A Londoner’s Tips on Seeing London for Less
London boasts a very well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities to visit. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to explore the U.K. capital without spending a cent. Here are a few of my favorites:
VISIT A MUSEUM
Some of London’s highest profile collections, including the Natural History, Science, Victoria & Albert and British Museums all have free entry. But there are also plenty of lesser-known gems like Sir John Soane’s museum, the medical paraphernalia in the Wellcome Collection, and the family-friendly Horniman Museum, none of which will cost a penny.
SEE A GALLERY
From Tate Modern and Tate Britain to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, you can visit a string of art galleries without paying an entrance fee, whether you prefer modern artists or classic masters.
HEAD TO THE PARK
You can walk for miles across London and barely step outside the capital’s green spaces. Each park has its own character to discover—have a wander ‘round The Serpentine (a recreational lake in Hyde Park), see the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, or spot pelicans in St. James Park.
ATTEND A CONCERT
Churches including St. Martin’s in the Fields often have free lunchtime classical music concerts, while musicians from the Royal College of Music also perform at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday mornings and stage rush hour concerts at the National Gallery and V&A.
TAKE A TOUR
London Greeters and Discover Walks run bespoke tours by local residents to give you the insider’s view of the city, although you might have to buy the occasional drink. Sandemans New Europe Royal London Tour is also free. You’ll need to book ahead, and tips are encouraged.
DISCOVER THE THAMES
The true heart of London is the river that snakes through its centre. Pack some comfortable shoes and take a walk along the South Bank where you’ll get great views across to Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge, among other iconic spots, with buskers and entertainers to keep you amused in between. In summer, you may even find free deckchairs to relax in as you drink in the city skyline.
VISIT A MARKET
It’s free to look, although you’ll need willpower to resist the vintage treasures at Portobello, quirky jewelry at Spitalfields and Greenwich, and food galore at Borough Market.