London is my favourite place and I loved the 6 years that I lived there. People always say it’s an expensive city and, in some ways, it is. Rent is sky high and there is way too much on your doorstep that can suck your wages away in a weekend. But, there are also loads of free things to do. Some of my favourite pastimes in the city were completely free or just cost a few pounds. Here are my top 19 things to do in London for free (or cheap!):
#1 Take the cheap tour of London
Jump on the Number 15 bus on Leman Street near Brick Lane, head to the top floor and grab a seat on the front row if it’s free. The journey into central will take you past Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Monument, St Paul’s, Blackfriar’s Bridge, Fleet Street, Waterloo Bridge, the Strand and Trafalgar Square. Not bad for the price of a bus fare!
#2 Have a picnic on Primrose Hill
Start in Regents Park and walk to the base of Primrose Hill where you will see London Zoo. Just by circling the perimeter of the zoo you will be able see plenty of animals including camels, warthogs and the famous penguins. From here, climb up Primrose Hill and find a quiet spot at the top to appreciate the best view in London.
#3 Get fit with Project Awesome
Project awesome is colourful, fun, friendly and, best of all, free. This great little moevement is the perfect way to start your day and to keep you fit.
#4 Stay up after dark at Museum Lates
Once a month, many of London’s top museums open their doors late for an adult only event. Not only is the event free (for most of them), but the museums organise bars, silent discos, talks and demonstrations. There are lots to choose from but the Science Museum Lates has to be my favourite – partly because you get free reign of the launch lab (an interactive playground) child free!
#5 Greenwich Cable Car flight
Gently rocking in the wind high up above the Thames, the cable car is a great way to see London, especially at night. At less than a fiver (or even less if you use your Oyster travel card) it is well worth the price.
#6 Sampling food at Borough Market
There are lots of markets in London but the setting of Borough Market tops it for me…along with all the great foods you can sample. Alternatively, head to Portobello Market on a Saturday for bric-brac and antiques, but head there early to avoid the crazy crowds.
#7 Walk the Thames Path
There are lots of great walks to do in London but my favourite is following the Thames from Vauxhall all the way to Tower Bridge. There are plenty of free things to see along the way including the street performers on South Bank, the free exhibitions that you can always find on the second floor of the National Theatre and the Tate Modern.
#8 Dance at Notting Hill Carnival
The city has loads of free events and festivals but Notting Hill is one of the best ones in London for Free. Put on your dancing shoes, grab a raincoat and head out to Notting Gill to watch the parade and enjoy the music stages.
#9 Set your alarm for the Flower Market
It’s an early start to catch the New Covent Garden Market (actually in Vauzhall) at it’s best. There’s something quite cool about being there at 4 am and seeing a different side to London life. You can’t buy anything as it is soley for traders.
#10 Soak up the vibe in Camden
I love Camden and all its strangeness. Take a look around the market and go for a wander along the Thames. It’s not cheap but you will also find my favourite veggie restaurant here, Manna.
#11 Pay a visit to the Deer
If it wasn’t for the low flying planes from Heathrow and distant sky scrappers, it’d be hard to believe that Richmond park was in London. Winter is a great time to go for a walk to spot the resident deer, especially early in the morning when it will often be covered in low hung mist.
#12 Catch the River Bus
Londons commuter River Bus offers a great tour of the city from the Thames. Jump on at Putney and take it all the way East to Blackfriars.
#13 Visit the mummies at the British Museum
The British Museum is amazing, even the building itself is an impressive sight. But, of course, it is the mummies that prove to be the main attraction on any visit.
#14 See all of West Ends best shows in one night
Every year Trafalgar Square becomes an open air theatre for West End Live. All the major performances out at that time come to put on a section from their show. If theatre isn’t your thing, how about live outdoor screenings of opera as part of the BP Big Screen event?
#15 See the view from the SkyGarden
Enjoy Londons highest public gardens and the views that come with it. Visiting is free but you will need to book a time slot in advance.
#16 Enjoy the street performers at Covent Garden
Summer is a great time to enjoy Covent Garden and all the street performers. You will find musicians, singners, circus and dance acts – some terrible and some really quite amazing.
#17 Go city wild camping
Say Yes More offer a number of free events. My favourite is the wild camping nights in the city. You meet up at the train station and travel together to a secret location where you roll out your bivy bag and get to know new friends around a campfire.
#18 Listen to the Westminster Cathedral Choir
Each week you can go to Westminster Cathedral to hear the beautiful choir singing. Check online for exact times but most days you will catch a performance at 5pm.
#19 Appreciate some urban art
There are plenty of free art museums in London, but my favourite is found down Leake Street. Here the graffiti is constantly changing and has previously attracted some big name artists.
Looking for more things in London for free? I can recommend Crazy Tourists 25 Best things to do in London, for all the top sites not to be missed!