The dirty little secret about London is that you can actually do a lot of awesome things without spending a penny…you just need to know how to do it right, and today I am sharing a few of my favourites things to do in London for free.
THINGS TO DO IN LONDON FOR FREE
- Nice view of London? It’s free from the Heath and Primrose Hill. Put together a little picnic and feel like a true Londoner. You can also sign up for the Sky Garden – but promise me you only would go there for the free view – it’s a bit of a let down if you go there for any other reason!
- In and around London there are countless historic houses and mansions you can visit to learn more about how the 1% lived, but the downside is that they generally come with a hefty price tag to match! Luckily there are a few you can sneak in and visit for free: Kenwood House in Highgate, Sir Joane Museum in Holborn, Wallace Collection in Marylebone and Fulham Palace & Garden in Putney.
- Situated in a former Art Deco department store in Kensington, Japan House offers a selection of workshops and talks including Ainu patterns embroidery, sake tasting and Shinto calligraphy which can temporarily transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun. Sign up to their newsletter and stay updated on their free workshops.
- On Wednesdays and Sundays, sports apparel chain Lululemon runs free yoga and pilates classes in some of their selected stores. You can check the type of class, the locations as well as book online.
- Of course a lot of museums and galleries are free in London and they are actually well worth your time. From modern art at Tate Modern and dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum to what UK stole from the rest of the world and displays in the British Museum.
FREE TOURS IN LONDON
- Expensive sightseeing bus tours? Nah! Hop on bus number 11 or 24, take your own tour and save 15 pounds…These lines drive past the famous landmarks like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Bank of England. And they don’t come with that annoying loud guy or the live commentator that makes you awkwardly feel like you have to laugh at the bad jokes. Beware though, buses don’t accept cash, so you gotta reach for an oyster or contactless credit card for which a single bus journey is £1.50.
- There are also free walking tours. I’ve done the Sandeman New Europe free tour a few times and it’s quite entertaining. Don’t sneak off without tipping though.
- You might know that Apple offers its tutorials and workshops for their core products and services…but way more interesting way more interesting are their Photography on Location and Framing Architecture photo walks, where you’ll learn to shoot better on your phone, see more of the city AND get some Instagram content. The workshops are free, but it seems you need to have an Apple ID to take part, and book online.
FREE AND CHEAP MUSIC & MOVIES IN LONDON
- Obviously you can watch movies on your tablet/laptop, but if you feel like going to the cinema it doesn’t have to be expensive. During summer there are several free films screenings throughout the city. Year-round you can get pretty cheap tickets at cinemas like Peckham Multiplex (£4.99 for a ticket) and the more central Genesis (£3.99 every Wednesday). Keep in mind that they are not uber modern cinemas, but they do have their own charms.
- Or if you are staying in London for a longer time sign up to Show Film First where you get invites to film and musical previews. It’s a first serve first go, but might be worth checking out.
- Like music? Concerts can be ridiculously expensive, but pubs like Old Blue Last, Shacklewell Arms, the Lexington, Birthdays and 100 Club often put on gigs. You might spot the next best thing and brag about it to your friends that you saw them play in that little venue. Are you more of a classical/opera type? Then head to Trafalgar Square, where occasionally show live performances from the Royal Opera House on a big screen – this could be the only place you could jump in a fountain while watching an opera!
- Every day, TV shows like Graham Norton and X Factor need live studio audiences and you can be part of it! Here are is an overview of where and how. I went to the Graham Norton Show and it’s still one of my favourite things I’ve done in London. Graham is everything you expect and more in real life and with his beard he is even more awesome.
FOOD FOR (ALMOST) FREE IN LONDON
Use apps like Too Good To Go to stop food waste. You’ll have to be a bit flexible, but you can eat nice things and save lots of money. On here you’ll find chains like Paul, Costa and Benugo who do evening pick-up which you can keep for breakfast. But there are also independent places on offer too. Or why not pick up something from hotel chains like Mercure, Ibis and even Citizen M and have it as a late breakfast or early lunch treat?If you’re less picky about your lunch, why not go for a traditional meal deal at one of the supermarkets or Boots? A meal deal is one of those UK things you’ll have to try at least once. It will get you 1 packaged sandwich or sub or salad + 1 snack + 1 drink for £3. It’s not going to wow your tastebuds, but it’s damn good for the price.
A free nutritious meal? With cake? Yes! You sure it’s for free? There’s no catch? Really sure? YES! As part of the Krishna Food for Life project they provide free vegetarian meals outside the SOAS uni building everyday at 1 PM – you’ll see the queue and food cart. It’s also on offer at LSE – near Aldwych and Holborn.Install the Refill app so you can refill your reusable water bottle at places like Leon, Tate and Starbucks. Save money, save the planet.