There is a common consent among travelers that London is an expensive city to visit, but you can skip tough expenses on admission tickets or booking tours when you know that you can enjoy so much of the city’s best experiences free of charge. History, art, music, food, or children’s activities, these suggestions will round out any visit to London
There’s something for all ages here, whether you love the dinosaurs, the vault filled with jewel, or a quiet moment in the outdoor garden. If kids are in tow, visit the information desk to snag a free Explorer Backpack, packed with themed activity guides, binoculars, and a safari hat.
A department store which is an attraction unto itself. It’s the biggest one in Europe: Harrods measures a million square feet with 330 departments. You could spend all day wandering through the seven floors, so grab one of the little booklets with a map located by all the entrances. You don’t have to come to this luxury paradise with a full wallet—treat it like a living museum, a prime spot for browsing over-the-top items. And at night, when the exterior is all lit up, it’s truly a sight.
Just a few blocks from Oxford Circus is the BBC Broadcasting House, where you can be in the studio audience for free tapings for shows. You can request tickets online, but plan ahead—popular shows fill up quickly.
Visiting London during the holiday season? Stop by Hyde Park and visit Winter Wonderland with the family (it runs Nov. 21–Jan. 4). It’s extra to ride the observation wheel, ice skate, or visit the ice kingdom, but general admission is free.
The famed Borough Market turned 1,000 in 2014, but it’s as lively a market scene as ever. Browse the cheeses, gourmet candy, and baked goods in the full market, which runs Wednesday through Saturday; it’s also open for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays. If the crowds get to you, try the Spa Terminus Market instead.
If celeb spotting and autograph seeking is your thing, a movie premiere at Leicester Square is the place to go. Check out the listings of upcoming movie premieres, see which stars will be attending, then stake out your spot by the red carpet.
If you’re in London with kids, there’s nothing better than visiting a playground during warmer months. This particular spot, named for the late princess, is one of the best—inspired by Peter Pan, with a giant pirate ship in the center and mini gardens surrounding it. You could spend an entire afternoon here.
If you’ve dreamed of seeing a performance at the Royal Opera House but don’t have room in your budget for tickets, stop by on a Monday for a free lunchtime recital. Tickets are available online or day of at the box office. Grab some lunch just before or after the show at nearby Covent Garden.
Boasting a collection of more than 150 million items, there’s no shortage of reading material at the British Library. History buffs can examine the Magna Carta, handwritten lyrics by John Lennon, or manuscripts ofAlice’s Adventures Under Ground.
Londoners love Hampstead Heath, and for good reason: There are three swimming ponds, a tiny (free) zoo, plenty of playgrounds, and Kenwood House, a recently restored villa full of world-class art. (It makes an appearance in the film Notting Hill.) It’s a quick trip by bus or Tube from central London, and the views of the city are stunning.
St. Martin in the Fields is one of the most famous churches in London, and it’s also the perfect place to catch a free afternoon concert in Trafalgat Square. Afterward, pop into the nearby National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery, which both offer free admission.
This interactive museum has a new gallery that covers 200 years of information and communication technology, offers a comprehensive look at 3D printing, and has puppet theaters for tiny children—it’s a win-win for all ages. There are hundreds of hands-on exhibits and daily free shows and demonstrations, so there’s never a dull moment here.