TOP TEN FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
London is a city for all ages, all seasons and all budgets. Whether you are looking for culture, history, nature or for impressive sights, London has an abundance of options to offer. Check out our list of free attractions and things to do when visiting London and we are certain that you will find something for your liking.
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1. British Museum
The British Museum exhibits in its 60 galleries, over 8 million artifacts from human history, art, and culture, from ancient civilizations to the present. The museum has an extensive collection from Mesopotamian, Greek or Roman culture to name a few.
It has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts (more than 100,000 pieces) in the world including statues of Pharaohs and the Colossal Statue of Amenhotep III. The Coins and Medals collection includes currencies from across the globe dating from 7th Century BC.
The museum also has a Library housing over 350,000 books on the various collections exhibited here. The Anthropology department alone has more than 120,000 books.
2. Cross Tower Bridge
Undoubtedly one of London’s most iconic sights, The Tower Bridge provides visitors with the best photo opportunities during a crossing on foot.
On either side of the bridge, there are open spaces where you can sit, relax, and take photos while taking in the architecture detail of this remarkable example of Victorian engineering.
The Tower Bridge is as much a wonderful sight, as it is a working bridge, which is lifted almost daily to allow any large ships to pass through. If you are planning a tour to the nearby places, it might be a good idea to adjust your schedule of visit at the lifting time as it will surely be a memorable experience (information available at the Tower Bridge official website).
3. Watch Street Performers at Covent Garden
The tradition of performing on the street around Covent Garden started in the 1660s and it is still keeping strong today, with a huge variety of acts competing for the attention of the curious passers-by.
The variety of performances is quite impressive, from acrobatics, yoga contortion acts, opera singing, drama, musical theatre performances, and ballet, to stunts and balancing acts by skilled artists, action-packed juggling with knives, balls, cans or juggling clubs. Performances take place mostly at the West Piazza and usually attract large crowds.
They are all worth a watch and a cheer any time of day and if you mix it with a visit around the stalls of the ever so popular Covent Garden Market, then surely it’s one to add to your list.
4. Portobello Market In Notting Hill
This market on the Portobello Road is just like other market areas in London with an exception. The place is popular with both local and international visitors for the antique shops - the largest market for antiques in the UK. Most of the antique sellers located close to the Notting Hill Tube Station open their store for the public exclusively on Saturday. Look for the Portobello Antiques Dealers Association (PADA) symbol before entering a stall, to ensure you are in for an honest deal.
There are stalls on both sides of the road selling foods, second-hand clothing, books, jewelry, and other items of daily use, with some of them being open from Monday to Saturday.
5. St. James' Park
Once used as a ground for hunting and shooting by Henry VIII, St James’ Park is the oldest royal park in London.
It is one of the most popular summer destinations for Londoners and visitors alike, mainly due to the majestic landscape, its location right next to Buckingham Palace and the easy access within Central London.
It is a sanctuary for wildlife, with over forty species of water birds, including pelicans, which are fed daily between 2:30 and 3pm, making this a major attraction for kids and families.
Other highlights include: the 20 ft Tiffany Fountain installed on the Pelican, a fruit and vegetable allotment open in the summer months, the collection of tropical plants, a bandstand which houses free performances in the summer, a playground for children, a variety of monuments including Victoria Memorial, Queen Mother Memorial, King George VI Memorial, Captain Cook Statue, and the Guard’s Memorial.
It is also the place for several royal ceremonies including the Changing the Guard, throughout the year or the ‘Trooping the Colour’ a colourful celebration on the Queen’s birthday.
6. Take a Self-Guided Walk along the Thames
An hour’s long leisurely walk on the south bank of the River Thames, between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge, is one of the most pleasant and most relaxing things you can do in London.
Not only does this section of the river have a very wide footpath, which means no traffic worries whatsoever, but there is an abundance of landmarks, historic buildings and popular attractions, not to mention the view over to the opposite bank, the City of London with its skyscrapers in particular, which makes it all worth it.
Highlights to spot on both river banks during the walk include: the Houses of Parliament, the Statue of Boudicca, the London Eye, Cleopatra’s Needle, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Southwark Cathedral and lots more.
7. Tate Gallery of Modern Art
Housed inside the impressive building of the disused Bankside Power Station, Tate Modern Gallery is one of London’s most visited attractions, with around 5.5 million visitors walking through its doors each year. It exhibits contemporary British and international art with an enormous collection of artworks from 1900 to present day.
The main collections are split between the Boiler House, the Turbine Hall, and the Blavatnik Building (formerly known as the Switch House) and highlights from the ever changing free collections include works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Mark Rothko, Bill Viola, or Lucio Fontana.
8. Trafalgar Square
This place commemorates the victory of the British navy in the Battle of Trafalgar over the French troops during the reign of Napoleon at Cape Trafalgar in 1805. The Statue of Admiral Nelson at the Nelson Column is in honour of his achievement during the conflict.
An impressive set of statues with bronze stands adorn the three plinths at the three corners or the square - King George IV on the Northeast, Major General Sir Henry Havelock on the Southeast, and General Sir Charles James Napier on the Southwest. The fourth plinth at the Northwest corner exhibits temporary contemporary artworks.
Around the square you can find some of London’s top landmarks and sights, including National Galleries, St Martin in the Field Church, with the famous Café in the Crypt, Whitehall towards the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street, as well as The Mall and Admiralty Arch.
9. A Walk Around Greenwich
International tourists to Greenwich World Heritage Site mainly visit the Royal Observatory noted for the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time. The time ball at the top of this observatory is dropped at 1 p.m. every day.
Start the journey walking through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, see the Millennium Dome, the Greenwich Park and Market, Cutty Sark- the fastest sailing ship in its time that stands on the dry dock for public viewing, and roll down the big hill to have fun.
Make sure to include a visit to the National Maritime Museum- the largest maritime museum in the world, with over 2000 ships and 2 million objects including manuscripts, plans, navigation instruments.
10. Lunchtime Concerts At St Martin In The Fields
St. Martin in the Field’s Church is a place of gathering, connection and worship for people all over the world.
It’s location at the heart of London, to the east of Trafalgar Square puts it at the centre of attention for Londoners and visitors alike. It is a world famous music venue, favoured by talented aspiring musicians, offering performances throughout the year, a lot of them free to attend.
The Lunchtime concerts, one of London’s longest running series of free performances, are organized several times a week and are bite-sized performances by talented musicians playing the piano, saxophone, organ, etc.
The 45-min concerts are scheduled at 1pm.