There are so many things to do and see in the capital which cost precisely nothing. So for those watching the pennies, here are ten of the best ways to still have some fun and see the sights.
Tate Modern / South Bank
The dimly lit Rothko Room at the Tate Modern – home to the artist’s acclaimed Seagram Murals – is just one part of their wonderful collections that is open and free to visit for all. Spread over several floors, the Tate houses original works by a number of greats, such as Andy Warhol, Picasso, and David Hockney, while the 5th floor café provides a stunning view north over St Paul’s Cathedral and the City. To make a day of it, start at Embankment, walk across the Golden Jubilee Bridge, and then head east, taking in the sight and sounds of South Bank as you go.
The Rothko and Turner Collection is available to visit until 12th September 2021. Book your free tickets here
Us Londoners could all use a little light relief, and there are several comedy nights in the capital that are completely free. The Angel Comedy Club has two locations, and is free every night (they also run comedy courses, should you be inspired to try your hand at stand up and improv), while The Top Secret Comedy Club – which has hosted the likes of Amy Schumer, Eddie Izzard, and Reginald D Hunter – hosts free improv shows on certain days of the week and a just a small fee for other days. Get down early to bag a prime spot though, both venues fill up fast.
The Sky Garden
For amazing views of the city, head to the Sky Garden on the 35th floor of the “Walkie Talkie”, an all-day drinking and dining space with incredible panoramic views situated within London’s highest public garden. You have to book in advance, but it’s free to enter seven days a week, and the food and drinks options are pretty damn good as well.
The Changing Of The Guard
Few countries do pomp and ceremony like the British, and the Changing of the Guard, the soldiers resplendent in the iconic red tunics and bearskin hats, is one of the most famous examples of Royal pageantry. Taking place outside Buckingham Palace every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (weather permitting), at 10:45am, the formal ceremony is accompanied by music and is extremely popular; arriving early to secure a good view is highly recommended.
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace will resume on Monday the 23rd August 2021.
London has some of the world’s best parks and gardens, but few are quite as rich as Kensington Gardens. Home to the Serpentine Gallery, the famous Round Pond, the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue, and the Diana Memorial Playground are all free to visit and roam around, the sights complimented by one of the most diverse collections of flora and fauna in the capital. And if you want more of the great outdoors, Hyde Park and St James’s Park are just a little further east.
OK, so obviously if you want to buy something you’re going to have to spend, but the capital has a plethora of great street markets where you can simply soak up the vibes and get a taste of the real London. For antiques and vintage clothes, head to Notting Hill’s Portobello Road Market, food lovers won’t want to miss out on the culinary delights of Borough Market, while Greenwich Market is the place for arts, crafts, and unique gifts. On Sunday’s, Brick Lane Market is a vibrant mix of bric-a-brac and the exotic, not to mention a great place to eat once you’re tired of exploring.
Since the 1660s, Covent Garden has never missed a chance to put on a performance. The first record of Covent Garden street entertainment came in 1662, when Samuel Pepys’ diary notes that a marionette show featuring a character named Punch took place on the Piazza. Today, the tradition continues. The performers are a collective of mime artists, rope walkers, magicians, jugglers plus more. For some free entertainment, head over to Covent Garden. You can also catch some free performances in Trafalgar Square as well as the Southbank.
Vauxhall City Farm
Want to kill three birds with one stone? Then head to Vauxhall City Farm; it’s free, it’s educational, and it’s fun for kids of all ages! They have pigs, sheep, ducks, and rabbits, as well as three alpacas and a riding stable. Ran by a charity, their stated aim is to change attitudes towards nature, animals, and the environment – hence an ecology area, and a herb and dye garden – and to provide a safe space where all can “enhance their health, well-being, and life-chances.” Amen to that.
The British Museum
Rightly one of London’s top attractions, this iconic building has over 80,000 artifacts on display at any one time, including Egyptian treasures, the Rosetta Stone, ancient samurai armour, and everything in between. The Great Court, finished in 2000, is one of the most impressive architectural spaces anywhere, while the Reading Room is where Karl Marx wrote and researched Das Capital. Tours are free, and just as well – you might need several visits to properly cover everything.
Book your free tickets to visit The British Museum here.
Why not follow the towpath through the tranquil Little Venice to discover a selection of quirky waterfront cafes, cosy pubs and charming restaurants. Walking through this beautiful London area makes the perfect outing for a sunny day out with loved ones.
For more recommendations of the best river walks in London. Check out our blog here