London is expensive and crowded, right? Well, not always. While the streets are always brimming with people and tourists, not everything here has to be super expensive. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to save some pennies on your next trip to the capital, it couldn’t be easier. It’s merely about planning ahead and making sure you know where the best spots are.
So, where should you start? If you haven’t got a clue where to begin, you may just have come to the right place. It doesn’t have to be hard to have fun without it being unaffordable. Luckily, we’ve done all the research for you ahead of time. Here are just ten ways to pass the time in London that will cost you absolutely nothing at all. What could be better than that?
1. The British Museum
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) February 16, 2018
When you think about London, one of the first tourist points that springs to mind is sure to be the British Museum. Surprisingly, this particular place is free to visit, which means that it is the ideal cheap and cheerful day out. The attraction is open every single day from 10am until 5.30pm. On Friday evenings, you can have a real ‘Night in the Museum’ moment too, since it’s open late until 8.30pm.
From Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone, there are 80,000 objects on display here that will take your breath away. This could make an excellent family day out, an affordable date for couples, or just something to do when wandering the city alone. Not to be missed.
2. South Bank Walk
Looking for the most romantic ride to your #ValentinesDay evening plans? Why not sail down the river with @thamesclippers & enjoy the city lights! –> https://t.co/5ybGRTTEUs pic.twitter.com/hxqCaxhZQn
— South Bank London (@southbanklondon) February 15, 2018
One of the most popular areas for tourists, South Bank is jam-packed with restaurants for food-lovers, bars, and things to do. Oh, and of course, the London Eye. However, don’t be duped into thinking that you need to spend a ton of money when you visit this area.
You can just as happily pass some time wandering up and down the riverside and taking in the sights that are there. From street performers to impromptu markets, you’re sure to find a way to spend the day and make the most of the city. And don’t you dare forget to bring your camera! There will be a lot of photo opportunities.
3. Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens. pic.twitter.com/s9pIgAXuQU
— Shaun Cole (@Shortbloke) February 16, 2018
During the summer months, there’s one place that everyone wants to be. Kensington Gardens has an array of cool, historic spots where you can take some cheeky selfies or just chill out for a while. You will, of course, want to head here when the weather’s nice and cheerful. That way, you can enjoy all that the gardens have to offer without being too chilly or, worse, getting all wet, which no one wants to do!
Whether you’re wandering around the paths or just sitting down to take in the sun, there’s a whole lot to love about this park. Be sure to take a look at the Albert Memorial, the Serpentine Gallery, the Round Pond Peter Pan Statue, and the Diana Memorial Playground. We’re sure that you won’t regret it!
4. National Gallery
The @NationalGallery have a fantastic exhibition on right now about Jan van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites. Find out about the connection between these artists ahead of planning your visit. That's your weekend sorted, then! https://t.co/WviUUCfr50 pic.twitter.com/RiRxfCz9ln
— Art UK (@artukdotorg) February 16, 2018
Art lovers will never be disappointed when they visit the National Gallery.Wandering around the great many exhibits here, you’ll likely get to see a broad range of pictures from a load of the most famous artists in the world. We’re talking the likes of Gough, DaVinci, Renoir, and Eyck, to name but a few artists. Make sure that you set aside enough time to have a proper look around the museum as it could take a few hours to see all the sights.
(Plus, if you’re in the city and it starts raining, this gallery is a great place to hide out. Head here and you will be able to take in some art while enjoying being dry and warm!)
5. Science Museum
Have you seen our Frankenstein Festival line up? Join us for a futuristic play set in a world where humankind is extinct. Performed by Emily Carding in collaboration with award-winning body painter Victoria Gugenheim. https://t.co/ilLvnHnve9 pic.twitter.com/PHn1Xcf4x0
— Science Museum (@sciencemuseum) February 16, 2018
If you’re heading to the Big Smoke with children and you’re on a budget, we might have just the thing. While child-friendly activities that are free seem to be few and far between, there is one that you will likely want to give a go for yourself. London’s extremely popular Science Museum is a truly excellent place to start, offering both educational value and a whole load of entertainment for your little ones in one neat package.
Unlike many museums, the exhibits here are, for the most part, interactive. That means that your kids will never for a moment get bored of learning new things and taking part in experiments. There are many different exhibits from which to choose and temporary events too. For example, in April, the museum will be hosting the awesome-sounding Frankenstein Festival, which is sure to interest children and adults alike.
6. The British Library
The first postage stamps of China were issued for local use by the Municipality of Shanghai in 1865. All the denominations including this red 16 candareen stamp depict a Chinese Dragon. #ChineseNewYear #BLPhilately pic.twitter.com/2xoNFyWqYB
— The British Library (@britishlibrary) February 16, 2018
Why not head to the largest library in the world? Based on how many catalogues are kept here, that’s exactly what the British Library actually is. You can spend hour upon hour walking around the building and checking out some of the most intriguing and rare books in the country. As though that weren’t enough, there are dedicated exhibits as well that may be worth a look around. The British Library is completely free and is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 6pm, Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
7. Angel Comedy Club
Think comedy tickets are expensive? Well, they don’t have to be. You can have a good old-fashioned chuckle without spending a single penny. Angel Comedy Club actually has free shows for the public on both a Friday and Saturday night. What’s more, these shows aren’t full of amateur comedians or improv (yuk!), but actual professionals and even award-winning stand-up acts too. So, if you fancy hitting the town this weekend, it couldn’t be a more cost-effective way to go.
As a side note, though, you should aim to get to the venue as early as possible if you want to secure a seat. It should come as no real surprise that the free shows tend to be seriously popular, and so it’s definitely worth leaving earlier rather than later. The venue site suggests getting to 7.30pm shows for 7pm and 8pm shows at 7.30pm. Simple. Oh, and crowds of more than eight people are not allowed. Sorry!
8. Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross
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Harry Potter fans rejoice! There’s a free activity right in the centre of the capital that you seriously don’t want to miss. Yes, you can pretend that you’re heading off to Hogwarts by visiting Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross. The wall (because that’s all it really is… sorry!) is just inside the station and makes for an excellent photo opportunity. Make sure that you bring a scarf with your house colours on it and maybe even a stuffed owl too. Why not?!
There’s usually a pretty long queue to have a picture by the wall, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth giving it a shot. The line tends to move relatively fast and the picture of you on your way to wizardry school will last a lifetime. Plus, there’s a neat Harry Potter inspired shop right next door that you may like to check out.
9. Abbey Road
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50 years ago today, @TheBeatles gathered at EMI Studios for one of the most iconic photoshoots of their career. A policeman held up the traffic as photographer Iain Macmillan, from a stepladder positioned in the middle of the road, took six shots as the group walked across the zebra crossing just outside the studio. Shortly after the shoot, @PaulMcCartney studied the transparencies and chose the only one where all four Beatles were walking in time. We take a deeper look into the story behind one of the most famous photoshoots in music history on the Abbey Road Blog: abbeyroad.com/news #AbbeyRoad
Although it won’t take you particularly long to take a quick snap, you may fancy heading down to Abbey Road. Beatles fans tend to love heading to this place so that they can recreate the infamous album cover featuring none other than Paul, John, Ringo, and George. While it may not be the most original ‘touristy’ thing to do, it is a whole lot of fun and worth it if you fancy a quick giggle.
Grab three of your closest friends and ask them whether they fancy giving it a go with you. If you want to go really wild, you could even dress up as the band yourself and make the picture that you take look super close to the original. (Don’t forget to kick off your shoes for this one, Paul!)
10. Speaker’s Corner
Near the marble arch in the southeastern side of Hyde Park, you’ll find the infamous Speaker’s Corner. Most days, you can find a riled up individual telling it how it is (or, at the very least how they see it) right here. If you’d like to find some rather alternative entertainment in the city centre, you are in luck. You never know what type of speech you will encounter when you head to this place!
What’s more, should you visit the park on a sunny day, you may want to take a picnic and relax for a while. The park itself is huge and a really great place to pass an afternoon. Alternately, you could grab a bike and cycle around the park. There are so many great things to do here… so long as it’s not absolutely throwing it down.