Sight-seeing on a budget? If you’re in London, then you’re in luck, because there are dozens of free sights to see and activities to do in the capital city of England and the UK. Here are some favorites.
1. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Holborn
Born in 1753, Sir John Soane was the architect son of a bricklayer, who designed his own house and filled it with treasures from around the world until his death in 1837. Deeply disappointed in his sons, one of whom outlived him, Soane left the house as a free museum for “amateurs and students,” to wonder at instead. Visit to see stained glass windows, sculpture, paintings and furniture from Egyptian, Classical, Medieval and Renaissance artists.
2. See Animals at City Farms
If you want to forget your stresses and pet and feed some animals, London has two free city farms – one just south of the river at Vauxhall, the other in Mudchute on the Isle of Dogs. The Mudchute Park and Farm is London’s largest urban farm at 34 arcres. Both have children’s’ playgrounds.
3. Free food samples at Borough Market
Loads of free samples to try at this venerable market on the south bank. It’s been around, in various forms, since medieval times and is now a weekend institution for foodies. Turn up early (around 10am) on an empty stomach and sample fresh, top quality selections of cheese, ham, chocolate, olives and more.
4. Watch Shows at the The Scoop, Tower Bridge
The Scoop at More London is an outdoor amphitheatre hollowed out in the shadow of Tower Bridge and City Hall. Over summer, free film, music and theatre events take place daily – show up to get involved.
5. Ramble in Hampstead Heath
The Royal Parks (St. James’s, Green Park, Regent’s) in central London are manicured to perfection – head north to Hampstead, however, and you’ve got the wild glory of the Heath to roam around in. Climb to the top of Parliament Hill for magnificent views of London, taking in all major sights: Canary Wharf, the 02 arena, the Gherkin, the Shard and the London Eye.
6. Visit Parliament
If you’re a UK resident, you can contact your local MP to get a free tour of Westminster Palace and the Big Ben clock tower. Visitors can attend debates, watch laws being made, use the Archives, tour the estate and climb up the clock tower.
7. Tate Galleries
Of London’s many free art galleries, the Tate Modern and Tate Britain are the most exciting. Head to the Tate Britain for works from British artists from the 16th to late 20th century, or go downriver to the old Bankside Power Station for 20th century and contemporary works.
8. Geffrye Museum
In a pleasantly tucked-away setting for a design museum, the Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is something truly unique. It exhibits a series of typical London living rooms from 1600 to the 20th century to show the changing face of interior design over the ages. In a second room, the living rooms for individual decades of the 20th century are also displayed and outside there are different period gardens.
9. Free music at the National Theatre
The National Theatre on the south bank puts on free ‘Foyer music’ concerts from Monday to Friday in its Djanogly Concert Pitch. Times: Mondays to Fridays at 5.45pm, Saturdays at 1pm & 5.45pm and Sundays at 1pm, unless otherwise indicated.
10. Watch the Olympics with London Live
Don’t have a ticket for the Olympics this summer? No worries, you can catch the action for free at one of the three London Live big screens in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square. These sites are sure to have a fantastic, celebratory atmosphere.
Article written by Isabel Clift. Isabel is the Editor of the HostelBookers blog. HostelBookers supply chic and cheap hotels in London and in over 2000 destinations around the world.