9 Totally Free Things to Do in London
Just because thein London is the best it’s been in years, that doesn’t mean you want to hop across the pond and break the bank. That’s why we rounded up a handful of delightful (and totally free) things to do that won’t set you back a single pound. Consider your budget-friendly vacation itinerary set.
STROLL THROUGH THE COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET
The early bird gets her pick of the peonies—and a zillion other gorgeous flowers—every Sunday in Shoreditch on Columbia Road. But just because you don’t buy doesn’t mean you can’t ogle (and Instagram) all the fresh and colorful blooms.
PEEP THE KATE MIDDLETON PORTRAIT AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Admission is free at this gorgeous gallery, located just off Trafalgar Square. And inside, you’ll find Kate Middleton’s first official royal portrait—which was painted by Paul Emsley and unveiled in 2013—along with a collection of every other man and woman (royal or not) who has helped shape British history.
OR THE ROSETTA STONE AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Yep, the Rosetta Stone (which holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics) has long been known as one of the major sights to see in London—and it’s free! Bonus: Complimentary admission also gives you access to the museum’s glass-topped (and breathtaking) entrance hall.
GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT TO FIND THE MOST COLORFUL HOUSES IN NOTTING HILL
Seriously, you could spend a whole afternoon just meandering and picking out the candy-colored homes in and around the fancy streets of this historic neighborhood, located just a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace. Hint: Farmer Street and Hillgate Place have some of the best, plus they’re located right next to a delicious spot for avocado toast. (Not free, but at some point you might need to eat.)
THEN LOOK (DON’T BUY) ON PORTOBELLO ROAD
It’s probably the most famous street in all of London and you can walk the length of it—and throw a few elbows with the other tourists—for free. Saturday is the best day to go to see the market in peak form.
WATCH THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD FROM OUTSIDE BUCKINGHAM PALACE
It’s the most regal ceremony in the whole city: On most mornings (weather permitting), you’ll be able to catch the rotation of the Queen’s Guard from right outside the royal gates of the palace. (Just be sure to check the schedule ahead of time and get there early if you want a good view.)
PACK A PICNIC AND PEOPLE-WATCH IN HYDE PARK
Just past Buckingham Palace, you’ll find the largest of all the royal parks in London. Make a day of it and stroll from one end to the other, stopping to see the latest contemporary art installation at the Serpentine Galleries or the seasonal rose gardens or the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, all free.
CLIMB THE STAIRS OF ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL TO RELIVE PRINCESS DIANA’S WEDDING
Speaking of Diana, flash back to 1981, when she got hitched to Prince Charles at this beautiful Baroque church, located on Ludgate Hill. Admission is steep (around 16 pounds per person), but it’s free to walk up the same exterior steps that she did right before saying “I do.”
GO TO THE TOP OF THE TATE MODERN FOR A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF THE CITY
The Tate Modern is a sight to see in itself, but after you’re done browsing the modern art collections—many of which are free—take the elevator to the viewing level for 360-degree views of the London skyline (from St. Paul’s Cathedral all the way to Canary Wharf).
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