The best things to do for free in London

Exploring the sights of London can come at a cost – but it's not all bad news for budget travellers. In fact, London excels in offering free experiences for the savvy sightseer.

6 mins

1. Watch a free concert

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. (Dreamstime)

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. (Dreamstime)

Every Monday, Tuesday and Friday lunchtime, St Martin-in-the-Fields, a 17th century church nearby Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross tube station, hosts a free concert from 1pm to 1:45pm, playing a variety of classical and contemporary music.

The Southbank Centre, nearby Embankment tube station has regular free performances of classical and contemporary music throughout the week.

Entry to Westminster Abbey usually costs £21, but if you visit the Abbey, an icon of London's landscape during an Evensong performance, you can visit free of charge. Choirs perform recitals and hymns, often with a special guest. Dates and times vary.

2. Watch a performance at The Scoop

The Scoop, London Bridge City. (Dreamstime)

The Scoop, London Bridge City. (Dreamstime)

The sunken amphitheatre, which sits close to 1,000 people, hosts free events from June to August - including sports and film screenings, and music and theatre performances. All events are free and tickets are not required. You'll find The Scoop just off Tower Bridge next to City Hall.

3. Enjoy panoramic views of the city


Take your pick from London's parks and viewpoints - some of which offer panoramic views to rival those of The Shard and The London Eye, whose entrance prices could buy your evening meal instead. Here are our top three spots...



Greenwich Park. (Pixabay)

Greenwich Park. (Pixabay)

Greenwich Park

Location: South-East London

Nearest tube stop: North Greenwich (Jubilee Line)

Best views: Head to the Royal Observatory for breathtaking vistas across the Thames that take in Canary Wharf, The Gherkin, The Shard, St Paul's Cathedral, the Millennium Dome and more.

What else can you do? Explore hundreds of years of nautical history in The National Maritime Museum. Entry is free but charges apply for some temporary exhibitions.



The view from Primrose Hill, Regent's Park. (Dreamstime)

The view from Primrose Hill, Regent's Park. (Dreamstime)

Regent's Park

Location: Central London

Nearest tube stop: Regent's Park (Bakerloo line)

Best views: Primrose Hill adjoins the northern side of the park; from here you'll be able to spot St Paul's Cathedral, The Shard and The London Eye.

What else can you do? Use the money you've saved to catch a show at the park's intimate Open Air Theatre (tickets from £25). The park is also home to London Zoo and Queen Mary's Gardens, home to London's biggest and most colourful rose garden.



The view from Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath. (Dreamstime)

The view from Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath. (Dreamstime)

Hampstead Heath

Location: North West London

Nearest tube stop: Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak (Overground)

Best views: To the south-east of the heath lies Parliament Hill, which offers panoramas of famous London landmarks including The Gherkin, The Shard and St Paul's Cathedral.

What else can you do? The heath is great for a quick dip. With a ladies' pond, a men's pond, a mixed pond and the Parliament Hill lido, it offers a great selection for outdoor swimming.

4. Meet the royals – well, almost...

The changing of the guard, Buckingham Palace. (Dreamstime)

The changing of the guard, Buckingham Palace. (Dreamstime)

You can't come to London without a royal encounter, so be sure to catch the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace for free. The changing guard takes place throughout the year - check the exact time ahead of your visit.

Or, take a stroll through Kensington Gardens, one of the city's Royal Parks. Here, you'll discover a peaceful slice of London in the Italian Gardens, or by browsing the latest exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries.

5. Meander through markets

Borough Market. (Dreamstime)

Borough Market. (Dreamstime)

It doesn't cost a penny to wander London's cosmopolitan and eclectic markets - although you will need immense willpower not to get your wallet out. The diverse range of street markets dotted across the city offers a glimpse of the amazing food, antiques and crafts available locally.

A walk through the Caribbean cuisine of Brixton Market, or the thriving, foodies' heaven of Borough Market - whose traders sell produce from all corners of the globe - is sure to set your stomach rumbling.

Portobello Road Market, famous for its antiques stalls on Saturdays, is a mile-long stretch of shops and alleyways packed with vendors and bargain hunters.

The vibrant Brick Lane Market, where funky furniture and unusual wares are in ample supply, is best visited on Sundays.

6. Visit world-class museums and galleries

The Natural History Museum, London. (Dreamstime)

The Natural History Museum, London. (Dreamstime)

Some of London's most notable galleries and museums charge absolutely nothing for entry.

Lovers of contemporary art will delight in the eccentricities on display at the Tate Modern, while fans of fine art should make a beeline for the Tate BritainThe National Gallery, or The National Portrait Gallery

History lovers can revel in the ancient relics (including mummies and sarcophagi) at the The British Museum, check out the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, and learn about London's fascinating history at the Museum of London.

Related Articles