Thinking about traveling to historic London? We’ve compiled a list of some of the classic London sites to see and how to check them out for free. If you’re planning your vacation to London, look no further for things to keep you busy while in this beautiful city!
1. Visit the National Gallery
This museum sits facing the famous Trafalgar Square and is one of the must-see museums in London. The National Gallery features an array of different artists including van Gogh, da Vinci and Michelangelo. Since it is free, it’s also one of the busiest museums – so it might be good to go on weekday mornings or at night on a Friday. The museum also features free daily guided tours and short talks about specific paintings.
2. Spend the afternoon in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is considered the oldest park in London and dates back to the seventeenth century when Henry VIII used to use it for his hunting grounds. This park is a beautiful place to go if you’re looking to take a break from the busy London streets and take a walk, read a book or have a picnic. It’s free to enter from 5 am to midnight every day throughout the year. During the summer, there are often concerts and other small events that take place in the park for visitors to enjoy. In the winter months, there is a Winter Wonderland event that is free to the public and offers ice skating, a ferris wheel and other entertainment.
3. Become a Wizard at Platform 9 and 3/4
For any Harry Potter fans, taking a picture at Platform 9 and 3/4 seems like a dream come true. Situated at King’s Cross, one of the busiest train stations in the city, Platform 9 and 3/4 is a part of the everyday hustle and bustle of London. Whether you were a fan of J.K. Rowling and her book series long ago or still find yourself going back and rereading the books now, this platform is a must-see for Harry Potter lovers. It’s the perfect photo op!
4. Overlook the city at Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park offers visitors a beautiful rose garden, an orchard, tennis courts and the Royal Observatory. The observatory costs money, but it’s free to roam the park grounds and view the Prime Meridian Line where the Park is split between the Western and Eastern hemispheres. You can also see an iconic view of London overlooking the Thames River. Throughout the year, small events are held throughout the park including concerts and charity runs.
5. Stop for a service at Westminster Abbey
If you’ve always wanted to step into this breathtaking church, now is your chance. Although it costs money to visit the church, it is completely free to attend worship. Many tourists find this is a much more enjoyable way to take in all of Westminster Abbey’s beauty. Services are held on holidays and every day at various times throughout the week. Before you go, make sure to check the schedule for service times.
6. Take a Free Walking Tour
Taking a walking tour around London is a great way to get to know the city. Whether you’re planning on staying in London for just a few days, or a few months for study abroad, taking a guided walking tour will help you feel more comfortable when you’re trying to get around. These tours are offered in all variations from food tours to art tours. You’ll consider yourself a London expert in no time!
7. Gaze at the entire city of London at the Sky Garden
This glass building offers beautiful views of the city of London for free. The Sky Garden features panoramic views and floor to ceiling windows. There’s even an open-air terrace where visitors can look out over the Thames River. Besides these breathtaking views, the Sky Garden also features a botanical garden and a variety of different restaurants and cafes. Although the restaurants cost money, the rest of the Sky Garden is completely free. For guaranteed access for the day and time you want to visit, book advance on the website.
8. Go under water in the Greenwich Foot Tunnel
This underwater tunnel is a very unique thing to do while in London because you can’t find them just anywhere. Although there are more underwater tunnels around London, this tunnel is good for tourists on foot and it is one of the oldest underwater tunnels which makes it even cooler! The tunnel takes you under the Thames River and is about a ten minute walk. Perfect for a quick getaway when you need a break from the city life!
9. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
There isn’t just one spot to watch the Changing of the Guard. There are multiple spots around Buckingham Palace that give you a view of a part of the ceremony. Make sure you choose your spot beforehand and get there early for the best view:
- Friary Court
- The Mall
- The Victoria Memorial
- Buckingham Palace Gates
- The Wellington Barracks
The Changing of the Guard happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday starting at 10:30 am right by Buckingham Palace. Many tourists and locals stop to watch this magnificent ceremony as it takes a lot of precision and poise from the soldiers and is definitely a sight to see!
10. Take a walk around Big Ben
Big Ben is a must-see when it comes to visiting London. This iconic clock tower is one of London’t most famous landmarks and can be seen towering over London. Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower, not the tower itself! Although you can’t actually go into the tower, taking a walk around the tower and listening to the bells ring at each hour is definitely worth it.
11. Check out the artwork at the Tate Modern
Although there are many Tate museums around London, the Tate Modern museum is not only beautiful on the outside, it also has a multitude of collections that are worth stopping by. Permanent collections at the museum are free including some by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. If you reach the top of this building, you also get to see a view of London!
12. Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market
Feeling hungry after your walking tour of London? Head over to Borough Market for some free food tasting. Borough Market is a trendy local market located in the South Bank. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking to experience where Londoners pick up some of their delicious food. If you are willing to spend some money, the food is relatively cheap so it’s a great spot for more than just free samples!
13. Take a picture in front of the Tower Bridge
Another Insta-worthy moment for your trip! The famous Tower Bridge is situated in the heart of London and is beautiful to look at and to walk across! It’s completely free and offers visitors a view of London above the Thames River. If you’re curious about walking above the Tower Bridge on the sky bridge, you will have to pay an admission fee. But for tourists just looking to experience the Tower Bridge at the normal level, it’s completely free to walk across at anytime. If you stick around long enough, you’ll even get to see the tower bridge open and close!
14. Hampstead Heath
Another great view of the city is on Parliament Hill which is a part of Hampstead Heath. The park is one of the largest in London and also is at one of the highest peaks of the city. There’s plenty of space to lay out on the grass and relax as you take in the view of the city from above. The park also has walking trails and ponds where tourists can take a break from the busy city life.
15. Get your very own Beatles Album Cover
Take a walk down Abbey Road and you’ll find yourself on a Beatles album cover. Make sure you bring three friends so you can come together and get the perfect insta-worthy moment. Abbey Road can be a busy street, so try going at times of the day that aren’t at the peak of traffic and tourists. An iconic place for any Beatles fan to go to!
Other Things to Do (Especially if you’re a fan of movies)
- Are you a Julia Roberts fan? If so, you can visit the bookstore that was featured in the Notting Hill film. It’s in Portobello and called the Notting Hill Bookshop.
- If you want to take it back to when Lindsay Lohan was just 12 years old, head over to 23 Egerton Terrace and check out the beautiful home of Annie and her mother in The Parent Trap.
- Drop by 10 Downing Street and you’ll have the chance to feel like Hugh Grant in Love Actually or cross your fingers and you might just see the prime minister!
If you’re trying to travel the world and still stay on budget, check out our other free things to do posts for more ways to explore a city. Heading to London soon? Visit our website for the latest travel deals and book your flight to this royal city!