The 5 best free days out in London
1. Do a tour of London’s free museums, starting with the Science Museum
London is packed with free museums to keep you busy, and if you head to South Kensington you can do three of the biggest and best in one hit. The Science Museum is packed to the rafters with things to see and do, including special exhibitions and screenings, and entry is free unless you want to visit the Wonderlab. Just over the road is the Natural History Museum, which has millions of items on show covering botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology, as well as world-famous dinosaur skeletons. Then, if you’re not done with museums just yet, head a bit further down the road to the Victoria & Albert Museum – the world’s leading museum of art and design.
2. Spend a summer’s day at Hyde Park
London’s eight Royal Parks are a top choice for free days out in London, and Hyde Park has got to be one of the best. It’s right in the centre of London, and it’s absolutely huge at 350 acres – you can easily spend all day here and not cover all of it. On a sunny day, head to the Diana Memorial Fountain or take the kids over to the amazing pirate-themed playground near Kensington Palace. Then, settle down for a picnic lunch by the water of the Serpentine lake and bask in the sunshine all afternoon. Buckingham Palace is in next-door Green Park, which is easy to walk to from Hyde Park. Read more on the best Royal Parks to visit in London.
3. Go window shopping at Regent Street and Mayfair
Regent Street is a haven for designer labels, and next-door Mayfair takes the luxury levels up a notch with a range of upmarket boutiques. If you’re a fashion lover, go window shopping and browse super high-end labels to get styling ideas at places like Louis Vuitton, then search out the high-street equivalents over on Oxford Street for a fraction of the price. Likewise, you can pop into places like Jo Malone for a spritz of the latest scents without spending a penny, and you may even be able to pick up some free samples. Follow Regent Street from the northern end down to Piccadilly Circus, cut through Mayfair, then you’ll end up at Green Park – the perfect place for a picnic lunch.
4. Visit The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a great place to start if you want to tick off London’s landmarks. Start off with a free visit to The National Gallery, then head outside to eat your lunch by the fountains of Trafalgar Square – there are always buskers and performance artists to entertain the crowds. In the afternoon, wander north and you’ll find bustling Leicester Square – it’s always a hive of activity, but particularly if there’s a film premier on. Or, head in the opposite direction and you’ll arrive in the heart of Westminster, where Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament take centre stage. There are lots of free walking tours of the area, but if really you want to get the most from your day, book a bargain London bus tour ticket with megasightseeing.com and you’ll see up to 50 London landmarks in two hours. Think Tower of London, London Eye and St Paul's Catherdral to name a few!
5. Spend a day on the South Bank, then cross over to Covent Garden
Head south of the Thames and London’s South Bank is buzzing place to be, especially in summer. There are lots of places to sit and eat by the banks of the Thames if you bring food from home, or cheap street eats if you want to push the boat out. You’ll find tucked-away skate parks, some amazing views of London’s skyline, and loads of events – many of which are free – happening at the South Bank Centre. When you’re done exploring south London, cross Waterloo Bridge and pretty soon you’ll find yourself at Covent Garden. Sit in the square opposite the Punch & Judy pub and watch the street performers wowing the crowds.