The Ultimate List of Free London Attractions

Free London

London is an expensive city to visit. If you don’t live in Europe, once you’ve shelled out for airfare and lodging, you might wonder how you can afford to do anything while there. Fortunately for you, when it comes to sightseeing, London has a lot to offer the budget traveler. To help you plan an affordable trip, we compiled this ultimate list of free London attractions.

To make this easier for you, we put the attractions into some general categories. When something could fit into different categories, we selected the one we felt best described it. We also noted which places are best for kids, since many of our readers are family travelers. To keep the length of this post reasonable, we did not include opening times. If a listed attraction has a website, you can visit it by clicking on its name. Opening hours are listed there.

Free London Art Museums

National Gallery– This massive museum contains over 2300 paintings dating from the 13th century to 1900. Among the many important artists whose works are on display are Leonardo, Van Eyck, Velazquez, and Van Gogh.

Tate Britain– This museum features British art from Tudor times to today. There are sculptures and paintings on display. Among the prominent British artists with works here are Turner, Constable, Sargent, and Gainsborough.

Tate Modern– This sister of the Tate Britain showcases international modern and contemporary art. It also has a collection of British art from 1900 to today. If you enjoy artwork by Warhol, Picasso, Dali, and Man Ray, this is the museum for you.

National Portrait Gallery– This museum houses portraits of important British people from the Tudor era through today.

The Victoria and Albert Museum– This is the world’s largest museum of art and design. You can see paintings, furniture, fine jewelry, fashion, and much more at this massive, free London museum. Check out the opulent cafe while you’re there, too (though you’ll have to pay for food, naturally).

Saatchi Gallery– This is the world’s largest free contemporary art museum. Many of the artists it exhibits are relatively unknown, so it’s a great place to see what’s new and notable in the art world.

Wallace Collection– This museum is housed in a historic London townhouse. The paintings are the main draw, but there is also beautiful furniture, porcelain, statues, suits of armor, and the house itself to admire.

William Morris Gallery– This museum is dedicated to the life and works of designer and activist William Morris, the father of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was popular during the Victorian era. It is located in his former home.

Guildhall Art Gallery– This museum contains the city of London’s art collection, with works from 1670 to the present. There is a large selection of Victorian era art, but the big draw here is the remains of a Roman-era amphitheatre, which you can view in the basement (the building was constructed over it).

Free London Art Galleries

Whitechapel Gallery– This gallery focuses on contemporary art, and the displays are constantly changing to showcase new artists. It is quite small, so it’s great if you only have an hour or so to spare.

Serpentine Galleries– This gallery, housed in two buildings next to the Serpentine lake in Kensington Gardens, focuses on modern and contemporary artists. The exhibits change throughout the year.

White Cube Gallery– This is a great place to see groundbreaking work from contemporary artists. It is also the largest commercial art gallery in Europe.

Curve Gallery at the Barbican Centre– The Barbican is a performing arts centre in London, and Curve is an art gallery located there. The gallery features new work by contemporary artists. The exhibits are temporary and always changing.

Free London Science-Related Museums

Science Museum– There are over 15,000 objects on display at this museum, the largest of its kind in Europe. Highlights include the Apollo 10 command capsule and a gallery of interactive exhibits. This one’s great for kids.

Natural History Museum– Get up close to thousands of specimens from the natural world. Exhibits cover the plant, animal, and mineral worlds. The most popular displays, however, are the dinosaur skeletons. This is also a favorite with kids.

Wellcome Collection– This museum bills itself as an exploration of what it means to be human. There are a good number of displays on medicine, anthropology, and technology. There are also some artworks on display.

Horniman Museum– The Horniman is best known for its collection of taxidermied animals, but there is more to see here. There are also anthropology exhibits and a collection of musical instruments. In addition, there is an animal walk (with live animals) and an aquarium. The gardens are quite nice, too. Kids obviously love this place.

Grant Museum of Zoology– This museum, attached to University College London, houses over 68,000 animal specimens. Many of them are rare, such as a set of dodo bones and a quagga skeleton.

Hunterian Museum– This museum is operated by the Royal College of Surgeons. It should be unsurprising then that it focuses on surgery. It contains thousands of anatomical and pathological displays, along with surgical instruments and drawings. You can also view half of Charles Babbage’s brain (he is considered the father of the computer).

Faraday Museum at the Royal Institution– This museum displays the scientific achievements of Royal Institution members over the past 200 years. It includes Michael Faraday’s preserved lab from the 1850s.

Free London History-Related Museums

National Maritime Museum– This museum celebrates Great Britain’s long history with the sea, from war time to exploration and everything in between. You can see view the uniform Admiral Horatio Nelson was wearing when he died at the Battle of Trafalgar. There is also a really cool interactive children’s gallery.

Imperial War Museum– This museum is dedicated to the study of modern war and people’s experiences in war. It covers all of Britain’s military engagements since 1914.

British Museum– This behemoth of a museum has artifacts from all over the world, detailing human history and culture from the Paleolithic period through today. Some highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, the Parthenon Marbles, and the finds from the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

Museum of London– Here, you can learn about the history of the city of London from prehistory to the present day. Highlights are the Lord Mayor’s golden carriage and an exhibit on the Great London Fire of 1666. You can also see fragments of the city’s original Roman wall just outside.

Museum of London Docklands– Explore the history of London’s important relationship with the River Thames at this museum. It covers the history of the Docklands area beginning in the Roman era. There are also water play and soft play areas for the kids.

Geffrye Museum– This small museum covers the history of home life from the 1600s to today. Its period rooms, showing what home interiors looked like through the centuries, are really interesting. There is also an herb garden that shows how gardens have changed over the past 400 years.

The Ragged School Museum– Housed in a former school for the poor children of London’s East End during the Victorian era, this museum recreates the Victorian school experience. It includes a turn of the 19th-century kitchen and a reconstructed Victorian classroom.

British Library– This, the UK’s national library, contains many important items from British literary history. Some of the important items on display are a Gutenberg Bible, a copy of the Magna Carta, and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Other Free London Museums

Sir John Soane’s Museum– Sir John Soane was a Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy. This museum houses his extensive collection. On display are some of his drawing and models, some sculpture and paintings, antiquities, and medieval artifacts. By his order, nothing has been changed since his death nearly 180 years ago.

Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood– This is the UK’ s largest collection of childhood-related objects. There are plenty of toys and games on display. But there are also collections of historical children’s clothing and practical items like children’s furniture and baby gadgets from the past.

The City of London Police Museum– Discover the history of the London Police and learn about police technology at one of London’s newer museums. Interesting exhibits include a look at the last hours of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims and an old police uniform with built-in anti-strangling technology.

RAF Museum– This aviation museum contains over 100 aircraft. You can also learn about the contributions of the Royal Air Force and the RAF Nursing Service.

Bank of England Museum– At this museum, you can learn about the 300+-year history of the Bank of England. The highlight of a visit here will be when you get to handle a solid bar of gold.

Anaesthesia Museum– This museum has a collection of objects relating to the use of anaesthesia from the 1700s through today.

London Sewing Machine Museum– You can view over 600 sewing machines here, including the very first Singer. Learn about the history of the sewing machine from 1850 to 1950.

National Army Museum– This is the main museum of the British Army. The interactive exhibits explore the role of the army from England’s Civil War up to the modern day.

Free London Gardens and Parks

Crystal Palace Park– This park is a former Victorian pleasure ground. It currently contains some full-scale model of dinosaurs, lakes and a maze. There is also a children’s farm and playground.

Richmond Park– This is the largest enclosed space in London and the largest of the eight royal parks. It’s a great place to go deer spotting, as there are hundreds of red deer and fallow deer living there.

Diana, Princess of Wales Playground– Also located in Kensington Gardens, this playground is next to Princess Diana’s former home, Kensington Palace. There is a lot to see and do here for children, including a large pirate ship and sensory play areas.

Barbican Conservatory– This large conservatory is home to over 2000 species of tropical plants and trees. It also contains terrapins and koi. Opening hours are limited.

Chiswick House Gardens– You’ll have to pay if you want to see the inside of this 18th-century villa, but visiting the gardens is free. There are 65 acres of gardens, which also include a lake and fountains. You can even buy produce from the estate’s kitchen garden.

The Phoenix Garden– This is a community garden in the heart of central London. Everything is maintained by volunteers, and it’s a nice place to have a quiet stroll.

Queen Mary’s Rose Garden– Over 12,000 roses of different varieties are on view in the Regent’s Park garden. June is the best time to visit.

Coram’s Fields– No adult can enter this park without a child, so it’s great for families. It includes play areas, a paddling pool, some friendly small animals, and a cafe.

Hampstead Heath– This is one of the most popular green spaces in London. It’s a great place to catch some amazing views over the city. But it also has gardens, splash play areas, and playgrounds.

Statues and Monuments

Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens– This statue of the famous storybook character is located near the former home of his creator, J.M. Barrie. Bring some bird food and feed the swans and ducks in the nearby pond.

Paddington Statue– A statue of the famous bear is located in Paddington Station. He is currently located on Platform 1, near the shops.

The Cenotaph– This monument in the Whitehall area of London commemorates the men and women who died in the World Wars.

Trafalgar Square– This public square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory during the Napoleonic Wars. Here, you can see Nelson’s column (Admiral Nelson died in this battle), along with fountains and statues of other British heroes.

Postman’s Park Watts Memorial– This interesting and touching memorial is to people who have given their lives while saving someone else.

Free London Events

St Martin in the Fields Lunchtime Concerts– Every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 1 pm, this church hosts free, 45-minute concerts. Many of the musicians are well-known, and all are talented.

Westminster Abbey Services– You’ll have to pay to tour this church and burial place of England’s notables during the day. But you can attend a service there for free (we recommend the Evensong service). If you’re lucky, you can take a quick wander around the abbey after the service ends.

Services at St. Paul’s– This is another church with a steep entry fee, but attending services here are also free. It’s also a great way to see the church being used the way it was intended. You just won’t be able to climb to the top of the dome while you’re there for services. For that, you must pay.

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace– This is one of the most famous spectacles in London. Get there early to nab a good view. Also, visit the Buckingham Palace website to get accurate times and dates, since the ceremony does not happen every day.

The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London– Tickets to this ceremony are free, but you must pay a £1 booking fee to reserve them online. This is the gate-closing ritual at the famous Tower of London, which has been taking place for 700 years.

Free London City Farms

Vauxhall City Farm– Visit over 100 animals at this urban farm located in central London. There is also a garden that produces fruits and vegetables for the farm’s cooking workshops.

Mudchute Farm and Park– This urban farm is located near the Canary Wharf area of London. This working farm sits on 32 acres, and it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities when you’re there.

Free London Churches

Southwark Cathedral– Dating from 1220, this is the oldest Gothic church in London. Be sure to look for the memorial window to William Shakespeare and the Harvard Chapel dedicated to the founder of Harvard University (who was born nearby).

All Hallows by the Tower– Founded in 675, this is the oldest church in the city of London. An arch from the original Saxon church is still visible, as is a 2nd-century piece of Roman pavement in the crypt. Being so close to the Tower, the church also dealt with many of the bodies of those who were beheaded there. The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, was also married here, and the Marriage Register recording this is on display in the museum.

St Dunstan in the East– This is actually the ruins of a 900-year-old church that was turned into a public garden after suffering extreme damage during the Blitz of 1941.

Markets and Window Shopping

Harrods Food Hall– You have to pay for anything you want to try, but simply viewing the food for sale at this famous London shopping establishment is an experience in itself. The fine food on display here must be seen to be believed.

Covent Garden Market– Various markets take place here during the week, including ones for antiques, arts and crafts, and a farmers market. There are also plenty of restaurants and regular shopping venues in the area.

Columbia Road Flower Market– Every Sunday, this market fills with flowers and plants for sale. There are also 60 independent shops selling such items as baked goods, clothing, and art.

Borough Market– This is one of oldest and largest food markets in London. You can buy everything from fish to coffee to fresh produce here. Or, you can just walk around and experience the sights of this busy London food spot.

Portobello Road Market– This is probably the most famous street market in the world. Located in the equally famous Notting Hill neighborhood, this market sells antiques, collectibles, second-hand clothes, vintage fashion, and food. The best day to visit is Saturday.

Other Free Stuff to do in London

Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station– Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss visiting the platform where students depart for Hogwarts at Kings Cross Station. There is a luggage cart embedded in the wall in the station concourse which makes for a great photo opportunity.

Speakers Corner– This spot in Hyde Park has been reserved for public speech and debate since the 1800s. Sunday morning is the best time to hear people giving their opinions on many subjects, some of which are quite controversial or eccentric.

Kenwood House– This house is located on the edge of the beautiful Hampstead Heath. The artwork, architecture, and interiors are all quite beautiful. There are also extensive grounds to walk in.

Somerset House Tours– This house is now an arts and cultural center. But tours are available in which you can discover the history of the building and the site on which it now sits.

Highgate Cemetery– Famous names such as Karl Marx and author George Eliot are buried in this Victorian cemetery. You can only visit the East Cemetery section for free. But you can pay for a tour of the West Cemetery.

Free London Walking Tours- Two companies (Free London Walking Tours and Strawberry Tours) offer free tours of London. Free London Walking Tours has three free tours a day, including a Ghost Walk. Strawberry Tours conducts eight different free tours, including a Harry Potter walk, among others. Though the tours are free, tips are appreciated by the guides.

There you have it! This is everything free to do in London that we could possibly think of. As you can see, there is enough to do on this list to fill up several weeks’ worth of vacations. If you can manage to get there and find a place to stay, there’s no reason you can’t have a great time in London on a small budget.

Now, it’s your turn. Did we miss any of your favorite free London attractions? If so, let us know in the comments.

And if you want some ideas for things to do on near London, check out our post all about day trips from London here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 Comments

  • Alicia Heil August 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This is such a wonderful resource for travelers on a budget to get a chance to experience all that London has to offer. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you! I hope you find it useful!

      Reply
  • TheBipolarBattle August 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    This is a FANTASTIC list! I have never visited London, but it is on my bucket list. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and suggestions. This list is seriously amazing! 🙂

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Thank you so much! London is an awesome place, and I hope you get to visit someday soon!

      Reply
  • Angie August 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Wow, what a great list!! There are so many great places and things to do for budget friendly people.

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks! There’s even more stuff to do if you include cheap as well as free things, but we focused on “free” only. It would probably take a lifetime to see everything in London properly.

      Reply
  • dandelionsacrecomwpadmin August 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve never been to London, or even overseas, but if I do… Thanks for the great tips!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      If you ever do make it overseas, I highly recommend London and the rest of the UK. There’s so much to do!

      Reply
  • Jenn August 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    So much good info here! Now to get my hubby on a long airplane ride…..

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      I hate the plane ride, too. It’s definitely the worst part of traveling.

      Reply
  • Melissa August 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    What a great list! I’m saving this on Pinterest so I can come back to it if (hopefully soon!) I ever get to London. How many days would you suggest to visit for a first time visitor?

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad you found it helpful. For a first visit, I wouldn’t spend any less than 5 days, but that also depends on your interests. If you’re a huge museum or history buff like I am, then at least a week.

      Reply
  • Kristina August 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Holy cow, this is an amazing list! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad you like it!

      Reply
  • travelforstamps August 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I would love to do the Harry Potter walk! I’m such a nerd lol oh well! I was pleasantly surprised by London. I thought I was going to hate it, but I didn’t. It is expensive though. We did a hop on hop off tour. You can walk into the Sherlock Holmes building without paying also, but I think there’s a fee for the actual tour. Great list of things to do in London!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      I did not know that about the Sherlock Holmes building! I’ll have to add it to the list.

      Reply
  • Heather August 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Such an awesome resource for free activities! Travel can be so expensive, it’s nice to know there are some budget friendly options once you get there!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Many big cities in Europe are excellent for finding free and cheap things to do. London is probably the best, though. It’s just airfare and hotel that can eat up your budget.

      Reply
  • Cerin August 24, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    My goodness!! There is a lot to do!

    Reply
  • Kourtney August 24, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I had no idea there were so many free attractions! This is amazing! And such an extensive list. Great job on this! We’re in the beginning of discussing plans for a trip over there within the next two years, so I’m going to pin this to refer back to!

    Reply
  • Stacey August 24, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    This is the ultimate list! I would love to go to London, and I would certainly do a lot of the things on this list. I love to visit historic places, so I would be in heaven for sure. I’d love to see the Peter Pan statue, too. Until I get to go, I’ll just keep reading all of your wonderful posts!

    Reply
  • Melissa August 24, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Wow! I may actually be able to get to London one day now that I see all the free attractions! Awesome, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Anitra August 25, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Wow! Never knew there was so much amazing, fun stuff to do in London! Great post!

    Reply
  • shelbrown August 25, 2017 at 12:55 am

    What a great article especially since you can do them on a budget.

    Reply
  • Allie flowers August 25, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Thanks for the info! This is on my bucket list of places to visit 🙂

    Reply
  • Evangeline August 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    So much to see and do. Bucket list!

    Reply
  • Bola Adesanya August 28, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Now you wanna make me drop everything and go to London. Very detailed list.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Share
Pin
Tweet
+11
%d bloggers like this: