Tourists come from around the world to visit London, the city of iconic landmarks and outstanding cultural attractions. You don’t need deep pockets to enjoy the best the city has to offer, as many fantastic museums and galleries offer free entry.
Read our guide to 5 of the best free tourist attractions in London.
The British Museum
With nearly 6 million visitors a year, the British Museum, is the UK’s most popular tourist attraction, and provides visitors to London with free public access to important objects from human history and culture.
Founded in 1753, The British Museum was the first national public museum in the world. The immense building is dominated by the round, domed Reading Room and airy Great Court, which opened in 2000.
The British Museum boasts world-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, The Sutton Hoo ship burial, Egyptian Mummies and the Parthenon sculptures.
You can find out more about the collections by attending a free lunchtime gallery talk, ‘eye opener’ tour or Friday evening spotlight tour, as well as with an object handling session.
The second most popular tourist attraction in the UK, Tate Modern, is a striking London structure. Originally a Power Station, Tate Modern opened in May 2000 as a home to international modern and contemporary art.
Displays in Tate Modern cover themes such as Transformed Visions and Poetry and Dream, and give visitors the opportunity to see works of art such as Pablo Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman,’ ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ by Salvador Dalí, and ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ by Dorothea Tanning.
There is no charge for general admission and free activities take place every day at Tate Modern, including daily tours of the collection with expert guides.
While at Tate Modern, be sure to admire the architecture of the adjacent Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a replica of an original London theatre, and take a walk over Millennium Bridge for views of the River Thames.
The National Gallery
Since 1838, the National Gallery at London’s Trafalgar Square has given visitors the chance to enjoy the national collection of Western European painting. Some 2,300 works of art from the 13th to the 19th centuries are housed in the Gallery, and admission is free.
A trip to the National Gallery will let you see famous masterpieces, including portraits of notable British monarchs, politicians, and cultural figures, past and present. Make sure to see the 30 greatest paintings of the National Gallery collection, which features work by van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet and Michelangelo.
The National Gallery also makes a great starting point for a walking tour to some of London’s landmark architecture, such as Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and the Big Ben clock tower.
Lovers of culture should head to Exhibition Road, home to some of London’s best museums and galleries. There you will find the remarkable Victoria and Albert Museum, which offers free general admission, talks and tours.
The foundation stone of the current V&A building was laid in 1899 by Queen Victoria, and the stunning building houses thousands of art and design objects from a wide range of periods, including Art Deco, Medieval, Renaissance and Surrealism.
Popular treasures include the famous early photograph ‘Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square,’ the wooden semi-automaton ‘Tippoo’s Tiger’ made for Tipu Sultan, and the Hereford Screen, an impressive Victorian metalwork choir screen made in the Gothic Revival style.
Also on London’s Exhibition Road are the National History Museum, where you can see natural objects such as dinosaur skeletons and galleries of creepy crawlies, and the nearby Science Museum, with exhibits looking at subjects as far reaching as space exploration, the history of medicine and the future of technology.
William Morris Gallery
Experience a change of pace with a visit to the beautiful William Morris Gallery. This elegant Georgian house in North East London is home to the only public gallery devoted to the pioneering craftsman, designer and writer.
Reopened in August 2012 after a major redevelopment, the William Morris Gallery won the coveted Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013. The gallery houses a significant collection of furniture, ceramics, textiles and other objects linked to William Morris and his contemporaries.
Set in the tranquil Lloyd Park, which contains a new garden of flowers and plants featured in the work of William Morris, the gallery offers free entry as well as family workshops, talks and temporary exhibitions.
Our stylish hotel in Stansted has convenient access to both the airport and the city centre, making it a fantastic base for your trip to London’s attractions. The Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted Airport, is a great place to relax after a busy day in the city, and our free internet access means you can quickly share photos of your memorable trip with friends.
What free activities would you recommend for visitors to London?