Famously one of the world’s most expensive cities, enjoying London on a budget can be a challenge. But the good news is it’s not impossible. Spread across the capital’s 32 boroughs are countless cool things to do for free (or almost free). From world-leading museums housing ancient artefacts and iconic artworks to lush parks and gardens with spectacular city views, here’s the ultimate guide on the best things to do in London for free…
Discover rare secrets
The mighty British capital is home to some of the world’s greatest museums – many of which are completely free to enter. Our favourite is the magnificent Natural History Museum.
The star attraction is the 91-foot life-sized cast of a blue whale that dominates the cavernous atrium but treasures here some in all shapes and sizes. Look a bit further and you’ll find an ultra-rare rock bought back from Mars and historic specimens gathered by Charles Darwin. Kids, meanwhile, will love the giant Iguanodon and Hypsilophodon dinosaur skeletons. www.nhm.ac.uk
See the sunset from Primrose Hill
Did you know that London is home to as many as 3,000 public parks and green spaces, covering almost 18 percent of the city? There are so many beautiful outdoor spaces just waiting to be discovered but few are quite as spectacular as Primrose Hill, a grassy mound beside Regent’s Park which offers unparalleled views of London’s skyline.
Originally purchased from Eton College in 1841 as part of an open-air recreation project, it’s a short walk from Chalk Farm Underground station and a rather steep climb to the top – but the views are worth the effort. Visit at sunset to see the city against a backdrop of crushed pinks and oranges. www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/things-to-see-and-do/primrose-hill
Lose yourself at Borough Market
As London’s oldest market, people have been selling their fresh produce at Borough for more than 1,000 years. Yes, one thousand years! It is, without question, the epicentre of London’s gourmet scene and a must for foodies.
Completely free to visit, most of the 100+ stalls offer tasty samples of their wares, everything from exotic meats and gooey cheeses to mouthwatering pastries and artisan breads, olive oils, chocolates and cakes. Just delicious.
Pick your way through the samples and if you’re still hungry, head over to the row of street food stalls and choose between the authentic grub from corners as far-flung as Ethiopia, India and almost everywhere in between. www.boroughmarket.org.uk
Go wild deer-spotting in Bushy Park
Just beyond the city limits, along the Longford River near Hampton Court Palace, is Bushy Park, a patch of wilderness that’s nothing short of sublime.
During the Second World War, Bushy Park acted as a US air base from where General Eisenhower originally planned the D-Day landings. Today, however, the park is best known for its roaming herds of red and fallow deer, which can usually be spotted roaming around the grasslands and offers a completely unique perspective of the city. www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/bushy-park
Contemplate iconic artworks at Tate Modern
Housed inside London’s former Bankside Power Station, the Tate Modern showcases modern and contemporary art from around the world in a unique and striking setting on the South Bank of the Thames. The creatively revamped building is almost an artwork in itself, but the real reason to visit is to enjoy the astonishingly diverse range of free exhibitions, which include some of the best-loved paintings, sculptures and video installations in the entire Tate collection, some by masters such as Picasso. Don’t forget to cross over the futuristic Millennium Bridge as you approach. www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern