London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and a global leader in the arts, technology, education and commerce. Young or old, there’s something for everyone in this vast expanse of culture and activity. It’s a city full of excitement – whether you’re into food, nightlife, fashion or entertainment, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s a list of the top 10 things to do for free in London recommended by our knowledgeable local Chris.
1. Find inner peace at Kyoto Garden
If you begin to feel worn out by this pulsating city, head to the Japanese-style Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Small stone paths, petite shrubs, a pond and colourful flowerbeds create truly relaxing surroundings. Have a picnic or just sit down and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
Photo credit: Ewan Munro
2. Get your architectural fix at the Serpentine Pavillion
Every summer one world-class architect is selected to create a temporary installation for the Serpentine Gallery to contribute to the public art scene. Locals often stop by the Serpentine on their park outing to admire modern architecture in its most playful form. Check their website for special events.
Photo credit: Timothy Hackworth
3. Enjoy great views at Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is one of the largest and most rustic parks in London. It’s rugged and natural compared to other parks in the city, which tend to be trimmed and tamed. Ponds, creeks, rolling hills and natural wildlife make it a perfect place to escape the city’s chaos and enjoy a scenic view. It’s also one of the best spots for jogging or walking.
Photo credit: Janie Easterman
4. Spot a deer in Richmond Park
Yes, we realise this post is getting a bit park-centred, however London’s parks are truly loved and appreciated by locals but often overlooked by travellers. Richmond Park is one of those places that makes you feel as if you’re hundreds of miles from anywhere, even though it’s just a 30-minute tube ride from the heart of the city. The special thing about this park is that it’s home to 750 wild deer! The best way to explore the area is by bike as it’s fairly big.
Photo credit: Bruno Girin
5. Feed the animals at Vauxhall City Farm
Whether you’re travelling with kids or you’re just a big kid yourself, Vauxhall City Farm is a rare spot of rural delight in the heart of London. It’s home to a variety of animals including horses, rabbits, pigs and ducks, and you’re welcome to pat and feed them. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wear your best clothes and shoes here as they might get dirty.
Photo credit: distillated
6. Get your art fix at the Tate Modern
No introduction needed for this one – the Tate is a world-famous art gallery definitely worth visiting. It’s housed in a former power station and the industrial interiors still hint at its history. The Tate hosts a huge range of free and ticketed exhibitions, often with interactive elements to encourage everyone to get involved.
Photo credit: treevis
7. Av’ a laugh at Angel Comedy
With icons such as Monty Python, The Office and Little Britain, the Brits are famous all over the world for their dry sense of humour and quirky comedic characters. Here you can experience the foundation of it all; stand-up. The club is located at Camden Head and there’s a show on every night at 8 pm. Check their website for the line-up. We recommend arriving early to avoid disappointment.
Photo credit: Julie Kertesz
8. Channel your community spirit at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
A team of volunteers run a well-organised programme of cultural activities and events in this garden. The list of happenings is literally endless: arts, crafts, music, cooking, dance, design, gardening and much more. There’s also free WiFi as well as a heated pavilion, blankets, hot water bottles, and Stanley the cat for keeping warm during the colder months. Check out the full programme on their website.
Photo credit: quite peculiar
9. Start a debate at Speakers’ Corner
Originally a site of protests in Victorian Britain, Speakers’ Corner today serves as a boisterous symbol of a contemporary democracy, where open debates are encouraged between its citizens. The weekly event takes place every Sunday starting from 12 pm. You can either debate yourself or observe others – either way it can be quite entertaining.
Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bycycle
10. Leave your mark at Leake Street Tunnel
This 200-metre long public, and most importantly legal, graffiti wall offers you the opportunity to leave your mark on London. Even if you don’t feel like getting artsy yourself, you can still check out what others have left behind. Visit frequently as the art changes and evolves every day.
Photo credit: Jim Nix