Have you ever visited London? As well, as being the most visited city in the UK, London is also one of the most popular destinations in the world. 30 million tourists visit the city annually, some of which are repeat visitors as London has so many amazing things to offer. Is London on your travel bucket list?
Having lived in London for 3 years I feel I’m in a great position to be able to tell you some of the amazing activities available in ‘The Big Smoke’. Do you know where this nickname comes from? Back in the day, London had lots of factories that produced so much smoke that the city always had a giant cloud of smoke above it. Nowadays, these factories have been replaced with residential and commercial buildings.
Every weekend, I would find free events and activities around central London, because my rent was expensive and I didn’t have money to splurge. These are some of my favorite free things to do in London.
Walk the Western Loop of the Jubilee Walkway
The Jubilee Walkway is a 15-mile collection of looped routes around the city’s historical and culturally relevant buildings. My favorite route is the Western Loop. Sights on this walkway include Parliament Square, St. Pauls Cathedral and The National Portrait Gallery. You could easily spend the whole weekend, exploring the sights along this route.
For more information including a map click here.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
An event you absolutely can’t miss is the famous changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. The traditional ceremony takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 10:30 am. You’ll see the Queens Guards in all their glory.
Tip: Arrive early so you get a good standing spot.
Feel like a Local at a Market
London is home to many awesome markets, many of which offer free samples. The best markets are Borough Market, Camden Market, and Portobello Market. Each market offers a different vibe but all are fun to explore.
The Tate Modern is a for contemporary art fans. They also have on display work from many international artists, for example, El Anatsui from Ghana and Barabara Kruger from the U.S.A. It is open 10:00-18:00.
The National Portrait Gallery holds over 215,000 works of art dating as far back to the 16th century. If you prefer traditional art or portraits in particular, this is the place to visit. It’s open 10:00-18:00, except Friday when it is open until 21:00.
Visit the British Museum
Free museums are another great place to experience history and culture, but not necessarily always British. The British Museum, which is my favorite museum in the World, and is home to some breath-taking items in their Egyptian, Greek and Roman galleries.
In addition, to being the most visited attraction in London with 5.9 annual visitors it’s also one of the oldest museums in the world, as it opened in 1759. Take your camera!!! (But remember to remove the flash)
Relax in Kensington Gardens
Surrounding Kensington Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Gardens offers a few treats and a place to people watch away from London’s bustling streets. Within the park, you can freely walk the green lawns and paths. Notable sights include The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and a bronze statue of Peter Pan in the place where JM Barrie met Jack Llewellyn Davies his boy inspiration.
Other great London parks include Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, and Regents Park.
Visit the London Museum
To discover more about the history of London visit The London Museum at 150 London Wall. You can discover the various settlers that called London home, how the River Thames played a huge part in the city’s growth and learn about London’s disasters. I found the exhibits about life during World War II, the plague and the Great Fire of London, particularly interesting.
Experience the best free view in London
The Sky Garden offers viewing desks, that will take your breath away. You’ll find these great views at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street aka the Walkie Talkie building. Even though it’s free to enter, you’ll need to book your visit ahead of time, due to popularity.
Free Activities for Kids
If you are traveling with kids, or adults that are kids at heart, the most magical museums to visit are the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. They are right next door to one another, so if you are in a hurry to see everything, you’ll not waste time traveling. Both are open 10:00-18:00.
Listen to Street Music
Walking along the River Thames, along the Southbank, you’ll see the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, an open-air book store and more. This “more” includes musical acts. Daily, weather permitting, you’ll hear a tune or two from local people spreading their message musically. Maybe you’ll see the next Ed Sheeran.
Lets us know what other cities you would like us to share free activities for!