Things to do in London for free

Must-see free London sights

London is a fantastic city to enjoy a wealth of attractions during your London weekend break - all without spending a single penny. From vibrant markets to interesting museums, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in London for free, especially when you're looking to make the most of a short stay in the city. Whether you're visiting for a couple of days or just a weekend, these free attractions provide ample opportunity to experience the best of London's culture and vibrancy.

  1. Visit the incredible Borough Market
  2. Enjoy exploring the pretty Hyde Park
  3. Head to Brixton for a wander - a trendy neighbourhood in South London
  4. Explore the fantastic Horniman Museum
  5. Wander through Columbia Road and head to the flower market

With so many attractive neighbourhoods in London, there is plenty to explore. Head south to find the exciting Borough Market and Brixton, while the east of the city lies Columbia Road and Brick Lane. Wherever you choose to go, London is home to a plethora of terrific things to see.

1. Visit the incredible Borough Market

There has been a produce market near the southern end of London Bridge since medieval times. Borough Market, beneath the railway arches between Borough High Street and Southwark Cathedral, and now sprawling out over a fairly large area, is now best known for its busy specialist food market, with stalls selling top-quality produce from around the world - pungent cheeses, unusual wild mushrooms, oysters, game, charcuterie and far more besides - along with hot food stalls (some of which operate Mon-Sat).

It’s very popular on Friday and Saturday so get there early. Even if you don’t eat here, it’s a fantastic place for a wander and to soak up the exciting atmosphere of this market in the capital.

Best for: Market

While you’re there: If you’re heading to east London, visit Brick Lane for more markets and trendy clothes shops.

2. Enjoy exploring the pretty Hyde Park

Exploring Hyde Park is one of the best free things to do in London. It remains a popular spot for political demonstrations and pop concerts. For most of the time, however, the park is simply a lazy leisure ground - a wonderful open space that allows you to lose all sight of the city beyond a few persistent tower blocks. The park is divided in two by the Serpentine, which has a pretty upper section known as the Long Water, which narrows until it reaches a group of four fountains.

In the southern section, you’ll find the popular Lido on its south bank and the Diana Memorial Fountain, less of a fountain and more of a giant oval-shaped mini-moat. The western half of the park is officially Kensington Gardens. In the northwest is the Diana Memorial Playground, featuring a ship stuck in sand and other imaginative playthings; at busy times you may have to queue to get in. The other two most popular attractions are the Serpentine Galleries and the overblown Albert Memorial. Searching for London holidays? Take a look at our superb selection of breaks in the capital.

Best for: Park

While you’re there: You might even spot some ring necked parakeets here! They’re bright green so hard to miss.

3. Head to Brixton for a wander - a trendy neighbourhood in South London

Brixton is a classic Victorian suburb, transformed from open fields into bricks and mortar in a couple of decades following the arrival of the railways in the 1860s. The viaducts dominate central Brixton, with shops and arcades hidden under their arches, but it’s the West Indian community, who arrived here in the 1950s and 1960s, who define the character of the place. These days the area’s revived indoor markets attract increasing numbers of visitors to a plethora of small restaurants and bars, making this always busy, noisy neighbourhood even more frenetic. As you leave the tube, directly opposite, you’ll see the bright mural of David Bowie, who was born in Brixton in 1947. It became a shrine to Bowie on his death in January 2016. The main axis for the market is Electric Avenue, which runs behind the tube station, so called as it was one of the first London shopping streets to be lit by electricity in the 1880s. From here you can find the arcades of Market Row and Brixton Village, which create a maze of activity. A stroll around the area is one of the most exciting free things to do in London.

Best for:A trendy area of London

While you’re there:Nearby is Pop Brixton. It is a shipping-container-built mini village of shops and street-food traders with outdoor bars.

4. Explore the fantastic Horniman Museum

The wonderful Horniman Museum was purpose-built in 1901 by Frederick Horniman, a tea trader with a passion for collecting. In addition to the museum’s natural history collection of stuffed birds and animals - with a majestic, overstuffed walrus its centrepiece - there’s an eclectic ethnographic collection, and a music gallery with more than 1500 instruments from Chinese gongs to electric guitars. The gardens, with an animal trail, butterfly house, bandstand and glasshouse, and with views over South London, are charming, and there’s an aquarium in the basement.

Best for: Museum in South London

While you’re there: There are plenty of other free museums in the capital. Think the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum.

5. Wander through Columbia Road and head to the flower market

The pretty East End street of Columbia Road spills over in a profusion of blooms and resounds with the bellows of Cockney barrow boys during its glorious market. Come late for the best bargains, or early to enjoy a coffee and brunch in one of the groovy local cafés. It’s an excellent shopping area, abounding in indie, arty and vintage stores.

Best for: A pretty flower market

While you’re there:Another pretty market in London is Greenwich. Filled with craft stalls and places to eat, it’s a great place for a wander.

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