My husband and I have traveled to London twice now and loved every second of our trips. The city offers an unbelievable list of sites all easily accessible through public transportation. If you haven’t heard this before, hear it from me, London is very expensive. The city is vibrant and full of life but most things come at a hefty price. While traveling, we try to spend little as possible and still see the cities. From Big Ben to the British Museum, this is our top ten list of FREE things to do while traveling in London.
1) Big Ben, the London Eye, and of course the famous red telephone booths
You have to pay to go into Big Ben and the London Eye but, honestly, there is just as much to see outside. You get the true feeling of London standing on the street corner with Big Ben looming over you, taxi drivers honking at pedestrians, the London Eye off in the distance and the bells of Westminster Abbey ringing. Business men and women walk to and from their offices carrying their briefcases and coffee while an endless sea of people pour out of the Underground stations. Every street is lined with double decker buses in this busy area along with the famous red telephone booths. This area is the picture perfect London and the best part is you can just sit with your cup of tea or coffee and watch it all pass by, for FREE.
2) London Bridge
This may just be for my enjoyment but there is a sense of history and grime that you can’t get anywhere else other than walking up the London Bridge. Crossing the River Thames, the London Bridge is a great historical landmark and a perfect view of the also famous Tower Bridge. A short walk along the river you will then come across Shakespear’s Globe Theater and the Tate Museum of Modern Art.
3) Tate Museum of Modern Art
Where to even start with this museum…Well, here is the basics. Half of this museum is free. Certain exhibits rotate and you must pay a fee to see them. We only saw the free exhibits and let me tell you, it was enough to entertain the four of us. There isn’t anything else in the world as strange and intriguing as this museum. Where else can you see an entire room of hair and car bumpers? It is art people, modern art. Move on further in the exhibit and you may find yourself in a room of large potato sacks strategically placed, leaving it’s onlookers feeling like they just stepped into a strange SyFy movie. Oh, art…
4) Buckingham Palace and Gardens
You can’t travel to London without visiting Buckingham Palace. If you want a tour inside, good luck. The lines are long and you will pay a great fee. Instead, stand outside, watch the changing of the guards, view the fountain, and walk the beautiful gardens. We always travel in the Spring, therefore, the last time we visited a beautiful display of tulips lined the palace road. If you are lucky enough, a motorcade may pass you with an important diplomat or prime minister.
5) Piccadilly Circus
London’s version of Times Square located at the West End of the City. Shops of all types, the hustle and bustle of traffic and shoppers, old historic bookstores, Piccadilly Circus is a sight to see. You could spend an entire day lost in the madness of Piccadilly Circus.
6) Hyde Park
I LOVE Hyde Park. This beautiful park is nestled right in the center of one of the world’s largest cities. Acres of open fields, flowers, and ponds, this is an oasis away from the busy city. Hyde park has many paths to cross and meander at your leisure or to get to your future locations. We liked to walk through the park rather than on the busy streets where you are likely to walk into oncoming traffic or into one of the many bicyclists. Nestled in the park are cafes where you can get anything from a light snack to a gourmet meal. One of our favorite afternoons was spent in Hyde park with a pint watching the sun set.
7) Kensington Gardens
The Kensington Gardens are another beautiful escape from the busy city. Home to the Kensington Palace, the Peter Pan statue, and the breathtaking Albert Memorial, these gardens are a must see. There is even a ship playground for the young ones or the young at heart.
8) Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
I may be a bit biased on this one, I have a strong obsession with all things Harry Potter, but I know I am not alone at checking this off my bucket list. Personally, I never made it to the actual platform in Kings Cross…but I have been to Kings Cross and even caught a train there to head to our next destination, Paris. Though, arguably better, I have been to the platform at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London (a highly suggested splurge on expenditures when traveling in London). From what I am told, it is practically the same and the platform at Kings Cross now even has a Harry Potter shop near by. Thank you J.K. Rowling for making many kids (cough and adults) dreams of becoming a wizard come true.
9) Museum of London
This was the first museum we visited while in London. We were not disappointed. This museum has it all and at a great price of FREE. Learn about the great fire that burned down the city, admire period clothing, discover treasure found in the Thames River, admire jewels and armor of royalty and wealthy land owners. This museum is entertaining and not very crowded. We HIGHLY recommend giving them a visit.
10) British Museum
Probably one of the most famous museums, this place is massive. You could spend an entire day here and still not see it all. Explore several floors and wings of this museum ranging from egyptian mummies to Easter Island statues. Is there a down side to this vast, and of course free, museum you ask? Yes, the crowds can get hectic during busy times of the day. Get there early or before closing and hope that you beat the tour buses. If you can handle the crowds it is definitely worth seeing this museum.
We hope you enjoyed our list of Free activities/sites to see in London. Travel around the city is very easy and family friendly when taking the London Underground tube. We suggest downloading a map of the Underground onto your cellphone before traveling. There are of course many other things to do but as I said, it adds up quickly.
A few spots we splurged and paid for tickets were:
2)Harry Potter Studio Tours
3)The Tower of London
These were all great sights but costly. But, hey you are on vacation, right? We all can splurge a little bit 🙂
If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to leave a comment below! try