Despite the fact that most of the world is on lock-down and travel is practically impossible right now, you shouldn’t stop making future plans.
So if you wish to visit the British capital any time soon, we have great news for you.
On one hand, the pound sterling is at a record low right now, making traveling in the UK more affordable than ever. On the other, there is a ton of awesome free things to do in London!
If that doesn’t make you pack your bags and book a flight, we know this guide would.
This list gives you a bunch of ideas on what to do in one of the biggest European cities without spending any money. We bet our cute Bulgarian bums you’ll find plenty to fill your itinerary.
Use the navigation below and let’s dive right in.
Free Museums in London
London prides itself on hundreds of museums, and the most famous ones have free entrance. No matter if you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a mad scientist, or have a fascination for money, check out these free things to do in London.
Note: if you’re satisfied with your visit, consider leaving a tip.
- British Museum. Discover the fascinating history of humankind thanks to the mind-blowing collection of approximately 8,000,000 ancient artifacts at the British Museum. The museum, which has its own Tube station, is older than the USA. The world’s oldest, national public museum opened its doors back in 1759. It also hosts the coolest ice-skating rink, which is one of the best things to do in London at Christmas.
- Museum of London. Get lost in London’s evolution from prehistoric times until today. Located in the City of London, it’s a part of a complex of buildings, created in the 1960s and 1970s to redevelop this bomb-damaged area of the neighborhood. The Museum of London displays a unique collection, which includes over a million objects from thousands of years of London’s history.
- Natural History Museum. Discover the huge exhibition, containing a wide range of specimens from different segments of natural history. Admire the awe-inspiring skeletons of an enormous blue whale and several gigantic dinosaurs.
- Science Museum. Boasting 15,000+ scientific objects, this museum will play with your sanities thanks to its interactive displays. The oldest surviving steam locomotive, the first jet engine, as well as Apollo 10’s command module, are just a few of the fascinating constructions on display.
- Imperial War Museum. You can “watch” the exhibits at the IWM London in real-time. They explore the modern-day conflicts dating back to WWI. Archives and real wartime stories will show you one of the most gruesome sides of human history.
- National Army Museum. Dip yourself in the past of the British Armed Forces in five galleries chock-full of peculiar objects. The goal of the museum is collecting, preserving, and exhibiting objects and records related to the British Army, as well as encouraging research into their past and traditions.
- National Maritime Museum. You’ll find everything from ancient maps through epic sea battles to investigative expeditions in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The historical building – in the form of a ship – hosts artifacts of the epic stories which have shaped our world today.
- Museum of London Docklands. Immerse yourself in the history of London as a port when the British capital dominated the seas in the 19th century. Housed in a Georgian sugar warehouse, the museum tells the story of London’s river, port, and people.
- Royal Air Force Museum. One of the best free London museums, the Royal Air Force Museum will enchant you with its number of fascinating aircrafts. It is located in the former Hendon Aerodrome. The hangars will show you the history of aviation.
- V&A Museum of Childhood. Wanna be a kid again? Pay the V&A Museum of Childhood a visit, and bring back sweet memories with thousands of objects from the 1600s until today.
- Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum takes great pride in one of the largest collections of art and design objects worldwide. Meander yourself around jewelry, photography, fashion, sculpture, and more.
- Sir John Soane’s Museum. Marvel at a gigantic collection of paintings, drawings, and antiquities at Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane owed his success as an architect to his creative use of light, space, and experimentation in Classical architecture.
- Bank of England Museum. Explore how the British pound (sterling) evolved overtime at one of London’s most peculiar museums. Make sure to arrive early as the last entry is at 4:30 PM.
- Horniman Museum and Gardens. Fancy anthropology, natural history, and musical instruments in an eclectic fusion? Then, consider paying a visit to the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill.
Warning: Last time Svet was in London, he visited the British Museum. He especially loved the Asian and Egyptian collections. However, in 78 minutes, he managed to see just 15% of the museum. That’s how HUGE it is. Have that in mind when you make your plan for visiting London.
Free London Galleries
Enjoy countless world masterpieces in these free London galleries.
- Royal Academy of Arts. This gallery introduced free displays in 2018, including paintings by world-class painters, Greek and Roman statues, and sophisticated sculptures.
- National Gallery. Admire 2,000+ masterpieces of European painters, including the works of Botticelli, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, and Van Gogh.
- National Portrait Gallery. The National Portrait Gallery will fulfill all your portrait cravings, having the largest collection on a global scale.
- Tate Britain. From the 1500s until the present day, find exquisite examples of the finest British art in Tate Britain.
- Tate Modern. A power station houses one of London’s most famous galleries where world-class paintings coexist with performance art and stunning photographs.
- Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre. At this site, you’ll find a collection of art treasures from 1670 to nowadays, plus the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre from the 2nd century CE.
Collections with no Entry Fee
If you have not had enough culture after visiting numerous free museums and galleries in London, check these libraries and collections as well.
- British Library. If you love books, the British Library teems with literary treasures – both old and modern. Don’t miss the Shakespeare’s First Folio!
- Wellcome Collection. A combo of a museum and a library, the Wellcome Collection will fascinate you with its medical artefacts, as well as art and life objects.
- Queen’s House. Tulip Stairs? Check. Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I? Check. Rare works of Greenwich from Lowry, Turner, and Canaletto? Check, check, check.
- London Mithraeum. Bury yourself in ancient artefacts and Roman history at one of the best London museums.
- The Wallace Collection. The drop-dead gorgeous building is a masterpiece in itself, but if you venture in, you’ll be amazed by the Magnus opuses that await you in its galleries.
- Whitechapel Gallery. As one of the finest London galleries, the Whitechapel Gallery has prepared for you contemporary art by upcoming and famous artists.
- Serpentine Galleries. If you fancy modern art from international authors, check out the Serpentine Galleries situated in the heart of Hyde Park.
Free Churches and Cathedrals in London
Unfortunately, you have to pay exorbitant entrance fees for the most famous cathedrals in London, such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Luckily, there are still a ton of stunning temples which you can visit free of charge in the British capital.
- Southwark Cathedral. The Gothic church from the 13th century stands at the oldest crossing point of the River Thames. This was once the only entrance to the City of London. The cathedral’s strategic location meant that everyone from princes to paupers had walked through its doors, and you can, too.
- St Dunstan in the East. Severely damaged during WWII, this church in the City of London is now transformed into a public garden. Plants have overgrown the arches and provide a perfect frame to the nearby landmarks. You can enjoy the tranquility of this unique escape from the bustle of the capital.
- St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Located near Trafalgar Square, the Georgian church invites you to enjoy classical music. During the week, you can visit a free concert over lunchtime. Alternatively, you can admire the church’s stunning architecture in the evening when it’s illuminated by candlelight during the performances.
- Westminster Cathedral. Unlike the Westminster Abbey, the entrance to the cathedral is free of charge. Located near Victoria Station, it’s a vibrant active place of worship with 40+ weekly masses. The striking red-and-white brick exterior is in a Neo-Byzantine style, while the interior is bejeweled with 120+ different types of marble.
- St Pancras Old Church. You’ll find the picturesque church just a few steps away from the lively hub of King’s Cross. A stone in the altar suggests the building was erected around 625 AD, although its history can only be traced back to the 11th century and the Norman Conquest.
- All Saints Margaret Street. The church boasts a strikingly ornate High Gothic Revival design. The stunning exterior features a mixture of red and black bricks. The even more astonishing interior is decorated with a kaleidoscope of colorful tiles, mosaics, and marble in a dazzling array of patterns.
- St Clement Danes Church. The Anglican church is tucked on a traffic island in the busy Strand. It’s reconsecrated as the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. Numerous books of remembrance and more than 1,000 RAF badges are hosted here.
Cool London Neighborhoods to Explore
The best way to explore the city is on foot. In that way, you get to feel the true charm of the British capital. The cool neighborhoods below are also among the best areas to stay in London.
Walk in the lush parks, pass by gorgeous buildings, wander around small quaint streets in the city center, do some window shopping, and stroll by the banks of the River Thames (just beware of the strong wind).
This section of our free things to do in London list presents the coolest neighborhoods to explore during your visit. We recommend you get there and leave your map/phone in your pocket, then simply wander the streets and enjoy the atmosphere.
- Westminster. In the area, you’ll see the most iconic buildings in London. From the emblematic Big Ben through the imposing Houses of Parliament to the significant Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, this part of London is packed with architectural beauty.
- City of London. You’ll find the best mixture of old and new architecture in London here. To admire modern architecture, visit The Gherkin and pass the Millennium Bridge. The list of historical buildings to explore includes The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- South Bank: The most well-known architectural landmark in South Bank is the London Eye. The world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel dominates the skyline, but it’s not the only gem in this area. The neigborhood is also home to the glitzy Tate Modern and the architecture-perfect Royal Festival Hall.
- Southwark. You’ll find London’s most famous skyscraper – the Shard – in Southwark. Don’t limit yourself to the best panoramic view of the city when in the area, though. Nearby you can also visit the National Theater, aka Shakespeare’s Globe. The Elizabethan playhouse was restored to its 16th century look and is definitely worth seeing.
- Saint Pancras. One of the most beautiful structures in London is considered to be the building of Saint Pancras Station. The Italian Gothic style redbrick landmark miraculously survived the Blitz during WWII. Also in this area, you’ll find the Scandinavian-Modernist style British Library, The Renaissance London Hotel with an 80+ m clock tower, and the University College London.
- Notting Hill. The posh neighborhood features residences in charming pastel colors. You’ll be stunned by the impressive Georgian, Edwardian, and Victorian architecture. The stucco-fronted pillar-porched residences, communal gardens, and grand terraces, make this area a delight to visit. Check the St. Peter’s Church, stop by the Portobello Market, and stroll along the Notting Hill Gate.
- Kensington. The neighborhood has some of the most stunning residences in London with excellent examples of the stucco architecture style. Every street in the area is worth walking. If that’s not enough to seduce you, Kensington also hosts the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall.
- Soho. Hands down the best-known area in London for dining, theater, nightlife, and shopping. The energetic neighborhood is the epicenter of activity all day and night long. You’ll find Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, countless theaters in the Shaftesbury Avenue, the iconic Liberty’s department store, as well as other shops around Carnaby, Oxford, and Regent Streets. The infamous Soho walk-ups are a part of the night entertainment, too.
The Best Parks in London
When visiting London, be prepared for a lot of parks. There’s so much greenery in the British capital that the United Nations has classified the city as a forest. Isn’t this one of the most unexpected facts about London you’ve ever read?
Anyway, the two parks that are a must-visit are Hyde Park and Green Park. You’ll find both in the heart of the city. Relax in the green areas, go for a run, or do some push-ups in the open air.
Note: some of the activities in the parks are paid. However, strolling in one of the parks is, in our humble opinion, one of the top free things to do in London on this list.
- Hyde Park. The huge and centrally located park with 4,000+ trees offers a ton of activities. You can relax, take a leisurely walk, ride a bike, row a boat, or go for a swim in the Serpentine Lido. Visit the memorial fountain of Diana, Princess of Wales, the rose gardens, the lake, and the meadow.
- Regent’s Park. Stop and smell the roses in the 19th century park, which spans over 410 acres. Designed by the renowned architect, John Nash, it features not only spectacular formal gardens but also a boating lake, playgrounds, the largest outdoor sports area in London, and the Open Air Theatre.
- Richmond Park. The 2,500 acres of the park are home to roaming deer, ancient trees, and rare flowers. Climb the hill for the most spectacular views. If visiting in spring or summer, find the Isabella Plantation. You won’t believe your eyes when you see the bright blooms of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias that thrive there.
- St. James’s Park. A walk in the park makes you feel like a royalty. You’ll be surrounded by three palaces: the Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, and Clarence House. The Horse Guards Parade and the tree-lined Mall are also located here. If that’s not enough, visit the lake at 2:30 PM for the feeding of the pelicans.
- Victoria Park.London’s first public park, also known as Vicky Park among locals, will enchant you with its canals, ponds, and pavilion. You can do any number of sports during the day. In summer, dance the night away at the All Points East Festival.
- Greenwich Park. The views from the oldest royal park over the River Thames and the City of London will leave you speechless. A small herd of deer still roams the formal hunting grounds. Here you’ll also find the Prime Meridian Line, the Royal Observatory, and Queen Elizabeth’s Oak. The latter has been around since the 12th century and has witnessed Henry VIII dance with Anne Boleyn as well as Elizabeth I picnicking.
- Hampstead Heath. Just an hour on foot from busy central London, you can climb the Parliament Hill and enjoy marvelous views. The vine-covered walkways of the abandoned Pergola and Hill Gardens are especially enchanting in spring when the wisterias blossom.
- Kensington Gardens. You won’t want to leave this gorgeous royal park, home to Kensington Palace, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue, and the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial playground. Take a leisurely walk, smell the flowers, or enjoy a picnic on the green meadows.
- Clapham Common. The park offers countless options for sports and relaxed activities. The large flat space is perfect for a run or a sunbath by one of the three ponds. It also invites you with its skate park, tennis courts, and grass pitches. The cozy pubs and the annual music festival will keep you entertained till late.
- Lee Valley Regional Park. Stretching 26 miles (42 km) along the River Lee, there is plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife, relax or do sports here. The valley is perfect for cycling, jogging, and walking.
- Battersea Park. This huge south London park boasts plenty of play areas, plus the Pump House Gallery. It’s also home to magnificent fountains, the grand riverside promenade, the Peace Pagoda, and the Battersea Children’s Zoo. In summer, rent a boat and row on the lake for the ultimate London outdoor experience.
- Bushy Park. The second largest royal park invites you for a stroll down Chestnut Avenue through Hampton Court Palace to the Baroque water gardens and the 17th-century Diana Fountain.
- Crystal Palace Park. Crystal Palace, which gave the park its name, burned down in 1936. However, the park grounds still house some pretty amazing features. These include five massive dinosaur sculptures that lurk among the trees around the lake. The remains of a Victorian prehistoric theme park will awake your inner child, so you can get lost in one of UK’s largest mazes, or simply explore the many ponds, playgrounds, and green spaces in Crystal Palace Park.
- Danson Park. A great family destination, with a peaceful rock garden and a wildlife-rich Nature Reserve, Danson Park also invites you for afternoon tea in the Grade I listed Danson House. For the best experience, come on a warm day and sail around the lake. Alternatively, take the kids to the waterpark for a splash of fun.
- Green Park. The former hunting ground became a public park in 1826. The triangle shaped area invites you to relax in its famous stripy deckchairs. If you happen to visit on a day of a special royal occasion, you’ll be in for a treat. The Royal Gun Salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is almost double than the basic salute, a whopping 41 rounds.
- Brockwell Park. Join the locals in summer and sunbathe, play football, fly your kite, or swim in the outdoor pool at Brockwell Lido. You can marvel at the art deco buildings built in the 1930s in the center of the park in all seasons.
- Clapham Common. Since the 18th century, this oasis of tranquility invites Londoners to escape the busy traffic around them. You’ll find numerous cafés, a skate park, and the largest bandstand in London. The latter hosts open-air concerts in summer. In case you have your fishing permit with you, you can cast off your rod in the Eagle Pond from the wooden platforms around the lake.
- Dulwich Park. The charming park in the center of Dulwich is perfect both for a lazy afternoon or an intense sport activity. Different playgrounds, football pitches, tennis courts, and outdoor gyms are waiting for you to stretch your muscles. Table tennis or rowing boats are also on the menu. After you’ve done your sports for the day, check out the giant looping sculpture Three Perpetual Chords. It replaced the famously stolen Barbara Hepworth sculpture in 2011.
- London Fields. Visit the coolest green spot in London. The vibrant hangout in Hackney is home to a ping pong table, a wildflower meadow, and the London Fields Lido. Broadway Market is just a stone-throw away. Get some food there and enjoy a picnic on the Fields.
- Holland Park. The 55-acre space, surrounding the mansion, was named after its former owner, the Earl of Holland. His wife was the first person in England to grow dahlias. You can still see them in the park, as well as the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens with their koi carp and waterfall. However, the highlight of Holland Park are the numerous peacocks, freely roaming amid the scenery.
The Best Markets in London
Visiting markets is another great way to feel the city’s atmosphere. Stroll between the stalls in one of the numerous London Markets we’ve listed below.
- Columbia Road Flower Market. The weekly Sunday flower market occupies the cobbled street off Shoreditch’s main drag. Traders sell bulbs, shrubs, herbs, bedding plants, and buckets of cut flowers. Arrive as early as the market opens at 8:00 AM for the best selection, or shortly before it closes at 3:00 PM for the best deals. Flanking the stands, you’ll also find numerous independent shops and cute cafés.
- Borough Market. The historic food market near the London Bridge has existed since 1014. The foodie’s paradise will seduce you with top-quality meats, fish, fruit and vegetables, freshly baked pastries, oils and vinegars. Street food stalls and a covered area to chow down in make it a great place to fill your belly between Monday and Saturday.
- Broadway Market. Every Saturday, organic groceries, vintage clothes, fresh flowers, coffee, books, and quirky handmade gifts are on offer at the Broadway Market. Hipsters, artsy students, and creative types from East End make up a lively crowd. The street food options will seduce you with gems like the Yorkshire Burrito.
- Old Spitalfields Market. The central concourse of the covered market is filled with stalls selling contemporary and vintage clothes, personalized children’s toys, home items, or artisan food products. Inside, you’ll also find a selection of permanent retail outlets and restaurants from popular chains. The market operates every day of the week. However, the highlight is on Thursdays when Old Spitalfields Antiques Market, a bonus cluster of stalls, offers collectables and art objects.
- Greenwich Market. The 18th century indoor market is situated in a World Heritage Site in the historic Greenwich. 120 stalls sell jewelry, clothes, second-hand furniture, gifts, antiques, art, and crafts. And when you grow hungry of exploring, grab a take-out bite, sit in the nearby park, and enjoy it.
- Portobello Road Market. Located in the vibrant Notting Hill, this is the world’s largest antiques market. It encompasses five different sections selling second-hand goods, clothing and fashion, household items, food, and antiques. The best time to visit is on Saturday before 11:00 AM. Outside the market stalls, you’ll also find countless peculiar cafés, shops, and drinking spots.
- Covent Garden Market. Located in a grand neoclassical building in the heart of Covent Garden, the market is open during the whole week. On one hand, you’ll find stalls selling antiques and collectables, as well as traders offering everything from handmade jewelry to artisan soaps. The numerous permanent retail units, on the other hand, house fancy clothing brands.
- Camden Market. Stretching from Camden Town tube to the Regent’s Canal, the adjoining markets are London’s fourth most popular attraction with a quarter million visitors. You can not only shop but also sample street food and soak the distinctive, grungy atmosphere of the neighborhood. You’ll find arts and crafts in Camden Lock Market, quirky furniture and fetish cloches in Stables Market, and souvenir t-shirts and trinkets on Camden High Street every day of the week.
- Brick Lane Market. Come on Sunday on the streets of East London to find great bargains on fruits and vegetables, household items, or electrical products. Brick Lane’s popularity is reflected in the various spin-off markets that surround it. Visit the Boiler House Food Hall for snacks and beverage stalls, the Backyard Market for various arts and crafts, and the Sunday Market for street delicacies and peculiar gifts.
- Victoria Park Market. Head to the trendy Hackney and walk down the pedestrianized The Nightwalk on a Sunday to find an abundance of food at Victoria Park Market. Fill your shopping bags with seasonal produce, fresh fish, organic meat, and freshly baked breads. Once you’re done with your groceries, don’t forget to treat yourself to a cake, a homemade pie, or a cold craft beer.
- Herne Hill Market. Herne Hill Market is crammed on Sundays. Foodie treats for eating on the spot or for taking back home, as well as arts and crafts from within 100 miles of the area, make it a proper local neighborhood market.
- Maltby Street Market. Beneath the arches of the London Bridge on a weekend, you’ll find a wide, tasty range of street food sellers. From New York-style sandwiches, through gin cocktails, to sweet and savory waffles, you’ll surely satisfy all your culinary cravings.
- Southbank Centre Food Market. The food vendors in the market are carefully selected. Their stalls are hosted in Southbank Centre Square behind the Royal Festival Hall. Treat yourself to delicious, sustainable, and ethical foods and drinks from Fridays to Sundays and on bank holidays.
- Alfies Antique Market. The largest indoor antiques market in London will charm you with stalls selling vintage clothes from the 1930s and 1940s, alongside other collectables and design pieces. Make sure to head to the rooftop kitchen for spectacular views over West London.
- Cabbages and Frocks Market. A gathering place for fashionistas on Saturdays, Cabbages and Frocks is one of London’s most upscale markets. If you arrive early, you might snitch yourself a high fashion find or a great new up-and-coming designer’s piece.
Must-see Free Things to Do in London
There you have it – the most comprehensive list of 77 incredible free things to do in London.
However, we fully understand that no traveler can possibly visit all of them. That’s why, below you’ll find our top 7 choices for free things to do in London for first time visitors:
- British Museum,
- Tate Modern,
- Borough Market,
- Hyde Park,
- Green Park,
- Notting Hill, and
Now, we’d love to know:
Have you been to London?
If yes, how many of these 77 free things to do in London have you already done?