Free Things to Do and See in London

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Travel Features >> Free Things to Do and See in London

Free Things to Do and See in London

May 03, 2012

Yes, London is expensive, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. You will be surprised to know that there are many free things to do and see in London - things you can do without spending a penny. From visiting museums, to strolling in parks and gardens to gathering an audience to listen to your prolific views on any subject under the sun, London has loads of options for anyone keeping a watch on their pocket. After all, didn’t someone say - the best things in life are free!

British Museum
The British Museum prides itself on having provided free entrance to its visitors from it’s inception some three centuries ago. The museum is one of the best in the world and has exhibits that will keep you busy for days. Housing a collection of over seven million artifacts that covers history, art and culture, the British Museum is known for its Egyptian and Greek artifacts. Spend a day at the British Museum – it is one of the best free things to do in London!

Don’t Miss!
The Rosetta Stone, a decree issued by Pharaoh Ptolemy
The Elgin Marbles that were once in the Parthenon in Athens
The Egyptian mummies of Mesopotamian times
The Snettisham Hoard which consists of the crown jewels of Norfolk, some 2000 years old

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Timings: Open every day from 10am -5.30pm

Tate Modern
The Tate Modern which houses the most extensive modern art is a recent museum having opened its doors in the year 2000. This museum is the perfect place to bridge the old and the new with art on view from the masters Monet and Matisse to present day artistes like Andy Warhol. This is the place to let art overtake your senses and lull you into the esoteric world of modern day installations and contemporary art. There is a vast permanent collect which is free and the temporary shows that have nominal fee.

Don’t Miss!
Claude Monet’s painting 'Poplar on the Epte'
Mark Rothko’s amazing color palette
JMW Turner’s collection

Location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Timings: Sunday - Thursday 10am -6pm, Friday- Saturday 10am-10pm

Changing the Guard
Tourists flock in droves to see this show of pomp held in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence. This show is about the new guards taking over from the old all dressed in full regalia from their bright red tunics and their tall bearskin black hats. The new guards march in from the Wellington Barracks accompanied by the Guards band. Contrary to the general perception that these guards are only ceremonial, they are actually real soldiers who perform real duties.

Best view
For a good photo op and full view, get a place at the Wellington Barracks to the left of Buckingham Palace as you face it. A little secret: the best photo op is actually just before or after the ceremony.

Timings: In summer everyday at 11.30am and in winter every other day at 11.30am. Each Changing the Guard ceremony lasts for 45 minutes, but it is recommended that one gets their early so as to get a place with a good view.

Houses of Parliament
Have you ever wanted to see how the British Parliament functions? It’s possible as there is a public gallery from where one can watch the fiery debates that take place. Just go to the St. Stephens entrance and stand in the queue. The debates are normally in the afternoons starting at 2.30pm, but it may be a good idea to come earlier and take your place in the queue. If you want to know what is the subject of the debate contact the House of Commons information centre.

Location: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Timings: When the House is in session, the public gallery is open at these times:
• Mondays: 2.30pm-10.30pm
• Tuesdays: 2.30pm-10.30pm
• Wednesdays: 11.30am-7.30pm
• Thursdays: 10.30am-6.30pm
• Fridays: 9.30am-3pm

Borough Market
Unofficially labeled as ‘London’s Larder’, Borough Market has been around for 250 years and is one of the oldest food markets in the city. For the best culinary experience in London- whether it is sampling different kinds of cuisine ranging from Japanese to Turkish to Creole, or buying the freshest produce straight of the farms, Borough market is the gourmands delight. The visit is free but you would have to pay for what you eat! No free lunches here.

Don’t miss!
Brindisa is a special Spanish shop best known for the cured ham or jambon serrano and the chorizo sandwich.
For seafood lovers, a meal at Fish! is mandatory.

Location: Borough Market, 239 Borough High Street, Camberwell, London SE1 1
Timing: Thursdays and Fridays from 12noon-5pm and Saturdays 8am-5pm

National Museum
Visit the National Museum in London for a dose of the most amazing art. With 2300 works of art that are masterpieces, the National Museum has paintings from Cezanne to Van Gogh, da Vinci to Rembrandt. Once you have had your fill of the visuals, stop by at the shop and buy some prints or cds to take home. After that sit at the café and grab a bite and sip some aromatic coffee. One can spend the whole day here and still not have enough!

Don’t Miss!
These are some must see painting in the Museum-
Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh
Self Portrait by Rembrandt
Bathers by Paul Cezanne

Location: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Timings: Daily 10am – 6pm, Fridays 10am – 9pm

Camden Markets
The Camden Markets are high on the to-do list of tourists and locals alike. Shop here at high quality boutiques or browse through open air stalls that brim with trendy clothes, stylish shoes, crafts items and more. There are loads of bars and pubs around for the thirsty and hungry too. The Camden markets are made up of six markets of which the Camden High Street and Camden Locks are popular haunts. Earlier the Market was open only on weekends but because of its popularity, most are open through out the week.

Watch out!
Most of the stalls will not accept a credit card, so be sure to carry some cash with you
Hold on to your bag and beware of pickpockets
For some serious shopping, go on a week day – you will avoid the crowds

Location: Camden Market Camden High Street, Buck Street, NW1 8NH, London. The nearest tube station is Camden Town in zone 2
Timings: Most of the markets are open from Monday through to Sunday, 10am - 6pm.

Hampstead Heath
Like a breath of fresh air and some time away from the hurly burly of London? Head to Hampstead Heath some 790 acres of rolling greens that serve as the green lungs of the city. Carry a picnic lunch and spend the day lazing on the grass or taking a leisurely walk around. Jog round the track, fly a kite, take a snooze in the afternoon sun or people watch. Spend a perfect day at Hampstead Heath!

Don’t Miss!
Feed the ducks that are ever present in the ponds
Climb up Parliament Hill for the most breathtaking view of the city of London
In summer take a dip in one of the ponds
Birdwatchers will sight kingfishers and kestrels among other species of the feathered flock

Location: Hampstead Heath, NW3 just 6kms from central London
Timings: Open all year round

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