London – when we think about this extraordinary city, glamour comes to mind: restaurants, parties, raves, events and rooftop bars. For locals, on the other hand, high price expenses gloom upon them: rent, transport and bills. Subtracting all of these from your wallet doesn’t leave much, if not a couple of coupons for the meal deal from your local Tesco. It’s Thursday, and you’re planning your weekend with your friends – maybe some exploring? How about some culture with that booze? You just want to sit back and relax before going back to your frantic life on Monday, but everything seems to be a weight on your pocket. Let us help with 10 of the best free things to do in London (YES, they do exist and NO, they do not require money).

1. National Gallery

National Gallary
Credit: National Gallery Facebook

Where: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN

Nearest tube station: Charing Cross

For those who sleep, breathe, and eat art, there isn’t a place to visit in London for free that is more magical than the National Gallery. Situated in Trafalgar Square, this building has been alive and thriving since 1824. It hosts a collection of over 2,300 paintings from the mid-13th century to the 20th. Names like Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, John Constable, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet and Turner are featured in this museum. The National Gallery is entirely free, every day of the week and every day of the year, but it is also possible to book exhibitions which will have a small entrance fee. You can also find a café and a gift shop in which you can buy a pocket-sized version of your favourite painting. The National Gallery is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm, except for Fridays when the closing time is 9 pm. It’s definitely worth a visit; whether you like art or you’re not a fan, the National Gallery will not disappoint you.

2. Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park
Credit: Greenwich Park Facebook

Where: Greenwich Park, London SE10 8QY

Nearest station: Maze Hill

As one of the best free things to do in London, this extraordinary park will leave you breathless. A former hunting park, Greenwich Park is one of the largest green spaces in London, covering more than 74 acres: colossal! Gigantic! A small city in Italy! If you’re willing to take a hike and reach the top (I suggest preserving your breath and not talking too much to your friends on the way up there), you will enjoy one of the best views in London, guaranteed. In front of you, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf will provide an excellent photo for your Instagram feed, especially at sunset! Prepare a couple of sandwiches, bring with you some chips and some drinks, lay down a blanket and enjoy a picnic with a view. There are no gates, and no opening or closing hours, so you are free to have a little late nap as well – ever heard of anything better?

3. Tate Modern

Tate Modern
Credit: Tate Facebook

Where: Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

Nearest tube station: Waterloo

Talking to art lovers again, you can’t miss the Tate if you’re looking for places to visit in London for free. Consisting of four art museums, loved by the British for their innovation and modern look on art galleries, this iconic building is situated on the South Bank. It was founded in 1897 and, despite not being a Government Institution, its main sponsor is the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Tate Modern hosts the UK’s national collection of British art and international and contemporary art. As you might see from its Facebook page, this museum lived through some rough patches in history, including both World Wars, where it had to close for five consecutive years and move all its art to underground Piccadilly for safekeeping. Names like Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali’ and Lucio Fontana are featured in the museum – a paradise for modern art lovers, especially because it is free. Just like the National Gallery, here you can find a cosy café where you can enjoy a drink while typing away on your computer about how much you love art, as well as a gift shop in case you would like a Dali’ on top of your bed.

4. Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park

Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park

Where: London Borough of Camden

Nearest tube station: Camden Town

Talking about picnics, parks and views, Primrose Hill and the adjacent Regent’s Park are unmissable when looking for the best things to do in London for free. With clear paths throughout and green spaces as big as football fields, you have it all. Take a hike and walk on top of Primrose Hill to enjoy the most beautiful view of London on the platform provided with benches and chairs for your own comfort while enjoying the O2 Arena, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and more. Also, literature nerds like me can enjoy a quote by William Blake engraved in stone: ‘I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill’. But what makes it different from Greenwich Park, discussed above? Besides being directly connected to the famous Camden Market and Camden Canal, you can enjoy your New Year’s Eve in Primrose Hill. If your pocket feels iffy about paying the mighty fee to stand on Westminster Bridge, being elbowed by thousands of strangers, to enjoy the fireworks, you can comfortably watch them sitting on a bench in Primrose Hill with a nice bottle of wine and some friends. Highly recommended.

5. British Museum

British Museum
Credit: British Museum Facebook

Where: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road

Displaying more than 80,000 objects (that don’t even make the 1% of objects in its possession, which are eight million) the British Museum is one, if not the most famous museum in London and one of the best places to visit in London for free. This completely free London attraction allows you to travel through time, from the Egyptian mummies, through Samurai armours, Anglo-Saxon burial treasures to the Rosetta Stone. Here is displayed even the famous Standard of Ur which we always see in history textbooks. You can also book free tours. Fun fact: if you are interested in looking at history through the eyes of your own religious beliefs, you can book a tour with a guide that will walk you through objects relevant to your religion’s history (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, etc).

6. Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Where: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD

Nearest tube station: South Kensington

Next on our list of the best free things to do in London is the Natural History Museum. Situated in one of the most glamorous areas in West London, the Natural History Museum is a feast for the eyes. With its extraordinary architecture, this free London attraction will take you through natural history as you’ve never seen it before. Giant tanks with prehistorical fish, true-to-size reconstructions of dinosaurs, an automated Tyrannosaurus Rex with reconstructed vocal cords, and even a real-life representation of the earthquake that struck Japan in 2008. You can watch a video of falling objects in a supermarket in Japan while the ground is shaking underneath your feet, leaving you disoriented and with jelly legs. It is interactive, you can touch, feel, push, drag, and draw. The right balance between educational and terrifying. Also, completely free. If you have a little time to spare and outside the cold is sharp, you can pop on your ice skates and go ice skating right underneath the museum. You can’t miss it, there is a giant Christmas tree!

7. Sky Garden

Sky Garden

Where: 1 SKY GARDEN WALK, London EC3M 8AF

Nearest tube station: Bank

Moving on from museums and parks, we land on rooftop bars. But they are expensive, aren’t they? Between getting there, and ordering drinks that are £15 each, you will spend a fortune. And sometimes, quite frankly, the view isn’t even that great. What if you can get on one of the tallest buildings in London, right in the heart of the city, for free? It sounds like fantasy, but it is very real. The Sky Garden is one of the best places to visit in London for free. Situated in a skyscraper that Londoners like to call Walkie Talkie for its shape, is one of the highest points where you can see London from. Completely free, you have to book in advance because the available slots are limited. Great spot for your Instagram pictures, under these pink lights you will look wonderful and your DMs will be flooded with requests – they all will want to know where you are. It is usually open from 7 am to 1 am, except for weekends when it closes around 12 am. But hey, the night is young and after a little bit of sky gardening, you can always enjoy a local nightclub with no entrance fee.

8. Portobello Road

Portobello Road
Credit: Portobello Road Facebook

Where: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Nearest tube station: Notting Hill Gate

If you had a crush on Hugh Grant since your teenage years and cannot be more obsessed with him, you cannot miss Portobello Road. As the setting for the renowned film Notting Hill, Portobello Road is one of the most famous streets in London and one of the best places to visit in London for free. With its colourful houses, quirky shops and interesting spots, it cannot be missed. Pictures are mandatory. Once again, for literature nerds, George Orwell, author of 1984, lived here. Portobello Road hosts one of the most famous markets in London, the Portobello Market, where you can find antiques and objects from all over the world, but also fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. You don’t need to spend money though; you can also enjoy the view and snap a couple of pictures for your friends at home. Hurry up though … shops close at 6 pm, and on Sundays sometimes they don’t open. If you want the full Notting Hill effect, visit on a rainy day – you will have plenty anyway. Don’t forget to snap a picture with the tube station sign that says Notting Hill, how are you supposed to brag about meeting Hugh Grant with your friends otherwise?! (Totally not true, and totally will not happen, but they don’t know that).

9. Borough Market

Borough Market

Where: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL

Nearest tube station: London Bridge

If you want to feel like you’re browsing through an exotic market on the other side of the world, you can’t miss the chance to visit Borough Market. Situated under a maze of Victorian railway arches, it is one of the biggest and most prolific markets in London and one of the best things to do in London for free. Are you a food lover? Do you call yourself a food lover and food expert but just love eating? Borough Market has everything you need – from grab-and-go anything (breakfast, lunch AND dinner) to little stands trying to sell their food, keep an eye on free samples. After all, there is nothing better than free food – you can’t feel guilty about something you didn’t pay for; it was offered! What would you do, refuse? The entrance is completely free, and it is open from Monday to Saturday.

10. East London street art

East London Street Art

Where: Hackney

Nearest station: Shoreditch

Checking out street art os one of the best free things to do in London. Street art is prolific in London, especially in the East, and especially in Shoreditch. One of the quirkiest and most hipster places in London, you can enjoy all kinds of street art in this area. You will not need to venture into the veins and the arteries of the city, just to look at a painted wall; the street art is extremely well made and it is for everyone to see and admire, existing on every building in the area. Shoreditch is famous for its nightlife and its hipster personality and you will not be disappointed. Looking like it’s wearing a giant beanie and going around by skateboard, Shoreditch is filled with young creatives and trendsetters – fashion designers and writers especially like to inhabit this area. Don’t be shy and give it a visit, it is a judgemental-free zone – it does not matter if you’re not on trend or if you’re not wearing the latest Gucci collection, they will be busy making this place incredible, avant-garde and unique anyway.