London is full of history and culture with a wealth of attractions, many of which are free. Whether you are a first time visitor or this is a regular journey, there are some surprising places where you can see an aspect of London without spending money. Here are a few of the best places to go where admission costs nothing at all.
Under the banks and offices in the commercial City of London are traces of previous occupants of Britain’s capital. The Roman Mithraeum lay undiscovered for centuries until a World War Two bomb revealed its ancient structure. Now restored in a purpose-built building, the Mithraeum is open to the public so they can view and learn about this ancient temple and a religious cult. Tours must be pre-booked online in advance via their website. Address: 12 Walbrook, London, EC4N 8AA. Nearest underground station: Bank.
The Charterhouse dates from 1348 and has been a monastery, a school, a manor house, and is now an almshouse. There are many historic connections to the building including the Black Death, the site of the first soccer game, and links to both Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. The small museum displaying the history of the site is free, as is the chapel with its distinctive greyhound carvings. Visitors can also pay for a tour of the main building which is highly recommended and includes the cloister where soccer was first played and some of the original rooms (£10- book online in advance). Address: Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AN.
You don’t have to be connected to freemasonry to visit Freemason’s Hall but for art deco fans this is a hidden gem in London. Freemason’s Hall was built as a memorial to the dead from World War One and is now the central hub of the Masonic movement in England. Visitors can see the museum for free and can also get a guided tour of the building when the hall is not in use. Points of interest include the Grand Temple, magnificent stained glass windows, and art deco architecture. The hall has been used in film locations including Spooks and Green Day. Do look out for the art deco bathrooms which are quite unique. Address: 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ.
One of the finest museums in England, the British Museum is free to visit. There’s no way you can see it all in one go, but focus on a few of the displays and you’ll see a wealth of historic treasures. Among the most famous are the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, the Rosetta Stone, Samurai armour, and Egyptian mummies. Address: Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Walk Along the Thames
Starting at Lambeth Bridge and Victoria Tower Gardens, you can walk along the River Thames path towards St Paul’s Cathedral. Along the route, you’ll see a number of famous landmarks including the London Eye, Westminster, and the Monument. This is a great way to get some exercise and see some of the popular sights for free. Other excellent walks go through Hyde Park and Regents Park in Central London.
Somerset House has a fascinating history and has been an Admiralty building, a tax office, and a 17th-century palace. There are all kinds of artistic and cultural displays here but each Tuesday and Thursday there are guided tours which are free and give an insight into its past. There are two types of tours which include the old palace and the dead house. Tickets are given out on a first come first served basis and are available from the Seamen’s Waiting Hall. Address: Strand, WC2 RIL