25 Free Things to do in London

"The best things in life are free. The second best things in life are very expensive.”

So said the classy Coco Chanel. A day out in "The City" can be just as thrilling as unkind to the pocket. So, move over breakfast in Barnyard and shopping at Oxford Street, here’s a comprehensive list of the most fun and free things to do in London. Hold your fire, here's a list of the most authentic and quintessentially British paraphernalia that awaits!

1. Royal Festival Hall

Royal festival hall -visit on weekend for free things to do

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Embedded at the heart of Southbank Centre Complex, this beauty was built mainly to commemorate The Festival of Britain in 1951. It is one of the world’s most revered performing arts venue. If you are artistic and creatively bent, you might just go to this place with your journal and quill for a bountiful dose of inspiration. Primarily the grounds for concerts, there’s a very high probability that you may come across a free concert, pretty exhibitions or workshops happening, particularly if you happen to visit Royal festival hall on a weekend. Don't forget to elevate your senses at the Singing Glass Elevator up to the 5th floor. There's the magnificent view of the Thames flowing by serenely.

Also, there’s free WiFi throughout the building.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1, 020-7960 4200

2.  Wallace Collection

Wallace Collection

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once you get through the overwhelming crowd of Oxford Street, you will come across Hertford House, which houses the Wallace Collection. It’s a national museum cocooned in a historic town house. It is a surmass of 25 galleries, with the unrivalled show of 18th century French paintings, furniture and porcelain. They are all beautifully stroked with Old Master paintings. There’s world class, top notch old world armoury for exhibit too. Each room depicts a different pastel aura and charm, and you'd have to stop by and gaze to absorb and soak-in the fine detail.

The restaurant in the central atrium is ranked amongst London’s most exclusive gallery dining spaces.

Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1, 020-7563 9500. Open: Mon-Sun, 10 am to 5 pm.

3. The Scoop

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Near the London Bridge is an outdoor amphitheatre, which is forever vibrant. Here is a brewing affair of performing arts of all kinds. During the warm fuzzy summers, you can catch a movie screening or theatrics on display. Grab your lunch and then lounge as you soothe your creative instincts at the scoop. This magnificent place can grace 800 guests at a time. In the evenings, during summers, you’ll have live concerts along with an array of other art forms, splendidly on display. There’s fitness classes too. Take a sneak-peek inside the City Hall, where a spiral ramp opens way to gallery spaces, a cafe and a giant map of London.

The Scoop, City Hall, 110 The Queen’s Walk, SE1, 020-7403 4866

4. Postman’s Park

Postman’s Park

Image Source: Geograph

This one is a secret hide-out of the city. Tucked in a corner, away from the din of the crowd, here’s a glimpse to the selfless acts of people and the most befitting tribute to them. It’s a Victorian Memorial of People, who gave their lives trying to save others. In a city so fast and posh, this one feels like a breath of fresh air. It also houses the famous Watts Memorial, which was built in 1900. There’s an audio tour to the memorial too.

Postman's Park, King Edward Street.

5. Ceremony of Keys

Ceremony of Keys London

Image Source: Geograph

This exquisite gate closing ceremony has been performed for about 700 years, every night by the Yeoman Warders, also called the Beefeaters. Only once has this ceremony been so much as delayed. You could view the history in process, each night, by writing a letter to the Ceremony of the Keys Office.

Tower of London, EC3, 0844 482 7777, Open Tues-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun-Mon 10am-5.30pm

6. British Museum

British Museum London

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Located in Bloomsbury, the reputation of this place precedes any judgement, but, oh this place is a must visit, regardless. You’ll be enchanted by the glass ceiling at top, and relics from potentially all cultures across the globe. There’s never ending series of galleries, where you can find all sorts of artifacts, sculptures and quite a few pieces from the wide world you didn’t really imagine sighting here.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, 020-7323 8299, WC1, Open Sat-Thur 10am-5.30pm, Fri 10am-8.30pm

7. The Royal Institution

The Royal Institution London

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This institution, stands tall, having witnessed the winning of 14 Nobel Prizes and the discovery of ten chemical elements. It has witnessed and served the world of science for 200 years. A regular lecture here would involve some fee, but the museum at the basement is always open. You could see the world’s first thermos flask along with various scientific contraptions and instruments. The emerging field of nanotechnology is also given shape by legit scientists talking about it in the lab here.

The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, W1, 020-7409 2992,. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm

8. Tate Modern

Tate Modern London

Image Source: Kevin Gale/ Flickr

This is Great Britain’s very own National gallery of International Modern Art and Forms. It has shaped up to be one of the world’s finest modern art galleries. The galleries showcases modern art, from the era of 1900s. Every six months, the tate modern gives way to an artist to portray a sculpture, enormous and beautiful, at the splendid hall.

Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1, 020-7887 8888. Open Sun-Thur 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm

9. St. Bride’s Church

Image Source: Kevin Gale

This is a monument, that conceals in it both history and a certain charm for all of those who dream of getting hitched. The architecture of this beautiful church is said to have inspired the tiered wedding cakes. It’s said that this place was holy grounds since the 7th century. It was only in 16th century that Christopher Wren constructed a monument here. The history of this place bears happy resonance and affable beauty to it’s name. There’s medieval glass and Roman remains to gaze upon too.

St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, EC4, 020-7427 0133, Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sun 10am-6.30pm

10. Speaker’s Corner

Speaker’s Corner London

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a treat to all you speakers and orators. This corner and practice has existed since the Victorian Era. Speakers could come up and speak on any topic for as long as they wish to. The deliverance obviously has to stay within the laws of free speech. Public speaking, debate and free speech are all allowed here. Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park is the original and naturally, the most noted of all speaker’s corners.

Speaker's Corner, North-east corner of Hyde Park, near Marble Arch, W1

11. British Library

British Library London

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This one’s a dream come true for all you avid readers, writers and historians. The British Library is the United Kingdom's oldest and largest library. It is also the largest library in the world as categorized by items catalogued. But it’s not all monotonous and only for scholars and researchers. There’s galleries with all sorts of genre, including literature and music. There’s a quirky bookshop and a quaint little cafe with free WiFi. It’s highly updated with changing literary themes of the times. The orange brick walled exterior gives you all the classic feels.

British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1, 01937 546546. Open Mon, Wed-Thur 9.30am-6pm, Tue 9.30am-8pm, Fri 9.30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm

12. The Bank of England Museum

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This fascinating place weaves a story from the start of the bank in the 16th century to date and the role of the bank in economy of the world today. It is a classic retreat and portrayal of the banking profession. The exhibits include antique furniture from the bank, vintage bank notes and art-work. There’s a display of claims to replace the Bank of England notes from the relative or the legal representatives of the victims of Titanic disaster. There's letters from members of the public and from the ones who made through who had sent aboard the liner bank notes and letters. The museum is thus about much more than money. Here’s an unfurling of the history of the bank and about the people who helped shape it over the course of 300 years.

Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, EC2R, 020 7601 5545

13. British Film Institute Mediatheque

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The British Film Institute has much to explore including two bars, well stocked film stores, small exhibition space and a cinema screen. However, the cherry on the top is the Mediatheque. It’s a viewing station, with 2,500 highlights from the BFI National Archive to choose from. It is the world’s greatest and most vivid collection of film and television to choose from, free of charge! The array of viewings include, documentaries, kid’s TV, feature films and a plethora of other viewings that have rarely been seen since they got released.  

British Film Institute, Belvedere Road, London, 020 7928 3535, SE1. Open Tue-Fri 12 noon-8pm, Sat-Sun 12.30pm-8pm

14. Skateboard Park

Skateboard Park

Image Source: James Nash

Here’s a visual and sensual treat for all you hipsters! Lurking beneath The Queen Elizabeth Hall is the Skateboard Park, with quite a few people skateboarding at all times. This place is also open to graffiti artists so that they may express themselves without any hassles. Even if you don’t skateboard, this place is quite a sight to behold and a must visit hence. To add to the quirk is the nearby "Skateboard Graveyard” into which broken skateboards are dumped.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1, 020-7960 4200

15. Grant Museum of Zoology

Grant Museum of Zoology London free entry

Image Source: geograph

If there’s one place in the world known for its quirk when it comes to museums, it has to be London. There’s this entire museum dedicated to Zoology with all sorts of fascinating portrayals, correction- tangible real-life ones at display. It’s always open for the studies of the Zoology students of University of London. But it is open to general public too. It is also famous for hosting occasional screenings of cult movies which essentially involve monsters and other creatures. It is usually graced with a glass of wine and a tour to the museum, all free of cost.

Grant Museum of Zoology, 21 University Street, WC1, 020-3108 2052. Open Mon-Fri 1pm-5pm

Don't be surprised just yet. Checkout Budget Travelling in London

16. Barbican Centre

Image Source: geograph

It is a performing arts centre in the city, with a magnificent one of its kind architecture. It is the largest centre for performing arts in the whole of Europe. It is the finest example of the architectural style of "brutalism”. The structure conceals audacious walkways, hidden gardens, steps and slopes. Traffic is prohibited here. It is a giant real life maze for you to solve. You’ll come across a picturesque pond area in front of the centre. Often, this arts venue puts up free entertainment. The exclusive "Curve Gallery” is free to visit. There’s exhibitions held here sometimes too. The conservatory at the roof-top is also an attraction.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, 020-7638 4141

17. Gresham College

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Here’s a chance for you to live your dream of going back to college. The college hosts free lectures from time to time, ever since Mr. Thomas Gresham announced it in his will in the 15th century. There’s about 140 free lectures given out each year. They are more like talks with an array of topics to confabulate upon. The college is very open and liberal in its demeanour. Some halls even date back to the times before Gresham.

Gresham College, Barnard's Inn Hall, EC1, 020-7831 0575

18. National Portrait Gallery

Image Source: Herry Lawford 

Apart from museums, London also prides itself on some really interesting galleries. This was the first of it’s kind gallery of portraits in the world in the 18th century, back when it opened. This gallery has an unsurpassed collection of contemporary portraits. This gallery houses the portraits of all the great and important people of London. The cafe on top offers an excellent view to the west-end.

National Portrait Gallery, 2 St Martin's Place, WC2, 020-7306 0055. Open Sat-Wed 10am-6pm, Thur-Fri 10am-9pm

19. National Gallery

Image Source: geograph

This one is an exquisite art museum. It houses paintings, some of which dates back to the 13th century to the 1900s. You get lost in this best free of charge show that runs all throughout the year in town. The place is always bustling with enthusiasts. At the same time, you can always find a treasured recluse corner. On Friday evenings, the gallery opens late, where talks and tours are organized.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2, 020-7747 5958. Open Sat-Thur 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-9pm

20. Museum of London

Image Source: Justinc

This is one venue, which fascinates the Londoners and tourists alike. This place documents the history of London from the pre-historic times. The place is like short trip throughout London, to know and experience more of it. You could also walk through the popular Victorian shopping arcade. This place definitely holds a lot of fascination and novelty in it.

Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2, 020-7001 9844. Open Mon-Sun 10am-6pm

21. Richmond Park

Image Source: Amertner

This is a fascinating place to take a stroll and enjoy the fresh air, greens and deer spotting! This is a royal park which has around 650 deers. This grassland like landscape offers you the perfect spot to relax as butterflies fly by amongst beautiful flowers. There’s golf courses and playgrounds at two separate gate ends. There’s fishing available and horse riding tracks. There’s a cycling path too. It’s basically a big organic woodland garden.

Richmond TW10 5HS, 0300 061 2200

22. Platform No. 93/4 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

All you potterheads would be thrilled to know that this epic platform is free for visit all throughout the year. This is the fictional platform at which the witches and wizards are supposed to board the Hogwarts express at. This spot at King’s Cross Station is one of the most popular destination for all the fans of the fictional Harry Potter world.

King's Cross, Euston Rd, London N1 9AL, United Kingdom, +44 845 748 4950

23. God’s Own Junkyard

Image Source: Matt Brown

Here’s an interesting and extremely flashy collection of neon signboards. Both used and the new ones can be found here. There’s salvaged signs, vintage neons, neon fantasies, retro displays and old movie props. This place houses amazing repaired and resurrected neon signboards that are designed to form a fancy and exquisite collection. It houses the exclusive, not-to-be found anywhere else collection of neon signboards and is free for the public to explore.

God's Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, E179HQ. Open on weekends from 11 am to 6 pm.

24. National Maritime Museum

Image Source: geograph

This museum adds to the attraction that Greenwich already is. Apart from sneaking a snap at the Prime Meridian, you could also get your dose of Britain’s Naval History by visiting this museum. It’s a neoclassical museum building, which gets better as you go in. There’s quite a few interactive exhibits which portray the maritime achievements and happenings of Britain. There’s Miss Britain III at display which was the first boat to top 100mph speed on open water, glamorously at display. There’s exquisite galleries that would be revered by people who are interested in the subject.

National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF, United Kingdom, +44 20 8858 4422
 

25. Borough Market

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Functioning since the 13th century, this is the oldest market in London. It’s bustling with crowd, as it’s usually operative on weekends only. It’s a food lover’s paradise as it’s got an array of food products, all with fresh veggies, colorful fruits, warm shrimps and thick cheese. It attracts all those who value the source and produce of their food. All the passionate cooks, chefs, restaurateurs and anyone who finds delight in the arrangement of fresh food. Also, it’s not just about the food products, what makes this place outstanding is the people who swarm in and the overall aroma of the place.

Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL, 020 7407 1002

London proves to be a delight for anyone looking forward to have a good time, with or without a dime. It’s one of those unique destinations which has a bundle of things to offer for all sorts of audiences.

Go get your high at the London Bridge now!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AKSHATA MISHRA AKSHATA MISHRA

You've got to follow your own calling.

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