You truly can never tire of things to do in London. But we can tire very easily of how expensive days out in London have become.
And yet the good news is that when we start looking there are actually loads of brilliant free things to do in London.
And not just London’s big free museums which are unquestionably brilliant but also rammed full of everyone else trying to enjoy a free day out in London.
When we start looking there are loads of other truly amazing free museums in London that aren’t chock-a-block even on rainy days. And there are free historic houses with gorgeous gardens, free art galleries, free historic sites, free churches and loads of free outdoor activities in London’s woods and wetlands and parks.
So to help you enjoy free days out in London – with and without kids – I’ve got for you here a massive guide of free things to do all over London.
Free London Guide
This free London guide covers all sorts of activities you can enjoy all year around even when the weather is miserable:
- Free small London museums
- Free bigger London museums for rainy days
- Free historic sites in London
- Beautiful churches & places of worship in London you can visit for free
- Free historic houses in London
- Free London art galleries
- London’s woodlands & forest
- London’s wetlands & waterways
- Free London views
- Free outdoor activities in London
- Free park activities in London
- Free London farms
It includes ideas for free things to do all over London with lots of tips on how you can put together free activities that are close to each other for a really big free day out combining culture and outdoor fun.
There really are enough free ideas in this guide to keep you entertained in London all year long, so do bookmark or save it for quick reference.
And do have a wonderful free day out in London!
101 Free Things To Do In London
1. Free Small London Museums
London’s small free museums are absolute gems that you can pop into for an hour or so without exhausting yourself or boring the kids.
There’s a little cluster of these free museums in central London which are truly world class and must visits if you haven’t been but also some lovely small local free museums all over London.
- John Soanes Museum : a museum like no other the John Soanes Museum combines archaeology, art and architecture in an amazing house in Lincolns Inn fields.
- Petrie Museum : enjoy the Egyptians – minus the crowds – at the brilliant Petrie Museum.
- Hunterian Museum : freak yourself out with all the weirdness of the Hunterian Museum (closed until 2023)
- Ragged School Museum : attend a Victorian school at the Ragged School Museum – sit up straight now!
- Vestry Museum : work in a Victorian workhouse in the Vestry Museum.
- Geffrye Museum : discover how we used to live at the lovely Geffrye Museum … and then wander along to Hackney City Farm.
- Gunnersbury Museum : set in a beautiful west London park Gunnersbury Museum is a local history museum with a very accessible collection of toys, textiles and fashion and more which can be a lovely alternative to the overwhelming Victoria & Albert museum.
- Grant Museum : a tiny but fantastic natural history museum in an atmospheric building, the Grant Museum is just off Tottenham Court Road.
For more tips check out this mini-guide to small free London museums.
2. Free London Museums For Rainy Days
The big five – the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria & Albert plus the National Gallery – are all of course free but they really do get rammed on rainy days in particular.
But London also has a bunch of mid-sized museums that are outstanding for a free day out in winter or grotty weather but are much less busy:
- Royal Airforce Museum : explore an amazing collection of airforce planes and helicopters at the Royal Airforce Museum (there are some “extras” in the museum which are not free but 90% of the collection is).
- Horniman Museum : a gem of a museum in south London the Horniman Museum is like the V&A, British and Natural History museums all rolled into one. And it is right next door to the lovely Sydenham Wood.
- National Army Museum : a big hit with all ages from kids to grandpa, the National Army Museum is a great free day out for the whole family.
- Imperial War Museum : it can get busy so plan to go early to the Imperial War Museum to check out not only the planes and rockets but also the many moving exhibits on the horrors of war and the experiences of ordinary Londoners living through World War 2.
- Museum Of London : follow London’s history from the stone age to the sixties at the Museum of London. Fascinating for all ages including even very small children as there are loads of hands on activities.
- Museum Of Childhood : check out the toys in the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green and then visit the pagoda and the cormorants on the lake in beautiful Victoria Park.
- Wellcome Collection : expand your minds with eye opening science exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection just off Euston Road.
- National Maritime Museum : sail away to sea at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich Park, another very useful free museum for rainy days which can keep all ages entertained with lots of hands on and imaginative play for kids.
3. Free Historic Houses In London
The big London palaces like Hampton Court and National Trust and English Heritage properties like Ham House and Eltham Palace are great but horribly expensive for the whole family.
So check out instead these lovely historic houses with gorgeous grounds in London you can visit for free:
- Fulham Palace : discover a 1,000 years of history at Fulham Palace with its lovely gardens by the Thames.
- Boston Manor : a beautiful 400 year old manor house in Brentford Boston Manor has been closed for renovation for the last few years bus is due to reopen in spring 2021.
- Forty Hall : head back in time to the Victorians and beyond at the beautiful old Forty Hall in Enfield.
- William Morris House : enjoy everything William Morris in his old house in Walthamstow which is surrounded by Lloyd Park and a quick bus ride on the 123 to Walthamstow Wetlands a new – and free – nature reserve in London.
- Burgh House : just off Hampstead House Burgh House and its pretty garden is home to the Hampstead Museum of art, textiles and local history.
- Valentines Mansions : discover how we used to live in the lovely Georgian Valentines Mansion & Gardens in Ilford.
- Charlton House : explore Charlton House & Park one of London’s finest old Jacobean mansions and most haunted houses which is on the Green Chain Walk from the Thames Barrier to Oxleas Wood.
- Valence House : follow local history from the Romans to today at Valence House in Dagenham which is surrounded by a little local park and close to the Chase Nature Reserve.
4. Free London Art Galleries
You can enjoy amazing art from medieval to modern for free in galleries all over London. And luckily many of these galleries are located in or very close to beautiful parks so you can combine art and outdoor fun:
- Wallace Collection : gorge for free on Titian, Velazquez, Rubens and Van Dyck and stunning Medieval and Renaissance objet d’arts in the Wallace Collection. You’re just 10 minutes or so walk from both Regents Park and Hyde Park.
- Hogarth’s House : head to Hogarth’s House in Chiswick and discover the artists paintings and prints and enjoy the garden where he used to paint. The house is just 5 minutes walk from stunning Chiswick Gardens.
- Queen’s House : enjoy fine art and portraits – including the famous Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth – for free at the Queen’s House in Greenwich Park and then head up the hill for great views over London.
- Kenwood House : enjoy stunning Rembrandts, Vermeers and more at Kenwood House and then go wild on Hampstead Heath.
- South London Gallery : Check out an exhibition at the South London Gallery … then hop on a quick no 12 bus to the lovely Peckham Rye and picnic and play for the day.
- The Courtauld Gallery : enjoy the Impressionists in the Courtauld … then splash in the fountains at Somerset House.
- National Portrait Gallery : just off Trafalgar Square but much quieter than the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery is a great place to take juniors to meet the Tudors, Stuarts & Victorians.
- Whitechapel Gallery : For more modern art check out the free Whitechapel Gallery in Tower Hamlets which is just round the corner from the free Spitafields City Farm.
5. Free Historic Sites In London
London’s two biggest historic sites – the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey – are unfortunately expensive but there you can visit beautiful parts of the abbey complex for free and there is – see below – a clever way to visit the Tower of London for free.
And there are some lovely little free historic sites all over London that you can take in whilst exploring the city:
- Jewel Tower : one of the few parts of Edward the III’s medieval palace of Westminster to survive the 19th Century fire the Jewel Tower is a lovely little gem to pop into near St James Park. It’s also just 100 yards from the Chapter House & Pyx Chamber (see in churches below).
- Guildhall : pop into the Guildhall and its Crypt which go back to before the Normans …
- Roman Ampitheatre : … then nip downstairs and fight like a gladiator in the Roman Ampitheatre buried below.
- Brixton Windmill : visit the Brixton Windmill and buy some Brixton milled flour then head into lovely Brockwell Park. Visiting the Windmill is free but you do need to book.
- Wimbledon Windmill : enjoy a free visit to Wimbledon Windmill before some wombling on Wimbledon Common.
- Lesnes Abbey : the ruins of 12th Century Lesnes Abbey are a wonderful peaceful spot at the end of the Elizabeth Line – when it finally opens – at Abbey Wood. A good place to visit with kids doing the Tudors and right next to the fossil dig in Abbey Wood (see outdoor activities below).
If you’re a history buff and want a free way to visit the – otherwise very expensive – Tower of London you have to know about this :
- Ceremony Of The Keys : the traditional 700 year old locking up of the Tower of London, the ceremony of the keys complete with beefeaters is totally free, you just have to book in advance.
6. Beautiful London Churches & Places Of Worship You Can Visit For Free
St Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and beautiful old St Bartholomews all charge entry but there are beautiful places of worship you can visit in London for free including :
- Westminster Abbey Chapter House : Westminster Abbey itself is frustratingly pricey but the medieval gem that is the Chapter House & Pyx Chambe – and the Abbey garden and cloisters are free to visit. There’s a handy small playground nearby in Victoria Tower Gardens and St James Park is close by.
- St-Mary-Le-Bow : home of the Bow bell St-Mary-Le-Bow is a beautiful Wren church barely 5 minutes from St Pauls.
- St Martins In The Fields : another central London church you can visit for free is St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square where you can also enjoy free lunchtime concerts.
- Waltham Abbey : pay tribute to England’s last Saxon monarch, King Harold’sburied at Waltham Abbey (Walthamstow) and then enjoy the Cornhill Nature Reserve or head over to nearby Epping Forest.
- Southwark Cathedral : unlike St Pauls and Westminster Southwark Cathedral is free to visit and is a good place to stop on a walk along the Thames.
- St Pancras Old Church : one of London’s oldest churches tiny St Pancras Old Church goes back to before the conquest. Set in atmospheric gardens with the famous Hardy Tree it’s just 5 minutes walk from the Camley St Nature Reserve and makes a good spot on a free walking tour taking in Camley and the free Grant and Petrie museums.
- Shri Swaminaryan Mandir : head up to Neasden and see the stunning Shri Swaminaryan Mandir hindu temple.
7. London’s Woodlands & Forest
London has an amazing 50,000 acres of woodland and forest all of which can be enjoyed for free. These are just a few of the beautiful woods you can visit or for more adventures check out this full guide to London woods:
- Petts Wood : the National Trust’s hidden gem in south London Petts Wood & the Hawkwood Estate are a must visit at bluebell time.
- Epping Forest : ride bikes around all 8 miles of Epping Forest.
- Sydenham Hill Wood : a delightful wood in south London Sydenham Hill Wood is right next to the Horniman Museum.
- Joydens Wood : battle the Saxons in Joydens Wood
- Ruislip Woods : climb trees in the ancient wild wood in Ruislip and then build sandcastles on its lakeside beach.
8. London’s Wetlands & Waterways
Walks along the Thames are an obvious way to enjoy London for free but there but there are wetlands and waterways all over the city including:
- Walthamstow Wetlands : a new big free wetland nature reserve in east London Walthamstow Wetlands is a haven for birds and has a cool old engine room cafe with a visitor centre and shop.
- Rainham Marsh : see owls, peregrines, harriers, herons & more in the wild at Rainham Marsh RSPB right by the Thames.
- Camley Street Natural Park : tucked just behind King’s Cross station Camley Street Natural Park is a lovely little urban nature reserve and just a quick bus ride from free museums such as the Grant and Petrie (see above).
- Colne Valley Park : explore the lakes and waterways of the enormous Colne Valley Park which offers everything from wildlife walks to adventure playgrounds.
- Woodberry Wetlands Centre : see kingfishers, warblers and much much more at the Woodberry Wetlands Centre in east London.
- Regents Canal Towpath : ride your bike along the Regents Canal towpath and uncover hidden parts of London.
- Crane Park : paddle in the river Crane at Twickenham and climb the old Shot Tower in Crane Park.
- River Wandle : ride your bikes along the River Wandle from Morden Hall Park to visit the farm animals, ferrets, owls & alapacas at Deen City Farm.
9. Free London Views
Sure the London Eye is fun and the Shard Viewing Platform cool but you can get stunning views of London from all over the city for free and you won’t have to queue :
- Sky Garden : Look out over the city from the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street. You do have to book but it’s free.
- Crystal Palace Park : one of the highest points in London Crystal Palace Park has something for all ages from dinosaurs to the remains of the old Crystal Palace. It’s also on the Green Chain Walk to Sydenham Hill Wood and the free Horniman Museum.
- Oxleas Wood : enjoy enormous views all over London and the North Downs from beautiful Oxleas Wood and then pop over for lambing at Woodlands Farm.
- Greenwich Park : enjoy the famous view of the river and Docklands from Greenwich Park and then enjoy free art in Queen’s House and the Painted Hall.
- Hampstead Heath : covering over 320 hectares the heath, woodland and ponds of Hampstead Heath can keep you occupied all day and you can even enjoy stunning art – Rembrandt, Vermeer & more – in Kenwood House at the top of the hill.
10. Free Outdoor Activities In London
There are outstandingly cool things to do in London from whizzing down the Thames to climbing over the 02 at night or sleeping over in London Zoo but there’s also a super cool range of things to do in London that we just don’t hear about, we can do for free including :
- Mudlarking : mudlark at Blackfriars or Wapping or Greenwich and discover lost treasures from the River Thames.
- Paint the River : and whilst you’re by the river be inspired by Monet and Turner on the Thames and sit down and paint the river.
- Paddington Walking Tour : follow in Paddington‘s paw prints around London.
- London City Airport : watch the planes take off at London City Airport from the Royal Docks and then check out the Thames Barrier Park before hopping on the free Woolwich Ferry.
- Dig For Fossils : dig for 50 million year old fossils amidst the beautiful bluebells of Abbey Wood which is right next to Lesnes Abbey (see Historical Buildings above).
- South Bank Sandcastles : soak in the atmosphere of the South Bank and then build sandcastles on the beach.
- Lambeth Country Show : one of the best if not the best annual free festival in London, the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park offers free music plus everything from jousting shows, sheep sheering, petting farms and more. There are fair rides you have to pay for but everything else is free. Lambeth Council last year introduced stupid rules on taking in food & drink but there’s a great greengrocer & baker close by where you can buy your own picnic food.
11. Free Park Activities In London
And all of London parks are awash with fun free activities. So if you really have tired of your local London park check out these for something different you can do for free in the great outdoors :
- Gunnersbury Park : beautiful Gunnersbury Park in west London includes the Gunnersbury Park Museum which is one of London’s best local history museums.
- Holland Park : delight in the Japanese Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park
- Coram’s Field Playground : London’s first ever playground Coram’s Field is very handy for a run around after free visits to the British, Grant, Petrie, John Soanes or Hunterian museums nearby.
- BMX in Brockwell Park : ride your bikes on the free BMX track at Brockwell Park then cycle down to Brixton Market to pay tributes to Davie Bowie ..
- Isabella Plantation : picnic and play among the flowers and streams of the Isabella Plantation a Victorian woodland garden in Richmond Park.
12. Free London Farms & Foraging
For even more free fun outdoors don’t forget London’s farms. London has an amazing network of pick your own farms and little petting farms where London kids can get up close with all sorts of animals without paying the full whack of a trip to London Zoo …
- Pick strawberries : until you can’t eat another at one of London’s PYO farms. yes, you pay for the strawberries but less than the shops and the farms are free to enter for a lovely day out so money saving.
- Hackney City Farm : lovely little Hackney City Farm is free to visit and very close to Columbia Road Market so great out for a free day out in east London on a Sunday.
- Pick Blackberries : from August onwards you’ll find wild blackberries to forage for free in most of London’s woods, many of its parks and in the magnificent seven graveyards.
- Vauxhall City Farm : a city farm right in the centre of London the free Vauxhall City Farm is less than a mile and a quick bus hop from the also free Tate Britain so you can keep little people and grown ups happy on one free day out in central London.
- Mudchute Farm : a sweet little farm for kids in Docklands Mudchute Farm is on the Docklands Light Railway so you can easily put it together with free activities in Greenwich (see Parks & Historic Houses) or with the free Museum of London in Docklands.
- Pick apples : do what Londoners have always done and go apple picking in south London.
- Spitafields City Farm : another lovely little free city farm Spitafields City Farm is barely 10 minutes walk from the free Whitechapel Art Gallery if you want to combine art for the adults with animals for the kids.
And there you go, an enormous guide to free things to do in London for the whole family so you truly never do tire of exploring the city.
Do bookmark or save the guide to come back to and for even more ideas for things to do in London check out these guides: