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Looking for free things to do in London (or very cheap ones)? We have lived in the city for almost a decade, and will tell you now 60 unmissable activities to enjoy London like a local.
The best of all? There are lots of free entertainment in London, so you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it .
Free or cheap things to do in London
Things to do in Central London
1- Visit St Paul’s Cathedral and get close to one of the world’s biggest domes
2- Go up on the roof top of the One New Change Mall (it is only a six floors building, so don’t get too excited). The Mall is free and just near the cathedral. Besides the view being amazing, there are a couple of nice bars up there too
3- Pass by The Monument (which represents where the 1666 Great Fire supposedly started) and cross over the Millenium Bridge
4- And reaching Tate Modern, the super cool modern art museum located inside an old power plant
5- Watching a play at the Shakespeare Globe, the theatre inspired by the place where the English poet used to present his plays. There are £5 standing tickets for many renowned performances
6- Walking from Tate Modern to Tower Bridge by the Thames River
7- Crossing the Tower Bridge by foot to feel all its magnificence
8- Seeing the Tower of London and get the bumps just imagining all the prisoners that once had been jailed in there (and beheaded with their heads thrown into the Thames). Ah, you can visit its interior as well
9- Have your lunch at the Borough Market, one of London’s most traditional food markets
10- Visit the British Museum, which despite its name tells the story of the whole world. The building is so beautiful that on its own is worth visiting. Free entrance as the majority of London’s museums
11- Walking around Carnaby Street, a vibrant pedestrian only street full of interesting and colourful shops
12- Go to Piccadilly Circus, the famous area with its big screens, street artists and the Cupid Fountain (it is actually a statue of Eros, but nobody really knows)
13- Do you need clothes and/or sports accessories? So go straight into the 5 floors shop just behind the “Cupid Fountain”, the Lilly White. You won’t regret it
14- Walking along Oxford Street (this one is only for those who like shopping and don’t mind big crowds)
15- Watching at least one of the capital’s Musicals (we definitely recommend the “Book of Mormons”)
16- Walking around Trafalgar Square
17- Finding out what is the Fourth Plinth, one of the Trafalgar Square’s pillars designated for an art piece. A monument of art in the midst of many war monuments
18- Getting lost at Soho, the London’s oriental neighbourhood
19- Having a pint at the Irish pub Waxy O’Connor’s and fall in love with the place
20- Walking around one of the cutest parks in the city, St Jame’s Park
21- See (from the outside as we prefer, or from the inside if you like) the London Eye, London’s famous giant wheel
22- Having a drink or eating something at Sushi Samba Restaurant, probably the best view of London (the food is not so spectacular though)
23- If it’s Sunday, don’t forget to eat the traditional Sunday Roast at one of the thousands of pubs around town
24- Eat pizza at Homeslice, located in the charming and colourful Neal’s Yard. The restaurant serves a pizza of about 40cm of diameter, the wine is measured with a ruler, the plate is disposable, the price is very affordable and, ah, it is one of the best pizzas in town!
25- To see the Buckingham Palace, the official royal residency in the London
26- Walk from Trafalgar Square to Westminster through Whitehall Road
27- If you are curious about the history of the monarchy, you will like to see the Change of the Royal Guards, which happens three to four times a week (it is up to the weather) at 11am in front of Buckingham Palace. If you do go, you had better get there an hour early or the crowd will not allow you to see properly
28- Cross the Westminster Bridge. The view from there, having the Big Ben from one side and the London Eye on the other, is perfect for a good photo shoot
29- To the sweet people, you have the M&Ms shop at Leicester Square. It is one of the only five stores in the world and the largest candy shop as well
30- Go up London’s newest skyscraper: the Sky Garden building. There is a garden on the rooftop and the view is great. The best of all? It’s totally free to visit it, you just have to book in advance.
*Also read the best things to do on a London layover.
Free or cheap things to do in North London
31- Walk around Camden Locks, one of Camden Town’s many street market
32- Then definitely getting in the CyberDog, probably the craziest shop you will ever get yourself into. On our video below, which is all about Camden Town, you can see how CyberDog looks like. It is forbidden to film inside the shop, but one of the staff let us record a bit (CyberDog starts at 1m57s)
33- Having a beer at The Hawley Arms, the pub where Amy Winehouse used to go before and after her fame
34- Walk or cycle along Regents Canal up to Little Venice. And dream about living in one of those houseboats
35- Feel like going to Hogwarts when seeing Harry Potter’s trolley half way in platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station
36- Invite three friends to come with you to Abbey Road, just to take the picture from the Beatles’ famous LP cover
37- Go for a pub crawl in the bars of Shoreditch and Old Street, some of the coolest in town
Free and cheap things to do in South London
38- Go to the Imperial War Museum, one of the most interactive museums we have ever been
39- Eat in at one of the diverse Brixton Village’s restaurants, an indoors market. The market is located in Brixton, which is one of London’s most exciting neighbourhoods. Check out our video below for details on what not to miss at Brixton Village:
40- As you are around Brixton, go for some cocktails at the cool Seven at Brixton bar
41- Do not fancy going home just yet? So, carry on to Gremio de Brixton, a bar underneath a former church just next to Brixton Village
Free or cheap things to do in East London
42- Watch a West Ham match, a very Londoner football club. The current stadium is the former 2012 Olympic Stadium, which is quite cool. This is the club which inspired the film Green Street about hooligans
43- Go to Canary Wharf with the DLR (the overground tube), going through all those charming streets and channels
44- See the Prime Meridian at the Greenwich observatory, where the meridian cross
45- Have a walk through the University of Greenwich gardens and the Old Royal Naval College. It is an old palace from the Tudor’s era which has been the scenario of many films, such as Thor, Pirates of Caribbean (by the way, Tiago graduated from there)
46- See the old Cutty Sark Ship just next to the university
47- Take a boat from the Greenwich port and go to Westminster, at the London’s city centre. Many people who live in there actually use the boat as a way of transport rather than the metro. The ride is beautiful but it’s a bit more expensive than the tube
48- Walk around Hackney Wick, currently our favourite neighbourhood in London. There, you will find many art galleries, graffitis, bars and one of the best nightlife in town – you just need to find out in which warehouse is the party tonight 😉
49- Have a beer at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick. The place serves its own brewed beers and a very good pizza. You can also eat inside the barge boat which is part of the bar
Free or cheap things to do in West London
50- Go to the Natural History Museum, which is hosted inside an old and beautiful building
51- Have a walk around Hyde Park, see the lakes, the Princess Diana Memorial and the Kensington Palace (once the residence of Lady Di and more lately William’s and Kate’s house)
52- If shopping is your cup of tea, then you wouldn’t want to miss a visit to Harrods, the fanciest shopping mall in the capital
53- If you can spend a little more, make sure to dine at one of the best restaurants in town (in the world, actually), the Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The great British chef presents a reread of historical British dishes. The Dinner is at the Mandarim Oriental Hotel and offers a view of the Hyde Park. It is beautiful and unique. Just don’t forget to book a place well in advance
* You might be interested in this post about saving money in London from LifeStyleFifty.
54- To make a picnic at Richmond Park, which is as far as it’s beautiful. In the summer, you can spot some wild animals around, such as the deer
55- And have a pint in one of the traditional pubs around the park
56- Play outdoor chess on a gigantic table with massive pieces at Holland Park
57- Visiting the antique street market of Portobelo Road, in Notting Hill
58- And eat in one of the delicious food stalls from over there
59- Go slightly up the road and have a beer at the iconic pub The Churchill Arms. With its facade all covered in flowers, this is definitely one of the prettiest in town
60- if you have very little time in London and want to see the most important sights, we recommend you to join the Free Walking Tour. The tour is not really free – as you can read more in this article here – but is cheap (around £5) and you see some of London’s most historical buildings.
We hope you enjoyed this article with the “60 free and cheap things to do in London”! If you have any doubts or suggestion, drop us a line on the comments below.
* Article originally written in December 2016 and updated on November 2018.