Lifestyle

200 Fantastic Free Things To Do In London

You won’t even have to spend a penny with our roundup of free things to do in London.

We love extravagant pop-ups as much as the next person (see our guide to the 500 best things to do in London if you’ve got some cash on hand!) but if your bank account is feeling the pinch – and this being January, we expect it might be – Secret London is here to lend a hand. We’ve put together an all-singing, all-dancing roundup of free things to do in London, and it’s a humdinger of a list (if we do say so ourselves).

Whether your interest lies in museums, nature, or the unbridled thrill of getting into London’s top landmarks for free, we’ve found something to suit every taste here. So, give the debit/credit card a break and dive into the best free things to do in London!

Free museums in London

Yep, there are lots of free museums in London to visit for a cultural fix. Ancient art, fascinating objects, and even an 82-foot blue whale skeleton can be found in the capital’s array of museums, with hours and hours of fun to be had.

1. Museum of London

2. British Museum

British Museum

3. The Chocolate Museum (only open on Sundays)

4. Science Museum

5. Design Museum

6. Natural History Museum

Free things to do in London

7. Queen’s House, Greenwich

8. Victoria & Albert Museum

9. Wellcome Collection (currently closed)

10. Imperial War Museum

11. Horniman Museum & Gardens

12. Sir John Soane’s Museum

13. Bank of England Museum (closed until Spring 2022)

14. National Maritime Museum

15. Royal Academy of Music Museum (currently closed)

16. RAF Museum

17. Science Gallery London (reopening May 2022)

18. Grant Museum of Zoology

19. Museum of London Docklands

20. National Army Museum

Free gigs in London

Hearing about free stuff is just music to our ears. From the buskers of Oxford Circus, to the halls of the Royal Opera House, music flows freely across the whole of London, and here’s where to find it.

21. Tinkle the ivories on one of London’s street pianos

22. See a concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields

23. Catch a hot gig at the Old Blue Last

24. Attend a lunchtime concert at the Royal Academy of Music

25. Record your future hit at the Nando’s recording studio

26. Catch the next big thing at Rough Trade on Brick Lane

27. Catch one of the Royal Opera House’s free ‘Live at Lunch’ performances

Free performances in London

Don’t expect free theatre tickets, but we’ve got some pretty nifty things for you to do when it comes to the performing arts. Comedy, films, and a healthy amount of drama await you!

28. Watch the National Theatre’s sets being made at the Sherling High Level Walkway (currently on hold).

29. Marvel at street performers in Covent Garden

30. Take a free acting masterclass at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

31. Spot a celeb at a film premiere at Leicester Square

32. Laugh yourself silly with free comedy shows from Angel Comedy

33. Or chortle away at the Top Secret Comedy Club, where regulars include Jack Whitehall, Joanne McNally, Omid Djalili, and Simon Amstell

34. Dive into the BFI’s film collection

35. Join a free theatre workshop at Almeida for Free

Free markets in London

They’re only free markets if you don’t buy anything, but there’s always free samples to be had… Meander around these gorgeous spots for the perfect weekend day out!

36. Maltby Street Market

37. Broadway Market

38. Leadenhall Market

39. Backyard Market

40. Columbia Road Flower Market

41. Camden Market

42. Greenwich Market

43. Portobello Road Market

44. Borough Market

Food markets

45. Chiswick Flower Market

46. Brixton Village and Market

47. Old Spitalfields Market

48. Mercato Metropolitano

49. Pop Brixton

50. Vinegar Yard

51. Canopy Market

52. Victoria Park Market

53. Market Halls West End, the biggest food hall in the UK (reopening soon)

54. Mercato Mayfair

Free art galleries in London

There is no must in art because art is free.” It certainly is with these free art exhibitions and galleries, perfect for an eyeful of though-provoking paintings, sculptures, and installations. Just remember to pose thoughtfully, and you’ll fool anyone into thinking you’re a genius art critic.

55. Wander around the street art of East London

56. The National Gallery

57. Tate Britain

58. The Serpentine Galleries

59. Scenes in the Square, Leicester Square’s lovely, film-themed statue trail

60. Embrace the underground art scene with Leake Street’s graffiti

61. Somerset House

62. Saatchi Gallery

63. Whitechapel Gallery

64. The Wallace Collection

65. Enter a world of neon dreams at Gods Own Junkyard

66. National Portrait Gallery (currently closed for renovations)

67. Tate Modern

68. William Morris Gallery

69. White Cube Gallery

70. Head along to First Thursdays, when over 150 East London galleries stay open late

71. Be mesmerised by the mosaic madness of Carrie Reichardt’s house

72. Enjoy free events, art displays, and DJ sets at the monthly Tate Lates

Free attractions in London

I’ll level with you: most of the big tourist draws around town charge for entry, but we’ve found some sneaky ways around that (it is our job, after all). You wanted free attractions in London? You got ’em, kid.

73. Choral evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral is the only way to get in for free

74. Join one of the day-long celebrations in Trafalgar Square

75. Wander along the South Bank

76. Wellington Arch, although they’ll charge you if you want to go inside it

77. Explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

78. The O2

79. The Houses of Parliament are free to visit, but only if you’re a UK resident and arrange it through your local MP (they’re currently happening virtually due to COVID-19)

80. Tower Bridge (this dizzying walk will cost you extra)

81. Mosey through Chinatown

82. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace won’t cost you a penny, but summer tours are pricey

83. The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is free to attend, even if tours of the Tower aren’t

84. Big Ben is still closed, but historical talks are available free of charge

85. Westminster Cathedral (which is different to Westminster Abbey, just FYI)

86. Tourists have to pay to enter Westminster Abbey, including their previously hidden gallery – however, worshippers will get in for free

Free walks to go on in London

From free walking tours of London, to self-guided ambles, we’re here to get you up and wandering the streets of the capital. Stretch your legs, up your step count, and get a proper eyeful of nature with any of these lovely London walks.

87. A lovely stroll along Regent’s Canal

88. Walk the river with the Thames Path

89. Tackle the most efficient sightseeing tour of London

90. Pay what’s fair at this walking tour from Sandeman’s

91. See Shakespeare’s London

92. Walk the path of the Great Fire of London

93. Marvel at some glorious buildings on this architecture walk

94. Tackle the mammoth London LOOP walk

95. Wander the paths of Epping Forest

96. Or just take a walk that ends at the pub

Free views over London

It’s time to get high for free (not like that). See stunning, panoramic views of London from high-level platforms or by climbing really big hills, and find a new appreciation for this beautiful city.

97. The Sky Garden

Sky Garden

98. Tate Modern Viewing Level

99. Primrose Hill

100. Parliament Hill

101. Greenwich Park

102. Alexandra Palace (which has a huge beer garden for the summer)

Free cute and colourful places to visit

All the colours of the rainbow, free of charge. See ravishing reds, brilliant blues, and gorgeous greens at London’s most eye-catching places, or mosey through the prettiest streets in London to fill your Instagram feeds with beauty.

103. Wander around these beautiful mews. Or these ones. Maybe these? So many mews!

104. Explore the picturesque Shad Thames

105. Marvel at Notting Hill’s colourful streets

106. Climb your way up Peckham Levels’ vibrant stairs

107. Lose yourself in Neal’s Yard

108. Feel futuristic in the Kings Cross illuminated tunnel

109. Shop under the colourful Carnaby lights

110. Meander through the charming Cecil Court, filled with old bookshops

Free exercise classes in London

Blergh. But better it’s free than spending £60 a month on the gym, am I right? Whether you’re on wheels, a yoga mat, or on your own two feet, you needn’t break the bank to work out, because London is your playground.

111. Get your skates on with free rollerskating lessons

Free

112. Find inner peace with lunchtime meditation sessions

113. Work up a sweat at these exercise classes

114. Strike a pose with free yoga classes 

115. Show off your tricks at the famous South Bank skate park

116. Join a running club

117. Use London’s parks to get fit

118. Explore the city at top speed with a free London parkour class

Free parks and gardens in London

Park yourself at one of these spots for a fabulously free afternoon, or wander beneath the trees and reconnect with nature. Oh, and if you’re enjoying this massive list, we’ve got another one dedicated entirely to parks and gardens!

119. Hyde Park (a classic)

120. Walthamstow Wetlands

121. Kyoto Garden

122. Postman’s Park

123. Regent’s Park

124. Barbican Conservatory

125. Paddington’s Floating Pocket Park

126. Hampstead Hill Gardens and Pergola

127. Crossrail Place Roof Garden

128. St Dunstan in the East

129. Battersea Park and the London Peace Pagoda

130. The Isabella Plantation, found in the tranquil heart of Richmond Park

131. St James’s Park, famous for its annual carpet of daffodils and cherry blossoms

132. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden – and their gorgeous Pumpkin Festival!

133. Tranquil Crossbones Garden, home to London’s forgotten dead

134. The Garden at 120, with ravishing rooftop views

135. Red Cross Garden, in the shadow of The Shard

136. The Tide, Greenwich’s fancy Thameside park

Best shops in London to explore

These places are perfect for a browse, but you’ll have to resist temptation to keep that whole free thing going. From historic department stores to cute independent shops, this city is a shopper’s paradise.

137. Liberty

Free things to do

138. House of Hackney

139. Westfield (at both White City and Stratford)

140. Conservatory Archives

141. Harrods

142. Daunt Books, Marylebone

143. Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

144. The Royal Arcade

145. The dreamy Bluebird store in Covent Garden

146. Hatchards, the royal-approved bookshop

Even more free things to do in London

You weren’t tired of free stuff in London, were you? Good, cause we aren’t close to being done yet – here’s the best of the rest, with an incredible smorgasbord of experiences and places to check out across the city.

147. Marvel at the beauty of this stunning Hindu temple

148. Argue your case at Speaker’s Corner

149. Learn something new at the British Library

150. Wander round one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries

151. Take a tour of Brixton Windmill

152. Watch Battersea Power Station’s transformation into ultra-luxe flats (also look out for this insane sky pool and two new Northern line stations!)

153. Admire the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican Estate

154. See the Churchill Arms, the flower power pub of London

155. Visit the mysterious Roman temple in the City

156. Amble through the stunning Hays Galleria

157. Attend a free lecture at Gresham College

158. Hunt for your dream home in Kensington and Chelsea

159. Pay your respects at David Bowie’s memorial mural in Brixton

160. Recreate THAT album cover on Abbey Road

161. See cute animals for free at a city farm – try Hackney, Spitalfields, Vauxhall or Kentish Town

162. Pose outside No. 10 Downing Street (the fake one)

163. Watch the swift hand of justice at The Old Bailey

164. Magic up a photo op at Platform 9 and 3/4

165. Visit the Actor’s Church

166. Dive into the past at London’s Roman amphitheatre

167. Uncover the secrets of Freemason’s Hall

168. Find tranquility at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

169. Experience the hustle, bustle, and billboards of Piccadilly Circus

170. See medieval magnificence in the Guildhall Great Hall

171. Paddle the waters of London with Moo Canoes – free if you attend their monthly canal litter-picking events

172. Aim “fore” success at Croydon Disc Golf (bring your own disc to keep it free)

173. Explore the artwork of the Harry Potter films at the magical House of MinaLima

174. Hunt down the seven noses of Soho

175. Follow Camden’s Hollywood-style Walk of Fame

176. Skip London altogether and explore these breathtaking nearby villages or go on some of these country walks

177. Or dream a little bigger and conquer a nearby castle

178. Get inventive and explore London by way of the Monopoly board!

Free seasonal events in London

Ok, so they’re free, but they won’t be around all year. These seasonal delights are often short and sweet – but they’ll certainly keep you coming back to London all year long!

179. Be dazzled by a stunning free light festival: Winter Lights (January)

180. Partake in London’s Chinese New Year parade, the largest outside of Asia (February)

181. Celebrate amazing women for International Women’s Day (March)

182. Support your pals in the London Landmarks Half Marathon – or try and run it yourself… (April)

183. See all of London in bloom, from bluebells, to cherry blossom, to wisteria (April/May)

184. Find hidden green spaces during Open Garden Squares Weekend (June)

185. Get your new profile pic at Mayfield Lavender Farm – it’s free for under 16s, but adults will have to pay a small fee to see the lavender (June to August)

186. Show your true colours at Pride in London (July)

187. See all the smashing action during Wimbledon (July).

188. Head to London’s overnight art festival (July).

189. Pick up a free plant at the RHS’s Big Plant Giveaway (July)

190. Boogie your way around Notting Hill Carnival (August)

191. Kick back at Ruislip Lido, the beach you can reach on the Tube (Summer)

192. Watch the summer slip by from the Granary Square steps (and play in the fountains!) (Summer)

193. Cool off at one of the capital’s best wild swimming spots (Summer – or winter if you’re hardy enough!)

194. Wander round London’s most impressive buildings for free at Open House London (September)

195. Challenge yourself to the mighty London Marathon! (October)

196. Marvel at Blackheath’s free fireworks display (November)

197. See the splendour of the Lord Mayor’s show (November)

198. Feel the festive cheer at one of London’s Christmas markets (November/December)

199. Join in the merry madness of Santacon (December)

200. Stroll beneath London’s dazzling array of Christmas lights (December)



Also published on Medium.