We’ll admit that the capital isn’t the cheapest place to hang out but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Whilst you might feel like you spend at least £10 every time you step outside, there are some great things to do in London for free. If you’re watching your wallet, you can access a great array of parks, museums, and attractions without spending a penny. Escape the British weather or explore the great outdoors with our guide to free things to do in London.
Guide to free things to do in London
In this guide
Free activities in London
- St Dunstan in the East – Unusual city park
- Serpentine Galleries – Art in the park
- Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – Tour a historic safari
- Hackney City Farm – Farm life in London
- Brompton Cemetery – Historical burial place
- Palace of Westminster – History and politics
- Free Tours by Foot – Free and cheap walking tours
- God's Own Junkyard – Light up your Insta feed
- House of MinaLima – Gallery for Potter fans
- London Mithraeum – London's ancient history
- Borough Market – Free fun for foodies
- St Martin-in-the-Fields – Lunchtime classical concerts
- Tate Modern & Tate Britain – A must for art lovers
- Kyoto Garden – Japanese tranquility
- SLG – Top gallery in Peckham
- Portobello Road Market – Antiques window shopping
- British Library – Huge library collection
- Wellcome Collection – Unique free museum
- National Maritime Museum – Interactive naval exhibits
- Hampstead Heath – 800 acres of parkland
- Golders Hill Park Zoo – Not the usual park wildlife
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – An architectural marvel
- Bank of England Museum – A free place that's all about money
- Fulham Palace – History-filled destination
- Richmond Park – A haven for people and wildlife
- Leake Street Arches – Street art hotspot
- Sky Garden – Public garden with views
- Buckingham Palace – World-famous sight
- Platform 9¾ – Off to Hogwarts
- Southbank Skatepark – A favourite with skaters
- Stephens House & Gardens – Expansive landscaped park
- Strawberry Tours – Tour the city for free
- Natural History Museum – Explore the natural world
- Kenwood House – North London stately home
- The Fourth Plinth – Thought-provoking public art
- Angel Comedy – Big comedy names for free
- St James's Piccadilly – Free lunchtime recitals
- The Line – Walking trail for art fans
- Ghostsigns Tour – The ghosts of Clapham shops past
- Horizon 22 – Europe's highest free viewing gallery
Free activities in London
Unusual city park
St Dunstan in the East is a city park with a difference. This urban oasis is set amongst the ruins of a bombed-out church, with Gothic architecture sitting alongside lush greenery and benches where you can relax. This Instagram-famous location can get busy and is a popular place for photoshoots.
Art in the park
Set across two modern spaces in Hyde Park, Serpentine Galleries is a great destination for contemporary art fans. Showcasing some of today’s top artists, both sites host regular exhibitions that are free to visit. Each year the gallery invites an artist to develop a pavilion in the park that’s also free to see.
Tour a historic safari
Visiting the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs is a fun and free activity for the whole family. Set in the south section of Crystal Palace Park, these Grade I listed monuments were built in the 18th century and are rather different to what we know of dinosaurs today. Tour them on foot or by pedalo.
Farm life in London
Experience farm life for free without leaving London when you visit Hackney City Farm. The farmyard and garden are open throughout the year, where you can see animals like pigs, ponies, sheep, and chickens. You can also join a free bike maintenance workshop on-site. There’s a shop and restaurant here too.
Historical burial place
One of the famed Magnificent Seven cemeteries, Brompton Cemetery in West London is a Grade I listed site you can visit for free. Surrounded by nature and wildlife, you can pursue several self-guided tours that explore the burial plots, monuments, and structures here. It’s one of the country’s oldest garden-style cemeteries.
History and politics
If you’re a UK resident you can visit the Palace of Westminster, home to the UK’s parliament, free of charge. Explore the inside of this world-famous building on a guided tour, where you’ll learn about its history and architecture. Alternatively, watch a debate amongst MPs from the public gallery.
Free and cheap walking tours
Free Tours by Foot offers a variety of guided walking tours in London. There's a pay-what-you-like policy and you're welcome to join tours without paying. From East End street art to the political heart of Westminster or packing in all the major sights, the variety of tours includes something to interest everyone.
Light up your Insta feed
Head to buzzy Walthamstow for the neon-lit extravaganza that is God’s Own Junkyard. Dedicated to the work of neon specialist Chris Bracey, you’ll find salvaged and specially-designed pieces made for a huge range of purposes, including pieces made especially for films. There’s a café and bar at the venue too.
Gallery for Potter fans
If you're into Harry Potter, House of MinaLima is an entertaining free destination. This design studio is behind the graphic props you see in the Harry Potter films, and the gallery has attractive presentations of their work. There's lots to look at, plus a gift shop, and you might meet the designers.
London's ancient history
The London Mithraeum was discovered in 1954 and is one of the city’s most valuable Roman discoveries. This temple was originally built in the 3rd century AD and was restored in 2010. Visit here to explore the temple as well as a variety of Roman artefacts uncovered during excavations.
Free fun for foodies
Although you obviously have to pay for any shopping you do, visiting Borough Market and trying the samples is free of charge. This site has been a market for about 1,000 years and is a top foodie destination today. Ingredients from oil to cheeses and fresh fruit are available, as well as street food.
Lunchtime classical concerts
Listen to a classical music performance for free with a lunchtime concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields. In a central location next to Trafalgar Square, this inclusive church is well-known for its programme of classical and choral music performances. It’s a unique space to experience the sounds of talented performers.
A must for art lovers
London’s two Tate galleries sit on opposite sides of the Thames and are ideal destinations for all types of art lovers. Tate Britain focuses on British art whilst Tate Modern showcases modern art from around the world. Temporary exhibitions usually have paid ticketing but you can visit both permanent collections for free.
Get some tranquility in the city by visiting the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. The Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto gifted this park to the city in 1991. You can stroll through the elegant landscaped gardens, with water features and a koi pond, plants, and peacocks, and find some calm.
Top gallery in Peckham
South London Gallery was established in 1891 and is a hotspot to see innovative work by today’s artists. The gallery has several exhibition spaces spread across two buildings a short walk apart. There’s also a shop and café. SLG also publishes its own arts journal for staying in-the-know about art world developments.
Antiques window shopping
You can have a great time at Portobello Road Market without buying anything – it’s the largest antiques market in the world and has been around for more than 150 years. You’ll see dealers with antiques, collectibles, and vintage clothing, plus enthralling street performers. On the busiest days stalls stretch for over a mile.
Huge library collection
Applying for a Reader Pass gives you free access to the British Library. This iconic space houses some of the world’s most important texts. It’s also the world’s largest library collection, with millions of items spanning 3,000 years. Your pass means you’re welcome to study and do research here.
Unique free museum
The Wellcome Collection is a unique museum where science, tech, and art intersect. It’s free to visit and there’s plenty to explore. There are temporary exhibitions and permanent collections, as well as a cosy library and reading room with thousands of books on various topics. The space also has a bookshop and café.
Interactive naval exhibits
Discover Britain’s naval history at the National Maritime Museum. Check out the interactive displays and curiosities here. There are permanent collections on show as well as temporary exhibitions and special events, including activities for kids. You can also get a snack or meal at the café with extensive views of Greenwich Park.
800 acres of parkland
Hampstead Heath covers 800 acres of land, bringing a piece of the countryside to North London. There’s extensive space for you to walk and explore, plus from Parliament Hill you can take in spectacular views of Central London. Feed the ducks at the pond or simply relax and enjoy the fresh air.
Not the usual park wildlife
Visit Golders Hill Park and you can visit a free zoo - Golders Hill Park Zoo. The zoo has existed for over 100 years and gives you the chance to see exotic birds and animals up close. Creatures range from owls and donkeys to the likes of wallabies and lemurs.
An architectural marvel
Often called Neasden Temple, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a working Hindu temple constructed entirely from stone. Visitors are welcome and free guided tours are available. You'll see sacred images and artefacts as well as the stunning building itself. There's a shop and restaurant on-site, as well as elegant gardens.
A free place that's all about money
Discover more about money and the UK economy by visiting the Bank of England Museum. This distinctive museum has interactive displays and artefacts dating back to 1694 when it was founded. Learn about the Bank's history and how the economy works - you can even test your strength against a solid gold bar.
Historically home to the Bishop of London, Fulham Palace is a grand house and museum with extensive grounds, including a 13 acre botanical garden. Entry is free and you can view artefacts discovered during excavations on the site, dating back to prehistoric times. You can also visit just to enjoy the gardens.
A haven for people and wildlife
Set on the outskirts of London, visiting Richmond Park makes you feel like you’re in a rural oasis. Wild deer famously roam the parkland but there are open spaces for those on two legs to enjoy as well. For a free activity that gives you an escape, visiting is a great idea.
Street art hotspot
Immerse yourself in street art at Leake Street Arches. This covered tunnel near Waterloo is an urban art hotspot, with work by tons of artists and new pieces popping up regularly. Adding your own art to the walls is welcomed and encouraged. Coloured lighting adds to the vibrant feel of this unique spot.
Public garden with views
Sky Garden is London's highest public garden, sitting on the 36th floor of the Walkie-Talkie building. Take a look at photogenic views of the city and soak up the atmosphere amongst lush greenery. It's free to visit and sometimes there's live music. Bars and restaurants are also on-site here.
The official London residence of the British monarch, Buckingham Palace is centrally located and you can view the building from outside for free. Come at the right time and you can also watch the world-famous changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place several times a week and daily in June and July.
Off to Hogwarts
Head to King's Cross station and set off for Hogwarts by visiting Platform 9¾. This is a fab photo opportunity for any Harry Potter fan - take your own photos or let the resident professional photographer do it for you. It's a popular site so be prepared to queue.
A favourite with skaters
Skaters can head to Southbank Skatepark 24/7 and skate amongst Brutalist architecture with riverside views. It's been there since the 70s and is widely regarded as the birthplace of UK skating. It's covered so you can use it whatever the weather, and it features challenging elements for skaters to tackle.
Expansive landscaped park
Located in Finchley, Stephens House & Gardens is a Grade I listed house open for special events, as well as attractive landscaped gardens that are free to visit. There's lots to discover - ponds, botanical gardens, kids' play areas, wildlife conservation areas, and even a bat colony. It's a pleasant place for a walk.
Tour the city for free
Strawberry Tours offers a variety of free guided tours of the capital, each with a distinctive theme. Tours are available in English and sometimes in other languages too. A knowledgeable guide will show you around and there's a theme for every interest, from street art to the sights of Westminster or scenes from the lives of your favourite film and TV characters.
Explore the natural world
Marvel at the wonders of the natural world at the Natural History Museum. The building’s architecture is as impressive as the collection it houses. Discover fossils, dinosaurs, birds, crystals and rock formations, and much more at this renowned family destination. Entry is free and most exhibits are also without charge.
North London stately home
Visit Kenwood House in Hampstead to explore an English stately home. This grand property boasts stunning interiors and attractive gardens if you fancy a stroll. There’s also an impressive art collection, including works by Rembrandt. The site has a secondhand bookshop and a café, plus there are activities for children.
Thought-provoking public art
Contemporary art commission The Fourth Plinth sits in Trafalgar Square and is considered one of the most important sites of public art in the country. The artwork changes every few years, making thought-provoking British art accessible to the masses. Past artists to have taken up the commission include Yinka Shonibare and David Shrigley.
Big comedy names for free
Angel Comedy offers free comedy shows that are very much in-demand. Hosting two regular clubs based in North London pubs, you'll see up-and-coming acts but might also catch massive industry names honing their material too. Tickets for performances are free but you can buy drinks from the bar.
Free lunchtime recitals
Take in a lunchtime classic music recital lasting 50 minutes at St James's Piccadilly. This church sits right in the heart of Piccadilly and has free midday performances several times a week. The venue is also host to a range of other arts and music events and activities, plus a weekend market.
Walking trail for art fans
Get close to art and nature with The Line, an outdoor art trail. This free trail stretches between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, featuring work along the way from the likes of Anish Kapoor, Madge Gill, and Antony Gormley. Maps and audio descriptions from the artists are available.
The ghosts of Clapham shops past
The term "ghost signs" pertains to antique advertising signs that were painted by hand and left to slowly fade on buildings over time. Sam Roberts, a knowledgeable authority on ghost signs within the area, has assembled three guided tours of these signs situated in different neighbourhoods of London, namely Clapham, Stoke Newington, and Bankside. Participants can choose to take the tours either in-person or virtually, and each tour ticket grants you 30-day access to the designated route, along with audio and text commentary. The Clapham tour is available free of charge.
Europe's highest free viewing gallery
Perched on the 58th floor of the 22 Bishopsgate building, 254 metres above ground, Horizon 22 is supposedly Europe's highest free public viewing gallery. It provides sweeping panoramas of the cityscape, showcasing landmarks such as The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral, and The Walkie-Talkie. Open for walk-ins seven days a week, the free attraction nonetheless recommends advance booking.