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Things to Do in London For Free

October 16th 2008 00:21
With credit crunches, volatile stock markets, and talk of recession, it’s only natural for people to be a bit nervous about spending money at the moment. So I have made a list of 5 things to do in London that are free!

1. Visit a museum
Museums in London (in fact across the UK are free), and there are some fabulous ones. For example, the Museum of London, where you can learn about the history of London from Roman times to today, and the British Museum, are very popular among tourists.

There is the V&A in Kensington, if art and design is your thing, or if you would rather look at Dinosaur remains head to the Natural History Museum.

There are so many museums in London you are bound to find something that will interest you. For more information, check out LondonNets list of museums.

2. Changing of the Guards
In my opinion, one of the things the Brits do very well is ceremonies, and one of these not to be missed is the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every day at 11.30am in the summer, and every second day in the winter. The ceremony does not take place if it is very wet. You need to get there early in order to ensure a good spot.

For those of you that missed getting a good view, here is a little tip, which I discovered quite by accident one day when I was wondering through St James Park. There is a changing of the guard’s ceremony near the horses arch in the east side of St James Park (near Whitehall). This ceremony takes place at around 11am (10am on Sundays) and there was hardly any one there.

3. London Parks
For a city as big and as busy as London it is surprising how many beautiful well-kept parks there is in the city centre. They are so quiet and peaceful you would think you were strolling around the countryside.

St James Park is one of my favourites. In the middle of the park is a lake with ducks and pelicans. At 2.30pm every day, you will see one of the parks guards come and feed the pelicans.

St James Park
St James Park

Hyde Park is the biggest and best-known park in London. You could spend a whole day there in the summer, rowing on the lake or horse riding, do not forget to visit the famous Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

4. Visit one of the famous London Markets.
Markets are a great place to hang out and people watch. One of the most popular and famous markets is Camden. This place is full of funky clothes and great shoes. Beware though with 100,000 visitors every weekend it gets very crowded.

camden markets

Other popular markets in London are Portobello Rd Market for antiques, fruit and vegetables and second hand clothes and books, and Borough Markets which is one of London’s oldest.

For more information about markets in London, check out

5. Walk along the South Bank.
The South Bank has some of the best attractions, some of which are free.
Starting at Westminster Bridge near County Hall, one of the first things you will see in the summer is all the portrait painters. Check out their work if you like it have one painted of yourself.

Walk past the magnificent London Eye (well you can stop for a ride but it’s not free), and continue along the Jubilee Walkway to the Jubilee Gardens which is a great place to stop for a picnic.

Continue to the Royal Festival Hall, that marks the official start of the South Bank. Watch the skateboarders underneath the Hall showing off their skills.

See if you can pick up a bargain at the second-hand book market under Jubilee Bridge. The market sellers are passionate about books so talk to them if you are looking for something in particular, they may just be able to track it down for you.

Along the South Bank you have the Tate Modern with international modern and contemporary art, and the Globe Theatre.

The Globe
The Globe Theatre

If you want to download a free walking tour go to for the South Bank go to see Walk this Way website.

There are also many artists and street performers. The performers need a permit, which they need to audition for, so they are very good and some draw big crowds. Although technically free if you like there act give them some coins that is the only way some of them make money.

One of my best experiences is walking through Westminster Station years ago on my way to work, there was a man playing the cello. It sounded fantastic, very professional to my untrained ear. The following day I read in the newspaper that it was Julian Lloyd Webber, (Andrews brother).

That was a one off but there are still some high quality acts around the city.
Good luck! I hope that provides you with several good days out in London without breaking the bank.
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