London can get pretty expensive, but here at HostelsClub we are on a mission to show you that you can enjoy the city, completely for free! Check out our list of free things to do in London.
London is of, course, one of the top tourist destinations around the world, which considering how expensive it can be, is pretty insane, you must be thinking to yourself. Well, we will let you in on a secret - it’s not! Or at least, it doesn't have to be! So to help you out, here at HostelsClub we have decided to create an amazing list of free things to do in London because we know that you backpackers and hostel-lovers love to save some cash when you can. We’ve included museums, parks, markets, famous sites and more, so there is something for everyone. By our reckoning, you can probably enjoy London on £15 a day if you have to, and that includes travel costs too! Even just a little bit of insider knowledge can help you out, so, if you are sitting comfortably, we shall begin…
Visit the most famous landmarks in London, all in a morning!
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As in most cities, many of the famous sites and monuments in London are free to visit or at least see, seeing as they are outside. In order to hit the big sites in one go, we suggest you head to Waterloo station, and walk down to the embankment where you can see the London Eye and the National Theatre. Then, head across the Westminster Bridge to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. After that, you can head up the Whitehall and pass 10 Downing Street (well, at least the gates at the end of the road), before you will end up in Trafalgar Square, with Nelson's Column right in the middle. After that, you can head towards Leicester Square (where all the film premieres are held) and finally to Covent Garden to watch street performs and listen to free live music. And guess what, after all this, you haven’t spend a penny!
Visit the best London Parks
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London has such a wide selection of parks that you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to places where you can chillax. Our favourite has to be Richmond Park (at the end of the green district undergroud line), situated on top of Richmond Hill, in, you guessed it, Richmond. The park itself is HUGE, and we mean 2,500 acres huge, so you really can get lost inside. But the best thing about this park is that it contains 3 types of deer (yes really), which roam freely around the park with their young, making a visit here a magical experience. Just make sure you don’t get too near the deer though, as they are known to be a bit grumpy. :)
If you're looking for some parks near the centre of London then we can recommend St. James Park (so you can cross Buckingham palace off your list too) or Hyde Park (that holds the free Winter Wonderland at Christmas) where you can watch roller-skaters perform ticks to music most days. A great hostel to stay in nearby is the Gallery Hyde Park in the heart of London. Don’t forget about Regent’s Park and also Greenwich Park, home to the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum.
Watch Notting Hill Carnival
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Perhaps ‘Carnival’ is not the word that comes to mind when you think of London, but it should! The Notting Hill Carnival takes place every August in West London, bringing a bit of that Caribbean extravagance with all its colour and fabulousness to a city which we have to admit, is pretty grey at times. It will probably rain, but then that’s part of the British experience. If you're from a hotter country, you may even admire the British spirit as daintily-clad women dance along the streets in the bikinis, even though it will probably be only 15 degrees outside at best. But hey, the music and the atmosphere are amazing, and you might even find yourself dancing, too. If you're looking for somewhere to stay nearby the Carnival, we really recommend the Notting Hill Hostel London.
Visit the best free museums in London
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Ah, London, the home of free museums, which is how it should always be, in our opinion. Our top picks for museums are the Natural History Museum (watch out for the robotic dinosaurs) and the Science Museum, which has loads of interactive things to do, which is in theory aimed at children, but which adults always seem to enjoy the most. If you're into jewellery, fashion or pottery, the Victoria and Albert Museum holds a wide range of fascinating collections. Luckily, all of these museums are located just a stoneìs throw from each other, in the wonderful South Kensington area.
If instead, painting and art are your vibes, you can’t miss the National Gallery, or the National Portrait Gallery, conveniently located in Trafalgar Square (also free, of course). You can spend hours getting lost in the endless galleries, which are heated and have free toilets, which is a pretty incredible resource in the winter.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
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If your a fan of the royal family, or indeed anything typically British, the watching the Changing of the Guard is a must. It is typically touristy, and no doubt you will have screaming children and tour groups packed around you, but it is a moment of true Britishness that you can’t miss. The immaculate uniforms, the perfect marching, and the music make it a must-see spectacle, happening right outside the Queen’s house (Buckingham Palace, but we hope you know that already!).
You can also catch a glimpse of the guards changing places at St. James Palace and Wellington Barracks, where you might just see some horses too. You can even take a picture in front of the guards (not the ones at Buckingham palace though) but they are not allowed to speak or look at you.
Tour the Markets of London
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London is full of some amazing markets, where of course you can spend all your cash, or simply have a look around and see what's on offer. Camden is a great place for this - from food stalls to clothes and odd bits and pieces, this whole area of London has a pretty edgy vibe which is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. You can also head over to the Columbia road flower market for some great Instagram pics or the Brick Lane market for random bits and pieces along with some tasty street food. If your a foodie then look out for one of the many farmers' markets across the city, where you can try true homegrown British products at one of the many tasting stalls. You might just find yourself buying something too! One of the many great Hostels right in central Camden is the Smart Camden Inn Hostel.
Take a stroll down the Thames Embankment
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The Embankment runs along the river Thames, and we suggest starting from the London Eye and walking East along the river edge. You can start by watching the dancers, magicians and singers just underneath the London eye, before walking towards Waterloo Bridge. After a while, you will see a mini-beach where artists often create incredible sculptures in the sand and the famous OXO Tower. Continuing down the route you will come across the Shakespeare Globe, a replica of an Elizabethan theatre where Shakespeare's plays would have originally been shown. It’s not free to get in, but you can wander around and see the building from the outside. Continuing down the embankment you will also see the docked HMS Belfast ship, and finally the famous Tower Bridge, for your final photo opportunity.
So, it seems like there is a lot to do in London for free! If you are looking to save a few more pennies, check out our ultra-cheap hostels in London to stay in while you visit, or use the booking form below! If you still need to be convinced that Hostels are the right choice for you, check out our article on Why you should choose a hostel in 7 videos! If, instead you want to find even more free places to visit, then have a quick read of our Off the track tour of South- East London!