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10 of the Best Free Things to Do in London

By Bidvest Bank
Buzzing with debate, buskers and cafes, London is an obvious port of call for anyone in search of a quality city fix. It’s the birthplace of roller skates, cash machines and Mr Bean, where dreams come to life on stages across the West End, and history is woven into each nook of its grand streets. 

There is simply no shortage of things to love about London. From a practical point of view, the rand strengthening against the pound has finally made trips to the royal city a bit more feasible. But even with the rand’s recovery rate, London still remains one of the priciest cities in the world. However there are some amazing free things to in London that you may not have thought of. Here are our top 10:  

1. Drop into the National Portrait Gallery for a free drawing class. Every Friday evening you can get tips from a professional artist as you settle before a portrait and sketch to your heart’s content. 

2. Wander through magical parks. From local favourites like London Fields and Paddington Street Gardens, to grand and glorious Hyde Park, London boasts some of the finest urban green spaces in the world. If the weather’s good consider yourself lucky, grab a baguette and bottle of wine and wile away the hours watching locals soak up London’s rarest treat: sunshine.   

3. Catch free performances, talks, exhibitions, workshops and fitness classes at the Royal Festival Hall, located on the always-festive Southbank. Ride the singing glass elevator up to the balcony for views over the city on the Thames.

4. Taste your way through the markets that local foodies frequent. More boutique than Borough Market, Maltby Street Market will tempt you with its delights. From gooey goat’s cheese, walnut and honey toasted sandwiches to flavour-bursting mezze or a top confit burger, it’s worth splashing out on one of these comparatively affordable market treats.
5. Hear the mad ramblings, conspiracy theories and occasional wisdom of professional soap-boxers on Speaker’s Corners. Based at the northeast corner of Hyde Park, just near Marble Arch. 

6. Although most museums offer you free things to do in London, the Horniman Museum deserves mention for character alone. It’s home to a dazzling display of musical instruments, an aquarium and anthropological gems like an overstuffed walrus.

7. Rest your weary feet and play film critic for a few hours at the BFI. The British Film Institute’s Mediatheque provides access to a seemingly endless archive of excellent films, documentaries and TV shows to watch for free. 

8. Whether you’re heading to London with kids or looking to rediscover your inner child, explore the seven floors of Hamleys, not only the oldest toyshop in the world but also arguably the most fun free London activity there is. 

9. Immerse yourself in literature at The British Library. This manifestation of the pursuit of knowledge houses a history of budding writers, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Magna Carta, handwritten lyrics of the Beatles, as well as a lovely café and free wifi. 

10. Stroll, or spend the mere two pounds it’ll cost to rent a Santander bicycle and ride along the Thames at sunset or the break of dawn. Feel the wind in your hair and drink in silhouettes of old buildings against pink and grey skies.  

Desperate to test out all the exciting free London activities above? Bidvest Bank’s MasterCard® World Currency Card™ provides a fuss-free solution to banking while abroad, plus you can fix the exchange rate before you go. Find out more.