London breaks visitors bank accounts. The British pound may be down but it’s still not cheap to spend a holiday in this vibrant city of eight million inhabitants. So, it’s a good thing there are ample amounts of activities in town where you need not spend a pence. In fact, London might be the best city on the planet for cost-free fun.
View a Google Maps list of some of the best free things to do in London.
God’s Own Junkyard
The late owner of this shop used to make neon signs for strip clubs and brothels in Soh—as one does—and then transitioned to making signs for bigtime Hollywood filmmakers. Today the shop is made up of a divine collection of whimsical neon signs. And you don’t have to just look. If the spirit moves you, you can take home your very own neon sign.
Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St.
In the 19th century, families used to have picnics in cemeteries. Not because they particularly enjoyed communing with the dead but because the verdant swaths of land were a peaceful place to chill out on a Sunday. We’re not suggesting you bring lunch to Highgate Cemetery but it is worth a tranquil stroll. After all, you can pay your respects to people like Karl Marx, writer Douglas Adams, historian Eric Hobsbawm and singer George Michael. It’s also supposedly very haunted!
Houses of Parliament
Did you wake up this morning in London and think: I really want to see British democracy in action. Well, today is your lucky day. At least if you reserved in advance. You can have access to the neo-Gothic splendor of the Houses of Parliament. Don’t miss out on this unique experience.
Mudchute Park and Farm
Heavy petting, anyone? Located in East London, animal lovers will dig this petting zoo where rare breeds of certain beasts—ponies, goats, llamas, donkeys—are awaiting your attention. In all, there are 100 animals, making Mudchute one of the largest urban farms in Europe. Make sure you arrive before 4 p.m., as the animals are often weary-eyed by the afternoon.
State-run museums in London are free! Even the fantastic British Museum and the Tate Modern. If we had to choose just one – and we don’t really have to – it would be the National Gallery. Because where else can you be lingering in a square – in this case Trafalgar Square – and then approximately 72 seconds (and no money spent) later, you’re standing in front of a Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Picasso, Dürer, Breughel, Monet, or Rubens, among others? Answer: nowhere else but here.
Portobello Road Market
Everyone should go to Notting Hill at least once. And you don’t have to be a fan of the movie—the travel bookstore set in the film, by the way, is long gone. The atmospheric market—go on Saturday when it is at its most bustling—is fun to wander and see the antiques people are selling and buying.
This sacred spot began life in the beginning of the 12th century—yep, that makes it over 900 years old—making it one of the oldest religious structures in the city and the first Gothic church in London. Have a peek inside to gawk at the stunning medieval interior.