Oh, London. You beautiful, wonderful, ridiculously expensive city, you.
We’ve visited London a few times–most recently, for an almost-twenty-four-hour layover on our way home from visiting family in Germany. And while we do recommend checking out the typical tourist attractions if you’re a first time visitor (we’ll write a post about those someday), for this particular visit we were looking for some more low-key attractions that wouldn’t lighten our pockets (which where particularly light after two weeks in Barcelona, Madrid, and several cities in Germany).
So here are three free things to do in London — for a shorter trip to the city, or if you just need to take a break from paying through the nose for tourist attractions.
1. Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens, one of the city’s eight royal parks, covers 265 acres and is a beautiful place to spend the morning or afternoon walking around. They’re easily accessible by taking the underground or a bus line, and we found them to be considerably less crowded than the more commonly visited Hyde Park.
There are a number of statues and gardens that are worthwhile, but in particular we recommend visiting the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
2. The British Museum
The British Museum, open daily, is free to the public and opens at 10 AM. We recommend arriving early, as it can get fairly crowded — particularly around some of the more popular exhibits such as the Rosetta Stone. You can easily spend an entire day at the museum, and it truly offers exhibits for just about everybody, regardless of your tastes.
That being said, if you have a limited amount of time or just don’t want to spend the entire day at the museum, the website does offer several helpful guides to assist you with planning your visit, depending on how much time you would like to spend there. The guides do not, however, give you information as to where each of the exhibits are located. We recommend checking out the floor plan and taking notes ahead of time, as the layout of the museum can be a little confusing, particularly when it’s crowded. One of the most interesting displays at the museum is the Rosetta Stone, located fairly close to the entrance.
3. Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is the highest public garden in London, located at the top of a business building at 20 Fenchurch Street. The Garden offers a fantastic view of London, particularly of the nearby Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, as well as a place to eat, drink and relax.
Although entrance to the Sky Garden is free, you do have to reserve tickets ahead of time. Timed entry tickets are release three weeks in advance on Mondays, in the morning (GMT). You can book your tickets online here.
What are your favorite free things to do in London? We’re always looking for new ideas 🙂