We can’t promise you free lunches or bar tabs, but there are innumerable ways to enjoy this incredible city without so much as tickling the purse-strings, especially with the spending frenzy of Christmas just around the corner.
London recently earned the dubious honour of the world’s most expensive city. That means it beat Sydney, New York and even former record holder Hong Kong. However, that doesn’t mean you have to put any limits on the amount of fun you can have here - we’ve given you a rundown of some of our favourite and completely free ways to enjoy yourselves. The only thing you might still be struggling to find at the end of this is the free time to do it all.
Museums & Galleries
Royal Festival Hall
Visit Website / Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Although primarily used for major concerts, it's safe to assume that the ground-floor stage area will be showing a free lunchtime concert, exhibition or workshop, especially on a weekend. Be sure to take the singing glass elevator up to the fifth floor, where you'll find a little-known balcony area with impressive views of the Thames.
The Science Museum
Visit Website / Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD
Interactive, educational and thought-provoking, the Science Museum is the ideal place to experience and learn about scientific developments and discoveries first-hand. From space travel to psychology, there's something for every member of the family.
Visit Website / Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT
Between bars, screens and galleries, there’s a lot to discover at the British Film Institute's South Bank complex, among which is the completely free Mediatheque. A suite of wide-screen computer booths offers access to thousands of archived TV shows, films and documentaries, including plenty of material about London itself.
Visit Website / The Strand, WC2R 1LA
The famous courtyard and vast Georgian building alone are worth a visit, but seek out the two elegant staircases, the balcony views of the Thames, and the small basement gallery. In the summer, the courtyard fountains are in full performance mode, while in winter an ice rink takes over.
Visit Website / Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A is undeniably one of London's great museums, specialising in the history of art and design. With 145 galleries and a grand central courtyard, it ranks among the largest museums in London, and also operates free music and performances every Friday evening.
Visit Website / Camden Head, 2 Camden Passage, N1 8DY
One of the most popular free clubs in London, Angel Comedy runs seven nights a week at the Camden Head pub, mixing new comics from the open-mic circuit alongside professional acts, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Famous stand-ups have dropped by in the past to test new material, and regulars include Tony Law, Holly Walsh and Foster’s Best Newcomer award-winner Daniel Simonsen. Get there early though – it’s likely to become packed and fills up on a first come, first served basis.
The Foundry Tickler Free Comedy Night
Visit Website / The Forge Arts Venue, 3-7 Delancey Street, NW1 7NL
The Foundry Tickler is completely free and offers unbelievably good value. Every week, TV names and stand-up regulars test out new jokes, and those starting out throw themselves to the lions. What better way to beat the Monday blues for free?
Ceremony of the Keys
Visit Website / Tower of London, EC3N 4AB
For about 700 years, every night the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London have performed a gate-closing ritual known as the Ceremony of the Keys. Members of the public can view the ceremony for free by writing to Ceremony of the Keys Office, Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB.
Meditation at Innerspace
Visit Website / 36 Shorts Gardens, WC2H 9AB
Feeling overwhelmed by work, the weather or the city? Drop into this Covent Garden oasis, run by the Brahma Kumaris. An international collection of peace enthusiasts whose teachings are based on exploring spirituality, reflection and meditation through yoga, the centre is completely free and they will also come to your place of work or rest if you book in advance.
We couldn’t possibly write a post about freedom without mentioning the absolute plethora of beautiful green open spaces London offers its lucky visitors. Whatever cardinal point of the city you find yourself wandering around, get purposefully lost in one of these spots of nature.
Hyde Park - Winter Wonderland
Visit Website / 21st November - 4th January, Hyde Park W2 2UH
Hyde Park's famous Winter Wonderland returns this Christmas with seasonal food and drinks from across the world, as well as a cracking roster of cabaret performances and songs. Stock up on Christmas gifts, gate your skates on for an ice-rink run-around and soak up the seasonal spirit.
Visit Website / St.Martin's Le-Grand, EC1A
This petite park within the Square Mile is something of a bairly kept “secret", but nevertheless it’s well worth a visit. Besides its innate prettiness and hidden away nature, a Victorian memorial to those who died while trying to save others is the main reason for its popularity - a wall of tragic heroes created in 1900 by George Frederic Watts.
Why not ask our hotel staff and concierge for their tips on their favourite free things to do in London when you’re in town, at the Amba Hotel Charing Cross?