London calling: Our top 20 free things to do in London

things to do in London

Looking to explore one of the best cities in the world on a shoestring budget? Fear not. London offers numerous options for a fun, free day out – many of which are just a short walk or tube ride from The Montcalm London City and other hotels in London’s city centre.

Think picnics in the park, cutting-edge comedy nights, browsing at lively markets, and getting your fix of arts and culture at one of many free museums. Just make sure you, your family and friends choose suites in London so that you can be close to all the action!

Whatever takes your fancy, our top picks have something for everyone.

  1. Walk along Southbank

Southbank London

Perfect for those balmy summer evenings, Southbank is the heart of London’s cultural scene, set against the backdrop of the River Thames and iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye. Lined with pubs, bars and restaurants, plus world-class art venues, it’s a real must-visit.

  1. Borough Food Market

Borough Food Market

If you’re a foodie (or even if you’re not) you can’t miss one of the city’s oldest food institutions, Borough Market. Boasting over 100 stalls of delicious gourmet food – with everything from mouth-watering burgers to cheese, wine and fresh fruit and veg – it makes for a welcome assault on the senses.

  1. Browse Vintage on Brick Lane

Brick Lane Market

London’s Brick Lane is known for two things: its epic curry houses and its vintage scene. Browse through rows upon rows of clobber from the ‘20s right through to the ’00s. Over the weekend there are two huge markets selling all manner of retro clothing, shoes, antiques and accessories. The only problem? You’ll unlikely leave empty-handed.

  1. Vinegar Yard

Handily situated a stone’s throw from London Bridge station – ideal if you’re staying in a London city centre hotel – is Vinegar Yard. A veritable playground of cool independent sellers in old shipping containers, there’s all sorts of items to buy, as well as a handful of colourful food trucks and bars once hunger kicks in.

  1. Tate Modern

Tate Modern London

You’ll no doubt have heard of it; London’s Tate Modern is one of the world’s most revered art galleries, housing a permanent international collection of contemporary art as well as must-see temporary exhibitions. Our top tip? After browsing the art grab a coffee in the Tate cafe for incredible skyline views.

  1. V&A Museum

Vistoria and Albert museum

Another one of London’s museum greats, the V&A houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of decorative arts, as well as sculpture, textiles, photography and more – all of which you can admire for not a single dime.

  1. Top Secret Comedy Club Covent Garden

Comedy Club London

If you’re staying in a hotel in London city centre and fancy a free night out with laughs galore, check out the (not-so-secret) Top Secret Comedy Club in Covent Garden. Nearly all shows are free or just £1, presenting both new and established comedians – think Jack Whitehall and Iain Stirling. You might even witness a star in the making…

  1. Wander around Harrods or Liberty

Harrods in london

Regardless of whether you’re a shopaholic or not, everyone can appreciate these two iconic shopping meccas. Set in an imposing Tudor period building, Liberty houses high-end fashion and beauty items as well as its own fabric line, while Harrods in all its gilded gold glory and endless shopping is a sight to behold – especially at Christmas for its magical window displays.

  1. Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

Witness history in the making at the Houses of Parliament by visiting the House of Lords and watching a debate unfold in front of your very eyes. If you’re feeling a little more organised, you can even plan a free tour of these incredible houses, but you’ll need to book in advance.

  1. Shoreditch Street Art tour

Street Art London

Looking for that perfect Instagram shot in London’s hippest neighbourhood? Why not do a self-planned street art tour around the buzzy Redchurch Street and Brick Lane, where every exposed wall is adorned with eye-catching murals. What’s more, it’s walking distance from The Montcalm London City.

  1. Picnic in Greenwich Park

Picnic Parks in london

When the weather’s good, you’ll no doubt want to spend every second outside, and the beautiful Greenwich Park is just the spot for it. The park is one of London’s largest green spaces, boasting views of the River Thames as well as St Paul’s, Canary Wharf and beyond.

  1. Visit the Barbican Conservatory

Visit the Barbican Conservatory

While staying at the city hotel in London, it’d be remiss of us not to mention the beautiful Barbican Conservatory a short walk away. Open every Sunday, it’s home to exotic fish and over 2,000 tropical plants and trees, as well as a Theatre flytower. The perfect place to enjoy a relaxed Sunday.

  1. Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market

Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor – Portobello Market forever holds its charm. Although best known for its antiques, you’ll also find a wealth of fashion, books and other knick-knacks, as well as the familiar chorus of local sellers bellowing. A quintessentially ‘London’ experience.

  1. Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath London

As one of London’s biggest green spaces – with some of the highest and best viewpoints in the city – Hampstead Heath is both scenic and diverse. Some of the many attractions here include an open-air lido, swimming ponds, sports pitches, a Zoo and a butterfly house.

  1. Science Museum

Science Museum

If you’re travelling with kids or family, a trip to London’s Science Museum is a sure-fire way to impress. Boasting over 15,000 objects on display as well as interactive galleries, 3D experiences and an IMAX 3D Cinema, it’s possibly one of London’s best free attractions.

  1. Catch a free music gig at St Martin in the Fields

Music events in london

Treat your ears to a free performance at the beautiful St Martin in the Fields, just off Trafalgar Square. The lunchtime concert series features an array of singers, musicians and choirs in a historic and atmospheric space with second-to-none acoustics.

  1. Columbia Road Flower Market

Chelsea Flower Show

Prepare to be dazzled at Columbia Road flower market. Admire beautiful, colourful flowers and their heady, floral scents, the noise of the buskers and rows upon rows of fresh fruit and veg sellers. Just grab a takeaway coffee and you’re good to go!

  1. God’s Own Junkyard

Looking for art and culture that’s a little more…subversive? Then hop on the tube to Walthamstow to check out God’s Own Junkyard – a flashy feast of vibrant neon signs as well as former film props, religious statues, disco balls and more. They’re all free to ogle, but also available to buy.

  1. Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Taking place every morning at one of London’s most loved attractions – Buckingham Palace – is the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Experience this timeless tradition in action as the guards dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats swap responsibilities for the day. Photos are a must of course.

  1. Visit a free Farm

A great one for kids or animal lovers, London just so happens to be home to a number of small farms. Whether you’re getting up close and personal with farmyard animals or planting vegetables at Hackney City Farm or hanging out with Llamas at Crystal Palace Park farm, it’s sure to be a fun, free day out for all.