We all know that London isn’t the cheapest city to visit. However, one thing I am proud to say about London is that it does have a lot of free and amazing locations for those looking to sightsee in this fantastic city.
HotelsCombined asked me to share some of my favourite things to do in London, considering I have been just a few times (ahem!). Therefore, I’ve shared fifteen things you can do when visiting London both for free and under £25pp.
You can also see my guide to A Day in London for £60 which contains a few items from the below as well as spots to eat and drink! What if you’re looking for a good deal on a place to stay in London? Check out HotelsCombined to get the best deals on a hotel on your trip!
FREE SIGHT-SEEING SPOTS
GET HISTORICAL AT THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
Firstly, The Victoria and Albert Museum is a beautiful building crammed with artifacts, fashion and artwork dating back 5,000 years. Originally created to be a place where art could be exhibited for all back in 1852, it has become one of the world’s leading museums for art and design. Explore textiles, architecture, around the world objects and jewellery throughout time.
You are bound to spend hours here, or at least you could. It’s a place I always come back to, discovering more on each visit.
ANALYSE SURREALISM AT THE TATE MODERN
Or, if you want to step away from conventional artwork, the Tate Modern is the place to visit. Iconically displaying art inside Bankside Power Station, modern artwork hangs from the walls by artists and photographers such as Salvador Dali to Man Ray.
This was the first art gallery I ever visited when I was fifteen years old studying art GCSE. And it’s still a favourite.
SEE ICONIC ARTWORK AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY/NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
One of the most beautiful buildings in London is The National Gallery which adjoins onto the National Portrait Gallery. Built specifically for displaying artwork, in 1831 Parliament agreed to construct the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square was chosen as it was considered to be at the very centre of London. Opened in 1838, it was open to all, both upper and lower classes. According to the Gallery website, it has a total floor area of 46,396 metres squared – equivalent to around six football pitches. It would be big enough to hold over 2,000 London double-decker buses.
The building itself is a work of art. The walls are decorated with colourful, patterned wallpapers where large, pristine paintings hang throughout. And next door, you can find the Portrait Gallery. While not as opulent and stunning, it contains plenty of historical, Royal paintings. Which makes it perfect for those who are interested in the British Monarchy.
MEET MUMMIES AT BRITISH MUSEUM
There’s no doubt that we all had our favourite topic in History at school. It could’ve been Ancient Greece, Egyptian Pharaohs or perhaps even British history. But whatever historical preferences you have, you cannot help but be in awe of the astounding amounts of ancient, worldwide artefacts that are spread across this massively impressive museum.
Ironically, the British Museum is that it’s not that British at all. For example, the design of the columns was borrowed from ancient Greek temples, and the pediment at the top of the building is a common feature of classical Greek architecture. Interesting stuff, huh?
TAKE A STROLL ALONG SOUTHBANK
Walking along the Thames, no matter the season is always a pleasurable experience. Sipping on coffee or an iced tea whilst admiring the stunning London skyline is a favourite of activity of mine. And quite often there are street performers and events being held. You can also visit the theatres, the BFI, shops and restaurants.
INFUSE YOUR SENSES AT BOROUGH MARKET
Love street food? Borough Market has everything your heart could desire! Serving the people for 1,000 years Borough Market is the place to visit if you’re a foodie who is feeling peckish and likes choice. Because, believe me, there’s a lot! And a lot of the stallholders that sell at the market are the ones who have produced the items you can purchase. Whether it be the farmer, the fisherman or the baker.
The market’s stalls, restaurants and shops truly reflect London’s status as a global city, with British produce complementing worldwide speciality foods from around the world.
WATCH STREET ACTS IN COVENT GARDEN
You can always guarantee entertainment in Covent Garden. From performers, singers or street acts, there is always an intrigued crowd standing outside the famous Covent Garden market. However, if you’re not interested in watching unicycling jugglers, then there are a tonne of shops and cafes to visit instead!
ADMIRE THE ARCHITECTURE AT WESTMINSTER
Possibly some of the most beautiful and iconic structures in London are in Westminster. The Houses of Parliament, Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster. Historic, awe-inspiring and utterly British. Therefore, you cannot not visit if you are in London. The designs of the buildings are breathtaking.
I passed these buildings on the way to work for two years. As a result, they never failed to make me feel better about working in London.
CROSS TOWER BRIDGE
Near the Tower of London is the gorgeous Tower Bridge. Presumably one of the most recognisable bridges in the world, which is also considered an engineering marvel. In addition, while it appears to just be a drawbridge (which is still in working order), it is also home to an exhibition which you can visit (for £8.00 pp).
WINDOW SHOP AT HARRODS
Harrods is a luxurious, world-famous department store, known for its designer labels and star-studded customers. Even if you don’t have the same amount of cash as those who are purchasing crocodile shoes from Gucci, you can always visit and admire the architecture and stand in awe of the food court.
UNDER £25.00 pp
‘HEAD OFF’ TO THE TOWER OF LONDON – £23.10 online, £25.00 on the gate
Known as the location for the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the Tower of London is actually a castle and fortress built by William the Conqueror in the early 1080s. Monarchs added to the fortress over the following centuries expanding the site.
Many fantastic things have happened here including being one of the first zoos in London. Yep, there were actually lions walking around the grounds. In addition, you can view the crown jewels (which are stunning).
Amy and I spent a good few hours here and was definitely its money’s worth.
VIEW THE CITY FROM THE LONDON EYE – from £22.45 online
Easily accessible from Waterloo station, and along South Bank, why not take in the sights of London via the London Eye? You get a stunning view of the city and get a completely new look at Westminster.
The “flight” is long enough to take everything in and is limited to the number of people in each pod. Unlike the View from The Shard which can get crowded. So this is my preferable way to see the city from above! Oh and you can get special deals on other attractions too!
TAKE THE GLOBE THEATRE TOUR – £16.00
If you love Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre exhibition is a must. Tours depart very thirty minutes and are included in your ticket. The guide tells you about the history of the original building, the re-development and about the history the London in which Shakespeare lived.
Amy and I really enjoyed this informative tour and exhibition when we visited a few years ago and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of London’s past and of course, the theatre itself.
CASE OUT BAKER STREET AT THE SHERLOCK HOLMES MUSEUM- £15.00
Despite being fictional (yep, Sherlock Holmes wasn’t real), the museum itself is a wonderful embodiment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Baker Street tales. It is so famous and important to the history of London that 221B is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest”. Furthermore, the 1st-floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained for posterity as it was kept in Victorian Times.
As a lover of Sherlock and Dr Watson’s adventures, visiting the home where they lived between 1881-1904 is a treat! Although narrow and slightly crowded due to its popularity, it’s worth the wait to examine the detail that has gone into creating a realistic perception of the duo’s home.
WHISPER IN ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL – £16.00 online, £18.00 on the day
And finally, we’ve reached what is possibly my favourite building in the whole of London: St. Paul’s Cathedral *heart eyes*. There is not only a wealth of history behind it but it is incredibly beautiful both inside and out. One of my favourite photographs is the image of the Cathedral during the Blitz as (to me) it symbolises what it means to have faith during the darkest times. Not necessarily a religious faith but a faith in a better future.
Inside the Cathedral is breathtaking and peaceful. It’s been a place I’ve visited on a few occasions and will never sick of. I went there when I was a young child and I remember staring up at the ceiling and being in complete love with it. I think it reminded me of Beauty and the Beast? Anyway, if you’re in London, please (for me) go to St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can even walk to the top of it and look over the city from there!
Phew! That was a long one, wasn’t it?! Well, I hope I have given you a good list of things to do when you’re in the city. And you won’t be disappointed, I promise!