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London is another one of those cities that everyone calls expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. So long as you have the know-how, you can quite easily explore all the best London has to offer without breaking the bank. Luckily for you, we have all the information you need right here with our list of 15 things to do in London for free.
1. Visit the free museums
Pretty much all of London’s are museums are free. And we’re not talking any old novelty museums here either. No, we’re talking the city’s top museums – the famous ones! This includes the British Museum on Great Russell St. (which is London’s most visited attraction), the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery around the corner on St Martin’s Place, the Tate Modern and Tate Britain on the River Thames, and the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, all in South Kensington. Who could complain about a little free culture?
2. Go to the cinema
Located on Borough High Street near Borough Tube station (Northern Line), Roxy Bar & Screen is a bar with a difference. Out the back you can catch free movies, all the while sipping on a nice cold pint. They show everything and anything, from Paul Newman classics to kung-fu flicks and runs each Sunday through Wednesday.
3. Walk along the Thames to see the city’s top attractions
Go for a walk from Westminster Bridge along the River Thames to Tower Bridge and you can take a tour of the city’s top attractions without spending a thing. Take in sights like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London for everyone’s favourite price of £0.
4. Catch the changing of the guard
Taking place every day at 11.30am during the summer (and every second day during the winter), the Changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace is one of the most popular London attractions to witness in London. Watch as the Queen’s guards perform the switch in perfect sync, all decked out in ceremonial uniform. Make sure to get down early to get a good viewing point.
5. See a free concert in National Theatre
If you’re one who likes all sorts of music and you’re near London’s National Theatre on Southbank near Waterloo Bridge, you’d be mad not to catch one of the free concerts there. Running Monday-Saturday at 5.45pm and at 1.45pm on Saturday afternoons, you can see jazz and folk, amongst other types of acts.
6. Go to the recording of a TV Show
Just like in America, if you want to be in the audience of a TV show, be it a sitcom, game show or other, you can get tickets for free! All you have to do is visit TVrecordings.com or BBC Shows to see what’s available.
7. Take in a bird’s eye view of London
You can save yourself the price of a ‘flight’ on the London Eye by climbing to the top of Primrose Hill in North London. Here you will be treated to breath-taking views of the British capital for absolutely nothing.
8. Enjoy free DJs in the East End
Don’t fancy paying to get in to one of London’s clubs to see a top DJ? No worries! You can see them in different bars around the East End. These include The Hoxton Pony at 104-108 Curtain Road in Shoreditch and Big Chill Bar on Dray Walk, just off the famous Brick Lane.
9. Enjoy choir singing in Westminster Abbey
While visiting one of London’s most famous attractions may cost £16 during the day, if you leave your visit until when ‘Evensong’ takes place every evening at 5.30pm you won’t have to pay anything. Not only that, you’ll be treated to the sounds of the Abbey’s choir too.
10. Rock out to the latest up and coming bands
Promoters put on free events all over the city, showcasing London’s up-and-coming and burgeoning musical talent. The number of pubs that put on music is pretty much countless, but highlights include Shoreditch’s Rhythm Factory, which puts on free shows during the week and is a favourite with the impossibly cool Indie bands in leg hugging jeans. The Lexington in Angel is the darling of North London crowd and puts on an eclectic mix of nights upstairs. They put on a lot of paid nights, but usually their Sunday sessions are free.
If you’re looking for something a little grittier, then New Cross Inn is home to the best in emerging alternative rock, punk and metal bands and put on plenty of free shows during the week. Then there’s The Notting Hill Arts Club, located in one of London’s most famous suburbs (21 Notting Hill Gate). It has been showcasing London’s up and coming acts for 11 years now. Its small stage makes it that more intimate, while the old sofas are still perfect for enjoying the tunes.
11. Hear people speak their mind at Speakers' Corner
Found at the north-east tip of Hyde Park near Marble Arch, Speakers' Corner is where anybody and everybody can jump on an old crate and voice their opinion on all sorts of subjects every Sunday. Whether it’s politics or fashion, chances are there’s going to be someone talking about it here.
12. See if up and coming comedians can put a smile on your face
Again, like with live music, there’s a great grass-roots comedy scene. Plenty of promoters put on free comedy nights showcasing up-and-coming comics. These are usually crammed into the backrooms of pubs and always have a delightfully bouncy and boozy atmosphere.
Highlights include The Camden Head in Angel, which puts on free comedy nights upstairs every day of the week. Run by Angel Comedy, this is a favourite place for TV comics to come and try out new material, so is a great place to see big names.
The Theatre Royal Stratford (Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford) has free comedy nights every Monday night, while on Wednesdays you get to choose between the Comedy Café (68 Rivington St) in The City, or ‘Mirth Control’ at The Lower Ground Bar (269 West End Lane) in Hampstead.
For a real mix of acts try Stage Fright, currently held in Tufnell Park on the third Wednesday of every month. On top of stand-up comedy they have music, poetry and prose readings and general merriment, all for the very agreeable price of free.
13. Go on a free walking tour
‘Hang on. What’s the catch?’ I hear you ask? Well, there’s none. Sandeman's New London Tours operate a free walking tour in London every day with nothing but the desire to teach all about the great city of London. The ‘Free Tour of London’ leaves from Wellington Arch at 11am and 1pm and takes in sights such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and more.
14. Chill out in London’s parks
London is one of the busiest cities in the world, so it’s good to know the city’s Royal Parks are free to enter when you want to get away from it all. The best-known of these is Hyde Park in West London, while St James’s Park in front of Buckingham Palace is also a great place to relax.
15. See London's most famous sights
Don’t forget all of London’s most famous landmarks. Touristic favourites like Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square, not to mention suburbs like Camden Town and Notting Hill are all free to visit and peruse at your leisure.
Know of any other cool things to do or see in London for free? Let us know in the comments...
Thanks to Heather Kennedy, diegoperez74, LASZLO ILYES, lushdimple, monkeymagic1975, Steve Gardner, Herry Lawford, Ben Reyes, ed_needs_a_bicycle, Sathish J, Steve Collis, Jurriaan Persyn and David Iliff for the images! Please note, all images were held under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.