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Free or Nearly Free London

Whether you’re a frugal traveler or on a budget, there are lots of sites and things to see or do in free or nearly free London.  There are numerous hidden gems that are free but these are our Top 5 free or nearly free London sites:

Edouard Manet - A Bar at the Folies-Bergère1.  Courtauld Gallery – This has to be one of the best small museums in a city with lots of masterpieces.  The Courtauld sits at the top of the Strand at Somerset House.  This London museum is free on Mondays between 10a and 2p and boasts an intimate collection of Impressionists and religious relics, along with masterpieces by Michelangelo, Picasso and Van Gogh.  You can spend hours here.

Nearest Tube:  Temple or Charing Cross

2. Museum of London – This off-the-beaten path museum houses so much of London’s history.  It’s located in a part of town not frequented by tourists and offers a walk through a London time capsule.  There are wonderful life-sized exhibits of Londinium (Roman London, dating back to the 1st century), the Great Fire of 1666 with a collection of objects that survived the city’s devastating blaze, wonderful photo and art collections and much more.  The Museum of London is renowned for its archaeology work and often conducts workshops and lectures for visiting archaeology buffs, so check its website before you go.  It’s open everyday from 10a – 6p and it’s free admission.

Nearest Tube: Barbican, St. Paul’s and Moorsgate

3.  Prime Meridian – So you’d like to experience zero longitude and not pay for it?  Fear not, you can straddle the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, the point from which all time is measured, without paying the £9.50 fee to enter the Royal Observatory.  You can have one foot in the east and one foot in the west at the same time without climbing the glorious hill where signs and long lines of tourists mark the spot.  Just outside Greenwich Park (the Park Row Gate) on Park Vista Street at the corner of Feathers Place, there is a series  of metal dots in the road, marking the Meridian.  A plaque on the nearby Chantry declares you’ve arrived.  There’s also a plaque in the pavement on Sun Street marking the time line.  Yes, those spots are free but if you climb the hill where  the views are wonderful, you can buy yourself an “official” certificate commemorating the exact time and date you arrived at the center of the world!  And isn’t that worth an extra few quid?

Nearest Tube: The Dockland Light Railway to the Cutty Sark stop for Maritime Greenwich.

Temple Church by Alan Ford
12th Century Temple Church / photo: Alan Ford

4.  Temple Church – This place is way cool for a true wanderluster intrigued by tales of the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar.  To top if off, it’s located within the Inns of Court and for this attorney, I treasured flying solo through the alleys and byways of this inner sanctum.  The Temple Church is generally open everyday but is often closed for special ceremonies and weddings, so call or email before planning your visit.  Admission to the church is £5 with discounts for seniors & students.  Free for those who just want to say a prayer.

Nearest Tube:  Temple, Blackfriars or Embankment

The murder of the Lindow Man was hidden deep in a British Bog for 2,000 years

5.  The British Museum – It’s always free but a huge bin to collect “donations” greets you at the door.  Yet, there’s no pressure, as in New York, museums for a “suggested donation” so toss in a pound or two if you can.   Here you can see the actual friezes from the Parthenon in Greece, the remains of the 2,000 year old Lindow Man and more mummies than you can imagine.

Nearest Tube:  Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street

TOURIST TIP:  Since you’re saving on admission at the British Museum, you might have some bucks to spend at its wonderful gift shop.  It’s good to know that they accept US dollars there as well.

There is still so much more to see and do in London which is free, like the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern.  The eager, frugal tourist should take advantage of it in a city known to be one of the most expensive in the world.

If you’re ready to get away, let our London travel specialist help book your perfect trip.