The City of London is a costly place to live and visit. However it is a city with a treasure trove of secrets, mysteries and places for you to explore. Unfortunately, a lot of them are rather expensive. We have compiled a list of free things to do and places to visit with you and your family. As if you’ve already spent hundreds of pounds on the travel, accommodation and other pointless extras, maybe you’d rather visit some of the lesser known free attractions London has to offer.
The sheer number of museums and galleries in London is unprecedented, and no matter your interests, you’ll undoubtedly find one you’ll enjoy as well as your children. The good news is a number of them are free to the public as the government pays for them. Many of the more popular, free museums (such as the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum) are bustling with people like yourself, who are looking to experience some of the wonders of the city while they’re visiting. If you’d prefer places that are quieter, try visiting the Wellcome Collection, located in Kings Cross and only a short walk from Euston Square Station. Saying that this whacky museum was out of the ordinary would be an understatement. It features weird and wonderful exhibitions, such as an ancient mummy and a pair of human teeth. In their words, it makes you “question what it is to be human”, which sums up the collection nicely.
Many tourists, as well as locals, always recommend going to watch the “Changing of the Guards” at Buckingham Palace. Whilst it might be fun to add to your list, an arguably better historical ritual is the “Ceremony of Keys” at the Tower of London. The event occurs every night at approximately 9:30 pm and involves an hour-long, elaborate gate-locking ceremony. Even though it’s the simple act of locking up the tower for the night, it’s also a great theatrical performance to witness, with the actors presenting interesting and digestible nuggets of historical fact in a way that will appeal to you and at the same time won’t bore your children!
Listening to music is a free pastime almost everyone has indulged in at some point during their life. You might even put on songs during meals to lighten the mood, but oftentimes good concerts that are free or inexpensive are hard to come by. Luckily, “St. Martins the Fields” is here to fill that gap for you. Every lunchtime, their church offers a place to rest while eating your midday snack, with the promise of live music being played to complement it. Of course, it’s unlikely that your favourite artists will be there, as it only tends to be classical music that plays, but it’s better than sitting in Trafalgar Square and having the local pigeons eat your food. The location of it is convenient- it’s only a few minutes’ on foot from Charing Cross Station and the National Gallery, making this a great, easily accessible spot to go to.
If you’re, or your children are a Harry Potter fan you might consider going to Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. However, it’s probable that a lot of other people there also considers themselves a fan, and are there for the same reason you are. That’s why you should consider taking the free Harry Potter walking tour around London, offered by Strawberry Tours. Not only does the tour guide show you all of the main attractions, such as The London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, they also take you to more secret locations like Diagon Alley. The whole time, they explain the processes behind the production of the movie, set choices and titbits of information you’d love to hear as a fan of the franchise.
The parks scattered around London are a breath of fresh air when compared to the bustle of the rest of the city. One underrated park is Bushy Park, located near Kingston-Upon-Thames. This park is always beautiful and kept spotless by the people who work there, which must be a very tiring job considering the sheer size of it. It’s also home to a family of deer, which is exceptionally rare in a city like London, and is a nice touch that makes you feel at ease and completely comfortable with your surroundings. While it may at seem expensive at first, visiting the city doesn’t have to be bank-breaking. There are many areas hidden from the public eye that are arguably better than many of the more popular locations.