Last updated: February 20, 2024
With international travel back in full swing, many Americans’ thoughts turn to a trip to England, particularly to London.
The city is bursting full of culture and history, so it’s no wonder that the US has a whopping 936 aircraft departures and 257,331 seats a week! And if you’re from New York Tri States or California, you make up two-thirds of the weekly visits from America. But London can be very expensive; it’s number four in the world of most expensive cities to live in.
So you must ensure that your dollars stretch as far as possible.
What if we told you that you could see the Magna Carta, gaze at a Picasso, and push a trolley at the infamous Platform 9¾ in the Harry Potter films, all for FREE?
You heard it right, we’ve got all the insider tips for fabulous things to do in London that will cost you nothing!
British History at Its Best, All for Free
As soon as you arrive in London, you’ll see it’s brimming with history. Here are some of the things London is known for.
Take a trip to Tower Bridge, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be there to see the bridge’s opening, which is a genuinely remarkable sight. Standing on Tower Bridge, you can look down the river Thames and see the historic Second World War ship HMS Belfast.
From Tower Bridge you can walk to the Tower of London, while entrance to the tower isn’t free, your family can take photos with the iconic Beefeaters who guard the tower.
No visit to London is complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace, home to the British Royal Family. You can stand at the gates and see if the King is in residence, denoted by the flying flag.
If you time it right, you’ll see the changing of the guard, soldiers marching from St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace dressed in red coats and bearskins. It’s a marvelous sight, and the kids love it!
Walk back down the famous Mall, and you’ll see Admiralty Arch, which leads you into Trafalgar Square.
You must stop for photos with the giant stone lions and Nelson’s Column and to see which exhibitions are currently being displayed on the Fourth Plinth, where artworks are rotated monthly.
Get Great London Views on Foot
Trafalgar Square is home to one of London’s most famous free art galleries, The National Gallery. Here you can immerse yourself in the stunning works of artists such as Monet, Van Gough, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo.
A short walk from Trafalgar Square, you’ll find yourself in Leicester Square, and if your timing is right, you may see a celebrity-studded red-carpet film premiere.
Covent Garden market is well worth a visit, with the market open Tuesdays through Fridays. Even when the market isn’t on, you’ll always be treated to a performance from talented street performers; acrobats, opera singers, and illusionists are frequently found here. Keep your eyes open; the market is near the West End, which is theatre land, so you may spot some celebrities, too.
You’ll find the Seven Dials Market, a bustling street food market, and while the food isn’t free, it’s more cost-effective than eating in a restaurant in the square. You’ll find delicious pasta, Thai food, and great vegan options.
Venture out to Kings Cross and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo of you or the kids pushing a luggage trolley on Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾.
Must See Free London Museums
If history is your thing, then London is bursting full with it. Luckily, unlike many cities worldwide, London’s museums are free to locals and tourists alike.
The British Museum has breathtaking exhibitions that you can visit with free admission. A whole day can get swallowed up visiting exhibits like the Egyptian Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles, and the Sutton Hoo Mask and Ship Burial Collection, a fascinating Anglo-Saxon collection discovered in 1939 and an incredible 1,500 years old.
Continuing the history trail, visiting the Natural History Museum must be on any discerning traveler’s list and is a kid’s haven. The world-famous dinosaurs are jaw-dropping; you’ll be treated to a view of a real Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, the skull of a Triceratops, and a Scolosaurus, a giant armored dinosaur.
You could easily spend the day in the dinosaur gallery, but there’s much more to see there.
Marvel at the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species and check out moon rock, which was given to the UK by President Nixon after the final Apollo 17 mission.
A visit to the British Library will treat you to the Magna Carta, Shakespeares’ first folio, and Jane Austen’s writing desk.
Also, consider the Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, and Design Museum.
Parks To Visit in London
Despite being the capital city of England, there are a surprising number of parks to visit.
In West London, visit Kensington Gardens and the Diana Memorial Playground. St James Park in Westminster is a great place to stop and take a breather; a playground keeps the kids entertained.
Another central park in Westminster is Hyde Park, covering 340 acres; there’s enough space for everyone here. If you are there on a Sunday morning, then make sure you visit Speakers’ Corner on the northeast corner. Speakers’ corner dates back to the 1800s; speakers would stand on a soapbox and talk on any subject they liked, usually to a heckling crowd.
You never know who may be speaking when you visit—famous speakers have been Karl Marx, George Orwell, and Vladimir Lenin—and it’s usually highly entertaining for the whole family. Even you could speak there if you wanted.
Things To do in London South of the River
The South Bank is an up-and-coming area; it’s vibrant and cultured, and you’d be remiss not to visit it.
Between May and September, it hosts the Underbelly Festival, an eclectic collection of street entertainment and live performers. If it’s a nice, sunny day, there’s nothing better than grabbing a cold drink, sitting down, and soaking up the atmosphere.
Plan Your London Visit Ahead
There are so many things to do in London that are free, but you can waste a lot of time if you don’t have a clear plan and itinerary. Look for attractions that are close together, places you can walk to; this will save on any train or bus fares. Check out the best hotels in London too.
Plan your budget and stick to it, and there won’t be any unexpected credit card bills when you return home. Most of all, enjoy your visit!
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.