21 Top Things to Do in London for Free


London is a fun and exciting city – there is so much to see and do. However, London is also pricey. So, here is my “Free things to do in London” post – the best things to do and see for free plus some London budget tips (yes, London on a budget is possible and still fun).

When I thought about places to recommend, I did not intend to write about “free activities in London” – I actually just wanted to give you my tips for visiting London. When I started my list, I realized that many things I love in London are actually free.

Though I have visited London many times, I have hardly done any activities that were not free. Thus, I changed my plan and created a “Top Things to Do in London for Free” post.


Free Things to Do in London

At the end of the post, I added a few things that are not free (since this was my initial thought), but here you go – great ideas for London activities for free.

If you have never been to London, these places should be on your list.

Elizabeth Tower A.K.A. Big Ben

Big Ben is my favorite building in London. Though it is actually named Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben is only one of the five bells of the clock), I still often refer to it as Big Ben (as do many others).

London on a budget- 21 free things to do in London

Visible from far and wide, the Tower holds court over London and is located at the end of Westminster’s Palace, next to the Thames and close to other main tourist attractions like the London Eye.

At the moment, there is construction work going on, so you cannot really see it in its full glory, but it is still worth checking out.

 Parliament Square

Just in front of Big Ben (I cannot get used to calling it Elizabeth Tower) is Parliament Square – a square with some greenery and statues of some important people like Mahatma Gandhi.

This view is awesome. The options to relax and chill are great, and the statues might make you – or those you’re with – curious to learn more about the UK’s history.

Parliament Square in London @shutterstock
Parliament Square in London @shutterstock

Piccadilly Circus

An absolute must-see place is Piccadilly Circus, London’s own version of Times Square (though a bit less action than Times Square). It is totally overcrowded and busy, but it is still a great place to visit at least once in a lifetime. It is close to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and some other sights.

Empty Piccadilly Circus @shutterstock
Empty Piccadilly Circus @shutterstock

Buckingham Palace & Changing Guards

Buckingham Palace should be on your list and is one of the things you can easily do on your own in London whether you like the Royal Family or not. Though I have seen the Palace many times, I still visit whenever I am in London, though I cannot remember having ever watched the Changing of the Guards.

The Palace itself is not the most impressive building, but as a London first-time visitor, you need to see it, I love the parks close by, and I haven’t given up hope on spotting the Queen or another royal family member.

Does the Queen really live there? That is a question my students actually ask me a lot, and the answer is yes, it is her official residence. If you see the Union Flag flying above the Palace you know, she is not home (if the royal flag is flying, the Queen is at home).

Buckingham Palace in London @shutterstock
Buckingham Palace in London @shutterstock

Trafalgar Square

When I visited Trafalgar Square for the first time, I mostly saw pigeons. I am terrified of birds once they start flying above my head, so Trafalgar Square did not make a perfect first impression.

Trafalgar Square @shutterstock
Trafalgar Square @shutterstock

BUT this has changed by now. Nowadays, there are far fewer pigeons, and I feel much “safer.” The Square (I have a thing for squares in general) is not far from other main attractions like the London Eye, and in the middle of the square are some statues and Nelson’s Column – a great location for pictures.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is not a normal shopping street. Oxford Street is THE main shopping street in London. It seriously is huge – and you’ll find all kinds of shops there.

Oxford Street in London @shutterstock
Oxford Street in London @shutterstock

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a district in London known for several attractions, but I love its market the most – it seems that the theme and interior changes every time I visit, and thus it is always lovely and different each time.

Camden Market

Okay, I have to admit that I am not the biggest market fan – but visiting Camden Market is a lovely experience – so visiting it once was good, and I can recommend strolling around.

Millennium Bridge

I actually only passed Millennium Bridge on my last trip – but walking towards St. Paul’s Cathedral is just beautiful, though also totally crowded at times.

Visit a Cathedral

Talking about St. Pauls´Catherdral: Though I am not into museums, I love religious sites and recommend visiting one in London (if you attend the mass, if not you have to pay an entrance fee).

Free Museums in London

Again, I have to admit that I am not a big museum fan, but several free museums in London, such as the Bank of England Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Kensington Garden

The Kensington Garden is home to Kensington Palace (residence of royals such as Princess Diana and William and Kate). It has several playgrounds and a beautiful garden that includes a Peter Pan statue.

Kensington Palace @shutterstock
Kensington Palace @shutterstock

Sky Garden

Okay, I actually haven’t been there yet myself – but only because it was booked out when I wanted to book. There are two great things about the Sky Garden: it is free (yeah!), and it offers great views of London.

Sky Garden @shutterstock
Sky Garden @shutterstock

The bad news: tickets sell out quickly, so make sure to book 2-3 weeks in advance since there are not many slots. In case it is fully booked, you can make a reservation for a restaurant, have a drink, and still enjoy the views.

If you are looking for more gardens to visit, you could check out “The Gardens of Europe” – though it is not a free activity, it is a beautiful place to visit as well.

Hyde Park & Speaker’s Corner

The world-famous Hyde Park is one of the biggest city parks globally – you can swim, jog, cycle, relax, dine, and much more.

Okay, I only visited once and, though it is lovely and fun, it did not overwhelm me, so I did not go again – however, as a first-time visitor, it should be on your list and also check out Speaker´s Corner – an area where public speaking and debates are allowed.

St. James’s Park

St. James’s Park is probably my favorite park in London. I love those animals (squirrels, pelicans, etc.) and the fact that it is super close to Buckingham Palace.

Tower Bridge

London Bridge or Tower Bridge? Which is the one to cross? I would definitely say Tower Bridge. It is a pretty and unusual bridge. If you want to enjoy a panorama view, you can get a ticket to visit the walkways situated 45 meters above the Thames.

Tower Bridge in London, the UK. @shutterstock
Tower Bridge in London, the UK. @shutterstock

Notting Hill

Was it the movie that made Notting Hill more famous… or Instagram?

The colorful houses of Notting Hill @shutterstock
The colorful houses of Notting Hill @shutterstock

Notting Hill is a trendy district in London, and all London visitors flood their Instagram feeds with Notting Hill pictures. Those colorful and cute houses are just too pretty, and strolling through Notting Hill should be on your list of things to do in London for free.

Pub Watching

I am not a fan of pubs – not at all! BUT I love the pretty pubs in London. They are so extremely photogenic! If you plan to open a pub, do get some inspiration from London’s pubs.

Admiring London´s pretty pubs - picture taken of me by @bearcef (Instagram)
Admiring London´s pretty pubs – the picture was taken of me by @bearcef (Instagram)

The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾

Maybe I have never read or watched any Harry Potter book/movie, but I did not know the famous platform was in London. The great news for Harry Potter fans is that it is free to take a photo at the magical Harry Potter shop.

Strolling Along the Thames River

I do not consider the Thames necessarily pretty or clean, but walking along the Thames (starting from Southwark Bridge and going toward the London Eye) will be a beautiful walk if the sun shines. It gets busy, and I actually managed to fall asleep on the greenery at the Thames (yes, the sun does shine in the UK every once in a while).

christmas by the River is one of the best places to see in London in winter

Getting Lost in London

No other city has more beautiful doors than London. I love houses with colorful and pretty doors, and I think that walking aimlessly in London (more than just around Notting Hill) is a great option, too, if you’re looking for Instagrammable places in London.


Btw: Here is my 4-day itinerary for London (in this post, it is not all about budget travel, but you might find more great places to visit).

Christmas Lights

We now have 22 free London activities!

After my first visit to London in winter, I realized that the stunning Christmas Lights are another fun and free thing to see. Yes, the lights are to see for a few weeks at the end of the year but: Wow. However, Christmas is also a great time to visit  London. It might be bustling, but those Christmas Lights…Just wow. So check out my post about winter in London guide.

More Tips on How to Save Money in London 

Here is how to save money (when spending money).

Oyster Card

A great way to save money is by getting an Oyster Card travel smartcard for London’s public transportation system. The public transport is pretty good, and using the Oyster Card can help you save money as the system recognizes how much you travel and gets you the cheapest ticket.

London Pass & Online Booking in Advance

If you want to do activities that require tickets, I recommend booking in advance. You can get the best deals on London activities here, or the best deals on a London Pass here, which also helps you save money.

Activities Not Free (Unfortunately) but Worth Checking Out

Here are a few activities that are not free (nor cheap but worth checking out).

Thames River Boat Tour

Start in Greenwich, and you’ll see plenty of great sights along the way. Though the Thames water is definitely not very clear or pretty, I still have a thing for boat cruises, so I cannot resist recommending it to you as well.

Tower of London

I visited the Tower of London for the first time last August, and we have a kind of love-hate relationship. It is super interesting (especially if you are into history), but it was crowded, so I could not enjoy it to the fullest. If you don’t mind some crowds and are curious to see the Crown Jewels and learn about history, you’ll love it.


London on a budget is possible – even though London is a costly city, many free activities will allow you to enjoy this unique city.

Click here for more tips for luxury on a budget in London.

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