Central London is always buzzing, seeing more than 20 million visitors a year. There is so much to see and do in London, but is there anything good that doesn’t cost an admission? The answer is YES! Here is our list of the 11 top FREE things to do in London.
1. British Museum
Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history. Enjoy a unique comparison of the treasures of world cultures under one roof, centered around the magnificent Great Court. World-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies are visited by up to six million visitors every year. In addition to the vast permanent collection, the museum’s special exhibitions and events are all designed to advance understanding of the collection and cultures they represent.
2. Changing of the Guard
For a perfect display of British pomp and ceremony, watch the Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. Changing the Guard or Guard Mounting is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard. The Guard that looks after Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace) and the St James’s Palace Detachment (responsible for guarding St James’s Palace). At Buckingham Palace, Guard Mounting takes place at 11.30 am, held daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year.
Tip: If you can’t get a good spot in the front try standing on the steps Victoria Monument for a better view.
3. Walk the River Thames
The River Thames is perhaps one of the most recognizable and pivotal in world history. From the Romans, to the Saxons, Vikings, Medieval English, all the way up to the modern era, the banks of the Thames have seen constant growth and change. Taking some time to walk along the banks will highlight the city’s history. From The Tower of London to Parliament there is a no shortage of history, culture, and gorgeous architecture.
4. Spend a Day at Hyde Park
London’s Hyde Park is one of the greatest city parks in the world. Covering 350 acres and with over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens, there’s a good chance you’ll forget you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. Hyde Park has something for everyone. You can enjoy swimming, boating, cycling, skating, tennis courts, tracks for horse riding and a spectacular children’s playground. The Park has two lakeside restaurants which are licensed and serve everything from a three-course meal to a quick cup of coffee. Hyde Park is home to a number of fascinating buildings and monuments, such as The Serpentine Bridge, the Joy of Life fountain and the famous Archiles statue.
5. Natural History Museum
The Museum offers hundreds of exciting, interactive exhibits in one of London’s most beautiful landmark buildings. Highlights include the popular Dinosaurs gallery, Mammals display with the unforgettable model blue whale and the spectacular Central Hall, home to the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton.
Tip: Don’t miss the state-of-the-art Darwin Center Cocoon where you can see hundreds of fascinating specimens and look into laboratories where scientists are at work.
6. National Gallery
The National Gallery displays more than 2,000 Western European paintings from the middle ages to the 20th century. Discover inspiring art by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir and Van Gogh. The pictures in the collection belong to the public and admission is free. There are special exhibitions, lectures, video and audio-visual programs, guided tours and holiday events for children and adults.
7. Tate Modern
8. Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a must-see destination for visitors to London. The iconic space is home to Nelson’s Column, iconic stone lions, the famous Fourth Plinth and a lot of pigeons. You will often find cultural events, performances, shows and other special activities going on in the square by the fountains. At Christmas you will find the biggest Christmas tree in London, an annual gift from the city of Oslo.
9. Piccadilly’s Circus
Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the heart of London and one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The circus (meaning circle) is an open area situated at the junction of five main roads. The space is famous for the fountain that was installed here at the end of the nineteenth century and for the neon lighting. The circus is very popular, not only for the dining and shopping, but also for the Shaftesbury Memorial and the impressive display of neon light and video displays. Here you can sit by the famous statue of Eros, or take some photos in front of the iconic advertising billboards.
10. Southwark Cathedral
Southwark Cathedral is situated on the south bank of the River Thames close to London Bridge and a stands as an architectural marvel. The current church dates to the 12th century, but there may have been a church here as early as 606 AD. Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London, and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that.
Greenwich is a historically rich area of London with lots of green space, and a great place to visit for entertainment, food and drink. Spend a day out in Greenwich soaking up the romantic baroque architecture, admiring the impressive views of London, and learning about science, navigation and history. Highlights include the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, and the Royal Observatory.