London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and it can cost a lot to visit, but travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think, and even some of the most expensive destinations in the world have some amazing free sites and activities to keep even the tightest of budgets happy. Check out these 5 free things to see and do in London.
Backpacking around the world or even taking a short snap year somewhere can be an expensive business if you don’t stick to a budget, and doing that can be a lot more difficult in some countries than others. But there are ways of minimising your expenses when travelling, and one of the best ways is to take advantage of all the free things there are to do in any given place.
A staycation or a trip to London is enough to put a huge dent in anyones pocket. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and many visitors struggle to see much of this city without spending a small fortune, especially for visits that last any length of time, but London can be done on a budget and there are even plenty of hidden gems for you to see and experience for free.
Platform 9 and 3/4.
For anyone travelling with young children (or just massive Harry Potter fans) who can’t actually get to the out of this world but expensive Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden, then this attraction in Kings Cross station is an absolute must see. The fact that it is absolutely free is just a huge bonus. Contrary to its moniker it isn’t actually a platform, it is located near the entrance of the Western departures concourse and is easily located from the main entrance. In essence it is basically just a sign and a luggage trolley seemingly going through the wall, there are staff members taking ‘official’ photos that are for sale in the very expensive Harry Potter shop just around the corner, but they allow you to take as many photos of your own as you like beforehand and there is no pressure or hard sell to buy their official ones. You simply queue up, choose your house scarf and pose for the camera!
The lesser known but much better alternative to the Tate Modern (unless you are a big fan of modern art), this free gallery houses British art and masterpieces from the 16th to the 20th Century, and in my opinion is much superior to its pretentious modern counterpart.
Horse Guard Parade.
If there is one thing Britain does spectacularly well it is pomp and ceremony, and that is evident in the magnificent traditions of its armed forces. If you want a glimpse into these traditions head to Whitehall, where the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard takes place every morning at 1100 hours, or 1000 hours on a Sunday, (these are subject to change as these are active military personell so check online). These are also the grounds where the annual trooping of the colour takes place.
St James’ Park.
St. James’ park is the vast Royal park at the very heart of London, right in the center of Buckingham palace and Whitehall. A vast swathe of greenery set in between some of London’s most famous landmarks and is at the heart of London’s ceremonial pageants. But far beyond that it is a tranquil, beautiful park filled with elegant walks, trees and flowers, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a romantic picnic, and just as importantly, it’s free.
There are so many unique and amazing museums in London, from the grand to the downright quirky, but this one absolutely has to take the crown, and the best thing is it is absolutely free! Spend an entire day exploring this vast museum filled with treasures and artefacts from many of the world’s greatest cultures, including the famous Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone.
Bonus Tip: Head To The Market.
I know shopping isn’t technically free, but window shopping is and London has some unbelievably wonderful and iconic markets that are tourist destinations in their own right, so if you get a chance don’t miss out on spending at least a few hours exploring Camden market (near the zoo which is quite handy for a full day trip) or Covent Garden. And if you are visiting in December then there are a whole smorgasboard of amazing Christmas markets in London that rival anything in Europe.
Travel to London is expensive, there is no getting around that fact, but at least with this collection of free attractions you can help keep your costs down just enough to enjoy the rest of the city on a reasonable budget.
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You get a house scarf!!? I didn’t! They were under construction when I went. this is a sad thing to find out . I must go back
See it’s not sad! It’s a reason to return! Haha! Yeah they even let you pick the house! I really liked the way there was no pressure or hard sell to buy the official photos and they allowed people time to take their own first. Thank you for commenting. 🙂
Absolutely super!! We want to go back to London so bad…. And more so after this post 🙂 But maybe we need to get with the times a little first and (*shepish to admit*) read the Harry Potter books or even watch the movies before we visit #5
Thank you so much. I’m shocked though! The ONLY people never to have read and seen Harry Potter! Haha! You really should come back, and although it isn’t free the Harry Potter studio tour is more than worth every penny and I totally recommend it! I could have stretched this list out a lot more too, London can be surprisingly budget friendly.
Great recommendations. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is another great free place to visit. I’d also recommend getting there by river taxi. It’s not free, but for the cost of public transport you get a river cruise past some iconic landmarks, stunning once everything lights up at night.
Thanks that’s another great recommendation! You are right though the skyline and landmarks of London are a great free attraction in their own right. Thanks for the comment!
I have only been to the British Museum, which together with the Van Gogh and Escher Museum in the Netherlands belongs to my most favourite museums… I just can’t believe that I’ve been in London but haven’t been to platform 9 & 3/4 argh! Next time! Great post… Can’t wait for more insight news or more free things to do in … (I’m Dutch, we always go for the free stuff 😉 )
Did you miss the Harry Potter exhibition too? 😉 At least that’s a reason to come back! And thank you so much, hopefully there will be a lot more in this series, both cities and countries, so stay tuned and feel free to leave suggestions on anywhere you would like to read about for this series, if I’ve been there I’ll write a post on it. 🙂
This is a great post! We were only talking about going to do some Harry Potter stuff the other night and I had no idea you would be able to do any for free, so this is great! And I’m so desperate to get back to the British Museum, it’s been ages since I was last there. It’s always amazing to realise how much free stuff there is to do, especially in a big expensive city like London. Thank you for the inspiration!
Thank you, I’m really happy it inspired you! You are absolutely right there are so many great things to do for free. I hope you enjoy your visit to platform 9 and 3/4!
All of those years spent living in the UK and I never once visited Tate Britain. Feels like such a huge shame not to have made the most of the opportunity, especially considering it’s almost always recommended in good posts like this.
Isn’t it always the way we don’t take advantage of what is right next door? ;D I’m really happy you liked the post Dale thank you.
So glad I found this! Perfect timing as I am heading there next week! Do you really not have to pay to visit platform 9 and 3/4?
No you don’t, they will take a picture of you and you have an option to buy this in a souvenir frame if you want to but there is no pressure to do that. You can just queue up and take your own pictures. 🙂