Known as the land of the Royals and imposing architectures, London is an iconic and leading global city.
But along these titles, London is considered as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Which is why a lot of travelers get intimidated traveling in this English capital.
However, backpacking in London is still doable if you know where to go. So here are the top 10 free things to do in London, England. Proof that you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money in order to explore – even in an expensive city like London.
10 Free Things To Do In London, England
1. Walk around in Camden Market
Camden Market is a cultural haven for foodies, artists, and music lovers alike. Starting in 1974, the area of Camden Town began to reinvent itself by subletting their old industrial buildings to local artists and craft vendors.
What was once a small, Saturday morning market quickly grew to become the largest market in London, attracting nearly 250,000 visitors per week including from other neighboring cities such as Manchester and York?
Bring your appetite, walking shoes, and people-watching skills. Camden market now holds over 1,000 slots for the most unique street food vendors, vintage clothes and accessory shops, cafes, bars, and live music.
Whether you’re looking for something to either brighten up your palate or your closet, you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy.
Although weekends demonstrate peak hours of activity, you can find Camden Market open 7 days a week, so there’s a good chance you can include the Camden market for your itinerary in London.
2. Visiting Borough Market
London’s most popular food market, Borough Market is loved by Londoners and tourists alike and is a must-visit for anyone who loves great food. The open market area is surrounded by several permanent shops and restaurants that are also worth a visit.
The market offers a huge array of fresh produce – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables – not to mention cheese (such wonderful cheese), charcuterie, bread and bakery items, honey, truffles, coffee and tea, fresh filled pasta, beers, and wines.
Favorites not to miss include Neal’s Yard Dairy, Jumi and The French Comte stall for cheese, Utobeer for a large selection of craft beers, Bread Ahead Bakery for the best doughnuts in London, Turnips for fresh fruit, veg and mushrooms, Tartufaia Truffles for their truffled honey, Furness for game and other meat, and Spice Mountain for a superb range of spices and spice blends.
3. Appreciate the modern arts in Tate Modern
One of the best things about visiting London is how many fabulous museums are free for visitors, and the Tate Modern is no exception. Despite being one of the most famous museums in the world, there’s no admission fee except to go to the special exhibits. The permanent collection is permanently free.
The focus of the museum is modern and contemporary art, with collections on topics like the impact of mass media, using new and unusual materials, and the artist’s role in politics.
Besides visiting the museum itself, the area is fantastic for a walking tour in London and taking in some of the most famous views of the city like St. Paul’s Cathedral directly across the river. Shakespeare’s Globe and London Bridge are both just a short walk away.
4. Enjoy panoramic London in a 360-degree view from Sky Garden
One of the best free things to do in London is to book yourself a visit to the Sky Garden. It offers one of the best views of London’s skyline in 360 degrees panoramic view.
The view of the River Thames to Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and the London Eye is only a portion of what you can see from this amazing garden.
Make sure you enjoy your visit with a glass of bubbles from one of the several Sky Garden bars. Maybe stay longer to enjoy a meal at a Sky Garden restaurant as you watch the sunset over the River Thames. No booking is needed if you want to visit between 7 am to 10 am each day.
The other option is to book a day and time online more suited to your enjoyment. Time slots open on a Monday for bookings one week ahead. So, make sure you have your day and time prepared as the slots go fast.
We chose 4.45 pm in Springtime to enjoy the late evening sun with a drink and nibbles. And with a wonderful sub-tropical garden so high up, a stroll around the Sky Garden is a perfect must-see while in London.
5. Witness the Changing of the Guard
Buckingham Palace is one of the top free things to do in London. It doesn’t matter if you have a week or only few days in London, this iconic landmark in the city is a must.
Buckingham Palace is massively imposing and important looking with its regal gates and large railings surrounding it. This is where the changing of the guard takes place.
The Queens Guards have been watching over the Royal Palaces since 1660. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes, is very traditional and beautifully choreographed.
It pays to check online the times for the changing of the guard as they don’t do it every day. I would also suggest arriving at least 45 minutes before the ceremony, so you get a good spot.
The Changing of the Guard is when the Old Guard passes their duties onto the New Guard. The New Guard marched in at 11 am (sharp) and was accompanied by a military band that even played the James Bond theme.
It was quite an experience standing outside the palace, listening to the band and watching the guards. You forget about the crowds surrounding you.
After the band finished they all marched off again. As they disappeared into the distance and the last strands of the band drifted away, the crowd dispersed, all was calm again.
6. Check out the city view from Madisons Rooftop Bar
7. Stroll along South Bank
South Bank is one of the city’s premier cultural districts and simply begs to be explored. Start off on the south side of Westminster Bridge and enjoy postcard views of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.
After strolling past the London Eye, stop to enjoy street performers and musicians entertaining the crowds.
In warmer months, Underbelly Festival plays host to performances, live acts, and pop-up bars.
Continue to the Southbank Centre, home to galleries, live music and a vibrant street food market (Fri-Sun). Stop at Insta-friendly Southbank Skatepark before browsing books at the daily market under Waterloo Bridge.
Amble on to Gabriel’s Wharf and enjoy stunning views of the Thames and the skyline. There are restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore while artists sculpt elaborate sand sculptures on a small beach.
Look up to see the historic Oxo Tower before making your way to Tate Modern – one of the world’s most famous art galleries.
Next, catch a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe or grab a riverside drink in the 17th century The Anchor pub.
Finish your walk at the renowned Borough Market – where delicious street food and fresh produce await. Ambling along London’s South Bank is one of the best ways to enjoy a few hours in the capital.
8. Check out local produced products in Spitalfield Market
9. Attending Services at St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was designed by Christopher Wren and constructed at the turn of the 18th century, has one of the world’s largest and most famous church domes. While there is an admission fee to tour the Cathedral, there is no fee to attend services.
On our last visit, our family really enjoyed the Choral Evensong service we attended. Before the service began, we had a few minutes to wander around the nave before we took our seats.
We were entranced by the beautiful singing in this stunning English Baroque Cathedral. It was truly an amazing experience to enjoy beautiful music and architecture simultaneously.
10. Climb Primrose Hill
Located on the north side of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill offers one of the most iconic views of London. Purchased from Eton College in 1841 to extend parkland for London residents, Primrose Hill has been a natural historic landmark for centuries.
The steep climb to reach the summit, 63 meters above sea level, is well worth it as 360° panoramic views of London’s skyline awaits.
It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic as one of the best-hidden gems in London, it offers a quiet environment while enjoying London’s skyline.