Hattie Lloyd 27/03/24

Free Things To Do In London

38 Fantastic Free Things To Do in London | Leave Your Wallet at Home

Some people say the best things in life are free.

And, in all likelihood, those people are probably trying to sell you something.

HOWEVER… it turns out there actually are a great deal of extremely fun, informative, relaxing, fascinating, and endlessly entertaining things going on in this city that actually will cost you no money whatsoever. From concerts, to buried temples, extraordinary museums & art galleries, lush tropical conservatories, and a warehouse full of extraordinary neon, these are the very best free things to do in London…


Beats & Boards | Music & board games at the Tate Modern

tae modern

Haseeb Iqbal is a broadcaster, DJ, writer, and now the man in charge of the Tate Modern’s newest alliterative series of Lates. They’re called Beats & Boards, and they take place at The Corner roughly every other Thursday. Head down, and you’ll be able to play board games (From scrabble, ludo and chess to Ghanian board game Oware and South Asian tabletop game Carrom) while being delightfully entertained by the live DJing.

Details: 2nd, 11th, 18th & 24th April  | The Corner at Tate Modern, SE1 9TG | Free

Lates at Somerset House | A free Shindig in an 18th Century Palace

Somerset House, having been around for about the past two centuries, has gotten into the Lates game rather late. But they’re here now, and they’re great. This spring they’re opening up their iconic courtyard & gallery spaces after hours to provide you with live bands, DJs, inflatable workshops (literally about making giant ballon things), street food from Chubby Dumplings, pop up bars, and more.

Details: 10th April | Somerset House | Free, but booking here is recommended

Women Of The RNLI | No buoys allowed

© Jack Lowe / National Maritime Museum

As of this month, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is putting on a free exhibition showcasing the vital roles women play in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The show will feature not just striking portrait photography (using an old fashioned ‘ambrotype’ camera from the 1850s), but also film and personal testimony too…

Details: Until 1st December 2024 | National Maritime Museum, SE10 9NF

Spies, Lies and Deception | Imperial War Museum

© IWM EPH 178The latest intelligence suggests that the Imperial War Museum have put together a free exhibition all about spies and their clandestine methods. You’ll get to see hidden communications, as well as stories exposing the real people behind these undercover operations, the cool toys they used (like these matches that could be used to write secret messages), secret messages and info about the history of espionage itself.

Details: Until 14th April | The Imperial War Museum | Free

The Cult of Beauty | Wellcome Collection

They’ve tackled Milk, Sight, Air, and Joy, and now it’s time for the Wellcome to tackle another big hitter: Beauty. This vast exhibition corrals over 200 objects to explore how ideals of beauty have evolved over the centuries, and the lengths people will go to to attain them. There are 4,000 year old cosmetics palettes from Ancient Egypt and grim footage of modern-day facelifts, and the exhibits are absolutely fascinating – though there’s a definite subjectivity to the exhibition’s narrative, and not a lot of digging into why we buy into these bizarre notions. But the show’s proclaimed ambition is to provoke a dialogue, so bring a friend, discuss it afterwards… and hope it doesn’t turn ugly.

Details: Until 28th April | Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE



Take In Some of the World’s Most Famous Art

National Gallery

It’s wild when you think how much art you can see for free in London. The old Victorian philanthropic ideals of free access for all have stuck around, and now you can head into the National Gallery, the V&A, Tate Britain, Tate Modern and dozens of other smaller galleries like the Wallace Collection without paying a penny…


Take A Tour Of A London Museum

London is completely spoilt for free museums. There’s the British Museum (which contrary to its name is filled with fascinating objects from around the world); the Natural History Museum (home to animatronic dinosaurs, an earthquake simulator and a dimly-lit library of preserved Victorian worms in jars); and the Science Museum (rockets, steam engines, iron lungs). There’s more unusual ones, too, like the Horniman Museum (which wins points for name alone, if not the overstuffed walrus) and the Wellcome Collection’s unsettling array of 18th century surgical instruments.


£1 Comedy at The Top Secret Comedy Club

cheap comedy shows at Top Secret Comedy Club

£1 for a whole night of comedy?

You must be having a laugh.

Because it’s here that you’ll find line-ups of top-quality comedians off the TV and stand-up circuit – plus drinks so well-priced for London that you’ll find anything funny by the end of the night. And you’ll end up saving enough to make up for your technically-not-free entrance fee.

Details: Every Monday, Saturday & Sunday night The Top Secret Comedy Club, 170 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PD

Pay What You Can For Theatre Tickets

Every Tuesday evening, Hackney’s Arcola Theatre sells Pay What You Can tickets on a first-come, first-served basis – and you fork out whatever you can, no judgement. Find more cheap theatre hacks here
Details: Every Tuesday from 6pm (but aim to queue before then) Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL

Dance To Live Music at Hootananny Brixton

Brixton’s perennially packed live music dance hall, with street food outside and a stage inside, where you can bop along to anything from Balkan gypsy folk to Bhangra hip hop.
Details: Free entry most weekdays and before 9pm on weekends 95 Effra Road, SW2 1DF

Learn Something Niche On A Lunchbreak

V&A Lunchtime lectures - free things to do in London

Swap actual food for food for thought at one of London’s many lunchtime lectures – pick up a bit of art history at the National Gallery, attend a philosophical debate at Conway Hall or hear about the latest discoveries on Mars at Gresham College.

UCL | V&A | National Gallery Conway Hall | Gresham College | The British Academy

Catch A Free Lunchtime Concert at the Royal Academy of Music

Totally free concerts from the next generation of insanely talented musicians, from guitar trios to accordion chamber music.
Details: Certain Tuesdays from 1pm, book ahead Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HT

Explore London’s Secret Gardens

Secret Gardens - free things to do in London

A guide to greenery in London: 1) Hyde Park. 2) Regent’s Park. 3) Hidden walled gardens, canal boat rooftops and an urban community garden on a former railway track…

Browse The Best Food Markets in London

Borough Market


They’re all free to enter, and there’s usually samples to be had if the sight of mountains of cheese is too much to resist.

Enjoy A Stellar View of St Pauls

One New Change View - free things to do in London

The One New Change shopping centre in St. Paul’s has an incredible rooftop viewing platform that manages that rare combination of being both free and relatively uncrowded – head up for a great view of the cathedral dome and sunsets over the Shard.
Details: Open daily, 6am-midnight 1 New Change, EC4M 9AF

Get Down for Free at Pop Brixton

Dancing in a village of shipping containers.

It’s a crate night out.

And surprisingly for a night at such an atmospheric, al fresco venue – packed with pop up street food kitchens and bars – you won’t have to part with any pennies to catch the live musicians and DJs taking to the Pop Brixton stage. And if you’re in need of some restoration the morning after, there’s also regular free tai chi and urban gardening classes.
Details: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ

Get Lost In The Sir John Soane Museum

Sir John Soane Museum free things to do in London this month

The eccentric home of 19th century architect Sir John Soane has been kept exactly the way he left it – with moving walls, a 3000 year old mummy in the basement, and a gothic hideaway for his monk alter-ego, Padre Giovanni.
Details: Open Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP

Wear Shades to God’s Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard

Essentially the modern-day equivalent: a huge, glittering warehouse space crammed with neon signs and artwork collected over decades.
Details: Open Friday – Sunday God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12 Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, E17 9HQ

Visit London’s Silver Vaults

A subterranean treasure trove occupied by expert silversmiths, where you can browse through everything from contemporary jewellery to flamboyant Georgian salt pigs.
Details: Open weekdays 9am-5.20pm, Saturdays 9am-1pm The London Silver Vaults, Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QS

Crane Your Neck at Fitzrovia Chapel

Fitzrovia Chapel - free things to do in London

Image: Colin/Flickr 

Oh, just a secret chapel hidden amongst some Fitzrovia apartment blocks with a completely gold ceiling.
Details: Open Wednesdays 11am-7pm Fitzroy Place, 2 Pearson Square, London W1T 3BF

Design Your Victorian Dream House at the William Morris Gallery

William Morris Gallery

Designer, writer, poet, campaigner: William Morris was a Victorian Renaissance man. You can admire his artwork at his Walthamstow childhood home which is now a free-to-enter museum dedicated to the many facets of his work.
Details: Open Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PP

Bask In A 13-Acre Botanical Garden

Fulham Palace, the official residence of the Bishop of London since the 11th century, has a history stretching back a casual 6,000 years. You can wander round its historic rooms for free, before picknicking in the enormous gardens outside, many of which have been quite beautifully designed.

Details: Open daily | Fulham Palace, Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA

Talk With The Animals at Stepney City Farm

Stepney City Farm - free things to do in London

You can cuddle rabbits, baby goats and lambs. For free.
Details: Open 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Sunday Stepney City Farm, Stepney Way, E1 3DG

Make Up A Secret Handshake at Freemasons’ Hall

Freemasons Hall - free things to do in London

Surprisingly for one of the world’s most famously secretive organisations, you can have a snoop around the grand art deco Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden whenever you like.
Details: Monday-Saturday, 9.30am-5pm | 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ

Revel in the Charms of Kenwood House

kenwood house free admission

A grand stately home atop Hampstead Heath, filled with priceless artwork, insanely beautiful rooms, and no less than 112 acres of gardens.
Details: Open daily, 10am-5pm Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR

Browse the Blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market - free things to do in London

If you can resist the urge to buy multiple succulents, you can enjoy all the bustle of London’s biggest flower market for free.
Details: Sundays 8am-2pm Columbia Road, E2 7RG

Sunbathe in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Rooftop Garden

The perfect spot to take a picnic, the rooftop garden and bar atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank is free to enter, and offers a leafy oasis amidst the brutalist concrete jungle of the Southbank Centre.

Details: Open Wed-Sun Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Take A Stroll Along The Thames

Free things to do in London

Image: Martin Hesketh/Flickr

By a convenient fluke, many of London’s most interesting sights can be found along the river – take the Nudge’s walking tour here.

Head Underground To Roman London

London Mithraem

Image: James Newton

It’s an ancient Roman temple. In London. Plus you can see how much lower the ground was 2000 years ago.
Details: Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm 12 Walbrook, EC4N 8AA

See London From 500ft In The Air

Sky Garden - free things to do in London

Granted, you need to be fairly organised booking tickets for Sky Garden (they’re only released a few days in advance) – but it’s totally worth it to get up to one of the best viewpoints in London for free.
Details: Weekdays 10am-6pm, weekends 11am-9pm – must book ahead HERE Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF

Perambulate the Hampstead Pergola

Hampstead Pergola - free things to do in London

As elevated walkways built by the aristocracy out of rubble from the Northern Line go… this is probably one of the loveliest. Follow our Hampstead Heath Itinerary to carry on from here and find a free miniature zoo, too.
Details: Open daily from 8.30am (closing times vary) The Pergola, Inverforth Close, NW3 7EX

Visit The Terrapins At The Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican

They also have tropical fish, and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees in a very literal concrete jungle.

Details: Open most days, book in advance | Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

Toe-Tap To Live Blues At The Blues Kitchen Camden

Blues Kitchen Camden

Entry’s free most nights of the week… though it’s going to take some willpower to resist the scents of mouthwatering BBQ dishes from the American south wafting out of the kitchen.

Details: Free entry Monday-Thursday | 111-113 Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 7JN

Walk Your Way Through London’s Best Walks

london walks

Simon Wilkes / Unsplash

From the Jubilee Greenway to Richmond Park. Fancy more of a challenge? Step up and try one of these amazing hikes near London


Looking for more things to do in London? Check out our roster of 101 London Date Ideas