50 Free Things to Do in London

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London is one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. It also has an unfair rep for being one of the most expensive!  Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 50 fun and free things to do in London that whether you’re a native or a visitor, you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life.

So, read on to find the best ways to have fun for free in London!

Get the full guide here: 50 Free Things to do in London

1) The Natural History Museum

Natural_History_Museum_London_Jan_2006

The Natural History Museum Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Discover the secrets of the deep sea, explore coral reefs and meet the dinosaurs at the renowned Natural History Museum. The Blue Zone introduces you to dinosaurs and giant mammals, with a gallery of fascinating nature photography. The Red Zone takes you through a giant earth sculpture, where you can learn about the power of volcanoes and earthquakes. The Green Zone explores the wonders of evolution, and in the Orange Zone, you can see scientists hard at work, and visit the wildlife garden.

There are 35 rooms of incredible exhibits, with the most intact Stegosaurus fossil skeleton in the world (in the Red Zone). There are regular free talks, tours and events for families.

Insider Tip: Download the Museum app to help you make the most of your trip.

Nearest tube station: South Kensington

Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD, 020 7942 5000, www.nhm.ac.uk

 

2) Camden Market

Camden Lock Market Hall photo by Steve Haslam Wikimedia Commons

Camden Market is a vibrant, buzzing melting pot. This is a place where you can buy a holographic circuit print corset, or an exquisitely tooled bespoke leather bag; a necklace from Egypt or a doll from the 1930s. Where you can sip organic coconut tea, or sample over 100 varieties of rum; where the cuisine options are endless, from octopus to burgers, from Malaysian to Ethiopian, from mac and cheese to sushi in a bun.

Insider Tip: Every Thursday, 6pm to 10pm, the Camden Night Markets will be running, with free music and a fantastic atmosphere. 

Nearest tube station: Camden Town

56-56 Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF, 020 3763 9999, http://www.camdenmarket.com

3) Portobello Road Market

 

Portobello Road Market By Justgravy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Portobello Road Market By Justgravy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Portobello Market is a charming, vibrant, eclectic space, beloved by Vogue columnists, bargain hunters and antique dealers. You can see the racks of vintage clothes which inspire contemporary designers, or explore history in the form of antique lace, retro 1950s kitsch and 1960s tailoring. Experience other cultures, with French soap, Russian scarves, South American jewellery and fair trade handbags. Most of the antique dealers are there on Saturdays, but prices tend to be cheaper on Fridays.

Insider Tip: Get there around 10am to skip the crowds, take a camera, and refuel at the Electric.

Nearest tube station: Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate

Portobello Road, W10 5TA, 020 7727 7684, http://shopportobello.co.uk/

4) The Science Museum

Science_Museum_-_Transportation_area

The Science Museum London. Photograph by Sue Wallace CC-BY-SA-2.0.

With over 15,000 objects on display and an exciting range of interactive exhibits, the Science Museum is fun, free, and fantastic. It’s perfect for kids (and big kids) who love robots and making things with their hands. You’ll meet robots who can write, and Adam, a robot who can carry out scientific experiments. Younger children will love the interactive storytelling events, and for older kids there are plenty of fun, free workshops. You can make a colourful magic lantern, a pop up Science Museum, an artistic doodling machine and your very own hand-made rocket mouse!

Insider Tip:  Open until 7pm during school holidays (last entry 6.15pm) so consider popping by later!

Nearest tube station: South Kensington

Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD, 020 7942 4000   http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

 

5) Portobello Film Festival (4 – 20th Sept)

Secret Cinema in London photo by San Sharma https://www.flickr.com/photos/sansharma/3896308806

Secret Cinema in London photo by San Sharma https://www.flickr.com/photos/sansharma/3896308806

Dubbed ‘the wild side of Brit Film’ by the Metro, Portobello Film Festival divides into three sections; pop up cinemas, The Muse, and 50Golborne. This free festival spans a wide variety of venues, incorporating open air screenings, plush theatres, clubs and bars.  Their remit is to highlight new and exciting ventures in British film, from showcasing cutting edge film makers (it has seen the debut of directors such as Guy Ritchie) to highlighting new media formats.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss Fuseli – the short film about cats, night terrors and sleep paralysis

Nearest tube station: Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate

Unit 11 Acava, 54 Blechynden Street London W10 6RJ, http://www.portobellofilmfestival.com

6) Tate Sensorium

Tate Sensorium | 50 Free Things to do in Britain

The Tate Sensorium is a feast for all the senses at the Tate Britain. It comprises four paintings from the Tate Collection, with sounds, smells, tastes and physical forms inspired by the artwork, for an almost synaesthetic experience. A 3D acoustic experience is created with ‘ultraphatics’; projected sound waves that create sensation if your hand moves through them. Master chocolatier Paul Young, scent expert Odette Toilette and audio expert Nick Ryan have been drafted in to create the project.

This intense, sensual exhibition is a free 15 minute experience, with tickets available on a first come, first serve basis.

Insider Tip: The truffles available with Francis Bacon’s work reflect the nature of the piece; edible charcoal, smoke and flowers.

Nearest tube station: Pimlico

Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG, 020 7887 8888, http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/display/ik-prize-2015-tate-sensorium

7) The Sky Garden

The_Sky_Garden

The Sky Garden © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sky Garden is at 20 Fenchurch Street, ensconced within a glass dome and home to three floors of public gardens, restaurants and observation decks. The highest gardens in London offer stunning 360 degree views of the city. The gorgeous grounds are planted with species designed to flourish in the light under the dome; water efficient, drought resistant plants from the Mediterranean and Africa.

Insider Tip: Entry is free, but you have to book, and have just an hour from your time of entry. Use it wisely!

Nearest tube station: Monument

20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3BY, 0333 772 0020, http://www.skygarden.london

8) Kenwood House

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is nestled on the edge of Hampstead Heath, set within tranquil landscaped gardens and an ancient woodland. The breath-taking art collection is home to classics ranging from the pastoral work of Vermeer to the fevered brilliance of Turner. The grounds are graced by the exquisite abstract sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, and inside, you can learn the true tale of Dido Belle, who helped end slavery in the United Kingdom.

Kids will love the explorer backpacks, and every last Sunday of the month there are interactive storytelling sessions for families; there is also a buggy park, and baby slings available to borrow.

Insider Tip: Get more from your excursion with their new free App which helps you discover more about the house, the collections and amazing stories.

Nearest tube station: Highgate

Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, Hampstead, NW3 7JR, 020 8348 1286, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/kenwood/ 

9) Notting Hill Carnival (29 Aug – 31st Aug)

Notting_Hill_Carnival_2005_005

Notting Hill Carnival. Photograph by Yuichi from Wikimedia Commons

An explosion of music and colour, the Notting Hill Carnival bursts onto the scene during the August bank holiday. The festival kicks off at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park and generally attracts over 1 million people to the Kensington and Chelsea borough. The fabulous floats, colourful parades of costumed dancers, the calypso music, the delicious Caribbean food… it’s a feast for all the senses.

Insider Tip: Try the jerk chicken, and wear your dancing shoes!

Nearest tube station: Notting Hill Gate, Latimer Road or Royal Oak

Notting Hill Carnival, Hampstead Lane, Hampstead, NW3 7JR, 020 8348 1286, http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com/

10) Free Royal Walking Tour, Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard | 50 Free Things to Do in London

This two hour Golden Tours free Royal Walking Tour follows the footsteps of Britain’s monarchy. Learn about Kate and Will’s fairy-tale romance, see where the Queen buys her perfume, see Westminster Abbey and other key attractions such as Garrad’s Jewellers, the Ritz hotel, and St James’ Palace. You will either see the changing of the guard, or the Horse Guards, depending on availability.

Insider Tip: The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a definite highlight.

Nearest tube station: Victoria or Green Park

Golden Tours Visitor Centre – Leicester Square, http://www.goldentours.com/the-royal-walking-tour-changing-of-the-guard

11) The Grant Museum of Zoology

Grant_Museum_of_Zoology_Londres_05082013_2

Grant Museum of Zoology London. Photograph by Vassil from Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1828 as a teaching collection, Grant’s houses around 68,000 specimens. Must sees include the Quagga (the rarest skeleton in the world), antlers from Giant Deer (extinct 7000 years ago) and Dodo bones, (extinct in 1681). There is also the Blaschka collection; hauntingly beautiful glass models of jellyfish and other sea creatures. The jar of preserved moles in one of the more notorious and gruesome exhibits.

Insider Tip: Check out the Qrator project, a series of i-Pads where you can type in your thoughts and interpretations of historic objects – which becomes part of the exhibit.

Nearest tube station: Euston Square

Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street, London WC1E 6DE, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology, 020 3108 2052

 

12) The Geffrye Museum

Geffrye Museum

Image credit: Geffrye Museum of the Home / photography Richard Davies

The Geffrye Museum explores the home from 1600 to the present day. Evocative displays of London, middle-class living rooms and gardens illustrate homes and home life through the centuries, reflecting changes in society, behaviour, style and taste. At the Geffrye Museum, history comes to life with events, seminars, workshops and music. The award winning walled gardens, are redolent with the scent of herbs and legacy flowers and showcase the beauty of period landscaping. Small children will love the activities, which include multisensory activity packs, picnic hampers for tea parties, and quizzes / crafts. Also, every Sunday (until 31 August) between 1-4.30pm they have a ‘garden cart’ complete with free activities, including a scent trail, matchbox treasure hunt, sound journey and more!

Insider Tip: Use the Virtual Tour tool to explore the exhibits online and plan your visit – http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/virtualtour/

Nearest overground station: Hoxton Station

The Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA,  Tel: 020 7739 9893, http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk

 

13) The Angel Comedy Club

Dara O Briain at the Angel Comedy Club | 50 Free Things to Do in London

Labelled “the best comedy night in London,” The Angel Comedy Club at the Camden Head is run by London comedians, notably Barry Ferns and Sarah Pearce. The club is free and loves to support new diverse talent. There’s Shoot from the Hip comedy improv on Mondays, Norwegian comedians on Tuesday nights, new acts on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and the experienced pros on Fri-Sat. Free Monday to Sunday, 362 days a year!

Insider Tip: Get there early, before 7.30pm ideally – it’s a super popular night

Nearest tube station: Angel

2 Camden Passage (off Essex Road) N1 8DY, http://www.angelcomedy.co.uk, shows start at 8pm

 

14) The Isabella Plantation

Isabella Plantation | 50 Free Things to do in London

The Isabella Plantation is a 40 acre woodland which nestles within Richmond Park. Planted in the 1830s, the plantation is home to a kaleidoscope of gorgeous exotica, including rare and unusual trees and shrubs, 100 varieties of azaleas and 125 different varieties of hardy hybrid rhododendrons. The present garden, featuring clearings, ponds and streams was created in the 1950s, was largely the work of George Thomson. The sheer biodiversity makes it a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Insider Tip: Visitors can take the Broomfield Sensory trail, or follow the young explorers guide.

Nearest tube station: Richmond

Kingston upon Thames, KT2 7NA, 0300 061 2000, https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park/richmond-park-attractions/isabella-plantation

15) Meetups

Green Park London - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Green Park London – Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

While it’s more geared toward adults, Meetup.com has some fab, free events. Two stand out groups (with over 10,000 members) include “Free London Events and Talks” and “Fill My Weekend”. An example “Fill My Weekend” event included a visit to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons followed by a trip to a café, and sunbathing in a local park. “Free London Events and Talks” have included yoga, language classes, outdoor plays, a ghost tour and live music.

Insider Tip: Check Calendars regularly, and chat online with other members.

Nearest tube station: Various locations

http://www.meetup.com

16) Richmond Park

Richmond Park | 50 Free Things to do in London

 

Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks and biggest enclosed space in London. It’s a wildlife paradise, home to 650 red and fallow deer, along with foxes, rabbits, bats and 144 bird species. The park is resplendent with ancient trees, and views which include a panoramic view of the Thames Valley from King Henry’s Mound. The Holly Lodge Centre offers fun activities including storytelling, crafts and sensory fun, and is especially sensitive to children with special needs. You can stop at Roehampton Cafe, Pembroke Lodge or one of the refreshment kiosks, or just bring a picnic to enjoy.

Insider Tip: Check out Deer in the City, a free exhibition at Pembroke Lodge

Nearest tube station: Richmond

Richmond Park, Holly Lodge, TW10 5HS, 0300 061 2200, https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park

 

17) Ruislip Lido

Ruislip_Lido_beach

Photograph by Dudley Miles from Wikimedia Commons

Ruislip Lido is a 60 acre sandy beach in the heart of London, and a short distance from Northwood Hills underground. It also has free car parking, if you prefer to drive. The Lido is bordered by a beautiful woodland, looped with a 1.6 mile path, a reasonable walk where you can see a gorgeous sculpture, carved from twisted grained oak wood. The Lido also features fishing platforms, 2 playgrounds and a sand area where children can build sand castles. You can discover the area’s past and present at the Woodland Centre, and dine at the lido cafe, or eat a picnic on the Willow Lawn. Be aware of British weather, and the fact that swimming is not currently permitted.

Insider Tip: Check out the watersplash area, which opens from April to the end of September. 

Nearest tube station: Northwood Hills

Ruislip Lido, Reservoir Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7TY, 01895 556000, http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

18) Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood

Photograph by David Hawgood from Wikimedia Commons

The V&A Museum of Childhood is a rare and wonderful chance to see the UK’s national collection of childhood objects, dating back to the 1600s. Antique, hand crafted objects sit alongside toys from the 20th century. There are several permanent collections, mechanical toys such as a vintage etch a sketch, ancient puppets, construction toys including Lego and Meccano, clothing, a Fauntleroy suit, and a vast doll collection. There is also a doll related event where the stories of 12 dolls houses from the past 300 years will be brought to life with storytelling. There is also an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, combining photographs, rare editions, clothes and pictures.

Insider Tip: Going with kids? Pick up a Montessori backpack from the information desk age 6m – 5yrs

Nearest tube station: Bethnal Green

V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA, 020 8983 5200, http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/

19) Harrods

Exploring Harrods is akin to wandering the V&A, except that the delicately hand embroidered gowns by Oscar de La Renta are available for purchase. Experience the joy of luxe fabrics, shoes hand stitched from the finest Italian leather; a world redolent with the heady scents of floriental perfume and creamy Belgian chocolate. There are worlds within worlds – including the Toy Kingdom, a 26,000 foot realm crammed with LEGO, Barbie, Transformers, traditional teddies, books, delicious sweets, dress up clothes and souvenirs. There is also a Fendi pop up boutique – the space will mirror the building in miniature, transporting people to majestic Rome.

Insider Tip: Look for the utterly exquisite Egyptian Elevator, and explore the Christmas Boutique.

Nearest tube station: Knightsbridge

87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL, 020 7730 1234, www.harrods.com

20) British Museum

British Museum | 50 Free Things to do in London

Founded in 1753, The British Museum is an exceptional Neo-Classical building with collections spanning over two million years of human history. You can see the Lewis Chessmen, the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies and the Elgin Marbles, or try the Children’s Trail, with a selection of key objects. Artefacts from Sutton Hoo (a royal Anglo Saxon burial site) comprise the crown jewel in the Ruddock Gallery’s early medieval collection.

Insider Tip: Going with kids? Check out the free digital workshops for families every weekend.

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road

Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG, 020 7323 8181, www.britishmuseum.org

21) Trinity Buoy Wharf

Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf by Cmglee Wikimedia commons

Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf by Cmglee Wikimedia commons

In 1998, Trinity Buoy Wharf was a ruin. Now it’s a thriving arts centre, with a raw, edgy aesthetic, events, sculpture and dining options. The sculpture park features exciting kinetic pieces by Andrew Baldwin, designed to move slowly and integrate with the dock. There is a street art trail, with the “Electric Soup Mural” and mini gum art paintings by Ben Wilson (as seen on the BBC).

Insider Tip: Visiting with kids? Pick up your free interactive guide for kids, by White Wall Yellow Door

Nearest tube station: Canning Town

64 Orchard Place, London E14 0JY, 020 7515 7153, http://www.trinitybuoywharf.com/

22) Brick Lane

Brick_Lane_street_signs

Photograph by James Cridland – http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/460198209/

Brick Lane is a vintage mecca, with boutiques including Beyond Retro, Blitz London and Rokit Vintage. You can visit Stolen Space or Brick Lane art gallery, or enjoy the exciting street art and graffiti that adorn the walls. Indie shops also abound – for example alt jewellery powerhouse Tatty Divine and Lik & Neon, an emporium selling handmade clothing, jewellery and accessories, and home to four gorgeous cats.

Insider Tip: Pick up affordable eats at one of the local Jewish bagel shops, or perhaps grab a Bangladeshi Curry.

Nearest tube station: Aldgate East

Brick Lane, London E1 6RF, 0207 364 1717, http://www.visitbricklane.org/

23) Hampstead Heath

Hampstead_Heath

Photograph by Duncan Harris from Wikimedia Commons

Retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city at Hampstead Heath. Hampstead Heath is only six km from Trafalgar Square yet it provides a scenic sanctuary away from the busy city.  Boasting stunning gardens, three swimming ponds, sports facilities and a free animal zoo there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Hampstead Heath is the perfect London escape. The sprawling green space lies just outside of central London and features historical buildings, waterfronts, and a varied habitat of animals and foliage.

Insider tip: Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath is one of the highest points in London and the top provides a memorable view of the city.

Nearest tube station: Hampstead

Hampstead Heath, N6 4JH, 020 7482 7073, http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/Pages/Contact-hampstead-heath.aspx

24) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Queen Elizabeth Park

The success of the London 2012 Olympic Games was a proud moment for London and the legacy of this still continues. Not only can you explore the iconic venues of the 2012 games but also relax in the serene parks, take the children to fun playgrounds, explore one of the free trails or enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants. The surroundings were transformed into a beach, as Team GB launched a campaign to improve their performance from when they hosted the Games in 2012. The beach was opened to the public on 11 July and will be at there until 31 August.

Insider tip: Free sport activities for all ages run throughout the school holidays

Nearest tube station: Stratford

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford E20 2ST, 0800 0722 110, http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/

25) Borough Market

Borough Market | 50 Free Things to do in London

Borough Market is one of London’s most renowned and largest food markets. Offering a huge array of British and international produce it is a treat for the senses. With over 100 different stalls, take your time wandering around discovering all the delicious food and drink available.

Insider Tip: The market can get busy, especially at weekends so try to go early to avoid the lunchtime crowds.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

Borough Market, Southwark Street, London. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

 

26) Hamleys

Hamleys_London_Regent

Photograph by Olivier Bruchez from Wikimedia Commons

Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world and has seven floors brimming with toys, games, puzzles teddies and computer games. Fun for children and adults alike Hamleys offers a total play experience with lots of displays and exhibitions demonstrating the toys.

Insider Tip: The Harry Potter section is a real highlight, but get there early to avoid disappointment!

Nearest tube station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus

Hamleys London, 188 – 196 Regent Street, London, 0371 704 1977, http://www.hamleys.com

 

27) National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

©National Portrait Gallery, London

Established in 1856 the National Portrait Gallery is the first and largest portrait gallery in the world. Housing a brilliant collection of personalities the gallery contains portraits of the people who have shaped British history and culture, from Kings and queens to film stars and musicians.

Insider tip: If you fancy a treat, visit the rooftop restaurant with impressive views of the London skyline.

Nearest tube station: Leicester Square or Charing Cross

St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE, 020 7306 0055, www.npg.org.uk

28) Horniman Museum and Gardens

The Horniman Museum. Photograph by Cliff Van Coevorden

The Horniman Museum is set in 16 acres of picturesque gardens. Set up in the Victorian era by Frederick John Horniman, it houses an extraordinary assortment of objects including a gigantic overstuffed walrus. You can get up close and personal with a lot of the displays and even pick up, try on and play with some of the objects.

Insider tip: On a nice day take a picnic and enjoy the well-presented gardens.

Nearest station: Forest Hills

100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ, 020 8699 1872, www.horniman.ac.uk

29) St James’s Park

Photograph by Garry Knight From Wikimedia Commons,

St James’s Park provides the heart of ceremonial London. The oldest of the Royal parks, St James’s includes the iconic landmarks The Mall, Horse Guards Parade and the blue bridge. Follow in the footsteps of the historic Royal processions marching down The Mall to Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace. You may also meet one of the resident pelican colony.

Insider tip: The blue bridge provides a fantastic viewpoint of St James’s Lake and Buckingham Palace, as well as Big Ben and the London Eye.

Nearest tube station: St James’s Park or Westminster

St James’s Park, Horse Guards Road, London, 0300 061 2350, https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park

30) Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace | 50 Free Things to do in London

One of the most iconic London landmarks Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the British monarch since 1837. With 775 rooms this impressive building is as grand and impressive as you would expect. Unfortunately you need to pre-buy a ticket to venture into the palace but it is still worth a trip to see this notable building.

Insider tip: Time your visit to co-inside with the impressive changing of the guard ceremony.

Nearest tube station: Victoria or St James’s Park

London SW1A 1AA, 020 7766 7300 http://www.royal.gov.uk/theroyalresidences/buckinghampalace/buckinghampalace.aspx

31) The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection

Set in an impressive London Town House, the Wallace Collection is a free national museum displaying art from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection includes paintings, furniture, porcelain, jewellery and stunning renaissance treasures.

Insider tip: The armouries and weaponry exhibit is particularly impressive, and if you’re feeling peckish, the Wallace restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy afternoon tea.

Nearest tube station: Bond Street

Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN, 0207 563 9500, http://www.wallacecollection.org

 

32) The National Gallery

National_Gallery,_London

Photograph by Mike Peel CC-BY-SA-4.0

Housed in a grand building on bustling Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is impressive enough from the outside. Once inside you will find one of the finest collections of European paintings in the world with over 2000 paintings from some of the greatest artists of all time. Paintings date from the 13th Century to 1900 and include works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Van Gough, Leonardo da Vinci and Renoir.

Insider tip: The art Collections are displayed over several rooms and floors so it is worth paying £1 for a map to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Nearest tube station: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN, 020 7747 2885, http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

33) Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm

If you have had enough of the usual city sights and fancy a change then how about a trip down the farm? You don’t even have to leave London as Hackney City Farm is a community farm in central London. The farm has a vegetable garden, tree nursery, café, farm yard and grazing fields. Inhabitants include sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a butterfly house.

Insider tip: It is free to visit the farm but donations help the farm stay open and provide an important resource in the community.

Nearest tube station: Bethnal Green

Hackney City Farm, 1A Goldsmiths Row, London, 020 7729 6381, http://hackneycityfarm.co.uk

34) The Scoop

Photo credit: Oliver Bruchez https://www.flickr.com/photos/bruchez/103442641/

Photo credit: Oliver Bruchez https://www.flickr.com/photos/bruchez/103442641/

Situated next to the River Thames and overlooking Tower Bridge, the Scoop is an outdoor amphitheatre that can hold over 800 people. During the summer the Scoop hosts a wide range of events and shows; theatre performances, live music and outdoor movie screenings.

Insider tip: Make sure you arrive early as seats are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

More London, Bermondsey, London, SE1 2DB, 020 7403 4866, http://www.morelondon.com

35) The Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre is Europe’s largest arts centre as well as being home to the London Symphony Orchestra. With a concert hall, library, exhibition rooms, two theatres, three cinemas, shops and a conservatory it is a wonderful place to explore especially when many of the exhibitions have free entry. This weekend only, there is also ‘Interfaces’, a free exhibition of artworks including light and digital reconstructions of cake baking, fully immersive VR environments, specially created games and large-scale video projections, based in the Foyers of all Barbican buildings.

Insider tip: Free wifi is available throughout the Barbican centre.

Nearest tube station: Barbican, Moorgate or St Paul’s

Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS, 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk

 

36) Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens | 50 Free Things to do in London

Kensington Gardens were once the private gardens of Kensington Palace however the 100 acre Royal Park is now open for all the public to enjoy.  The gardens comprise of the picturesque Italian garden, allotment garden, and the Diana Memorial playground. Several stunning memorials, fountains and statues can be found, including the ornate Albert memorial and the famous Peter Pan statue.

Insider tip: The Diana Princess of Wales memorial walk is a fun way to see some of London’s most beautiful and iconic sights.

Nearest tube station: Bayswater

Kensington Gardens, London, 0300 061 2000, https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens

37) Southwark Cathedral

Southwalk Cathedral

Copyright© Garry Knight 2013 From Wikimedia Commons

Sat on the Southbank of the River Thames close to Borough market, Southwark Cathedral has been a place of religious worship for over 1000 years. Full of history, parts of this striking structure still retain its original gothic features. Beautiful on the inside and out this historic building is in fact the oldest gothic church in London.

Insider tip: The stained glass windows are particularly impressive, keep an eye out for the William Shakespeare memorial window.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

London Bridge, London SE1 9DA, 020 7367 6700, cathedral.southwark.anglican.org

38) Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery facade, with the Tree of Life by Rachel Whiteread.

The 2015 Children’s Commission is by Rivane Neuenschwander, and is called “The Name of Fear”, an exhibition of handmade capes, incorporating sketches, textiles, design, performance and text. The ‘fears’ come from children aged 7-9 with fears ranging from the mundane (bees) to the practical (strangers). The capes are inspired by Brazilian folk traditions and children’s stories. The London Open showcases the most innovative art from the city, with sound performances, a MUSARC choir, surreal altered photographs and video artworks.

Insider tip: Check out the Open Reading List, curated by the featured artists.

Nearest tube station: Aldgate East

77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX, 020 7522 7888, www.whitechapelgallery.org

39) Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum | 50 Free Things to do in London

The Imperial War Museum in London features several exciting permanent exhibitions, with ‘Extraordinary Heroes’ showcasing the medals of British war heroes, the ‘Secret War’ about Britain’s espionage history, and the Holocaust Exhibition. Families will love ‘Object Conversations’ (every Sunday, Aug-Sep), where you can handle historic articles. Guns, tanks, aircraft, a Snatch Land Rover and a Harrier Jump Jet are all displayed.

Insider tip: Check out the Visions of War Above and Below exhibition, curated by Claire Brenard

Nearest tube station: London Bridge or Tower Hill

Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ, 020 7416 5000, www.iwm.org.uk

40) The Line Sculptural Trail

The Line | 50 Free Things to do in london

The Line is a modern contemporary art walk spanning 3 miles of London waterways. It was co-founded by urban regeneration expert Clive Dutton OBE (1953-2015) and contemporary art dealer Megan Piper, with support from award-winning architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Renowned sculpture expert Carolyn Miner joined the team as curator of the project in January 2015.

The artworks are placed around the O2, the Royal Docks and along the River Lea and canals. The Royal Docks and the O2 are linked by the Emirates Air Line, which offers extraordinary views of the city. The idea is to get high quality artworks out of the warehouses and into the street. The walk will be lit by night, and features works such as ‘Vulcan’, a cubist bronze by Paolozzi, ‘Liberty Grip’ by Gary Hume, and ‘DNA DL90’ by Abigail Fallis, an anti-consumerist sculpture. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: “The Line is an exciting new public art project that will offer another reason to visit this increasingly important part of our city.

Insider tip: Highlights include (The thing) by Piotr Uklanski and ‘Sensation’ by Damien Hirst (pictured).

Nearest tube station: North Greenwich

From North Greenwich tube station, http://the-line.org/

41) Cellardoor

Cellardoor Club | 50 Free Things to do in London

For adults only, the Cellardoor is a club in Aldwych that features live acts from 9pm onwards, along with an SMS juke box. Events include cabaret, burlesque, drag acts, cinema and high tea; think Dietrich in her heyday. You can also purchase elegant retro cocktails and even snuff in various flavours.  Known for a truly fabulous atmosphere. Entrance is free each evening, but it fills up fast – you can also purchase reserved seating if you want to ensure your night.

Insider tip: Burlesque shows and drag acts every Saturday.

Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

Aldwych, London WC2E 7DN, 020 7240 8848, www.cellardoor.biz

42) Neals Yard

Photo credit: Mikel Ortega Wikepedia Commons

Neal’s Yard Photo credit: Mikel Ortega Wikipedia Commons

Neals Yard is a quaint alley and courtyard in the centre of London close to Covent Garden.  Quirky, and colourful this pedestrian street boasts a great range of unique shops, cafes and bars. Dotted with pretty wooden benches you can sit and soak up the atmosphere in between hitting the shops.

Insider tip: Many of the shops offer free samples to try – If you like cheese, a visit to the Neals Yard Dairy is a must.

Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H, 020 7437 5512

43) The Totally Thames Festival (1st-30th September)

 

 

Formerly the Mayor’s Thames Festival, the Totally Thames Festival lasts throughout the whole of September. Free events include “Music to Celebrate the River”, with music at pop up cafe the Riverside Edge, every Tuesday and Saturday. ‘Sweet Thames Run Softly’ is a multimedia art installation based on T.S. Eliot’s the Wasteland, at the Beecroft Art Gallery. Sports fans will love ‘Team Spirit’, a celebration of rugby, cricket and so much more as part of Richmond’s Rugby month. You can also see the launch of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the world’s longest and purely for amateurs. It covers 40 nationalities, 40,000 miles and six continents – and makes for a stunning spectacle.

Insider tip: Check out the SAF Summer Arts Fair, on September 12-13th

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

Mallside, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, London SE1 9PH, 020 7928 8998, http://totallythames.org/

 

44) Museum of London Docklands

Docklands | 50 Free Things to do in London

The Museum of the London Docklands is found at the West India Docks in Canary Wharf. Once one of the busiest ports in the world the docks were closed in the 1980s and the area was redeveloped into a business hub. The museum of the London Docklands tells the story of how the Thames and Docklands was an essential hub for international trade and assisted in the growth of the city we have today.

Insider tip: Children will love Mudlarks children’s gallery, a fun interactive play area.

Nearest tube station: Canary Wharf or West India Quay DLR

No.1 Warehouse, W India Dock Rd, London E14 4AL, 020 7001 9844, http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands

45) Covent Garden

London_Covent_Garden

Photograph by Mattbuck From Wikimedia Commons

Covent Garden is located in central London and a key sight on the tourist map. With a wide range of shops, cafes, restaurants, and a pretty market it is easy to see why. There is a great buzz to the place and you’ll find some fantastic street entertainers impressing the crowds in the area too.

Insider tip: From 27th August artist Charles Petillon will be installing 100,000 illuminated balloons.

Nearest tube station: Covent Garden

Covent Garden, London WC2E 9DD, 020 7420 5856, http://www.coventgardenlondonuk.com

46) Broadgate Art

The Broad Family | 50 Free Things to do in London

The Broad Family by Xavier Corbero at Broadgate City of London c Holly Wren Photography Ltd

Broadgate is something of a hidden gem, with an impressive art collection, from the traditional (bronze torsos inspired by the Venus de Milo), to the contemporary (an LED light grid in Finsbury Square), to a combination of the two in the form of Colour Eclipse, a modernist sculpture created from laminated poured glass, based on 1500 year old crafts.

Insider Tip: Download the free Art Trail document here.

Nearest tube station: Liverpool Street

London’s Square Mile, http://www.broadgate.co.uk

47) Drawn to the Future

Drawn to the Future | 50 Free Things to do in London

The major summer exhibition at the Building Centre, Drawn to the Future explores visualisation, especially the intersection of gaming technology and practical applications in architecture. Curators will be arranging tours, discussing modern innovations, drones and the irreplaceable technique of drawing.

Insider Tip: The star attraction of the exhibit is undoubtedly the Oculus Rift virtual reality roller coaster.

Nearest tube station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road

The Building Centre, Store Street, WC1E 7BT, 020 7692 6234, www.buildingcentre.co.uk/exhibitions/drawn-to-the-future

48) London Street Art

Photo credit: Stew Dean https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewdean/30705594

Photo credit: Stew Dean https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewdean/30705594

London is known for its graffiti, open air sculptures and street art. While Banksy’s counter cultural stencils are the most famous, other notables include the colourful mosaics of Space Invader, and the. The Dulwich Outdoor Gallery features work by Stik and exciting new artists, based on paintings in the Dulwich Picture Gallery. If you want to spot the Space Invaders, there’s a handy Google map, with most of the mosaics clustered around the centre, and another group between Old Street and Shoreditch train stations. There are a number of commemorative murals across London, with street art memorials to Amy Winehouse popping up near Camden, and a gorgeous tribute to iconic author Terry Pratchett, by Jim Vision and Dr Zadok, in Shoreditch.

Insider Tip: Check out Inspiring City’s A Street Art Guide to Brick Lane.

Nearest tube station: Various locations

49) The British Library

Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).

Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).

 The British Library has a variety of events, some free. David Normal’s Crossroads of Curiosity uses Victorian book illustrations to create a modern, lightbox style ‘curiosity cabinet’. It also features an “augmented reality” self-guided tour. The ‘Treasures of the British Library’ exhibition features over two hundred items, including Gutenberg’s 1455 Bible and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Kids will love Animal Tales, exploring animals in folk stories and myth.

Insider Tip:  See Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook in the ‘Treasures’ exhibition.

Nearest tube station: Kings Cross

96 Euston Road, 01937 546546, http://www.bl.uk

50) Chiswick Gardens

From Wikimedia Commons

Patche99z From Wikimedia Commons

Chiswick Gardens are free to visit (there is a charge to see the house) and comprise 65 sweeping acres of manicured lawns, scented herbs, and glorious woodlands. The camellia collection (under glass) is believed to be the oldest in the Western World, and the Kitchen Garden (dating back to 1682) supplies the café and the shop with delicious, healthy produce. Other highlights include a bowling green, an artificial 18th century waterfall known as the Cascade, a scattering of beautiful sculptures and an ornamental lake.

Insider Tip:  Download a free audio tour from the Chiswick Gardens Website

Nearest tube station: Chiswick Park

Burlington Lane, Chiswick, Greater London W4 2RP, 0 20 8742 3905, http://www.chgt.org.uk

 

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