London on a Budget - Top Free Attractions

2 February 2014
Read Time: 1.7 mins

Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth visit to London, you are guaranteed to discover something new. From world-class art and design, to history, shopping, performance, and the great outdoors, London has an incredible array of attractions to keep you busy. Best of all, most of these sites are completely free to visit. Here are some of the best freebies in London.

 The Changing of the Guards

The National Gallery
Presiding over Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a vast collection of paintings by artists including Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Cezanne. If contemporary art is more your thing, you should head straight to the Tate Modern. Admission fees apply for special exhibitions here, but the permanent collection – featuring works by Warhol, Matisse and Pollock – is completely free.

Borough Market
Foodies flock to Borough Market to browse colourful stalls piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, gourmet meats, condiments and more. The vibrant atmosphere and delicious flavours make Borough Market a must do for visitors and locals alike. Other popular London markets include Portobello Road Market in trendy Notting Hill, which is best for fashion, jewellery and antiques, and the wonderful Columbia Road flower market.

The Changing of the Guard
This military tradition is an absolute must-see, particularly for anyone with an interest in the British royal family. The Queen’s Guard, dressed in their iconic red tunics and bearskin hats, changes inside the gates at Buckingham Palace at 11.30am daily in summer, and every second day in winter. Arrive early to get a good spot outside the gates and enjoy the show.

British Museum
It would easy to spend several days exploring this mammoth museum, with star attractions including Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, and treasures of ancient Rome and Persia. Entry is free and there are also free 20-minute guided tours to get you started. There are several other museums in London that are well worth a look. For a fascinating journey through the history of this great city, check out the Museum of London; if you prefer decorative arts and design, make sure you visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Thames
The River Thames wends through the centre of London, and many of the city’s major attractions can be found along the riverbank. Don’t miss the iconic Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament on the river’s northern side. Meanwhile, South Bank is a wonderful place for a stroll, with many great restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues. On weekends, you will often find talented street performers outside the National Theatre.

Parks and Gardens
London has more green space than just about any city in the world, with plenty of options for picnicking in summer, or long rambling walks in winter. Regent’s Park is home to the beautiful Queen Mary's Rose Gardens, while James's Park offers fantastic views of Buckingham Palace. Kids will love the famous Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens, while hikers will relish the rolling hills of Hampstead Heath.

Madeleine Lipson

Madeleine has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. You might find her climbing a volcano, wandering through an art gallery, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, or lazing under a palm tree with a good book.