London: Top 10 Things to See and Do for Free

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London is renown for being one of the most exciting, but expensive cities in the world. Every year, millions of tourists from all around the world flock to visit the iconic sites of one of the world’s most famous cities.

With a city that has so much to offer, it is only right that there is lots to do for the free traveller.

This pages tells you the top things you can see and do in London for free, because money isn’t everything. Even in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

1. See All the Famous Sights from the Outside

London Silhouette

The London Eye, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard, black taxis, and red phone boxes. Everything in London that is famous is available at your viewing pleasure for absolutely nothing; simply don’t pay to go inside any of them. All of these sights are equally enjoyable (and much more recognisable) from outside, as from within. They say that beauty is only skin deep.

2. Walk Through Time at the Natural History Museum

‘Darwinism’ by Morten Diesen available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mortendiesen/8091682612/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Whether or not you are interested in the natural world, this museum has something for you. 70 million items are contained within the structure that is somewhat an exhibition (of architecture) itself. The moment you walk under the vaulted ceiling, you are greeted by a great diplodocus who will happily wait around to wave you off too.

3. Overload Your Senses at the Markets

‘Curry Dishes’ by Karsten Seiferlin available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/timecaptured/6182975764/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Whether you want to experience food (with lots of free samples) or just explore the diverse range of clothing, trinkets, and goings on, London markets put on quite a display. Camden Markets and Portobello Markets are two of the most famous and are sure to entertain.

4. Walk the Thames

London Eye and Thames

Start from Westminster, opposite Big Ben and walk along the riverfront in the direction of the London Eye. As you stroll along the river, you will pass some of the most famous buildings in the world and you are free to cross the river when you feel like it. Ideally cross at Waterloo Bridge and continue until you reach the Tate Modern, where you have to cross the Millennium Bridge. After this, keep on walking and you should find your way to Tower Bridge, at which point you are finally allowed to sit down and enjoy the view.

5. Relax in the Royal Parks

‘Feeding Birds at Kensington Gardens’ by Michiel Jelijs available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewolf/4203584686/under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Just because you’re in a big city, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a bit of greenery. The Royal Parks Agency now manages and maintains Bushy Park, Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park, and St. James’s Park for your viewing pleasure. Many of the parks also have animals to keep you company.

6. Be a Magician / Rockstar / Anything You Want

‘Platform 9 3/4’ by Oleg Sklyanchuk available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sklyanchuk/4002322868/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Some of the most famous media scenes from around the world are taken from London. Although they won’t keep you entertained all day, Platform 9 3/4 can now be found at King’s Cross Station and the Abbey Road crosswalk is an image known around the world after featuring on The Beatles album cover. You can touch them, stand on them, and recreate famous poses as you see fit. Look a little deeper and you’ll find more than just these two famous scenes in this diverse city.

7. Get a Little Artsy in the Tates

‘Tate Modern’ by 'Blopsmen' available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/blopsmen/2682863128/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Both the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain offer free exhibitions to some of the world’s most famous art works. Most countries charge extortionate prices for entry into art galleries, so this is one thing that you should definitely take advantage of. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It didn’t cost you anything.

8. The National Gallery

‘The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square’ by Maurice' available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauricedb/2742966709/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Located by Trafalgar Square, The adjoined National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are home to some of the most important painting masterpieces and photographs in the country.

9. Get Your Geek Out at The National Science Museum

‘Bleriot No X Channel aircraft on display, Science Museum, London, May 1939’ by 'Science Museum London' is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencemuseum/3322439526/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

With interactive exhibits and toys you always dreamed of, you can let yourself go and marvel at the wonder of science in both the present and past worlds.

10. Journey Around the World at The British Museum

‘The British Museum’ by Trey Ratcliff is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/5210447446/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Home to objects from around the world, let yourself be taken on a journey without having to leave London.

That’s ten. Have a great time and don’t be disappointed if you don’t meet the queen. You might also want to take a look at my other free city guides or read more about how to save money on the UK budget travel advice page.

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