Frugal Fun: 16 Cheap and Free Things to Do in London!
Frugal Fun: 16 Cheap and Free Things to Do in London!
London is a city with a rich history and plenty of appeal for visitors. It was founded by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago and has been an important centre of trade and politics ever since. Today, it is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, and its status as a global city means that it is home to a diverse population from all over the world. London is also a popular tourist destination thanks to its many attractions, including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower of London. We list below the places that you can visit for free in this magical, bustling city!
In this blog post we:
- List the best places to visit for no charge at all
- Show all places on an interactive map to help you locate each place easily.
London is full of free things to do. You could spend a full day at the British Museum, learn about Britain in the many wars the country has been involved in at the Imperial War Museum, or take in the beauty of nature at St James's Park. Below is a table of the best cheap and free things to do in London. Click on each name to be taken straight to the blog post for that place.
Updated and correct as of 24/12/23.
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Museums and Galleries
The blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the oldest and most prestigious museums in the world. It was founded in 1753 by Sir Hans Sloane, and has been housed in its current building since 1852. The Museum's collections are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world and range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. With over six million visitors each year, the Museum is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. From the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Sculptures, the Museum's collections are truly unparalleled and well worth a visit!
The National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of the world's great art museums, with a collection of Western European paintings that spans centuries. The gallery was founded in 1824, when the British government purchased a collection of 38 paintings from the banker and art collector John Julius Angerstein. Since then, the gallery has continued to grow adding important works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Vincent van Gogh. Today, the National Gallery is one of London's must-see attractions, with millions of visitors walking through the doors each year.
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a must-see for any visitor to the city. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of natural history specimens with millions of plants, animals, and minerals to see. The museum’s holdings span billions of years of Earth’s history, from the first fossils to the latest discoveries. The museum is also home to several iconic exhibits, such as the life-size blue whale skeleton and the famed Darwin exhibit.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the world's leading museums of art and design. With a collection of over 2.2 million objects, it is the largest museum of its kind in the UK. The museum was founded in 1852 and is named after Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. The V&A is devoted to inspiring curiosity, creativity, and enjoyment through understanding the designed world. It houses some of the finest collections of ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, metalwork, paintings, photographs, prints, textiles and sculptures in the world.
The Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum tells the British military conflict from the First World War to the present day through exhibits, artifacts, and documents from many wars. The museum also has an extensive collection of films, photos, and oral histories and visitors can learn about the causes of the wars, the major battles, and the people who fought them. The Imperial War Museum is an essential stop for anyone interested in military history.
The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is one of the hidden gems of London. Housed in a magnificent 18th-century townhouse, the collection includes paintings, arms and armour, sculptures, and decorative arts. The core of the collection was assembled by the third Marquess of Hertford and his son, Sir Richard Wallace. A visit to the Wallace Collection is a must for any art lover.
The Museum of London
The Museum of London is one of the most important museums in the country. It chronicles the history of the city from its earliest days to the present moment and is packed with priceless artifacts and stunning displays. The museum's artifacts tell the story of the city from centuries-old pottery and Roman coins to the technology of today, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The Royal Airforce Museum
The Royal Airforce Museum tells the story of the Royal Air Force, from its early days in World War I to its present-day role as a leading player in the international arena. The museum's collections include aircraft of all types, from bombers and fighters to transport and training aircraft. In addition to the aircraft on display, the museum also houses a wide range of artifacts and documents related to the history of the Royal Air Force. The museum's knowledgeable staff is always on hand to answer any questions and provide additional information about the exhibits.
Tate Britain is one of the four Tate galleries, along with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives. The gallery was founded in 1897 and was opened by the Prince of Wales at the time. The collection includes works by British artists from the 16th century to the present day. If you're looking for a dose of culture on your next trip to London, Tate Britain is a great option. Not only will you see some amazing works of art, but you'll also learn about the history of Britain through its art.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sir John Soane’s Museum is one of London’s most unique and fascinating attractions. Established in 1813, the museum was designed by renowned architect Sir John Soane to house his extensive collection of art and artifacts. Today, the museum is open to the public and contains an incredible array of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and architectural models. A visit will ensure you're able to see some of the city’s most impressive art and architecture along with a glimpse into the mind of one of history’s great thinkers.
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. Founded in 1856, the gallery is home to a collection of portraits of some of the most famous figures in British history. From royalty to politicians, writers to artists, the gallery's collection offers a fascinating insight into the country's past. And with over 12,000 portraits on display, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The gallery is also constantly evolving, with new exhibitions and displays being added all the time.
Free things to do in London FAQ's
There are plenty of things to do in London that won't cost you a penny. For example, take a walk through one of the city's many beautiful parks, visit one of the free museums or art galleries, go for a stroll along the river Thames or enjoy some people watching in one of London's lively neighbourhoods.
There are plenty of fun, free things to do in London! A few of our favourites include exploring the different neighbourhoods like Soho and Camden, visiting the many free museums and art galleries, going for a stroll in one of the city's beautiful parks and watching the street performers in Covent Garden. If you're looking for something a bit more active, why not check out one of London's free fitness classes or go for a walk or jog in one of the city's many green spaces. And don't forget to enjoy some of London's world-famous street food that you can easily find for a cheap price!
The most popular free tourist attraction in London according to TripAdvisor is the British Museum. It's visited by an estimated 6 million people every year.
History and Culture
Carnaby Street in Soho
The current market dates back to 1974 when a small pop-up market of 16 stalls was first introduced. In the years since, Camden Market has undergone several transformations, becoming a major hub for arts and crafts, and then evolving into the eclectic mix of shops and stalls that it is today. One of the best things about Camden Market is that there is something for everyone. Whether you're looking for vintage clothes, handmade jewelry, or international cuisine, you're sure to find it here. And with its central location in London, Camden Market is the perfect place to start exploring all that the city has to offer.
Soho is one of the most vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods in the city, with a rich history that dates back centuries. Originally a rural hamlet outside of the city, Soho began to attract artists and musicians in the 16th century due to its affordable housing and central location. In the 17th century, it became known as a haven for brothels and gambling dens, and by the 18th century, it had become one of the most fashionable areas in London. Today, Soho is home to a wealth of bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops, making it the perfect place to experience the best of London nightlife.
Walks and Nature Trails
Royal Gardens at Regents Park
Hyde Park is one of the most iconic parks in London. The 350-acre park is located in the heart of the city and is home to several famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake and the Hyde Park Speakers' Corner. Hyde Park has a long history dating back to the 16th century when it was founded by Henry VIII. Since then, it has been used as a royal hunting ground, a site for executions, and a venue for political protests. Today, Hyde Park is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. It is an ideal place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or simply relax in the sun.
St James's Park
St James's Park is one of the most iconic parks in London, with a rich history that dates back centuries. The park was created as a deer hunting ground for King Henry VIII in the 16th century. However, it soon became a popular spot for fashionable Londoners to promenade and take in the stunning views of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Today, St James's Park is still a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The park is home to a variety of bird species including pelicans, ducks, and swans. With its beautiful setting and abundance of wildlife, St James's Park is worth a visit on your next trip to the city.
Covering 197 hectares, Regents Park has a rich history dating back to the 16th century, when it was known as Marylebone Park. The park was created as another deer hunting ground for King Henry VIII. Since then, the park has been redesigned in a classic Victorian style, with sweeping lawns, manicured gardens, and majestic monuments. Today, Regents Park is home to a variety of attractions, including the world-famous London Zoo.
Use the map below to locate all the places mentioned to create your itinerary for your trip.
Open Google Maps to see distance information between locations and directions on how to get to each place.
Other Blog Posts from London
All outdoor activities including forest walks involve a degree of risk. The walks are recommended due to the well known features of each forest but this may change over time and further research is required before undertaking any activity. The weather can also impact the surface and general conditions of each path so please keep yourself updated with the weather forecast before setting off to enjoy your walk!