London is one of the most expensive cities to live and work in, so the thought of a day out in the city can be depressingly pricey. Add to that a family scenario where you’re doubling up on ticket prices and a swift re-think of a lovely day out in the capital will undoubtedly cross your mind.
Well it needn’t be the case!
Free things to do in London
There are plenty of attractions on offer in this beautiful city where deep pockets are not a pre-requisite. Whilst reading my top 10 free things to do in London, remember the wise words of Samuel Johnson
“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’
Considered one of the most romantic and peaceful parks in Central London (until the peacocks start squawking). Yes! They have peacocks roaming around. These majestic birds are so used to crowds cooing over them that they’ll even greedily eat nuts from your hand. Or in my case, strut over sniff your hand and strut away. Holland Park London contains a famous orangery, a tranquil Japanese garden and a well equipped children’s playground.
This is but one Royal Park I have named, you have so many to choose from, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James Park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park, Victoria Park, Kensington Gardens and Hampstead Heath. I bet you didn’t realise how super green London really is. Enjoy nature with a picnic, stroll or just relax and soak up the atmosphere.
If you’re a follower of my social media you’ll no doubt know that I’m extremely fond of the Tate Modern in London. I love mooching around the exhibits and I’m slowly teaching my mini-mes the wonderful art of mooching around a gallery too. Housed in the shell of the Bankside Power Station and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who incidentally also gave us the red phone box. This humongous building is home to the Turbine Hall, a space filled with a giant sculpture every six months by a different artist. The rest of the rooms show contemporary art from 1900 onwards.
Since the opening of the new Switch House wing, there is even more to see and do. The views from the top floor are absolutely incredible.
Again this is merely one of the amazing galleries on offer, other favourites of mine include The National Portrait Gallery, The Saatchi Gallery and The Tate Britain.
Columbia Flower Market
Every Sunday Columbia Road transforms into a bustling collection of vibrant colours, bartering banter and floral smells. Open from 8am – 3pm, you can find an array of flowers, plants, shrubs and bulbs. There are plenty of coffee shops, vintage clothing and antique shops nearby to keep your wandering feet, eyes and tummies busy. If you get there towards the end of the day there are plenty of bargains to be had too with bunches being flogged for a fiver or less.
Even if you’re not the green-fingered type there’ll be a street market with your name on it – Borough Market for the foodies, Spitalfields Market for the fashionistas and Portobello Market for a little bit of everything.
St Martins in the Fields
Treat your ears at lunchtime to a free classical concert at St Martins-in-the-Fields. Enjoy a blissful hour enjoying some beautiful music. You can have anything from solo pianists to string quartets and often it includes a vocalist or choral group.
Yes a museum is an obvious suggestion, but this particular one takes you off the usual beaten museum track. You have all your usual suspects like the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the British Museum. All amazing and they offer some superb free children trails and activities. However, I loved the Geffrye Museum, a museum of the home. Where you can explore the changes in home life from the 1600 to present day by wandering around living rooms. An interior geek’s paradise. Get the lowdown in my review here.
A walk along the Southbank by the River Thames is an amazing place to take in many of the iconic London sights – St Paul’s, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Oxo Tower and the Tate Modern. There’s even a beach! Twice a day as the tide on the Thames recedes an urban beach is revealed. Granted we’re not talking white sands from the Seychelles, but you can’t scoff at sand between your toes on a warm summer’s day. During the warmer months you can also treat the kids to the man made beach they usually set up opposite the Southbank Centre. Spoilt for choice hey!
Amazing views from the Sky Garden London
Unlike other sky-high views in the capital, it’s free to venture up 155m up to the Sky Garden. Meandering around the huge airport hanger like space complete with luscious greenery is very impressive. There is a bar too – The Sky Pod if you fancy enjoying the spectacular view with a tipple. If you’re hungry you have two restaurants: the Darwin brasserie and fine dining at Fenchurch.
The Globe Theatre
Go and see the replica of the theatre home to Shakespeare’s plays. The thatched roof alone is made of 6,000 bundles of reeds from Norfolk. They do charge for a tour, but it’s still work a look from the outside. You can pick up tickets for a performance for as little as £5 – Bargain! Read about my 7 reasons to visit here.
British Film Institute’s Mediatheque
Explore Britain’s film heritage all for free! The BFI Southbank houses more than 2,500 highlights from old TV favourites, feature films, documentaries to rare home footage. An incredible insight into British film and TV history. The Mediatheque also offers free films for the family. It is advisable to book in advance, especially on weekends.
Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
You have to plan your visit well in advance to witness this 700 year old ceremony – It’s very, very popular. My girls won’t be seeing it until mid 2018! Tickets are issued free of charge and can only be booked online at the Tower of London website. Just imagine how cool would it be to watch the traditional nightly lock-up of the Tower of London which happens at 9.30pm precisely each and every night?! History playing out right in front of your eyes. Every history geeks dream.
Have you recently enjoyed any free London delights? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments box below
If you’re on the hunt for more things to do in London. Make sure you read my 5 Hidden Gems of London.
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