Free or Budget-Friendly Things to Do in London
It's no secret, London is an expensive city to visit. However, there are several activities that are free, "nearly-free," or budget-friendly. Here are a few of my favorites:
Heart of the City Walk
It won't cost you a bit to walk from Trafalgar Square to Westminster Bridge along Whitehall to see some of the most iconic images of London. Along the route you'll #10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben. Walking along this route and seeing the double-decker buses really gave me the "I'm in London," feeling.
The National Gallery
If you're standing on Trafalgar Square, looking down Whitehall towards Big Ben, directly behind you is the National Gallery that displays art from some of the greats such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo.
It's free to enter the National Gallery, but there is a suggested donation of a few pounds.
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is directly behind the National Gallery. Here you can see portraits of well-known figures in British History, including the current Royal Family. This gallery is also free, with a suggested donation.
Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
While there is a fee to enter Buckingham Palace when it's open for visitors in the summer, it's completely free to gather outside to watch the changing of the guard. The guards in their very recognizable red uniforms and tall bearskin hats, march, ride horses, and a band plays. It's Royal Pageantry that every visitor must see!
Since it is quite a spectacle, the surrounding streets will be filled. The changing actually starts down the street at 11:15 am as the procession starts toward the palace. For a great view, get there early and join the other tourists sitting on the fence/gate surrounding Green Park.
Stop in at the British Museum
This is another site that is "free," but with a requested donation. This museum is massive and you could spend ages in here looking at all it has to offer. I suggest starting with the Rosetta Stone (walk in the main entrance and then to your left), and then using a brochure or guidebook to quickly hit things that really interest you.
The British Library
As a lover of music and literature, this was one of my favorite stops. In two of its rooms you can see things such as the Magna Carta, writings by Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, Chaucer's Tales, first drafts of works by the Beatles and Handel. I found it fascinating.
Yet again, the library is free to enter with a suggested donation.
Take in the View of Tower Bridge
You actually might know it as "London Bridge." It's another very iconic site of London. You can take a tour that does cost you some pounds, but I think the best thing is just to get a good look at it. If you're on the bank of the Thames while you're visiting the Tower of London, that's probably the best view.
There's several other museums that are free, these are just my favorites. You can also stroll around Hyde Park or head towards Piccadilly Circus, London's version of Times Square.