London for free: how to see the capital without spending a penny
Discover London’s world-class museums
Almost all museums in London have free admission, but there are a couple that should be top of your list. At the Natural History Museum you can see a ‘real’ roaring T. rex and the skull of a Triceratops in the Dinosaurs Gallery. The Science Museum, meanwhile, is must-visit for any fans of astronaut, Tim Peake. Here you can explore rockets, satellites and the actual Apollo 10 capsule.
Visit the King
For a slice of quintessential Britishness, don’t miss the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Watch the soldiers in their red tunics and black bearskin hats march outside the palace, accompanied by a military band, as one regiment takes over from another. Check the timings of the ceremony – which change according to the season – before you arrive. That way you’re guaranteed a good view.
Wander along the South Bank
Fancy yourself as a bit of an urban rambler? Spend a few hours walking along the South Bank and take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks. Look out for St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Oxo Tower and the National Theatre. Teens will love the unofficial skate park under the Southbank Centre, and there are plenty of restaurants along the route if you want to stop for food.
Catch the Hogwarts Express
Fans of Harry Potter – young and old – should get down to King’s Cross station. Here you can be snapped pushing half a trolley through a wall to the magical Platform 9 3/4. The pics are free if you take them yourself, although you may have to queue for your turn. Don’t forget to visit the Harry Potter Shop next door to stock up on all things wizard.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden
Head to Covent Garden, browse through the tiny stalls in the piazza, and do a bit of window-shopping of the big-name brands. Then, find a place to perch and check out the buskers and street performers surrounding the market building. With magicians, living statues and aspiring singers vying for your attention, you’ll be entertained for hours – minus the price of a theatre ticket.
Stay late at the Tate
Get your culture fix for free with a visit to the renowned Tate Modern. Start with the always-intriguing installation in the huge Turbine Hall – previous exhibits include Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds. Then discover works by Picasso, Dalí, Warhol and Cézanne. After all those freebies, you can treat yourself to a drink at the bar with an unbeatable view of London.
And if you do have some extra cash to spend, check out our city guide for more things to do in the capital.
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Already booked or thinking about a trip to Glasgow? We've summed up what you can do there without spending a penny too in our Glasgow for free guide. Happy reading!
First published on 28th July 2017