No matter your budget, traveling can get expensive. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Dining out, hotels, and essential attractions can wreak havoc on travel expenses. One way to save money is to integrate some free things to do in London into your schedule.
We’ve curated a list of 10 free things to do in London without an RSVP – That means you can see them today if you like!
Pro Tip: If you are planning doing a self-guided tour in London, consider bookmarking this article in your browser. This way you can circle back to it while strolling down the jolly old streets of London-town. Also, don’t miss our walking tours of London. When we’re not enjoying afternoon tea we are organizing tours of London that will elevate your experience and make your trip more memorable!
Top 10 Free Things to do in London
10. The National Portrait Gallery
Opening in 1856, this is the first portrait gallery in the world. Visit this gallery first to get a good glimpse of the most important historical figures in Britain. Visiting this small gallery is like being face to face with all of the famous Kings & Queens of England. It is a great experience and of course a very very free thing to do in London.
Location: St. Martins Pl, Charing Cross
9. The National Gallery
In the center of London, facing Trafalgar Square, sit the National Gallery. Compared to the major museums in continental Europe, this collection is much smaller. It houses works from Giotto to Cezanne. It’s not every day that travelers can pop in and easily admire art from most of the old masters. After time in the museum, you can enjoy afternoon tea in the cafe next door.
Location: Trafalgar Square
8. Changing of the Guard
Every day at 11 am in the early summer, and otherwise, four times a week, the Queen’s Guard performs a time-honored ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace. The new replacement guards march with a band to replace the old guard. You can also watch from St. James Palace at 10 am. The best place to watch in front of Buckingham Palace is from the Victoria Memorial which is outside. That makes it a completely free thing to do!
As an alternative, and with fewer crowds, experience changing the Life Guards at Horse Guards Parade. With their shiny breastplates and white plumed helmets, the mounted cavalry unit has stood guard since 1660. If you like horses, this is the ceremony for you. The Queen’s Life Guard changes every day at 11 am.
Location: St James’s Palace, Bucking Palace, Horse Guards
7. People Watching at Picadilly Circus
While the continent may have its giant squares, London has circuses or circles. Picadilly Circus is at the junction of Picadilly, Regent Street, Haymarket, and Shaftsbury Avenue. So that means you are a stone’s throw away from some premiere shopping. Over 100 million people go through every year. Legend has if you stay there long enough, you will see the whole world pass through. The famous statue of Eros sits on top of the Shaftesbury memorial. The iconic electronic advertisements have covered the area since 1910.
Location: Picadilly Circus
6. Window Shopping in Historic Districts
People from all over the world visit London to shop its fine iconic department stores. Visiting stores like Liberty, Fortnum & Masons, and Harrods is an experience all to themselves. Travelers can choose to stroll down Regent Street, Jermyn Street, Oxford Street, and Bond Street to look in on the beautifully curated displays and unless you are tempted to make a purchase it is a free thing to do.
Covent Garden is not only an excellent place to people watch, but also great for shopping. Several boutique shops line the square adding to the lively atmosphere.
Location: Covent Garden, Regent Street, Jermyn Street
5. Walking London’s Royal Parks
London has no shortage of green space for travelers to enjoy for free. There are several Royal Parks in central London you can take a casual stroll through; Hyde Park, St James, and Regents Park. They are royal parks because the land at one point belonged to the King or Queen.
Visiting these parks is a great way to quickly escape the urban side of London. All of the parks are family and dog friendly. There are several walking and cycling paths to enjoy. If the weather is right, you will see many Londoners flock to the parks to enjoy the open air or picnic. Visiting parks is one of the best free things to do in London because you’ll kill two birds with one stone. First, adding time to your schedule without your wallet getting lighter. Second and finally, walking off the fish & chips!
4. Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Gardens is now the Western half of Hyde Park. This beautiful part of the park includes the Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue, and of course, Kensington Palace. This famous Royal residence has been home to Queen Victoria, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry.
Next to the Palace is the sunken garden was built in 1908 and modeled after Hampton Court Palace. It is a nice quiet spot to rest under royal grandeur. You might recognize this garden as the site of the announcement of the engagement of HRH Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, to Miss Megan Markle.
Location: Kensington Palace, Kensington
3. Brompton Oratory
Officially the 19th-century church is known as the London Oratory. It is the second-largest Catholic church in London. The nave of the London Oratory is wider than St Paul’s Cathedral. When I called London home, this was my parish church. The architecture and ambiance will instantly transport visitors to Rome. Even though the church was built in 1884, the architecture is unequivocally Italian Baroque. Music lovers should try to attend mass to hear the stunning choir accompanied by London’s most crucial organ in the post-World War II era.
Location: Brompton Road, Knighstbridge
2. British Museum
The British Museum is the best free museum on the planet. Travelers can discover two million years of history and culture. The museum is massive and crowded, so have a game plan to see your favorite civilization first. Some of the most famous and ancient pieces like the Rosetta Stone, Bust of Ramses, and Parthenon sculptures all reside in this incredible free museum.
The British Museum is one of the best museums in the world which is incredible considering it is completely free. This is our pick for top free museums to visit in London.
Location: Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury
1. Choral Evensong at Westminster Abbey or St. Pauls Cathedral
Evensong is a Christian service in the Anglican tradition. A full choral evensong is a treat because most of the liturgy is musical. In the Catholic tradition, this service is traditionally called Vespers. It allows listeners time for restful contemplation – travelers, the religious, and atheists alike. All under the splendor of amazing architecture. At Westminster Abbey, the Evensong service is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 5 pm. If you line up early, by 4 pm, you will likely get to sit in the choir of the Abbey. At St. Paul’s Cathedral, choral evensong is every Monday-Saturday 5 pm.
Location: Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral