London is one of the worlds greatest historical cities. It has something memorable to offer everyone who visits London. Unfortunately, it is also a rather expensive city. If however, you know where to look, you will find that some of the city’s top attractions are completely free. To help you out we have compiled a list of our favorite free activities in top 10 free London attractions.
Museums and galleries
Many of the museums and galleries in London are paid for by the government making them free to visit. I have included a couple of my favorites in the top 10 list, below is a longer list. You may find something there which appeals to your taste, more so than my top picks.
List: British Library, British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Science Museum, Tate Modern, The Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, Bank of London Museum, Imperial War Museum, London Political Cartoon Gallery, Museum of Garden History, Museum of London, National Maritime Museum, Petrie Museum of Egyption Archaeology, RIBA Architecture Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum.
They may have a donation box at the front desk, but those are completely optional.
Buckingham Palace is where the royal family lives and entertains state visitors in London. You can’t go in, but it’s quite spectacular from the outside.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at Buckingham palace at around 11:30 every day, in summer and, every other day, in winter. It’s worth scheduling things so you get to see the ceremony. I recommend coming 15 minutes early to get a good spot.
St. James’s Park
St. James’s Park is adjacent to Buckingham Palace. It’s a lovely 23 hectares (58 acres) park in the middle of London. The park is a very pleasant spot, especially on a warm summers day. It has a lake with ducks, geese and pelicans.
The park is the setting for many ceremonial parades and national events.
St. James’s Park also borders Westminster, which where the country’s parliament is located and St James’s Palace.
Back when Britain was an empire with colonies all over the world they carried off much of the worlds nicest artifacts. Some of which ended up in this world class museum.
The British museum of human history has 7 million objects, which has been built up since it’s construction in 1753. The collections from the Middle East and Egypt are particularly spectacular. You can’t really see everything it has to offer in one day.
Their web site is pretty good and worth checking out before you visit.
Tate Modern and Britain
There are 4 Tate art galleries. The main two are the Tate Modern, a modern art gallery and the Tate Britain which houses historical art works.
Imperial War Museum
My personal favorite, free attraction in London, is the Imperial War Museum. If you look at the picture above you can see the 15 inch naval guns outside the museum. They are from an age when the outcome of naval battles where determined by raw firepower and not precision. It’s a little hard to see, but they are just enormous. The shells are taller than a man.
These guns where used on the Queen Elizabeth, a battleship in both the first and second world wars and used to shell enemy positions in France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Africa and Madagascar.
Below you can see a picture inside the museum. If you look behind the American fighter hanging from the ceiling you can see a German V2 rocket captured during WW2.
Since 1066 all English kings and queens have been crowned in Westminster Abbey. In addition 17 monarchs are buried here.
The present church, built by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most significant Gothic buildings in the country. It is filled with paintings, stained glass, textiles, pavements and other artifacts.
Westminster Abbey is an active church so you can’t visit it on Sundays.
At the center of Trafalgar Square stands Nelson’s Column, which was built to commemorate Admiral Nelson’s victory over the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. He was fatally wounded during the battle and his body was buried in the St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Trafalgar square also has a large number of other statues and two fountains. In the north-east corner stands St. Martin-in-the-Fields parish church.
On the north side you’ll find the National Gallery. It houses more than 2300 paintings, including works by Renoir, van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci and Claude Monet.
Big Ben is a large clock tower outside the Houses of Parliament. This is one of London’s most famous landmarks and a great photo opportunity for holiday makers.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum contains 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Mineralogy, Entomology Zoology and Palaeontology. Many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value. Their most famous collections are the dinosaur and Darwin collections.
Covent Garden is a piazza type building containing street performers, cafes and small shops. The market place is the perfect spot to do some shopping, browse through the boutiques and gift shops and get a lunchtime coffee. There’s a night time market in Covent Garden in summer.
Covent Garden has been a settlement since Roman times. ‘Covent’ is the old form of the word ‘convent’.
I hope you found top 10 free London attractions useful. Between you and me, if you are in London you shouldn’t just stay in the city. Consider taking a weekend trip outside London to enjoy a bit of the countryside.