Free Activities

What can you do in London on a shoestring budget? Unexpectedly, quite a bit.

The city has world-class museums, almost all of which provide free entrance, as well as lovely parks, lively marketplaces, majestic churches, and breathtaking vistas. There are actually so many excellent attractions that you shouldn’t ever get bored. Here are only 5 of London’s many free activities. There are many more.

1. Be in awe at the treasures in the National Gallery

The National Gallery is home to one of the most spectacular art collections in the world and receives more than six million visitors annually. It houses treasures by artists including van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Visit on a weekday morning or a Friday night to avoid the crowds. The permanent collections are always free to view, no matter when you visit.

Visiting the National Gallery on a Friday will allow you to explore the galleries after hours until 9 pm.

2. Become disoriented at the British Museum

One of London’s finest attractions, the British Museum is completely free. It is overflowing with fascinating (and occasionally contentious) objects from all around the world, including the Rosetta Stone, samurai armour, Anglo-Saxon burial riches, Egyptian mummies, and samurai armour. Surprisingly, the 80,000 pieces that are always on exhibit barely represent 1% of the eight million objects that the museum currently has.

3. Greenwich Park picnic

You can get a breathtaking free perspective of the city by climbing the hill in the middle of Greenwich Park. The skyscrapers of Canary Wharf tower over the 17th-century Queen’s House, and beyond them, the Thames winds its way towards the centre of London. On a warm summer day, it’s the ideal location for a picnic in the capital.

4. Examine the amazing street art in East London

It’s challenging to predict with certainty where you might locate particular displays at any one time because street art is transient. However, some parts of East London are well known for having very outstanding graffiti, like Shoreditch. Middlesex and Sclater streets, as well as the side lanes surrounding Brick Lane, are always good places to find good art.

5. Take a photo of the Parliament Buildings.

The Houses of Parliament are a neo-Gothic wonder constructed in the middle of the 19th century and are home to Big Ben, the most renowned clock in the entire world (technically known as the Queen Elizabeth Tower, but no one calls it that). UK citizens are entitled to a free guided tour of the UK parliament, but the rest of us must settle for an online tour or pay £28. It is a must-see landmark in London.

Planning Tip: When Parliament is in session, visitors may attend debates, but they should plan on lengthy wait periods. The greatest and busiest time to visit is during Prime Minister’s Question Time, which is only available to UK citizens on Wednesdays at noon. Other debates are open to everyone and are not charged.