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, 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 card a break and dive into the best free things to do in London!
Please note that due to Covid-19, some of these places and activities may not be available right now. We’ve tried to state which options are currently closed or unavailable, but with the situation often changing, you’re advised to check in advance!
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.
13. Bank of England Museum (closed until 2022)
15. Royal Academy of Music Museum (reopening TBC)
16. RAF Museum
17. Science Gallery London (reopening TBC)
Free gigs in London
Hearing about free stuff is just music to my ears. From the buskers of Oxford Circus, to the halls of the Royal Opera House, music flows freely across 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.
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. (Currently on hold)
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. (Reopening TBC)
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, Omid Djalili, and Simon Amstell.
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!
37. Broadway Market
41. Camden Market
42. Greenwich Market
44. Borough Market
49. Pop Brixton
50. Vinegar Yard
51. Canopy Market
53. Market Halls West End, the biggest food hall in the UK (reopening TBC)
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 round the street art of East London.
57. Tate Britain
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
65. Enter a world of neon dreams at Gods Own Junkyard.
67. Tate Modern
70. Head along to First Thursdays, when over 150 East London galleries stay open late for free exhibitions, events, and talks on the first Thursday evening of each month. (Online until the pandemic subsides)
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.
74. Join one of the day-long celebrations in Trafalgar Square.
75. Wander along the 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, rather than in real life).
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).
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.
90. Pay what’s fair at this walking tour from Sandeman’s.
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
99. Primrose Hill
100. Parliament Hill
101. Greenwich Park
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.
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.
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.
112. Find inner peace with lunchtime meditation sessions.
113. Work up a sweat at these exercise classes. (currently on hold)
114. Strike a pose with yoga classes at St Margaret’s House. (currently on hold)
115. Show off your tricks at the famous South Bank skate park.
116. Join a running club.
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.
128. St Dunstan in the East.
131. St James’s Park, famous for its annual carpet of daffodils.
133. Tranquil Crossbones Garden, home to London’s forgotten dead.
134. The Garden at 120, with ravishing rooftop views. (Closed until late 2021)
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 shopping paradise.
138. House of Hackney
139. Westfield (at both White City and Stratford).
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.
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.
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 litterpicking 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.
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!
188. Join a picnic in the middle of Regent Street during Summer Streets (July).
189. Head to London’s overnight art festival (July).
190. Pick up a free plant at the RHS’s Big Plant Giveaway (July)
191. Boogie your way around Notting Hill Carnival (August).
193. Watch the summer slip by from the Granary Square steps (and play in the fountains!) (Summer).
194. Cool off at one of the capital’s best wild swimming spots (Summer – or winter if you’re hardy enough!)
195. Wander round London’s most impressive buildings for free at Open House London (September).
197. See the splendour of the Lord Mayor’s show (November).
199. Join in the merry madness of Santacon (December).
200. Stroll beneath London’s dazzling array of Christmas lights (December).
Right, that’s one challenge over – now try and do the 500 best things to do in London!
Also published on Medium.