London was at the centre of the world over the summer, with the Jubilee celebrations for the Queen, to the 2012 Olympics. With hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to the capital every day there are lots of tourists everywhere ready to spend their hard earned money. But what if you want to save your pennies while you explore? There are some amazing things to do in London that don’t cost a thing, here is my top 10 that you can hop on a train to London now and experience without expensive entrance fees.
This unique museum is full to the brim with amazing sculptures and art pieces; it is the former residence of architect Sir John Soane, who also designed the Bank of England. Over his lifetime he amassed a number of priceless and wonderfully eccentric items. These include amazing Hogarth cartoons; Hogarth was a key figure in 18th century satire and his paintings realistically portrayed life at the time, but always in a comical manner. The house, near Holborn tube station along Lincoln Inn’s Fields, is full of treasures and you can easily lose hours there.
At the Serpentine Bridge in Hyde Park there is a fantastic tribute to Princess Diana in the form of a park and water feature. With water cascading down from two higher points into a flowing river-like structure, it’s an amazing place for families to visit. Kids will love playing in the fountains on a hot day, or even on a cold one, trying to dodge the water and jump over the structure, it’s a great free attraction.
The Queen is a very important lady and needs the utmost protection! Every morning at 11am the Queen’s Guards change shifts in spectacular manner at the Horse Guard Parade in Whitehall. Get there early on a Sunday because the change happens earlier, at 10am. It is a great event for all ages and arguably less crowded than the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, so you are always guaranteed a front row seat.
This amazing museum used to be a personal collection of anthropological artefacts and preserved animals, but it has now expanded into a fantastic free museum for all ages. It houses a number of quirky exhibits, including African tribal wares and ancient instruments, which you can even try yourself. Whilst the museum is part free, they also have an amazing aquarium with a vast selection of fish and aquatic life which is well worth the small entry.
This cavernous aircraft hangar is home now to a great many machines who fought for Queen and country. Whilst this museum is a little further out of central London, it is on the Northern Line, however if you have strollers, or are in a wheel chair, be sure to check the stations information for accessibility.
Housing the world’s largest collection of faces from as far back as the Middle Ages to the present day, the National Portrait Gallery is a unique insight into the life and times of some of the most influential people in the world. From art to science to photography and television, there are figures from all walks of life, painted by some of the most celebrated artists in the world.
An iconic London museum, and one of my personal favourites, if not just for the sheer quantity of artefacts and treasures within its walls. The V&A has a breath-taking array of historically beautiful sculptures interspersed with amazing exhibits, usually around fashion; these are not free but are well worth a look. The current one is ‘Ballgowns’ another one starting on the 30th of October is called ‘Hollywood Costume’ which includes a vast array of costumes worn by Hollywood film stars throughout the ages. Including Charlie Chaplin, Barbara Streisand and Keira Knightley, with her beautiful long green silk dress that she wore in 2007’s ‘Atonement.’
This museum is another hidden gem in London’s mass of museums and art galleries, but what sets it apart is the beauty of every single object housed within its walls. There are simply dazzling pieces of art work by artists like Boucher, Canaletto and Rembrandt, including china and pieces of furniture owned by Madame de Pompadour & Queen Marie-Antoinette. In this video, fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood talks through some of the pieces that have inspired her own collections.
A real lush green haven in the middle of the sprawling city, Regents Park was built in 1811 by architect John Nash and includes a stunning rose garden. It is a large park and popular with locals for playing sport in, including rugby and football. There are an array of cafes and restaurants in the centre of the park, including an open air theatre. Primrose hill offers a fantastic vista across London and is perfect for some quiet reading and contemplating.
One of the most iconic London sites, Trafalgar square is awash not only with pigeons but also with beautiful sculptures including Nelson’s column which stands a proud 51 metres tall. The four lions protecting the column are great for memorable photo opportunities, not forgetting the National Gallery which stands behind Nelson. All in all it is a great place to do some more traditional touristy sites for free and get some superb memories of your vacation to London.