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Free London

The best things in life are free. Honestly. Here's our guide to enjoying the world of free London

© Enrique Fernández

Skint? Saving? Or just really stingy? We've compiled the best free things to do in London for those of you who want to explore the capital for nothing. Yes, London is expensive. Yes, a burger will set you back a pretty penny, but there's also a lot of fun to be had in London for absolutely nothing. You can check out some world-famous institutions, the wonders of London museums or some of this week's best new art all for absolutely nada. There's also a wide range of free London nightlife and penny-saving entertainment going on with no admission fee, it's all here and it's all completely free. So leave your cash in the attic and go get exploring the best free things to do in London. The only thing you'll be short of is free time.

Free things to do in London this week

Free things to do this week
Things to do

Free things to do this week

A week until pay day? Don't spend the next seven days sat at home

Free things to do this weekend
Things to do

Free things to do this weekend

Plan a jam-packed weekend without splashing your cash

The best free days out in London

Free art in London
Art

Free art in London

Arty surprises that won't cost you a penny

Free exhibitions in London
Things to do

Free exhibitions in London

Save your pounds for the gift shop

Free museums in London
Museums

Free museums in London

Where to see mummies without spending monies

Free things to do with the kids
Kids

Free things to do with the kids

Children are expensive enough already, after all

Our favourite free venues in London

Horniman Museum
Things to do

Horniman Museum

An anthropological museum set in 16 acres of landscaped gardens, the Horniman has a traditional natural history gallery – dominated by a bizarre, overstuffed walrus – where the exhibits are displayed in traditional cases with no computer touch-screens in sight. There's also an aquarium, a permanent gallery dedicated to African, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian art, and a collection of around 1,600 musical instruments, with an area where people can play some of them and a display ('At Home with Music') where historical keyboards, dating all the way back to a virginals from 1555, are on show. The museum provides extensive facilities for families, including a nature trail, weekend workshops and a hands-on base where children can touch museum objects. Nature Base explores the natural world with exhibits including the Horniman beehive. Read about our favourite exhibits at the Horniman or see more great museums for kids in the capital

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Southbank Centre
Museums

Southbank Centre

This riverside titan of arts and entertainment has morphed and expanded in the past few years securing its position as one of the most attractive cultural hotspots in London, helped by its accessible location and proximity to the National Theatre and Tate Modern. The Southbank Centre caters for the widest spectrum of people and interests, peddling visual art, music, literature events and performance in its several venues – the Royal Festival Hall, The Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall (including the Purcell Room) and the Saison Poetry Library. Recently it has become a go-to destination for foodies too. Skylon, a swanky British-themed restaurant within RFH, caters for those with a bit of cash, while a range of spanking new chain restaurants (Wagamama, Strada, Ping Pong) jostle for attention alongside the pie-touting Canteen.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Hackney City Farm
Things to do

Hackney City Farm

The ever-popular Hackney City Farm was previously the site of a brewery. Some say it’s haunted. One volunteer claims to have seen an eerie shadow in the main building during a lambing-season sleepover, and was so spooked that he took refuge in the pigsty. No wonder the place is haunted; it’s been the scene of a tragedy of Sophoclean proportions. Gregory the goose killed his own father shortly after he was born. When his mother later died, Gregory sank into a depression. Other notable residents include Little Sheep, a survivor of the Foot and Mouth epidemic. The farm’s animals rule the local roost; new tenants in nearby flats sign a declaration that they won’t complain about the nocturnal racket. The farm is a vital community hub with a vegetable box collection scheme for locals, there are even water plants growing in a steel tub which was used by surgeons to wash their hands at the now-closed Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children next door. Twice-weekly pottery classes are suitable for all ability levels, and mosaic classes could come in handy if you smash your creation. Have a bite at the yummy Italian café or drop by the farm shop for fresh eggs. Miriam Bouteba  Find more urban farms in the capital with our guide to London city farms

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
British Library
Attractions

British Library

A copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland is sent to The British Library – an institute that has amassed a collection of more than 150 million items and adds some 3 million new items each year. The public can apply for access to the reading rooms, or simply explore the permanent and temporary exhibits in the John Ritblat Gallery. Here, some of the most famous written and printed items in the world are displayed, and you might see the Lindisfarne Gospels, Shakespeare’s first Folio, Handel’s Messiah, the Gutenberg Bible, drafts of the Magna Carta and the Beatles’ manuscripts. Discover more great things to do in King's Cross

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Geffrye Museum
Things to do

Geffrye Museum

Housed in a set of 18th-century almshouses, the Geffrye Museum offers a vivid physical history of the English interior. Displaying original furniture, paintings, textiles and decorative arts, the museum recreates a sequence of typical middle-class living rooms from 1600 to the present. It’s an oddly interesting way to take in domestic history, with any number of intriguing details to catch your eye- from a bell jar of stuffed birds to a particular decorative flourish on a chair. There’s an airy restaurant overlooking the lovely gardens, which include a walled plot for herbs and a chronological series in different historical styles. Read about our favourite seven exhibits at the Geffrye Museum

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
V&A Museum of Childhood
Museums

V&A Museum of Childhood

Home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes, the Museum of Childhood shines brighter than ever after extensive refurbishment, which has given it an impressive entrance. Part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and continues to do so with ‘Incredibles’ figures complimenting bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes. The museum has lots of hand-on stuff for kids dotted about the many cases of historic artefacts. Regular exhibitions are held upstairs, while the café helps to revive flagging grown-ups. Discover more great days out for the little ones

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Wellcome Collection
Museums

Wellcome Collection

Sir Henry Wellcome, a pioneering 19th-century pharmacist, amassed a vast and idiosyncratic collection of implements and curios relating to the medical trade, now displayed here. In addition to these fascinating and often grisly items-ivory carvings of pregnant women, used guillotine blades, Napoleon’s toothbrush- there are several serious works of modern art, most on display in a smaller room to one side of the main chamber of curiosities. The temporary exhibitions are often brilliant and come with all manner of associated events, from talks to walks. The Wellcome has recently undergone a £17.5 million development project, which has opened up even more areas of the building to the public including two new galleries and the beautiful Reading Room, which is a combination of library, gallery and event space. Please note that The Wellcome Collection is closed 24-26 December 2016. Read more about The Wellcome Collection's weirdest exhibits

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Hunterian Museum
Museums

Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian Museum houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK and is based on the items assembled by John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist (1728-1793). The collection comprises more than 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings and also includes specimens donated by Edward Jenner and Sir Joseph Banks. Exhibits at the Hunterian Museum include the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne, a collection of surgical instruments dating from the seventeenth century, carbolic sprays used by Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, the tooth of a megatherium (an extinct giant sloth) donated by Charles Darwin – and Winston Churchill’s dentures. Read about our favourite exhibits in the Hunterian Museum

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Comments

29 comments
Jilly R
Jilly R

I went all the way over to Greenwich yesterday because of the article Free London on p.22 of your printed edition dated 13 - 19 September. 


There were 2 events I went for, firstly the Tall Ships Festival stated as Wed 14-Sun18, which it transpires doesn't begin until today. When it didn't happen I put a brave face on it and made the daunting journey up to the Royal Observatory; I have mobility problems, for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. When I got there I was informed it was closed for 2 weeks.


Whether misprint or lack of research on your part it was a tiring and time consuming wasted afternoon and most importantly a real disappointment. 

Dee G
Dee G

It is worth £299 and includes afternoon tea as well! Select the venue though as there are 3 or 4 of them. :)


Irina C
Irina C

Hi everyone,

For those that have visited London's movie locations, could you please (please!) help me with my Film Tourism Dissertation by completing the survey? 
I need just a few more answers in order to reach my goal! 
https://surveyplanet.com/56e815b910f2ea0d1e226ae5
It will not take more than 3 minutes to complete it – I promise!
Thank you! :)

Delia B
Delia B

FREE music taster lessons at Yamaha Music London, Wardour Street this weekend 12-13 March. Perfect for absolute beginners of any age! Reserve your session now to avoid disappointment. 

MatureLinda
MatureLinda

OK - here's a strike for the "olds" (yes, we read Time Out too!)  Age Uk Enfield run a series of free walks on  (suggested donation £1) in North London parks.- Trent, Bloomfield and Pymmes.  Leisurely walk led by experienced guide and an opportunity to make new friends.  Run on Wednesday or Friday mornings.  Website: www.ageuk.org.uk/enfield/local-directory

Julian F
Julian F

You can play football for free as a keeper if you sign up on www.flexifootball.co.uk - It's a good way of meeting people, having fun and keeping fit!

Justin H
Justin H

Woodford RFC hosts the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour Midday until Midnight on Saturday the 5th of September with the trophy at Woodford between 17.00 and 20.00. Come to Woodford Rugby Club where Sir Winston Churchill watched his Rugby, we will be celebrating our hosting of the cup with matches between Woodford 1st XV and upper Clapton 1st XV, Woodford U14s and Davenant year 9s. There will be a kids zone with bouncy castles, inflatable jousting, inflatable obstacle course, kids assault course..... Also BBQ and pulled pork stall, two licensed bars, longest drop goal, most balls passed through a hoop, space hopper racing and tug of war competitions. You will be able to try out Rugby supervised by qualified coaches and we will be holding training sessions you are welcome to join in with. We pride ourselves on our mini and youth Rugby and there will be a training session and some demonstration matches. Ans of course the Rugby World Cup, come and have your picture taken
Midday to Midnight

Woodford RFC Highams High Road Woodford Green Essex IG8 9LB Sat 5 Sep

Peter E
Peter E

Looking for a free walk next weekend?  Try a walk with a difference!  John Cooper Quizwalks are organising a circular 3 mile walk with 25 cryptic clues to solve about things that you see along the route.  Walk at your own pace or join a team to walk with.  A warm welcome awaits you whatever you decide.  Lovely view of the whole of London towards the end.
 Meet on Sunday 5th July for a 2.15pm prompt walkoff.   The Surprise Inn, 107 Upper Shirley Road, Croydon, CRO 5HF. 
See www.quizwalks.com  for further details.

Lynda  M
Lynda M

Wallace House, in Manchester Square. Free.. you can spend hours there, fascinating history, Love it!

Just 2 blocks behind Selfridges, well worth a visit & I take all my o/s visitors there, its amazing.


Also the Isabella Plantation In Richmond Park in a stunner in spring.

Bunty N
Bunty N

Ever had one of those Sundays when you are bored with your local area. And you’ve done Lloyd Park and ‘Shoreditch Yah’ to death well consider heading for Chelsea (the earlier the better).

Get the Gospel Oak line to Imperial Wharf, exit, walk down the funky winding staircase and have a cappuccino at Harris & Hoole ‘(I know it’s owned by Tesco’s but they do it so well and their boutique loo is worth a visit!)

Be dazzled by the massive redevelopment that has transformed a former coal depot and gas works into cutting edge luxury flats with a vibe and presence that would even affect a socialist.  Walking along the tranquil riverside it’s possible to doubt you’re in London. Helicopters hover overhead, and watching them land and take off stirred the train spotter in me, the only distraction was a cormorant diving and re-diving to secure a large fish.

Continued walking for approx. 2 miles and caught bus 22 to Putney Common and had a well-earned lunch at ‘The Spencer’ the seasonal menu ranged from vegan to carnivore and hurrah; they serve sweet potato chips!

Finally we headed home by Bus 22 to Green Park station and Victoria line to the Stow. Check it out…..

Dora M
Dora M

Please, come to UCL 25-28th March - great astronomy and physics festival, talks, interactive exibitions. The festival is called Your Universe.

armida t
armida t

Great list. Thanks for sharing this free things to do in London. Its really helpful for those who want to Plan a London trip in budget or want to save the money while traveling .

Lisa W
Lisa W

I appreciate the organization simple to utilize! This certainly helps me arrange my next outing to London. I go once consistently, and my spouse and I continually searching for new and shoddy things to do. This article truly helps us arrange our future memories! I can visit places without paying a solitary penny!! Despite the fact that it would be better if there were free kids places. Check this out http://goo.gl/4QQckJ

Lorna
Lorna

Free London/London on the cheap. Is it possible? Why yes, yes it is! I have always had to be thrifty, being a single mother of two, and a mum who wanted to give her children memories and new experiences. You can find cheap tickets for all the shows in Theatreland without breaking the bank (choose restricted view seats, use sites like this, that offer discounts on tickets or sign up directly to Theatre sites that offer discounts on multiple purchases. Throughout the year there are free events at The Scoop, Tate Modern, Southbank, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. The museums are free (my favourites are the Natural History, National Gallery and the Museum of London at the Barbican). There are plenty of places to eat; not forgetting the wonderful cafes in Marks and Spencer, Food Halls in Debenhams and Boots and you cannot beat just walking the streets of London and finding all it's hidden history. London has many, many secrets, so always remember to stop and look up, or look down; and don't be afraid to walk down a hidden alley or parade, you never know what you might find.

Shalom
Shalom

Very informative, useful to know the best places in our city.

emma
emma

doesn't help at all

Nicole
Nicole

I enjoy the format very easy to use! This definitely helps me plan my next trip to London. I go once every year, and my boyfriend and I always are looking for new, fun, and cheap things to do. This site really helps us plan our future memories! :)

Lucas
Lucas

Hi there, thanks for the informative article. I just wanted to add that there are also many online communities where you can find free things to do in London. Meetup.com or www.uolala.com/uk just to name a couple...

Bob
Bob

This is not clearly laid out for viewers and tourists. Have some common sense.

londontripfinder
londontripfinder

Excellent! I can visit places with out paying a single penny!! Although it would be better if there was free children places!

jillhayter
jillhayter

not finding the website easy to navigate at the moment-actually its quite frustrating- liked the old layout ooh

Jammy
Jammy

Yeah, i like very much, yay!