London tends to get a bad reputation for being an expensive place to visit, but provided you plan your trip well you can see lots of the city for little or no cost. There are hundreds of free sights and attractions around London that give you the chance to delve into the city’s history or entertain the kids without spending a penny.
Take a look through our top picks and plan your next budget trip to the big smoke.
1. The Museum Quarter
This is really three attractions in one, but as they’re so close together we’ll offer them to you as a day out in itself. In South Kensington, you will find the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum all within short walking distance of one another and all accessible for free.
Each museum has a different slant. The Natural History Museum’s breath-taking exhibits of large mammals and reconstructed dinosaurs make it a firm favourite while the Science Museum’s interactive exhibits are both fun and educational. The more serene Victoria and Albert Museum takes you through fabrics, design and textiles through the ages from across the world and also has a wonderful café with a resident pianist for a decadent afternoon tea.
2. Maritime Greenwich
Greenwich feels like a small town miles away from London but is just a short trip across the river. Once there, you can visit the Old Royal Naval College for free, wander around the grounds and see Inigo Jones’ famous Queen’s House with its iconic Palladian style of architecture. You could also walk past the Cutty Sark and under the river through one of the only remaining Thames foot tunnels to the Isle of Dogs for a unique London experience.
3. The Tate
The Tate galleries in London offer access to their huge collection of artworks for free in their two locations in the city. Tate Britain on Millbank has the largest collection of British art in the world, while Tate Modern holds a huge number of modern works of art from the likes of Picasso and Matisse and a regular large art installation in the enormous turbine hall.
4. The Wellcome Collection
Based on Euston Road, the Wellcome Collection has a regularly refreshed set of exhibits that look at the way medicine has impacted on our lives through the ages. With galleries, libraries, events and a fantastic bookshop, it’s got plenty to keep enquiring minds occupied.
5. Abbey Road
No music fan’s trip to London would be complete without a walk across the crossing outside the famous Abbey Road studios made so famous by The Beatles. There’s no charge for crossing the road and you can get your own version of the cover with your friends or family!
6. Kensington Gardens
Surrounding Kensington Palace, former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, this Royal park has many attractions to keep you interested. The peaceful Italian gardens and the Serpentine Gallery give you lots to wander around while the Peter Pan-themed Princess Diana Memorial Playground is great for young kids, including those with disabilities.
7. Horse Guards Parade
One of the most iconic sights in London, it’s free to watch the Changing of the Guard on the Parade every morning at 10am to see some of the amazing pomp of British pageantry.
8. Mudchute Park and Farm
The largest city farm in London with over 34 acres on the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute gives you the chance to get up close with the farm animals, ride some of the horses and enjoy some locally grown produce at the café and shop. Particularly good for children, there are lots of fun and educational activities to enjoy.
A trip to London doesn’t have to cost the earth and there are lots of things to see and do that don’t cost anything at all. The list above has more than enough to see you through several trips to the city without getting bored.