Things to do for free or on a budget in London

While London makes for an ideal holiday destination the cost factor tends to be an off-putting factor especially, for those on a tight budget. London is indeed an expensive city and the cost of accommodation, food, and travel (including airfares) can be prohibitively expensive.

Despite this there are plenty of cost effective options to enjoy a wonderful holiday in London. That includes staying at hotels that offer discounts in the off season like the hotels in Paddington London. This could lead to considerable savings on accommodation costs.

A budget friendly premium place to stay at in the city is The Park Grand Paddington hotel that is competitively priced, while offering superb facilities and amenities. Just some of the other ways to trim expenses, while still having an enjoyable holiday in London are:

The Changing of the Guards: One of the most popular ceremonial events with visitors to London is the Changing of the Guards, which is held every day outside Buckingham Palace. It is free of cost and the sheer pomp and pageantry of the event make it a major draw with tourists to the city. In fact, it is one of the most popular free events to be seen in London. You can watch the shift change between the months of April to July (it happens every day). The only caveat is to arrive at least an hour before the actual event begins at 11:30 am to get the best vantage point to enjoy the ceremony, as it can get very crowded. This is more so in the summer when the crowds tend to be larger in number.

Watch the sunset over the South Bank: The South Bank area of London is very popular with visitors as well as locals who flock to the area in droves. It also is a popular meeting point for people and you are always bound to find the place teeming with people. In fact, taking a stroll along the South Bank is generally on the bucket list of most tourists to the city. There are plenty of attractions in the vicinity, which make it all the more attractive to visit. With places like the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, and the BFI (British Film Institute) it is easy to see why it is such a hit with visitors. And one of the best things to do for free is walk along it during the evening when the Sun begins to set in the horizon. Although, you may enjoy a better view from a higher spot in the city, seeing the skyline from this level and perspective is altogether a memorable experience.


Visit the city’s most central skate park: Another great place to visit for free lies in the South bank area, within the Southbank Centre is the Queen Elizabeth Hall that is home to the city’s finest skate park and where the best graffiti artists practice their skills.  Yu will find some of the most talented local as well as international skaters displaying their rare skills during the day. In the evenings, you will find school kids and the hipper crowd visit the place.


The Saatchi Art Gallery: When we talk about art and culture, London is a haven of both with its art galleries and museums being out of the finest as well as most visited on the planet. London probably has more free art galleries than any other city in the world. With world famous galleries like The Tate Modern, The National Gallery, The Tate Britain and much more to visit and explore. Equally exciting although it smaller in size is the Saatchi Gallery, that is home to some of the best contemporary art to be found in Britain and for that matter the world. It is owned by advertising guru Charles Saatchi with the gallery showcasing contemporary art of national as well as international artists. A must see for all those who are lovers of art.

St. Pancras Station: One of the greatest developments of human kind was the Industrial Revolution that did not only change the country’s economy, but also reformed the architecture of the nation. A perfect example of this is St Pancras Railway Station that is testimony to the great changes during that period of time.  Its external facade of an intricate design and use of red brick made it one of the most remarkable buildings to be constructed at that time. It still looks as good as probably it did at the time it was built and makes for a great photo opportunity.


Fulham Palace: The city is home to some of the finest palaces with Buckingham and Kensington Palaces occupying centre stage. They are out of the most visited attractions in the city. There are plenty of other palaces as well worth visiting, like the lesser known Fulham Palace. It has served as home to the Bishops of London, although no one from the Royal Family ever stayed in it. Since the Bishops were treated as royalty themselves, their residence also became an attraction.

The Palace of Westminster: Something that not too many visitors to London are aware of is that the Houses of Parliament is officially known as the Palace of Westminster. It still is part of the list of Royal residences, although no member from the Royal Family has ever stayed here for the past five centuries in fact it could be said that Parliament has rented the place in a manner of speaking. It is where both the House of Lords and the House of Commons meet and where the government machinery can be seen in action. Tourists can visit the houses and palace halls, but only residents of the UK are permitted a complete tour (by having it arranged through their local MP).

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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