7 free things you need to do in London
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have an exciting time in London. Take a look at our top picks for things to do in London, from walking around the National Gallery in the heart of central London to walking down the quieter streets of Little Venice. There’s something for everyoen in the capital, let us help you find it.
Free entertainment in London
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Following the London 2012 Games, the Olympic Park was transformed into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a thriving location that encourages all sorts of family-friendly activities. There’s Tumbling Bay Playground in the north of the park, which features rock pools, sand pits, treehouses, slides, wobbly bridges and plenty of space for the little ones to run around. There’s even a piece of modern art there, Heather and Ivan Morrison’s Cross and Cave sculpture.
That’s not the only part of the park with art featured in it, there are so many hidden artworks dotted around. Art in the Park is one of the free trail guides offered. Set off on an adventure and discover all the pieces that you can. If art’s not your thing, then there’s three other free trails for you to choose from: London 2012, Parkland and Wildlife, and Children’s Adventures in the Park.
The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit is another invigorating thing to try out at the park. You will have to pay, mind, but it’s not going to break the bank!
Little Venice to Camden
One of London’s prettiest walks follows alongside Regent’s Canal, from peaceful waters to bustling markets, this stroll has it all.
Along the way you’ll encounter numerous brightly coloured canal boats moored beside the waterway. Each is unique, some are covered in action figures, and others have sofas stuck to their roofs. One of the most intriguing sections of the walk are the canalside gardens, a haven for plants of all shapes and sizes.
Once you’ve reached Camden, why not grab a bite to eat at a street food outlet, explore the market stalls filled with an array of bizarre objects or have a wander down some side streets on the lookout for graffiti art.
The closest tube station to Little Venice is Warwick Avenue and, if you’d like to begin in Camden, the closest tube station is Camden Town.
Located in the heart of Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is a favourite for locals and tourists alike, you could spend hours getting lost down the hallways of this enormous building filled with stunning paintings.
Showcasing more than 2,000 works from the Middle Ages to 1900 from artists like Hans Holbein the Younger, Claude Monet, Michelangelo, Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh, the National Gallery is a sanctuary for art lovers and one of London’s must-see free attractions.
Royal Greenwich Park and the National Maritime Museum
Grab a picnic blanket, relax and experience breath-taking panoramic views across the city from this stunning royal park. This is where East meets West, the home of longitude and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
This historically rich location, which has the Prime Meridian line running through it and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also features lively markets, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and royal deer that are descendants of Henry VIII’s hunting stock.
One of the best parts of Greenwich, however, is that it houses the National Maritime Museum which is free to enter. It contains fabulous art and insights into maritime culture and history. Discovering Greenwich is a full day out, an ideal trip for all the family or anybody with a keen interest in ships, the ocean and British art.
The Royal Courts of Justice
The Royal Courts of Justice, or London’s High Court, is an enchanting, Gothic building on Fleet Street where you can look around for free and even sit in on a court case!
With soaring arches, detailed stained glass windows, a mosaic marble floor and mazes of corridors, this is perhaps London’s best kept secret. The majestic building is where criminals come to challenge their original sentences, and witnessing a live court case is a thrill for both young and old.
Immerse yourself in the history of the courts and the stunning 19th-century architecture – this needs to be on your London bucket list.
The Royal Courts of Justice is located on The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL. The closest tube station is Temple.
An icon on the riverside dedicated to all things international modern and contemporary art, the Tate Modern is a spacious, vibrant space that has recently been extended to include an open viewing terrace, boasting 360-degree views of the capital, on the top floor of the Blavatnik Building.
Once a power station, the Tate Modern is now a cultural hub and every year a prominent artist transforms its cavernous Turbine Hall. Currently, the work of Danish art trio Superflex, known for their playful and political large-scale works, is in residence.
One of The Tate Modern’s exciting free exhibitions that is on until July 2019 is Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33, where you can encounter the uncanny and mysterious through the art of the Weimar Republic for free.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum was always the most radical of the major Victorian museums, installing gas lighting so evening sessions could be attended by the working classes – nowadays, it is known as one of the most beautiful, a picture-perfect location for the social media generation. From the immense light hangings and neon signs that decorate the museum itself, to the exhibitions which include sculptures, paintings, jewellery ceramics, theatre designs and textiles, the V&A really is a feast for the eyes.
It is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without at least a few hours spent inside this magnificent place.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A, is located on Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL. The closest tube station is South Kensington.