Free + Cheap Things to Do in London
This post covers free things to do, including a top 10 list, as well as free things to do at night, with kids, and even cheap and almost free things to do.
- Top 10
- Nighttime Activities
- Cheap Things to Do
- Other Things to Do in London
- Free Tours By Foot
BEST FREE EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO
Below is our top 10 free things to do in London. We link to more in-depth pages to help you learn more and to plan you time (and watch your budget).
Watch the Changing of the Guard
No trip to London would be complete without taking in all the pomp and glory of the Changing of the Guard Ceremony.
Be sure to read our post on planning your visit, including an explanation of the ceremony, where to stand (you can’t see the whole thing), and when to get there.
Either join us on one of our Westminster Tours or take in the ceremony yourself and enjoy one of the most fabulous displays of pageantry you will ever see!
We also provide you tips on planning out your day before or after the ceremony, including taking a tour of Buckingham Palace.
Walk in the Footsteps of the Beatles at Abbey Road
Recreate the famous album cover by the Fab Four who recorded their material at the Abbey Road studios, located right beside the most famous traffic crossing in the world!
Located in St. John’s Wood, it’s very easy to get there by bus or the Underground.
Be sure to read our post on planning a visit to the world’s most famous pedestrian crosswalk.
Visit the House of Commons and the House of Lords
The Houses of Parliament, located inside the Palace of Westminster, is the legislative body for the United Kingdom.
Although you may assume that such an important building would be closed to visitors, this is not the case!
Any time the House of Lords or the House of Commons is at work inside the Palace, it is free for the public to enter the building and sit in the public galleries to watch the political debates as they take place! Learn how.
Here’s a virtual tour video of the House of Commons
Read our post on how to visit the Houses of Parliament, which contains information on when you can go, security and prohibited items, and much more.
Visit Platform 9 3/4
What’s a trip to London without a visit to the most famous train platform in the world?
Delighting Potter-heads for years now, Platform 9 3/4 is tucked away in the back of King’s Cross Station.
Visitors can take a photo as they push their trolley through the magical barrier into the other side!
But why not take a guided tour of London Harry Potter film sights with us?
Witness the Ceremony of the Keys
For 700 years the gates to the world-famous Tower of London have been locked every night in a process known as the Ceremony of the Keys.
Visitors can apply in advance to attend the ceremony and see for yourself one of the oldest continued traditions in the United Kingdom.
Tickets are free, but they are not easy to come by. If you plan to be in London during the high tourist season, then be sure to book months in advance
Our blog post details what the ceremony is, how to get tickets, and other useful tips.
Experience the Street Art of London
London is one of the world’s premier cities to view street art and there is no better place to see it than in London’s East End.
Renowned artists as well as the anonymous hit the London streets to put up some of the most impressive pieces of artwork.
Jam-packed full of eclectic, interesting, shocking, and beautiful street art, this area of London is practically blanketed in some of the most famous street art in existence.
You can roam East London on your own or you could join us on one of our free London Street Art and Graffiti Tours.
We know that both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey have a hefty price-tag for those wishing to buy tickets to go inside.
Entry to both is free with the purchases of several tourist discount passes.
But for those who are traveling on a budget, it is worth noting that both churches hold services on weekday evenings and throughout the day on Sundays that are free for the public to attend.
Guests at the services are not allowed to wander throughout the building.
However, they are invited to come inside and sit in the main body of the buildings and partake in a church service being held in some of the most breathtaking religious sites in the country.
At St. Paul’s, the 17:00 (5 pm) weekday services and the 15:15 (3:15) Sunday service contain the Choral Evensong.
These services are sung by boys and gentlemen’s choirs that feature some of the most enchanting, haunting and impressive church performances in the world!
Take a Self-Guided London Bus Tour
London buses are cheap and easy to use, and once you know where you’re going you’ll find that you can do some sightseeing whilst riding the bus – at no extra cost!
Take a peek at routes 11, 9, and 15 which pass some of the most popular sites in town: Kensington Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, and Somerset House just to name a few.
Most of these buses are double-decker buses, so you will get a view from up high.
If you already have a travelcard or an Oyster card, then you can easily get on and off at any stop you like.
We detail a few of these recommended routes on our London bus tour comparison page.
We even have a GPS-enabled audio tour of Route 11.
Visit a Free London Museum
Which museum? Well, here in London you are spoiled for choice!
The majority of all our national museums are free for the public to visit.
Although exhibitions may cost additional money, entrance to the museums and into the primary gallery spaces come at absolutely no extra cost.
You could easily spend days exploring all the museums and galleries London has to offer and it will not cost you a single penny!
Be sure to read our list of free London museums.
Free Observation Deck
At the top of London’s new “Walkie Talkie” building sits a restaurant, bistro, bar…and free public garden (called the Skygarden)!
The views from this building are almost unrivaled in London and even though the outdoor viewing balcony closes around 5, the atrium stays open until the late hours of the night.
Watch the sunset from the garden and enjoy the sights of London as it lights up the night. Guests must pre-book but there is no cost to do so.
We will help you plan your visit.
Take in a Free Concert
Held in the historic church of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, weekly classical concerts are performed here which are totally free to attend!
Each concert lasts around 45 minutes and one need only arrive around 10 minutes in advance to snap up an excellent seat.
Greenwich is fast becoming one of the most well-known boroughs of London.
Encompassing over 4 centuries of royal influence, naval regalia, and enough museums to keep you busy for weeks, Greenwich is also home to one of the best London markets!
Get the most out of your Greenwich visit with our free self-guided walk.
At the confluence of Regents and Paddington Canals lies an often overlooked area of London.
Take an hour and visit Little Venice and then walk Regents Canal through Regents Park on to Camden Town.
Take In A London Lecture
Gresham College in the centre of London has been putting on public lectures for around 400 years!
From topics like history and philosophy to art and modern life, the lectures here are aimed to entertain and educate members of the public.
Not only are the lectures here completely free to attend, but some of them also take place in Barnards Inn Hall, one of the oldest surviving parts of the College that has been in existence since the 16th century.
For a list of upcoming topics, check out their website.
Go to a Park
London has a plethora of beautiful landscapes for you to explore.
Vibrant and buzzing Hyde Park, host to events throughout the year; Royal Kensington Gardens; picturesque Regent’s Park; St. James (home of the swans belonging to Her Majesty) or Henry VIII’s hunting grounds – Richmond Park!
And all our free, run by the Crown Estate, for you to enjoy!
Wilton’s is the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall!
Shows have been taking place here since the 1850’s and today this historic venue hosts musical, burlesque and comedy acts.
Today, Wilton’s plays host to the occasional FREE performance for the public to attend! Snap up a ticket soon as they go quite fast!
Below are our favorite things to do at night.
Several items, such as the Ceremony of the Keys, a late night at a free museum, viewing London from above, or taking a public, double-decker bus to tour the sights at night, are all mentioned in the top 10 section.
Check out our master things to do in London at night post for even more ideas of nighttime activities. The video for the
Enjoy the Lights at Piccadilly Circus
Famous the world over, Piccadilly Circus is a large traffic junction in the middle of London, linking Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly and Regent’s Street.
And it was here just over 100 years ago that the first electric lights in the capital were put on display.
The bright lights here still draw visitors from all over the world who have come to enjoy some of the most famous lights on earth.
Check out our guide to things to do in Piccadilly Circus.
Stargaze in Hampstead
The Hampstead Scientific Society opens its observatory to the public from September to April each year.
Guests are given information on the various telescopes here, the vast range of celestial objects they will get to view, and also special events that coincide with eclipses and meteor showers, etc.
And best of all – it’s all for free! See when their next star-gazing event is on their website.
Visit a Museum
London’s museums are always worth visiting and the majority of them are free (read our guide to free London Museums).
However, what is not as well-known is the fact that some museums operate late nights, where doors are opened to the public long after the sun has set!
Think of places like the National Gallery or the Tate Modern (open until 10 pm!) for a chance to explore the museums for free, once the larger crowds of daytime guests have departed.
Head to the Southbank Centre
All throughout the year, the Southbank Centre showcases exhibitions, art installations, film, and events. They are almost always all free and they stay open well into the evening hours.
Check out interesting installations like an interactive LED lightroom, or watch films detailing life on the front lines of conflict throughout the world – the exhibitions are ever-changing and always engaging.
Find out what’s coming up on their website.
Take in a Talk
Birkbeck University in London’s Bloomsbury area operates a constantly changing calendar of interesting lectures and talks.
The events normally take place in the evening, making this a great way to spend your time after many of the bigger tourist attractions have closed.
Talks here take in a wide variety of subjects and topics, usually based around science, history, and current events.
See what talks are on during your London visit on their website.
Walk on the Wild Side
University College London’s Grant Museums Zoology is not only free to visit but throughout the year the college stages free film screenings of movies centered around animals.
Showing cult classics and quirky movies, the screenings are free for members of the public to attend – and they often provide a free glass of wine for visitors to enjoy when the film has finished!
See a Comedy Show
The Angel Comedy club takes place upstairs in a pub near Angel Underground Station.
Tickets for each Saturday night performance are free on a first-come-first-served basis.
Featuring known performers and up-and-coming acts, it’s a guaranteed great night out that won’t break the bank!
Below are our picks for family-friendly activities in London. Of course, this depends on the ages of your children.
Many of the items in our other sections are also great for families, for example, Harry Potter sightseeing, the Ceremony of the keys, and too many others to list here, so be sure to browse those sections.
Be sure to also read our master post on things to do with kids in London.
Go on a Bat Walk
London Zoo isn’t the only place in London where you can see animals!
The London Bat Group is a charity that works toward the well-being and preservation of bat species living in London.
As part of their work, they organize free ‘Bat Walks’ at random days throughout the years.
Guests are taken to various different locations, taught about bats and their place in London, as well as a great chance to see these fascinating little creatures!
Find out when the next walk is on their website.
Diana Memorial Playground
The Diana Memorial Fountain itself is good fun for children, it’s free to take off your shoes and tread through the water (a great treat, especially in summer!).
But next to the Fountain is the Memorial Playground, full of activities and displaying a large climb-able pirate ship right in the center, it’s one of the best outdoor activities for youngsters here in the capital.
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is worth visiting even for those traveling without children – but for those with little ones, the Science Museum is full of hands-on educational activities.
Here children can create science-based art, construct their own crafts, and take in a fun film in the Science Museum IMAX theatre.
Museum of Childhood
Run by the brilliant heads of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of Childhood is aimed at visitors of all ages, with special events and programs for children even as young as under 5.
With multimedia interaction and various displays and installations, this museum highlights childhood experiences from all over the world and is a great day out for the entire family.
London is one of the biggest and most sprawling metropolises in the world – but we also have our fair share of green spaces and wild animals!
City farms are popping up all over the place and offer a great way for children to get hands-on experience with farm animals as well as speaking to their caretakers and learning about running a classic British farm.
The Barbican Big Adventure
This is a family-oriented do-it-yourself adventure trail!
By solving clues, playing games, and even using artistic talents, families will be led through the vast architecture of the Barbican Centre, learning about the building – and London – whilst making their way.
Totally free and with a possible prize at the end – this is one of the most unique family experiences in London.
Crystal Palace Dinosaurs
Located entirely inside Crystal Palace Park, the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are a collection of over 30 statues, all designed by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.
Although the statues are Victorian, they are still a brilliant treat for modern families.
Listed by English Heritage as a Grade 1 Monument, the dinosaurs are life-like and fantastical and definitely worth a visit.
The Natural History Museum
Another Dinosaur related mention on our list! The Natural History Museum currently has on display fossils, bones, and re-created statues of dinosaurs on display…including a moving, ‘breathing’ T-Rex!
Also at the Natural History Museum is the wonderful section on bugs and insects, giving children a chance to get up close and personal with creepy crawlies!
Feeding the Ducks
Both Regent’s Park and St. James’s Park play host to hundreds of birds and waterfowl.
Bring along a loaf of bread and get feeding! The birds in both parks are tame and will even take food right from your hands.
Although it’s important to keep an eye on your children (especially with the shockingly big pelicans and swans) it’s a fun experience for members of the entire family.
London is full of people making a living by performance art!
Head to places like the Covent Garden Piazza, the north side of Trafalgar Square, or the Southbank near the London Eye to espy human statues, break-dancers, musicians, magicians, and even some of your children’s’ favorite cartoon characters come to life!
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666, this 202ft tall structure is the tallest free-standing stone column in the WORLD!
For visitors wanting to experience one of London’s oldest tourist attractions, it’s possible to climb all 311 steps to the top and get some great views, too!
Tickets are under £5.00 for adults and under £3.00 for children which makes this an affordable London experience.
Watch A Film
Home to the London Classic “Sing-Along Sound of Music,” the Prince of Wales Theatre is centrally located in Leicester Square.
It features a classic cinema, art-house films, cult classics, relatively new releases, or long-forgotten films for an extremely affordable price.
Shows run daily and tickets start as low as £4.00.
Check out their website for details of upcoming shows.
The last surviving Victorian operating theatre in London is located on the Southbank near London Bridge Station.
Visitors can come inside to learn the history of modern surgery, see the theatres where early surgeries were carried out (complete with seats for observers!), and take in the curiosities of the old herb garret.
It’s a fascinating, macabre, and CHEAP thing t do with tickets for adults coming in at £6.50.
During the summer, the historically accurate Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre puts on daily performances of some of the Bards best-known and occasionally little-known works.
Here at the Globe ticket prices are a far cry from the expensive seats up for sale in the West End.
Visitors to the Globe actually have the option to enjoy a performance for as little as £5.00!
Holders of these cheap tickets are known as ‘groundlings’ because these tickets entitle you to stand on the ground in front of the stage, instead of sitting up in the benches.
Cruise the Thames
KPMG Thames Clippers offer an affordable and interesting way to see the city.
Prices for adults start at just £4.50 (and additional discounts for Oyster or Travelcard holders!) and boats depart every 20 minutes throughout the day.
Visitors can travel from pier to pier between Westminster and all the way along the Thames to Greenwich – an excellent way to beat London’s rush hour or traffic gridlock!
Visit Westminster Cathedral
If the price to visit Westminster Abbey is a bit out of your price range, Westminster Cathedral offers an affordable and reasonable alternative.
Located down the road from the much more well-known Abbey, Westminster Cathedral is the mother church for practicing Catholics in England and Wales.
Consecrated in 1910, the Cathedral is free for the public to visit and showcases beautiful neo-Byzantine architecture.
The burial place of multiple Archbishops of Canterbury, the Cathedral was also featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Foreign Correspondent.
For a real treat, visitors can purchase tickets (£5 for adults and £2.50 concessions) to climb the Campanile Bell Tower.
273 feet up, the viewing gallery provides guests with stunning 360-degree views over London and there is even a lift to make the trip up easy!
For those who cannot afford a visit to The London Eye or The Shard, or want to avoid the crowds that they attract, a visit to little-known and quiet Westminster Cathedral is your next best bet!
And of course, you should join us on one of our tours!
All of our tours operate on a pay-what-you-like basis which means they are tours for every budget.
Come with us to explore royal Westminster or Kensington and the Old City of London.
See some of the best street art in thew sold and follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps!
Or solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper and visit Rock n’ Roll royalty!
Whatever you’re into – we have tours for your interests AND your budget!