What to Do in London

This post is our guide to things to do in London, with tips on free things to do, suggested nighttime activities, things to do with kids, top attractions and other points of interest, updated for 2018. You may also want to check out our pay-what-you-wish walking tours

 

 
FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON

There really is so much to do in London that doesn’t cost anything that you could spend an entire visit visiting free attractions, museums, and events. Several can be visited by day, some by night, and even a few can be visited at both times Below is our list of what we feel are the top 10 free things to do in London.

For even more ideas, check out our post on 100+ Free (an almost free) Things to Do in London as well as our guide to London on a Budget. Many attractions have buy-1-get-1 free offerings.


1. Witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham PalaceChanging of the Guard London Free

OK This one is on everyone’s bucket list, so it’s a no-brainer. This world-renowned spectacle takes place daily in the summer and 4 days a week the rest of the year (weather permitting).

Our definitive post explains how and when the ceremony takes place, who make up the guards, and shows you where to get the best spots to watch. We also include a video for easy consumption.

Or, you could have us take you along on our free Westminster Tour.


2. Visit the Houses of Parliament

Parliament LondonThe Houses of Parliament (located inside the Palace of Westminster) is the legislative body for the United Kingdom.

Any time the House of Lords or the House of Commons is at work inside the Palace, the public to enter the building and sit in the public galleries to watch the political debates as they take place!

 Read our guide on how to visit Parliament.


 3. Walk Across Tower Bridge  

There is a price to enter the Tower Bridge Experience, but it costs nothing to cross Tower Bridge and it’s spectacularly illuminated in the evening.

The bridge opens and closes several times a day, so be sure to time out your visit to witness this. Sometimes, the bridge is scheduled to open is drawbridge at night.

Find out more information on our Tower Bridge post.


4. Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral for Free

Free Entry to St. Pauls and Westminster AbbeySt. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey have a hefty price-tag for entry, 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 (meaning no audio tours, or taking in the museums and memorials throughout both churches), but 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.

Read our post to learn more


5. Walk Across Abbey RoadAbbey Road Crossing

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!

They didn’t go far to reach the crosswalk and neither will you. It’s located just a short walk from the St. John’s Wood Underground station. We detail how to get to Abbey Road in a blog post.

You might also be interested in our self-guided tour of Beatles sights in London, which includes this stop.

For London music lovers, you may be interested in taking our (pay-what-you-wish) London Rock N Roll Tour, which includes many Beatles’ sites.  Mondays and Thursdays at 14:00 (2 pm).  

We also offer free, self-guided tours of London sights connected to David Bowie as well as Jimi Hendrix


6. Sky Garden – London’s Free Observation Deck

Sky Garden FreeAt the top of London’s new “Walkie Talkie” building sits a restaurant, bistro, bar…and free public garden!

The views from this building are almost unbeatable 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. Public ticketed hours are from 10 am till 6 pm (Mon-Fri) and 11 am till 9 pm (Sat-Sun), though the restaurants and bars remain open until 1 am on most nights.

Learn how to book your spot on our Sky Garden post. Be sure to also check out the other options for great “free” views of London.


7. The British MuseumBritish-Museum

Founded in 1753, the collections held at the British Museum span over two million years of history!

World famous objects kept here include the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures which are displayed alongside classic sights such as Egyptian mummies and ancient works of art from across the globe.

And the best part is, there is no cost to visit. And why not join us on one of our free tours of the British Museum?  You may also be interested in our guide to visiting the museum on your own.

The British Museum isn’t the only free museum in London. Other notables include the Tate Modern, the National Gallery and the Imperial War Museum. Read our post on other free museums in London.


8. Get Your Harry Potter On

Free Harry PotterFans of Harry Potter are at the epicenter for settings in both the books and film franchises when they visit London. It seems that just about everywhere in this city has been used as a backdrop or main setting.

There are no costs to visit these locations and to take your own photos. We have created several posts on finding Harry Potter sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 3/4, or check out our free, self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.

Want to meet other Muggles? Then join us for our free, guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.


9. Experience the Street Art of LondonEast End Street Art

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. World-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 could join us on one of our free London Street Art and Graffiti Tours.

While you are in the neighborhood, you might want to check out our free, self-guided East London Food Tour and it’s surrounding areas.  


10. Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus FreeOK. It’s not as crazy as Times Square, but it’s close. There’s no need to spend a dime here. You will be entertained just by the cacophony of buses, cars, people and just about every other sound imaginable. Learn about what’s to see in this most central of areas.

Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by other areas that you will likely enjoy a free stroll through, including Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown.

Or you could join us on our Piccadilly Circus, Soho, and Chinatown Tour, which runs several times a week. 



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TOP LONDON ATTRACTIONS, MUSEUMS, AND POINTS OF INTEREST

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

As a mega-city, London has no shortage of night activities. For our full list of recommendations, visit our full post on things to Do in London at Night, where we break down by free, family-friendly, restaurants, and entertainment.

We also have a post where we list and review all of the night sightseeing tours available to you, including our pay-what-you-like evening tours. We have several dozen ideas as well as links to other resources.

Below the video, we recommend just a few of our favorite ideas.
 

 

 

For our full list of recommendations, visit our full post on things to Do in London at Night or our post on historic London pubs.

 


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LONDON WITH KIDS

Many of London’s top attractions are kid-friendly and all of our daytime Walking Tours are great for families. For more family-friendly activities to consider, visit our post on Visiting London with Kids

Visit a Museum

These museums have dedicated children’s sections or activities that entertain and educate during a family visit.

Tour Buckingham Palace

Open to the public, you can explore certain sections of the palace, home to the royal family. Family activity bags are available free of charge, so be sure to ask for one when picking up your tickets. At the State Rooms, there is a drawing and coloring room.

For more information on visiting Bucking Palace…

Explore Harry Potter’s London

Lovers of the Harry Potter series will adore London! We have created several posts on finding Harry Potter sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 3/4, or check out our free, self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.

Want to meet other Muggles? Then join us for our free, guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.

Ride the Stratford Slide

This is the world’s highest and longest tunnel slide. It was originally intended to be a piece of art, but in 2016 the slide was added which takes guests from the observation tower at the top, 12 circles throughout the curves on the structure, and all the way to the bottom in a 40-second trip!

  • Location:  The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • Tickets:  £16.50 for Adults / £10.50 for Children / £13.50 for Concessions / £52.00 for a Family of 2 adults and 2 children
  • Note: Riders MUST BE AT LEAST 1.3m tall and above the age of 8. Only children above the age of 14 can ride unaccompanied by an adult.
  • Book HERE.

See a Show

There are several theatres throughout London that have excellent programs for kids, such as the Little Angel Theatre and Half Moon Young People’s Theatre. Both theatres have kid-themed shows running often and at times host interactive workshops.

 


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LONDON NEIGHBORHOODS 

Another effective way to plan your trip is to discover London by neighborhood. This has the advantage of cutting down on time spent traveling from one area to the next.

London contains many distinct neighbourhoods and districts. You can explore on your own and we’ve created over a dozen self-guided tours, many of which also provide tips on things to do, restaurants and places to stay, as well as growing list of self-guided GPS-enabled audio tours.

Of course, you can join us for one of our many pay-what-you-wish walking tours for deeper insight into the neighborhoods shared by one of our knowledgeable and personable guides.  

Below is a list of 13 top areas.

 


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THINGS TO DO IN LONDON BY MONTH AND SEASON

We have also created guides based on the time of year. Click on the links below for the corresponding time that you plan on being in London. These also include monthly weather expectations to help you plan how to dress.

 

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