Free London Attractions

By: Matthew Lawson

Cool Britannia. London is the city that lives and breathes its historical past, yet its vibrant pulse sets the trends that the world watches. In culture, fashion, music, architecture and the arts, ideas, no where else is like the London. Constantly-evolving, always entertaining, it's the city that should be right at the top of your must-see list.

However, London can be expensive, a real shock to your wallet. If you're looking for good value accommodation, the world wide web has dozens of hotel choices including serviced apartments in all the popular districts. Check it out.

But there is an upside to the expense of London. The capital offers not just dozens, but hundreds of free attractions and sights. From museums to art galleries, historic parks to scenic walks, they won't cost you a cent.

Buckingham Palace. The Changing of The Guard
A rousing military march marks the start of one of the oldest and most famous London sights, full of pomp, color and that famous British stiff upper lip. It's the Changing of The Guard. This royal ceremony is conducted outside Buckingham Palace each morning at 11.30am and lasts about 45 minutes. The Queen's Guard usually consists of Foot Guards in full-dress uniform, wearing bold red tunics and bearskins. A New Guard exchanges duty with the Old, accompanied by a band playing music. This ranges from the traditional to the trendy, and even songs from West End shows.

Park yourself for free.
London is a very green city sprinkled with delightful parks. At 350 acres, Hyde Park is one of the largest open spaces and makes up one of the four Royal parks, the others are St James's Park, Green Park and Regent's Park.

Head out to Hampstead Heath.
Take the subway (the Tube) to trendy Hampstead, it's just four miles (6.4km) from central London. Hampstead is full of quaint leafy streets, charming boutiques and smart cafes. If you're into celebrity-spotting, you might even see some familiar show biz faces and fashion models as you relax with a quiet latte. Hampstead is also home to the Heath, a huge area of grass and woodland, covering 791 acres with sweeping views across London . Perfect for lazy afternoons and picnics, the Heath is a great place to exercise. Play tennis, go running, outdoor swimming or why not try your hand at cricket, a bit like baseball, only gentler.

See Kenwood House free
The 18th century mansion, Kenwood House sits elegantly on a hill in Hampstead. It was remodelled for Lord Mansfield by the great Robert Adam. Among its splendid interiors hangs the wonderful Iveagh Bequest of paintings, including masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough.



Visit your past and future free
London has amazing museums, many of them are free. Probably the most famous is The British Museum at Great Russell Street. Among the objects on display are the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. Founded by an Act of Parliament in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public museum in the world - and the first to belong to a nation rather than a monarch or private patron.

The Natural History Museum, South Kensington
This is the UK 's national museum of natural history and a centre of scientific excellence in taxonomy and biodiversity. This is a wonderful way to spend a few hours exploring and enjoying the wonders of nature.

Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is unique in its coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. Exhibits range from tanks and aircraft to photographs and personal letters; film and sound recordings and 20th century paintings.

Royal Air Force Museum Hendon
Take the train, subway or bus out to North London to this amazing museum of flight. The Royal Air Force Museum Hendon is situated on the historic site of the original London Aerodrome and you can see over 80 aircraft from around the world, along with short film clips and interesting exhibition areas.

Museum of London at The Barbican
London was a Roman city. This museum traces the growth of London from prehistoric times up to the present day, using a combination of models, artefacts and reconstruction. There is also an impressive Roman interior, with its original mosaic pavement, a collection of jewels dating from 1560 to 1640 and an illuminated model of the 1666 fire of London.

Look for historic Blue Plaques
If you spend a little time in London, you'll spot small Blue Plaques on the facades of shops and houses. Some of these buildings are grand and imposing, others look remarkably ordinary. The connection? A famous (or infamous) person lived or worked there at some time in the past.

Actors, authors, politicians, painters, scientists, sportsmen, campaigners and reformers - people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds - have all been commemorated in this way. You can see where Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, John F. Kennedy lived and where Karl Marx stayed. The borough with the most plaques is Kensington and Chelsea with 180. The biggest category is Writers with 180 recorded.

Personal favorites: plaques for composer George Frideric Handel and guitarist Jimi Hendrix stand side-by-side on 25 and 23 Brook Street, in Mayfair. Despite being a fictional character, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" has a plaque on the supposed site of 221B Baker Street .

To market, to market! London is full of bargains
Just about every part of London has a street market of some type. Portobello Rd, west of Marble Arch, (featured in "Notting Hill", the popular movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts) is home to marvellous antiques, jewellery, coins, clothes, bric-a-brac, food and general merchandise. (The antique market opens every Saturday. The general market usually runs 6 days a week.)

Go alternative. Camden Markets
Alternative, funky, goth or punk...fashion lives in Camden. Camden Town, a few miles from central London, is where to go bargain spotting, especially for original fashion. Camden Lock Market, by the canal, was the original craft market, established in 1974, but over time, the market scene has gown and now offers a much wider spectrum of goods. Walk the mile between Camden Town and Chalk Farm Underground stations, and you can stop, and shop in all the markets of Camden. There's also a lot to enjoy in this lively area...restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas.

Covent Garden - home of specialty shopping in London.
For more than 150 years, Covent Garden was London 's largest fruit, vegetable and flower market, covering 30 acres. In the 1970s, the market relocated south of the river. In 1980, after careful restoration, Covent Garden re-opened as London 's first and best specialty shopping destination.

Today, almost one million people visit the famous Market every week from all parts of the world. This is a very special retail-therapy experience with everything from leading fashion and stunning gifts to unique toys and games.

Get arty. The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
After you've fed the pigeons and taken shots of Nelson's Column, visit The National Gallery, home to over 2,300 pictures dating from 1250. The collection includes all the major European schools of painting and masterpieces by many great artists. Access to the permanent collection of paintings is free.

The Tate Modern, it's free if you are
On the South Bank of the Thames, this former power station has been superbly converted into the World's biggest collection of Modern Art. The two huge floors cover the complete century. Stark, modern, intriguing - and often a little crazy; it will get your brain ticking over with a new appreciation for modern artistic expression.

This list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What else can you find to do, see and enjoy in London without dipping into your wallet? A lot, apparently.

Top Searches on
UK Destinations
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on UK Destinations
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles