50 Free Things to Do in London
London has seemingly endless list of things to see and to do. London is very expensive, though. Can you afford to enjoy the city? Fortunately, once you have arrived, you do not have to spend a lot of money to take in the sites, atmosphere, and history. When we think about London, most of us envision Big Ben, London Eye, and Tower Bridge. Here is a list of 50 free things to do in London focusing on the area around the Thames and around these sites. With a few days, a comfortable pair of shoes, and a tube pass (taking the tube aka subway) is not necessary, but it is cheap, fun, clean, and saves time.), you and your family can have a smashing time in this amazing city.
I have randomly divided Central London into four parts: sites West of Trafalgar Square, Central runs from Trafalgar Square east to London Bridge, West of London Bridge, and South of the Thames River.
- Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
- Walk the Mall and explore the grounds leading to and in front of Buckingham Palace
- Explore Green Park and St. James Park with wonderful views of Buckingham Palace and pelicans on the lake.
- Stroll through Hyde Park, which is just west of St. James Park. Enjoy the variety of gardens and the view around the serpentine.
- Wander through Kensington Gardens, extending west from Hyde Park, and allow the kids to play at the Princess Diana Playground.
- Visit the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, one of the many free museums in London.
- Walk or run along the Princess Diana Trail which leads you through all four parks: Green Park, St. James Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. Link
- Visit the Royal Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial, and the Imperial College on the southside of
- Explore the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The architecture is amazing even without viewing the exhibits, but it is free to enter.
- Find the house that inspired the Darling House in Barie’s Peter Pan across the road to the North of Kensington Gardens. Kids and adults will recognize it. Do not try to enter. It is a private residence!
- Browse Harrod’s, the enormous London department store. Notice I said browse, as the prices here are out of reach for most of us.
- Take photos of Scotland Yard, 10 Downing, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey along Whitehall in Westminster.
- Visit Tate Britain, a collection of British art from 1500 through today.
Central (Soho/Covent Garden/City of London)
14. Sample hot tea for free at Twinings of London on the Strand, in the same location since 1706.
15. Walk the Millennial Bridge for wonderful views of the Thames. If you are a Harry Potter fan, imagine the Death Eaters attacking and destroying this bridge.
16. Step inside the Sherlock Holmes Pub and explore the free display. Formerly the Northumbria Hotel where A.C. Doyle wrote Hounds of Baskerville.
17. View the iconic Big Ben. Great photos can be taken from Trafalgar Square.
18. Walk the Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges, pedestrian bridges with wonderful views of the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, and Somerset House.
19. Find Rudyard Kipling’s one time London residence about a block from Charing Cross. Link
20. Find Australia House on the Strand, used as the exterior of Gringott’s Bank in Harry Potter.
21. Wander Piccadilly Circus, London’s theater district and see what shows are on stage.
22. Shop the trendy Covent Gardens, the closest thing central London has to an American shopping mall; Apple Store included.
23. Walk the streets of Soho in the rain as you hum Werewolves of London, an artsy district that borders Chinatown (also worth a look).
24. Explore St. Paul’s Cathedral, the grandest of the London churches.
25. Visit London Guildhall, the historic town hall of London City. Explore statues of famous Brits as well as a museum.
26. Visit the London Museum which traces London’s history through the ages. The Roman amphitheater of Londinium is part of the museum.
27. Visit Goldsmith Hall which shows stunning works of …yes.. gold.
28. Take in the amazing National Gallery, home of over 2300 works of art. An absolute must for art lovers,… and free!
29. Browse the National Portrait Gallery, next to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, for another amazing collection of art.
30. Step into St. Dustan in the West Church on the Strand, where Michael Palin of Monty Python filmed this video. Link
31. Tour the 26 Churches in Central London designed by Christopher Wren after the London fire of 1666.
East (White Chapel)
32. Walk around the fortress of the Tower of London (tours are not free) and check out the gift shop.
33. Walk across the beautiful and recognizable Tower Bridge. Bring your camera. You will be able to get wonderful photos, including double decker, red buses passing over the iconic structure.
34. Tour Leadenhall Market, an ancient covered mall that was used as the entrance to Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
35. Take in 2000 years of history at the London Wall, originally built by the Romans. Parts of the original Roman wall can still be seen.
36. Critique London’s modern architecture such as Lloyd’s of London, the Gherkin (eggplant) and the infamous “Walkie-Talkie” high-rise. Link
37. View the Beautiful yachts at the Saint Katherine Docks. It also has some nice restaurants.
38. Hold a real bar of gold in the Bank of London Museum.
South (Southwark/South Bank)
39. See the London Eye.
40. Watch street performers along the Queen’s Walk: musicians, magicians, comedians, mime’s…
41. Find the Counting House, a pub at the address where Bob Cratchet worked for Ebenezer Scrooge in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.
42. Walk about a block further though the narrow pedestrian- only streets to where Charles Dickens actually worked.
43. Visit the scale recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
44. A short distance away, but easy to find, is a parking lot (car park) which is the actual location of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Notice the monument.
45. Find the “Blue Plack” marking the site of the Tabard Inn where the narrator of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales stayed the night before beginning his pilgrimage.
46. View The Shard and City Hall, maybe London’s best two examples of modern architecture.
47. Explore the Imperial War Museum featuring British military exhibits from World War I until the present.
48. Enjoy the Tate Modern Museum, Britain’s collection of international modern art.
49. Walk along the Queen’s Walk from the Jubilee Bridge to the Millennial Bridge with amazing views of the North shore of the Thames.
50. You have to get a photo in a classic red British phone booth!
London is a huge city. I have focused on the historic center of the city. Obviously, there are many more than 50 free things to do in London, but you have to branch out much further. I hope that you someday have a chance to visit this wonderful city and experience all of the 50 free things to do in London that excite you.