The best things in life are free! It is hard to imagine that especially when you visit one of the most expensive places in the world. But, you can still make the most of your visit as London has some fabulous free attractions. Here are some of them which you can enjoy.
1. Walk London– Walking is free, healthy and the streets of London are pedestrian friendly. With the help of a street map (you can download one) you will be surprised how many main sights you can cover and how much more you discover (like charming English pubs) You also experience more of the culture and the mood of this city.2. Free Museums– London has some of the world’s best museums which are an absolute treat for museum lovers. Some of the major museums open to all are the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, National Maritime Museum, Imperial War Museum, Royal Air Force Museum, Museum of London and The Museum of Childhood.
3. Free Art Galleries-If you are an art lover you would not like to miss the amazing display of world class art works at some of the art galleries like The National Gallery(at Trafalgar Square), Tate Britain and the Tate Modern . (No ticket required)
4. Free Parks, gardens and open spaces– Some spectacular Royal Parks/gardens open to public are the Regent’s Park (It has the Queen Mary’s Garden with an astonishing collection of roses) St James’s Park, Richmond Park, Hyde Park (The Diana Memorial Fountain is located here) and the Kensington Gardens. Hampstead Heath is one of London’s best open and green spaces with fantastic views .You can spend some time with the ducks in the lakes there and feed them too.
5. Free sights-Some of London’s free and must see attractions are Southbank- London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and River Thames, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and the Buckingham Palace (from outside).You can get yourself photographed against these stunning backdrops. You can also get a souvenir picture standing besides the red telephone box on the streets of Central London.
6. Free events –The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place every morning just outside the Buckingham Palace.
There is a spectacular display of fireworks during Diwali just outside the beautiful Swaminarayan Temple and during New Year’s Eve at Southbank. These are not to be missed.
The Notting hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street carnival. It is celebrated every August on the streets of West London with a Caribbean theme, steel bands and calypso music. Chinese New Year celebration in Trafalgar Square and Chinatown is another must see event. Everyone is free to join the celebrations.
7. Poppy Day Parade– Remembrance Day or Poppy Day is in memory of those who gave their lives in the First and Second World War and paying a tribute to them. It is a formal parade of the Royal family members along with former and current servicemen and women. The event is free to attend and is a unique experience.
8. Food browsing-You can spend some pleasurable hours wandering around London’s markets and departmental stores and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Borough Market, Portobello Road Market and Camden Market are the most popular.
Selfridges and Harrods’s are high end department stores. Visiting their food halls is an absolute must. Luxury and gourmet food, chocolate and confectionary range are mind boggling and a feast for the eyes. Food lovers will get a ‘food museum’ experience.
9. Free bites and drink – You can taste some free yummy nibbles especially around Diwali and Christmas in some of London’s shopping centres and supermarkets- assortment of nuts ,chocolates , biscuits, cheese, rice cakes, mince pies, juice and wine being some of them.
10.Window shopping– You can go window shopping in the busiest shopping areas- the Oxford Street and the Regents Street or some of the luxury shopping areas-Knightsbridge, Bond Street and Mayfair. These can give you an extraordinary experience. You can spend an entire day looking at high fashion designer wear, luxury gifts and goods, the latest international brands and a wide range of high end beauty, cosmetics and jewellery.
11. Free cosmetic makeovers– Some shopping centres and luxury departmental stores offer makeovers-hair styling and make-up at no cost. So, if you’re looking for fun or want to look your very best, you can decide on the look you want and get yourself a makeover.
12. Free entertainment – One can get great entertainment from street performers (without any charge) displaying their talent to hundreds of passers-by every day. They are seen at some of the underground tube stations, Southbank and Covent Garden. Some of the most common ones you will find are musicians playing musical instruments, opera singers, jugglers, and acrobats. Some are also seen dressed up as statues and mimicking famous personalities like Charlie Chaplin and some cartoon characters.
13. Free libraries– If you are looking for a quiet place to work or to browse books (without borrowing) certain public libraries have free entrance.
14. Free newspaper– Certain newspapers are available free at London’s tube stations. If you are travelling in the morning, you can pick up a copy of a newspaper just before boarding the tube at London’s underground tube stations.
15. Shri Swaminarayan Temple– The largest Hindu temple in London is the Swaminarayan Temple. You will be astounded by the exotic design, workmanship and the peaceful atmosphere. There is no entrance fee.
16. Free Festive Fun– If you are in London around Christmas time, your trip would not be complete without a visit to Central London to see the Christmas lights and window displays in department stores.
If you want to soak more of the festive atmosphere, you can choose to go to Christmas markets in Southbank and the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which have a free entry only.
You can listen to Christmas songs playing in the background and sung live with musicians. You can enjoy the crisp winter air as you walk leisurely around the Christmas markets full of traditional Christmas decorations, accessories and handicrafts. You can even meet Santa in his grotto absolutely free .If you are lucky enough to visit when it is snowing it is even more attractive.
Wherever you may be in London, if it is snowing, don’t forget to build that snowman!