Free things to do in London: The best attractions, activities and sights to enjoy on a budget

Explore London on a budget with these fun, unique and inspiring activities.

London is a city famous for its rich history, cultural importance, and entertainment. Along with that often comes costs that put many of these activities out-of-reach for those on a budget or looking for a day out in the city with their families. 

The good news is there are a wide number of attractions that won't cost you a thing. From world-class museums to scenic parks and vibrant markets, there's something for everyone to enjoy without spending a dime — or by spending very little, if you decide on some lunch along the way. 

In this article, we'll guide you through some of the best free activities London has to offer, ensuring you make the most of your visit. And, if you’re visiting the city by car, we can save you even more money by getting you a cheap parking space close to all major attractions across the city.

Visit one of the many free museums across London

Why you should go: A combination of culture and history covering everything from early civilisations to design innovation and evolutionary journeys. 

Where to go: Various locations (some key sites specifically around South Kensington and Holborn). If 

Admissions to the museums below are free, but some special exhibitions might have an added cost or will need to be booked ahead of time:

Most museums in the UK have been universally free since 2001, unlocking a captivating journey through human history, art, and culture without any financial burden for locals and tourists alike. These museums house an unparalleled wealth of treasures, from ancient artefacts to modern masterpieces, providing a window into diverse civilisations and artistic movements. Beyond their educational value, they serve as vibrant hubs of community engagement, offering enriching experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you're drawn to the wonders of ancient Egypt at the British Museum, the iconic Cast Courts at the V&A, or the interactive exhibits at the Science Museum, London's free museums provide endless opportunities for exploration, inspiration, and discovery, making them essential destinations for locals and visitors.

Choose from dozens of free art galleries to explore

Why you should go: London has free galleries that feature works from some of the world’s most famous artists, on display year-round. 

Where to go: Find the nearest parking space to whichever gallery you’re visiting, or use the TfL website to plan your route. 

Below is an example of just some of the art galleries across London that can be accessed at no cost:

Visiting the free art galleries across London provides access to world-class masterpieces without any cost. From the iconic works of Vincent van Gogh at the National Gallery to the avant-garde creations showcased at the Tate Modern, these galleries showcase a diverse range of artistic styles, periods, and movements. Admire the intricate details of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Virgin of the Rocks" or immerse yourself in the vibrant colours of Claude Monet's "Water Lilies." Beyond their artistic value, these galleries foster creativity, inspire imagination, and offer a space for contemplation and reflection, making them essential destinations for art enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Walk down the South Bank for sightseeing and people watching

Why you should go: You can spot many famous historical and cultural landmarks along the walk without having to pay admission to many of them.

Where to go: Depending on where you want to start, either take the tube to Embankment station or Tower Hill if you want to begin your journey on the iconic Tower Bridge. If you’re driving, book parking along the South Bank ahead of time. 

Visitors should stroll along London's South Bank for iconic views of landmarks like the London Eye, Westminster, Big Ben and Tower Bridge, vibrant street performances, and cultural attractions such as the Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. With its bustling atmosphere and riverside charm, it offers a quintessential London experience, perfect for leisurely walks or enjoying the many events and markets along the way. The Southbank Centre also often hosts free events such as gigs, dance sessions and art exhibitions.

Take advantage of sunny days at the sprawling green spaces in the city

Why you should go: London’s parks are entirely free and can offer perfect picnic settings, cycle-friendly routes and lush gardens. 

Where to go: Refer to the linked list above for a starting point of choosing which park is best for you.

No matter where you’re going in London, you’re likely to be within walking distance of a well-manicured green space. Unique in their sheer size, history, and cultural significance, London’s parks present a bustling urban landscape, providing essential green spaces for sport, dog-walking and recreation. Each park has its own character and attractions; for example, Hyde Park boasts the Serpentine Lake and Speaker's Corner, while Regent's Park features the beautiful Queen Mary's Rose Garden and the London Zoo. 

Many parks in London are steeped in history, with landmarks and monuments that reflect the city's past, such as Kensington Gardens with the Kensington Palace and its beautiful Orangery. These parks serve as important gathering places for locals and visitors alike, offering a respite from the city's hustle and bustle while contributing to London's unique charm and allure.

A few noteworthy parks across the city are:

  • St James’s Park
  • Hyde Park
  • Holland Park
  • Greenwich Park
  • Victoria Park
  • Crystal Palace Park
  • Clapham Commons
  • Hampstead Heath
  • Regent’s Park
  • Richmond Park

See the colourful houses in Notting Hill

Why you should go: Picturesque houses, small businesses and communal parks make up a large portion of the Notting Hill neighbourhood, making it ideal for a Saturday afternoon stroll.

Where to go: Start your walk from Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove tube station. If you’re driving, book parking near Notting Hill ahead of time. 

Notting Hill is arguably one of the most picturesque areas in London, with many tourists flocking to see the pastel houses in rows winding around the streets of the neighbourhood. Even if you’re not there for a shopping visit, the many niche bookshops, jewellery sellers and hidden mews make for a great window shopping excursion and discovery walk. 

Plus, if you go on a Saturday, you’ll get to experience Portobello Road Market which is a great place to explore vintage clothing, furniture, find fresh produce and art, albeit none of these are free — admission definitely is!

Visit the Barbican Conservatory for a mix of greenery and art

Why you should go: This hidden gem within the Barbican Centre features a diverse collection of tropical plants, trees, and exotic fish in a tranquil setting.

Where to go: Barbican has its own tube station on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, or has many bus routes nearby. If you’re driving, book parking near Barbican ahead of time.

Visitors can explore the conservatory's flora and fauna, take pictures, and enjoy the serene atmosphere without charge. However, it's always a good idea to check the Barbican's official website in case there’s special exhibits happening as you may need to reserve in advance. 

Visit the music-history rich market and see street performances around Camden Market 

Why you should go: Camden is notorious for its musical roots and has many buskers, performers and artists who inhabit the market on evenings and weekends.

Where to go: There are various transit options around Camden including the underground, overground and bus routes. If you’re driving, book parking near Camden Market ahead of time.

Nestled in the heart of Camden Town, this bustling market is a melting pot of culture and creativity. Visitors can wander through the maze of stalls, browsing an array of unique crafts, vintage clothing, and artwork without spending anything. You’ll also find the market is a hub for street performers, showcasing an array of talented musicians, dancers, and artists, providing free entertainment for all visitors.

Camden is a very busy area to visit, especially on weekends around the various locks and markets, so be sure to plan your route ahead of time.

Feed the sheep at Mudchute Park and Farm

Why you should go: The free farmland is attached to a larger park, offering families or solo travellers an opportunity to interact with animals and escape the busy city.

Where to go: Mudchute DLR station is only a few minutes away from the entrance - there is also a walking path from Greenwich and many bus stops nearby.

This sprawling urban farm offers a unique opportunity to experience rural life, with a diverse array of animals including sheep, goats, pigs, and horses. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks through picturesque pastures, immersing themselves in a mini-oasis away from the city's hustle and bustle. Whether it's interacting with friendly farm animals, picnicking with family and friends, or simply soaking up the tranquil atmosphere, Mudchute Farm provides a rejuvenating retreat where visitors can reconnect with nature and unwind amidst panoramic views of the London skyline and the River Thames.

Spend a day in Greenwich for scenic views, historical landmarks and beautiful architecture

Why you should go: A day trip to Greenwich can cater to those looking for a relaxing afternoon or visitors looking for an educational or culturally rich experience.

Where to go: If you’re driving, book parking in Greenwich ahead of time to avoid crowds. Public transit is also easily accessible in the area through the DLR and multiple bus routes. 

For first-time visitors to Greenwich, there are several free activities to enjoy while exploring this historic area of London. Begin your journey by taking a stroll through Greenwich Park, home to the Royal Observatory and offering stunning views of the London skyline. Don't miss the opportunity to stand on the Prime Meridian Line for a unique photo opportunity, marking the division between the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth.

Next, wander through the charming streets to admire the architecture and browse the stalls of Greenwich Market, which offers a variety of crafts, antiques, and delicious street food. While in the area, make sure to visit the grounds of the magnificent Old Royal Naval College, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can marvel at the stunning architecture and explore the Painted Hall and Chapel for free.

Finally, take a stroll along the Thames Path and enjoy the scenic river views, passing iconic landmarks such as the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich foot tunnel.

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