London On a Budget
10 Amazing Things to Do in The British Capital for Free
They say the best things in life are free. But whoever said that, he wasn’t aware of the famous oysters at the Michelin Building. They are out-of-this-world and not cheap. Sorry. We rank this as one of life’s best experiences.
Luckily, there are plenty of other (amazing) things that one can do in London without spending a penny. Museums, galleries, churches, cafés, rooftops and architecture in general are some wonderful things one can enjoy without breaking the bank. In fact, most of London’s cultural activities are free and that’s probably one of the reasons why its citizens are well educated.
So, if you are saving up for our guide’s incredible (and expensive) restaurant selection, you may want to visit these places and save your cash for — let’s say — oysters. 😌
For more inspiration, get your Architectour Guide of London
1. Tate Britain
Tate Britain, the older sister of Tate Modern, is located on the other side of the river on the former site of a dreadful prison. Although it was built in 1897, the 2013 refurbishment by Caruso St John is perhaps the most delightful part of the building.
Architectour Tip: Most of the exhibitions are free, including the J. M. W. Turner section. Also, there are free daily tours at 11 am, noon, 2 pm and 3 pm.
Location: Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG
2. Roca Gallery
Built in 2011 during Zaha Hadid’s most prolific years in London, Roca Gallery is open to the public and always displays interesting pieces. Roca, the Spanish firm of bathroom furniture, has other interesting galleries around the world such as the one in Barcelona.
Architectour Tip: Evelyn Grace Academy and the London Aquatics Centre are well worth a visit and they are free too.
Location: Station Court, Townmead Rd, Fulham, London SW6 2PY
3. Natural History Museum
Because you’ve probably read it all about this place, we’re going to try and surprise you with an Archie fun fact that has nothing to do with architecture. Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of the museum, was the brother of Edwin Waterhouse, the co-founder of the Price Waterhouse partnership now known as PwC . We hope you liked it 😉
Architectour Tip: Most of the exhibitions are free, including the now extinct Dodo on display.
Location: Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD
4. Serpentine Pavilion
The lucky architect in charge of designing the Serpentine Gallery’s Pavilion in 2021 is by Sumayya Vally. His exciting work reinterprets reflections of natural phenomena and traditional architectural conventions. Can’t wait to visit and sketch it 😍
Architectour Tip: The new pavilion opens 11 June 2021 and it’s free to visit.
Location: Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
5. Harry Potter Platform 9 ¾
We love Harry Potter. We have the scarf, have read the books multiple times and know the lines of the movies by heart. That’s why this “platform” is a must visit for any Harry Potter fan.
Architectour Tip: Although it’s free, you’ll have to buy the photograph. Alternatively, bring your own professional photographer a.k.a your Potterhead friend.
Location: King’s Cross, Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9AP
6. Daunt Books
This delightful independent bookshop in Marylebone can turn to be a black hole. Last time we were there, we spent around two hours…and £105 in books. But it was so well worth it. You can browse for free but their book selection is so good, you’ll likely bring some presents home.
Architectour Tip: Cheap and wonderful things you’ll find here: the postcard selection and the map’s wrapping paper.
Location: 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW
7. British Museum
The history, collection and architecture of the British Museum makes this place one of the best in the world. Seriously, it’s mind-blowing in every aspect. The best? It won’t cost a penny to visit.
Architectour Tip: Don’t miss the Portland Vase, which was smashed into 200 pieces by a drunken visitor in 1845.
Location: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG
8. Fen Court
We recently shared with you our visit to the newest rooftop in the City. Our verdict: 10/10. In addition to offering spectacular views of the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin, it also shows a very interesting angle of the mysterious Lloyd’s Register by Richard Rogers (the other Lloyds).
Architectour Tip: Going up is free and it will soon have a restaurant. Things couldn’t be any better 🤩
Location: 120 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 5BA
9. Columbia Flower Market
This historical Sunday market is pretty, colourful and smells great. Many Londoners have it as part of their weekend ritual and it’s not surprising because it’s also very fun. Besides the flowers, there is plenty of music, food and drinks too.
Architectour Tip: Best bargains are achieved at 2–3 pm when the stalls are being cleared up.
Location: Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
10. Stairs at Tate Modern
Everybody is raging at the new extension of Tate Modern — mainly its rooftop. And though the views are epic, this staircase is what really makes architects go weak at the knees.
Architectour Tip: Check the program of the museum as there are many live performances for free too.
Location: Bankside, London SE1 9TG