10 Fun and Free Things to Do in London
by Alice on 29 March 2012
You don't have to avoid the capital for cheap weekend breaks in the UK - London can be more budget friendly than you might think! Here are 10 fun and free things to do in London.
1. Go to an Art Gallery
Image of Tate Modern: Tom Godber, Flickr
Although special exhibitions often charge an entry fee, it's free to explore the permanent collections at most of London's galleries. From contemporary art at the Tate Modern to classical paintings at the National Portrait Gallery, it won't cost you a penny to see hundreds of renowned works of art in London.
2. Explore a Museum
Image of V&A Museum: Peter Bjork, Flickr
Unlike many European capitals, London also has free museums. The Natural History Museum, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum are just three of the excellent museums open to the public without charge. You can spend a whole weekend exploring the vast exhibition rooms here - and that would be a very cheap weekend break indeed!
3. Watch the Changing of the Guard
Image: Gabriel Villena, Flickr
Buckingham Palace is one of the city's most famous sights, but you don't need to splash out on the expensive admission to enjoy the atmosphere. One of the best things to do in London for free is to witness the changing of the guard. At 11.30am each morning (or every other day in winter), the Queen's guard changes outside in a charming spectacle. Get there early and watch through the front gates to make the most of the view.
4. Get Lost in London's Parks
Image of Hampstead Heath: Christain Bortes, Flickr
For a busy city, London has a surprising amount of green and open space which makes it an easy target for those wondering what to do in London for free. Hampstead Heath is one of the more wild spots and you can get happily wander the paths for hours. The view over the city from Parliament Hill is also not to be missed - and a great photo opportunity. St James' Park and Regent's Park, meanwhile, are perfect if you're looking for a quaint setting and a picnic spot.
5. Wander the Street Markets
Image of Camden Market: IIkka Harmanen, Flickr
You might be tempted to part with your cash when you see what's being sold, but meandering through London's vibrant street markets won't cost you a penny. There are bargains to be found, so even if you find it too hard to resist, this will definitely remain one of the key cheap thing to do in London!
Browse fashion and music in Camden, antiques in Portobello, vintage clothes in Brick Lane (Sundays only) or mouthwatering food and drink at Borough Market in London Bridge.
6. Listen at Westminster Abbey
Image: Ned Raggett, Flickr
Although entering as a tourist incurs a charge, you can see the grand interior for free if you're going there to worship. Evensong (5pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and 3pm at the weekend) is the best time to experience the surroundings, with beautiful music from the Abbey choir adding to the atmosphere.
7. Take Part in the Ceremony of the Keys
Image: Maria Morri, Flickr
It takes a bit of organising (visitors can only apply in writing, usually two months in advance) the Ceremony of the Keys is well worth the effort. This free event at the Tower of London is held every night just before 10pm.
The Chief Yeoman Warder escorts you around all the doors of the tower, locking them as he goes and being 'challenged' by the sentry at each post. It's theatrical and very entertaining, particularly on a misty winter evening...
8. Record a TV Show
Image: Pop Culture Geek, Flickr
You can be in the audience for a recording for free! All you have to do is go to the BBC Tickets website to see what's available and you can be up close and personal with your favourite show. Like the Ceremony of the Keys, you'll have to organise the event in advance but this will be one cheap weekend break you won't forget.
9. Enjoy Free Events at the National Theatre
Image: Gary Knight, Flickr
The National Theatre hosts free music and exhibitions in the foyer every evening, so if you don't want to pay a fortune for a ticket you can still enjoy some culture. During the summer, they have even more free events, from films to poetry readings, and interactive spaces outside on South Bank as part of 'Watch This Space.'
10. Speak Out at Speakers' Corner
Image: Cory Doctorow on Flickr
Every Sunday, this little corner of Hyde Park near Marble Arch becomes a hot bed of opinions from politics to fashion. Anyone and everyone can jump up on a crate and speak their mind, and it always proves entertaining. If doing is more your style than listening, you can even make your own speech - and all for free.
Featured image: Philip Brewer, Flickr