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The only problem with the city is that it can be an expensive place to visit, with tickets to the biggest attractions costing far more than those in Paris or other major continental European cities.
The Best Free Things to do in London
Luckily, London is also home to a wonderful array of completely free attractions and events for the more money-conscious traveler. Even on the smallest of budgets, it really is hard to get bored in London! Listed below are just some of the free tourist attractions to see in London during and out of the school holidays.
Free London Museums.
London boasts some of the biggest and best museums on the planet and the majority of them can be visited completely free of charge. The British Museum is famous around the world and houses around eight million objects in its permanent collections, all dedicated to the history of human culture and civilization.
The Natural History Museum greets you with a 32m long cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton. It contains a staggering 70 million specimens including some that were collected by Darwin himself, and is a research centre of international importance.
With interactive exhibits galore and famous historic items such as Stephenson’s Rocket, the Science Museum will happily keep children and adults alike entertained for however long you’re there.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is a favorite for those with a taste for finer things, focusing on the decorative arts. It is the largest museum of its kind in the world.
There are many more fantastic museums in London that offer free entry, including the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Clearly, the museums alone could keep any visitor busy for quite a while! Find our more about London's free museums here.
Visit The Houses of Parliament.
It’s quite amazing that absolutely anyone is free to go inside Westminster Palace and watch either the House of Commons or the House of Lords in full swing, debating the future of the country. You won’t have to spend a penny either – you only need to join the queue at St. Stephen’s Entrance to see history in action, although you might have to wait for an hour or so. Still, it’s an opportunity not to be missed!
Throughout the week you can find free comedy evenings at a variety of venues right across London. Most will showcase up-and-coming new talent, and many of the big names in comedy started out doing these free gigs at these venues. What’s more, headline names will sometimes put in an appearance, totally gratis, which is a pretty good deal compared to spending a small fortune to see them a few miles down the road at the Apollo or O2. Camden Head, the Theatre Royal and the Cavendish Arms are all great places to try.
Visit Art Galleries.
Tate Britain and its frequently controversial sister gallery Tate Modern always make for an interesting few hours. They’re free for general admission, but special exhibitions will normally require an admittance fee.
The National Gallery features works by many of the greatest artists ever to have lived, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and so on. If you can name them, they’re here!
The adjoining National Portrait Gallery is also worth a look. It’s the world’s oldest portrait gallery and holds paintings of thousands of influential and important historical (and current) British figures. Again, all the big names are here. As well as the conventional art galleries we'd recommend the street art. We had a brilliant time ( completely free too) looking for graffiti by Banksy, Eine and others around Bermondsey, Shoreditch and Portobello Road.
Covent Garden Market plays host to a wide variety of street performers each and every afternoon. The acts have all been through an audition process, so you’re sure to get high quality entertainment. Audience participation is often actively encouraged and can lead to a brilliant afternoon with plenty of stories to tell later. At the weekend, the area outside the National Theatre will also have a few performers around.
The Changing of the Guard.
A famous and historic tradition, anyone can go and look through the gates of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am to see the Queen’s Guard change over. Definitely something not to be missed, the ritual is played out every single day during the summer, and every other day through the winter months. Whenever you go, it’s worth getting there early if you want a good view.
Explore London's Street Markets.
London’s street markets have a reputation as exciting melting pots of humanity, and the reputation is well deserved. Camden Market is always a favorite, as are Portobello and Greenwich Markets. Less well-known, but no less interesting, are the Brick Lane Market on Sundays and the Old Spitalfields Market, along with several others that are certainly worth keeping an eye out for.
Free London Tours
The Free London Tours run on a "Pay-What-It’s-Worth" basis, so everyone can choose to contribute with what they thought it was worth at the end of the tour.Free Royal Tour
Come with us on a journey through British History and follow in the footsteps of the famous and infamous like Winston Churchill, Guy Fawkes & Henry VIII.
On this tour of Westminster you will visit three royal palaces as we journey together from Big Ben, to Buckingham Palace and back to Trafalgar Square. Discover plots to destroy parliament, Churchill’s hidden bunker, cannibal pelicans, crazy lost tourists and their brush with royalty, exclusive clubs for the rich and famous, England’s most famous admiral and a giant, four metre high bright blue chicken – plus much much more!
When: Every day at 11am
Where: The Churchill statue in Parliament Square.
Duration: Around 2.5 Hours
Old City Tour
Explore London’s Old City where the Romans first settled, visit London’s medieval castle, discover the origins of the Knights Templar and Free Masons, visit one of London’s oldest and most famous pubs, see two-headed swans and discover the devastating fire that almost destroyed London forever and the man who brought her back to life.
The Old City tour covers 2,000 years of almost unbelievable history, packed with laughs and crazy stories – discover how truth can be stranger than any fiction on this London City Tour!
When: Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at 4pm.
Where: Temple Station.
Duration: Around 2.5 Hours
Free Jack The Ripper Tour
Discover one of London’s darkest chapters – the shocking murders of Jack the Ripper. This walking tour promises chills and frights as we visit the locations of the Whitechapel Murders, discover more about the victims and the gruesome details of their murders and explore the conspiracy theories surrounding the identity of the killer – the world’s most chilling, unsolved murder mystery!
When: Every day at 8pm
Where: Tower Hill Station – next to the London wall.
Duration: Around 100 Minutes
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