"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations.
London is almost 2,000 years old. A perusal of London's history can help explain how the small Roman settlement on the banks of the Thames became today's multicultural city of more than 7 million inhabitants. Historians have written tomes about each era.
"The best things in life are free", goes the saying, and nowhere is it truer than in London. Make the most of your stay in the city with these free London attractions. The range of free London attractions is incredible.
- Free London Galleries &Museums
- Free London Attractions
Free London Galleries
London has some of the best museums and galleries in the world. And the great news is that most of the museums and galleries are free to visit, unless you wish to see a special exhibition.
The National Gallery
(Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Covent Garden)
The crowning glory of the Trafalgar Square piazza, the National Gallery is a vast space filled to the rafters with Western European paintings. Expect to find works by masters such as Van Gogh, da Vinci, Cézanne, Constable, Caravaggio, Canaletto, Titian and Stubbs. Regular activities include: audio tours, guided tours, sessions for visitors with a visual impairment, lunchtime talks, live music and late night openings on Fridays.
The British Museum
(Nearest stations: Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square)
The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all 'studious and curious persons'. View the Rosetta Stone, and other treasures of ancient Egypt.
The National Portrait Gallery
(Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Covent Garden)
The National Portrait Gallery started life in 1856. It is home to a vast collection of portraits of British men and women. Subjects include great writers such as William Shakespeare and Rudyard Kipling, as well as Kings and Queens and icons of our time. It also has a photographic collection, and boasts one of the best roof-top restaurants in London.
The British Library
(Nearest Stations: St Pancras International, King's Cross, Euston)
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, receiving a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland. The collection includes more than 150 million items, in over 400 languages.
The Natural History Museum
(Nearest station: South Kensington)
The Natural History Museum is the UK's national museum of nature and a centre of scientific excellence. In addition, the free Treasures permanent exhibition opened in 2012. Treasures hosts 22 exhibits, each with its own remarkable story, chosen for its scientific, historical, aesthetic and cultural importance.
The Royal Academy of Arts
(Nearest stations: Green Park, Piccadilly Circus)
The Royal Academy of Arts is home to an ever-changing programme of exciting, blockbuster exhibitions.
(Nearest stations: Pimlico, Vauxhall)
From romantic Pre-Raphaelite paintings to landscapes by Turner and Francis Bacon's distorted nudes - you'll find much to gaze in awe at within Tate Britain. If you eat at the gallery's renowned restaurant, make sure you study the world-famous mural by Rex Whistler between mouthfuls!
(Nearest stations: Blackfriars, Waterloo)
Tate Modern, London's great cathedral to international modern art and formerly a power station. The Turbine Hall has hosted some of Lodnon's most talked about interactive exhibitions in recent years, in some you become a part of the art itself by participating, the ultimate in performance art. Discover temporary exhibitions by world-famous artists including Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko and Kandinsky. Thanks to its riverside setting, the gallery's restaurants offer fabulous views across the Thames.
The Serpentine Gallery
(Nearest stations: High Street Kensington, Queensway, Lancaster Gate)
The Serpentine Gallery hosts displays of modern and contemporary art. It's a perfect stop on a stroll through Kensington Park Gardens.
The Wallace Collection
(Nearest stations: Bond Street, Oxford Circus)
The Wallace Collection is a national museum located in the sumptuous Hertford House on Manchester Square, near Bond Street and Oxford Circus. Famous pieces include works by Rembrandt and Titian, and 'The Laughing Cavalier' by Hals. Don't forget the stunning medieval and Renaissance objects on display, including the finest array in Britain of princely arms and armour, collected from Europe and Asia.
Bank of England Museum
Housed within the Bank of England, this museum traces the history of the bank from its foundation by Royal Charter in 1694 to its role today as the nation's central bank. There are gold bars dating from ancient times to the modern market bar, coins, and a unique collection of banknotes.
Imperial War Museums
Occupying the former Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane ('Bedlam'), the Imperial War Museum is the national museum of 20th-century conflict. Founded in 1917, it not only contains a fascinating display of the vehicles and weapons of war, but also makes an in-depth study of the social effects of conflict.
Museum of London
Experience the real flavour of London life from the prehistoric to present day at this modern museum boasting over 1.1 million objects - many rescued from archaeological digs or discovered during building works in the City.
National Maritime Museum
Located in the heart of historic Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum houses the most important collection of objects relating to the history of Britain at sea. The collection dates back to 1823 when a National Gallery of Naval Art was established, featuring some 300 portraits, paintings and artefacts.
Home to one of the world's most magnificent collections of science, industry, technology and medicine, the Science Museum is one of London's most hands-on and interactive museums. Funded by the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851, it started life in the 19th century as part of Prince Albert's grand scheme to promote industrial technology.
Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum
With over 145 galleries to explore and over 4 million items, the V & A is one of the most influential museums of decorative and applied arts in the world. It was originally founded in 1852, with the aim of enthusing and educating British manufacturers and designers. It is now home to a stunning collection of European, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Islamic artefacts ranging from ceramics, glass, metalwork and sculpture to costume, armour, weaponry and furniture.
Free London Attractions
Houses of Parliament
Home to the two seats of Parliament – the Commons and the Lords – visitors are allowed free access to the Public Galleries in both Houses where they can watch debates when parliament is in session.
A rich collection of famous paintings are housed within the walls of this neoclassical villa perched by a lake on top of Hampstead Heath. Works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough form the property's famous Iveagh Bequest.
Royal Opera House
Home of the Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera, this impressive building in the heart of Covent Garden has been playing host to every major star of the classical music world since 1858. If you're heavily into ballet and opera then this is the place to come for high-quality performances in grand surroundings.
London's only example of neo-Byzantine architecture and principal Roman Catholic church, offers a magnificent campanile that emerges 274 feet into the sky. While 12 million burnished terracotta coloured bricks adorn the exterior, parts of the interior remain poignantly bare - a potent reminder of the lack of funding which plagued construction in 1895.
Tower Of London
Unfortunately, it does cost to visit the famous and historic Tower of London, however visitors can attend the Ceremony of the Keys, which takes place every evening in the grounds of the palace, for free. Every night the Tower of London is locked up by the Chief Warder who makes his way to the gates from the Byward Tower at exactly 9.53pm. Once all the Tower gates are locked, the Last Post is sounded by a trumpeter and the ceremony is concluded. This ceremony represents a 700-year-old tradition and lasts no more than 10 minutes. The Chief Warder represents the Yeoman Warders (more commonly known as 'Beefeaters') who have looked after the Tower since the 14th century.