oldest relic it owns, the Wold Cottage Meteorite. There is also an Earthquake Simulator Room that is a lot of fun and shows the power of a real earthquake. 

13. British Library

British Library
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In addition to the many museums and galleries, one of the best free things to visit in London is undoubtedly the British Library. This is a must for all bookworms, as it holds more than 150 million different books, notes, biographies, literary works of all kinds, and much more. You will find intriguing pieces like Leonardo di Vinci's sketchbooks and magazines, stamps, and manuscripts, some of which date back to the time of The Beatles or even Jane Austen. 

It's not just important historical pieces, either, as many famous comic books and novels are on display and available to read. Make sure you have enough time to explore this building, though, as it has an unbelievable 14 floors full of things to look at and read.

14. Tate Modern

Do you prefer your art to be modern, challenging, and controversial? Then Tate Modern is one of the best free museums in London for you to visit. Along with breathtaking views of the River Thames from inside the museum, you also have some of the best modern and classic art pieces, some controversial. As much of the artwork here is large, you don't have the problem you do elsewhere of having to fight the crowds to get a good view of exhibits. 

Artists like Damien Hurst, Tracy Emin, and many other contemporary names are featured in this stunning collection. You can easily spend a couple of hours walking around this museum's various exhibitions and sections, which are themselves modern architectural art. 

15. Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum
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Are you interested in learning more about war and want to know of relevant free museums in London? The Imperial War Museum is a fantastic place to explore. The tone is set immediately upon your arrival at this exhibition center with the two massive naval guns standing at the front of the building. Within the museum, you will learn about the soldiers who dedicated themselves to their frontlines during World War One and tried to make the world more peaceful and safer. Many collections also feature historical items from other essential and devastating chapters in human history. 

This is a stunning collection of culture, history, art, and more. There is a Spitfire, the iconic aircraft flown by airmen chosen directly by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II. They were referred to as “The Few,” and it was considered an esteemed honor to be given the opportunity. There is also a world-famous and renowned 20th-century Holocaust exhibition, and surveillance drones are on display for those interested in more modern conflicts.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is no shortage of free things to visit in London. Whether you are a bookworm, history fan, art lover, or just like exploring the city's culture, London is the perfect place to have a frugal vacation. There are more green spaces than you may imagine for such a busy metropolitan city with its fair share of traffic and smog issues, but the city parks are among the best in the United Kingdom and Europe.

While we have included as many of the best free things to do in London as possible, we know we will miss out on some things that need to be included. If you believe there is something we should include, please let us know in the comments section. We are always keen to make our guides packed with great things for people to explore wherever they visit.

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