So, the price of London’s got you down: Westminster Abbey lightened your wallet by 40%, it seems like you have to top up your Oyster Card after every other trip, and it takes British monarchy-style cash to get a decent Full English. Chin up, young traveler! As expensive as the cost of living can be, London has plenty of world-class attractions that are blissfully free. Here we compiled ten of the best:
1. The British Museum
How, you ask, could a museum of this magnitude and depth possibly be free? Scientists are still working on an answer to this difficult question. Just be thankful you can lay eyes on the Rosetta Stone without dropping a sixpence.
2. The Royal Parks
So many to choose from—Greenwich, Regent’s, Hyde, Kensington Gardens, to name a few—and all these acres and acres of green are free and open to the public to frolic within as they see fit.
3. The National Gallery
Over in the United States, large art museums are happy to reach deep into your pockets. But the British just want you to waltz through rooms and rooms of medieval and Renaissance art until you collapse from exhausted joy.
4. The Changing of the Guard
We’re honestly shocked they haven’t monetized this yet, since it’s one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, but for a sacrifice of merely your time and personal space, you can see this famous spectacle of funny hats and high knees.
5. The Victoria and Albert Museum
This is a world-class museum in every sense, from the depth of its collections to the range of time periods and geographic areas it covers. It’s no wonder people eagerly queue for free access.
6. The British Library
Okay, so being free is kind of a library’s whole shtick, but when you’ve got documents of such importance on display you could stand to charge a few pounds. Lucky for us, the BL takes mercy on our parchment-craving souls.
7. The Tate Modern and Tate Britain
Two spectacular Tates for the price of one—or is that the price of zero, since they’re both free? You don’t have to be good at math to appreciate the collections in Westminster or Southbank.
8. The Courtauld Gallery
Gee, it doesn’t take much cash to see good art in this town. Head on over to the gorgeous Somerset house to view all the famous Impressionist paintings your heart desires.
9. Portobello Road
This spectacular outdoor market could become not free very, very fast, but if you exercise self-control, browsing is almost as fun as buying.
10. Take a walking tour
Almost every hostel has some sort of free walking tour, and it’s a great way to orient yourself to your surroundings and maybe even—gasp—make a pal or two along the way.
Mia is packing up her set of all seven Harry Potter books and the collected James Joyce before heading off to the U.K., and then getting realistic and replacing them with a flashlight and extra underwear. She plans to find out exactly how much beer is in a pint while gallivanting around Ireland and aspires to show her parents that she is putting her (forthcoming) English degree to use by communing with Shakespeare’s homeland. When she’s not making plans to get the royal family to adopt her, she enjoys drinking coffee and talking about the severity of her coffee addiction.