London. For many people the name alone conjures up pound signs. London can be as expensive as you want it to be. Fancy a hotel suite for £26,000 a night? It’s yours. Are you hungry enough for a £300 a-head meal? We can book you a table. However, there is a flip side to the expensive side to London. The Free side!
Surprisingly, London has many free things to offer tourists and locals alike. From free museums to free live music. You can literally fill your day up with free things to do in London.
Free Things To Do In London
Free Museums In London
Not many cities offer free entry to their museums but in London almost all the museums offer free admission. They do like you to leave a donation but it is completely optional. These world-class institutions are a great way to learn about London’s (and Britain’s) past. You could spend two weeks alone just visiting London’s museums and galleries.
London’s Best Parks & Green Spaces
Did you know that 47% of London is green space? Unsurprisingly, that makes London one of the greenest capitals in the world. Like most cities the parks and green spaces of London are almost all free (there are some private parks that are not open to the public). They are a great way to kick back and unwind from the hectic city. Each park in London has its own character. For example, Hyde Park has the massive serpentine lake in it, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath have amazing views of the city and Epping Forest is wild and natural.
Free Comedy Clubs in London
The UK is world-famous for its comedy. From Monty Python to The Office, the British humour is exported to TV channels all around the world. London is full of comedy clubs. Be it little rooms above pubs to dedicated comedy clubs that have shows on every night of the week. Amazingly there are quite a few comedy clubs that have free entry. Having a few drinks and lots of laughs is a great London night out. Here is a list of places where you can get free laughs:
Free Live Music In London
London is undoubtedly the home of live music. In the past two weeks alone we have had Beyonce and Jay Z, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, and The Arctic Monkeys all play in various venues around the city. Now, we are not saying that these gigs were free but there are many places where you can catch live music for absolutely nothing. Below is a small list of some of them.
Royal College Of Music – The Royal College of Music is located in South Kensington and is an important cultural centre and vibrant music venue. They host many free concerts throughout the year so keep an eye on their events calendar for what’s coming up.
Free gigs Hootananny Brixton – Voted London’s best music venue in 2011, Hootananny in Brixton has diverse live music almost every night of the week. For most gigs if you arrive before a certain time you will get free entrance.
Ain’t Nothing But The Blues – This amazing blues bar in Soho is a firm favourite of ours. Here you will catch fantastic performers for free every night of the week. The place is small but what it lacks in size it makes up in atmosphere.
Southbank Centre – Every lunchtime at The Southbank centre there are amazing musicians playing beautiful music for anybody who happens to be sitting around. The first time I experienced it was when I was working on a blog post in the cafe. I suddenly heard this beautiful sound and when I looked up there was a whole orchestra playing right before me! I didn’t realize at the time that this wasn’t a one-off event but a daily routine. Brilliant.
St Martin In The Fields – Another beautiful venue for free lunchtime concerts is St Martin In The Fields Church that sits on one corner of Trafalgar Square. I am quite sure that the thousands of people who cross Trafalgar Square every day have no idea that this happens and that includes Londoners.
Ronnie Scotts – Ronnie Scotts is a world-famous live music (predominantly Jazz) right in the heart of Soho. For the main room you generally have to pay but for the room upstairs if you arrive before a certain time you will get free entry. They have world-class performers playing every night so it’s pretty amazing that you can get to see them for free.
The Royal Opera House – We never knew that the Royal Opera House did free daytime recitals until we did research for this post. It just shows you that even after living in London for 20 years you can discover new things about the place.
Other Free Things To Do In London
The Scoop – The Scoop sits right on the southbank just underneath City Hall and with Tower Bridge just in the background. It’s a great place to catch free theatre, festivals, film and live sports from June to August.
Speakers Corner – This is one of my favourite places in London. Speakers Corner is a site that has been having public debates and speeches since the 1800’s. It is located on the north-east edge of Hyde Park, nearest Marble Arch and Oxford Street. Figures such as Karl Marx, George Orwell and Vladimir Lenin made speeches there and if you visit on a Sunday morning you will come across somebody debating in front of a crowd.
The British Library – The British Library is worth a visit just to admire the building and calmness within it but once you add the diverse free events they put on, it becomes a must see when you are in London. For example in the next few days they have talks on storytelling, the Windrush generation and preserving the manuscripts of Mali.
Watch Free Movies at the British Film Institutes Mediatheque – When the weather is wet and cold what better way to spend your time than watching classic films and TV for a few hours in the world’s largest collection of rare films. It is free and suitable for all ages.
Watch a trial at the Old Bailey – The Old Bailey has been holding trials for 111 years. Some of the UK’s most infamous trials have been held here. The Kray Twins, The Yorkshire Ripper, and Ian Huntley have all been held to account in the Old Bailey’s famous courts. If you want to experience a real court case you can do by sitting in the public gallery.
Free Walking Tours in London – There are quite a few different companies that offer free walking tours in London. Most expect a donation or a tip for their efforts which is only fair. There are different types of free waking tours in London. There are landmark tours, Harry Potter tours, food tours and many more.
Tower Of London Ceremony Of The Keys – Do you fancy being part of a 700 year old tradition all for free? The Ceremony of the Keys is an ancient ritual, held every evening at the Tower of London, when the main gates are locked for the night. Tickets are free but you have to prebook as the ceremony is very popular. This an event that is unique to London and everybody should see it at least once.
Street Art In London – From the ancient to the modern, London’s street at scene is thriving. From Banksy pieces to works by undiscovered artists, step outdoors to appreciate London’s urban art. Top locations to find street art are Camden, The Leake Street Tunnel in Waterloo, and Shoreditch.
Changing Of The Guard At Buckingham Palace – Another London ritual that you have to witness at least once. If you want to see British pomp and pageantry at it’s best then head down to Buckingham Palace to see the new guards replacing the old guards. It lasts about 45 mins and the ceremony is free to watch and currently takes place daily in June, weather permitting. There is no ceremony on days when large events are held in the city centre. Make sure to check the ceremony schedule on the website above before heading down.
Free Lectures In London – Another thing I learnt creating this list is the amount of daily free lectures around London. Just google the term and loads will come up. If you like to learn and debate then this is a free activity you have to add to your London itinerary.
London Markets – Finally there are the London markets. There is no better way to get under a city’s skin than wandering around it’s markets. There are so many markets in London we could do a separate post on them (now there’s an idea!) but look out for Portabello, Spitalfields, Colombia Road Flower Market, Brick Lane, Maltby Street, Camden and Borough markets.
Do you know of any other free things to do in London? We would love to hear from you to add them to our list. Please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post on London you might also like these:
11 Of The Best Museums In East London – Are you looking for some culture in East London? Then check out 11 of the best museums in East London to sate your culture fix. Remember to learn & enjoy!
The 11 best gardens and parks in East London– Are you looking for some green space in East London? Then check out our 11 best gardens and parks in East London post to find your own piece of London.
11 Secret Bars In London That Will Make You Feel Like A Londoner – If you are tired of the same old pubs in London then check out this post on our favourite 11 Secret Bars In London That Will Make You Feel Like A Londoner. These speakeasies serve some of the best cocktails in London. Cheers!
16 Amazing Secret Spots In London Locals Love – Are you visiting London and want to find another side to it? Do you want to see something more than the regular tourist haunts? Then check out these 16 Amazing Secret Spots In London Locals Love to see a hidden side to London.
*Some images from the creative commons