London is an amazing city, and my favourite ‘Large’ city of the ones I’ve been honoured to visit amongst my travels. I would happily return to London for a day, a week, or a month! Yes, one could easily spend a fortune there, but there’s also a lot to do for free, or nearly free, and today I’m sharing 10 things to do in London for free.
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One of those iconic things to do when in London is to see the Changing of The Guard. Yes, I’ve done it, and the kids want to see it in person, too. It’s a lovely ceremony, and though seen through the metal fencing from a distance, it’s still a good event to watch. It doesn’t cost anything, either. Check out the times as it doesn’t take place daily.
One of the most famous landmarks of London is, of course, Tower Bridge. It has amazing architecture and is beautiful as well as functional. Check out the times when the bridge lifts up and enjoy the free show of the mechanics at work and the tall ships passing beneath. If you have a budget, you can climb to the top of the bridge and walk across the top, or go down into the engine rooms. These are also great experiences, as is catching a view of it at night.
If the weather is nice, take along a picnic and enjoy it while sitting along the banks of the Thames. I spent an afternoon here once, just enjoying some people watching. Picnics are great in any of the parks in London; from Hyde Park to smaller residential area parks.
Speaking of parks, go for a walk, feed the ducks and Canada geese, and just relax. London has many great parks with accessible paths. Here are a few parks to get you started.
Camden Market is a fun place to wander around. There are covered shops of all description within, and more stalls outside with food, entertainment, and more. It’s free to wander and browse, but I’m sure you’ll want to stop for a snack or a meal.
You can hardly take a trip to London without taking a ride on The Tube! Its underground labyrinth will easily get you from one area of London to the other. Occasionally you may encounter a delay (which is what happened to me my first time on the Tube), but take the opportunity to listen to the many accents and soak up the experience. There’s no more efficient way of travel in London. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that not all stops are wheelchair or stroller friendly and you may be faced with many flights of stairs or escalators ahead of you, so if you’re in this situation, plan ahead or consider taking another form of transport.
If you’re in London in December, you won’t want to miss walking down Oxford Street and seeing the Christmas lights overhead and in the storefronts. You aren’t too likely to have snow, but the twinkle of the lights and the bustle of pedestrians looking for the perfect gifts will get you into the Christmas spirit.
If you like modern art, then head over to the Tate Modern, alongside the Thames. Entry is free, so it’s something to keep in mind for those rainy days.
Wander around China Town, especially during the Chinese New Year. The area is very colourfully painted, with arches and storefronts inviting you in. This is the place to find Chinese grocery shops, wonderful little bakeries, and delicious smelling restaurants!
Hamley’s Toy Shop has been known to be its own attraction for kids, or those who like to think they’re still kids. I was told it was a must, but I wasn’t particularly impressed. Maybe it was because that was before I had children (I didn’t have time to stop in on my last trip), but many still attest to its greatness. If you don’t have time to visit the main multi-levelled shop, you may find a small branch at the airport.
If you’re looking for more ‘grown up’ gifts and experiences, then head over to Harrod’s. The halls are beautiful. I picked up some Christmas tree decorations on sale one year, and another time a great Sudoku book. Harrod’s was also the meeting point when I met one of my pen pals in person after many years of correspondence.
So there you have it, London for free, and all are family-friendly! London is packed full of things to do for people of all ages; I’ll be sharing more about London in the future, guaranteed!
If you have the travel bug, or like to learn about fun things to do around the world, check out my Postcards From… series and our culture posts where you’ll find more things to do and other aspects of world cultures.