London for free: 15 fantastic ways to enjoy the capital without spending a penny!

Living in London can be an expensive business with plenty of places to splash the cash around town, from fancy restaurants to flashy boutiques. But one place you’ll never pay over the odds is Azimo. We’re online only, so we can offer you brilliant rates, super-low fees and lightning-fast service – all of which means your money will get where it’s going quicker, cheaper and more securely.

Want to save even more? Here are 15 other brilliant ways to enjoy London for less. None of them will cost you a penny, so get out there!

1. Enjoy 360° views at the Sky Garden

You have to pay a premium for cocktails in one of London’s glamorous skyscraper bars, but you can enjoy a 360° view over the capital and beyond for free at the Sky Garden, 155 metres above ground. Inside a huge glass dome are three storeys of lush landscaped gardens, with observation decks and an open-air terrace. Book in advance online.

2. Spot a kingfisher at Woodberry Wetlands

Two abandoned reservoirs surrounded by tower blocks form this peaceful new nature reserve in gritty north-east London – a home from home for all kinds of water-loving wildlife. You might spot kingfishers, coots, terns, ducks, buntings and even hawks, along with bats, newts, frogs and toads. Paths surround the waters and there’s a café on site.

3. Watch the Changing the Guard

British pageantry at its best as a new cohort of palace guards – in traditional red tunics and bearskins – relieve the group on duty, amid much ceremonial formality, military band music and marching. The ceremony takes place outside Buckingham Palace, starting at 11am and lasting around 45 minutes. Get there early to secure a good spot.

4. Get lost in music at Union Chapel

A wonderfully atmospheric setting for music, comedy and more, this Victorian Gothic church in Islington hosts a free programme of ‘eclectic mini-gigs’ – with artists as diverse as the London Bulgarian Choir and Frank Sidebottom – from noon to 2pm most Saturday afternoons. Donations are encouraged and there’s a café open, too, for coffee and cake.

5. See how the world works at the Science Museum

If you’re interested in how things work, you’ll love the Science Museum. Children enjoy Wonderlab, a hands-on gallery revealing how science shapes our world. Adults will appreciate the new Zaha Hadid-designed Mathematics Gallery, which traces the role of maths in our lives through fascinating artefacts such as an original World War II Enigma code-breaking machine.

6. Dance the night away at Hootananny

You’ll find a glorious mash-up of African, dub, reggae and drum ‘n’ bass beats at Brixton’s Hootananny. The popular venue hosts live music all week, and gigs on Sunday and early in the week (Monday to Wednesday) are often free – see the website for what’s on and prices. There’s free comedy, too, every Friday night: go for the laughs and you can stay for the gig for free.

7. Mix with the stars at a BBC recording

The BBC works on more than a thousand shows a year across radio and television, and many of these need a live audience. Tickets, which are always free, are available for everything from mega-popular primetime spectacles such as Strictly Come Dancing to radio quiz broadcasts. Names are entered into a ballot for the big shows and all applications must be made via the website.

8. Laugh your head off at the Camden Head

There are several comedy clubs in London that charge no entrance fee (though many ask for donations). The Angel Comedy Club at the Camden Head in Islington is one of the best, with experienced acts trying out new material often on the bill alongside stand-up novices. There are shows every night, starting at 8pm – or earlier if the room reaches capacity, so arrive in good time to be sure of a space.

9. Discover Ancient Egypt at the British Museum

The British Museum is positively packed with art and artefacts telling the stories of cultures from around the globe – you can only hope to scratch the surface on a single visit. Its Egyptian galleries are a great place to start, with treasures including its world-famous collection of mummies. The expansive Central Court, with its stunning glass roof, is worth a look too.

10. Meet the animals at Vauxhall City Farm

Compact Vauxhall City Farm is the capital’s most centrally located urban farm. It’s home to furry friends aplenty, including horses, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, ferrets, goats, pigs and alpacas. Even better – lots of them enjoy meeting the visitors and being stroked. There’s an ecology garden (with bog, wormery and stag beetle nursery), a riding school and a café on site too.

11. Celebrate Chinese New Year

In January or February (dates vary), London’s West End comes alive with the sound of the annual Chinese New Year celebrations – the biggest outside Asia. The streets are filled with music, dance, acrobatics, parades and fireworks. Arrive in plenty of time to find a place along the route to watch the procession weave its way along Charing Cross Road from Trafalgar Square to Chinatown.

Photo: Bikeworldtravel/Shutterstock, Inc

12. Have a fiesta at the Forge

Celebrate all things Cuban at Fiesta at the Forge – a monthly all-day party that carries on deep into the night. There’s kids’ stuff during the day, with games, magic and a piñata. As the bands start up with quintessential Cuban salsa, son and reggaeton, the dancefloor fills. DJs take over later, pumping out more of the best from Havana and beyond. Cuban food and cocktails complete the party.

13. Get down at the Notting Hill Carnival

The biggest, baddest Caribbean-style carnival in Europe takes place over the bank holiday weekend at the end of August. At the carnival’s heart is the parade, with elaborate floats and costumed dancers winding through the streets of Notting Hill to the sound of calypso from steel bands and mobile sound systems. There’s music everywhere you turn, with static sound systems and stages as well, and plenty of street stalls selling jerk chicken and goat curry galore.

Photo: Bikeworldtravel/Shutterstock, Inc

14. Wander over wild Hampstead Heath

London has a lot of parks, but when it comes to feeling as if you’re in the countryside while in the heart of the city, you can’t beat Hampstead Heath. The huge green expanse in north London has wooded areas, rolling hills – there are some of the best views of London from Parliament Hill – lakes (including bathing ponds, with a small charge for use), sports facilities, plus a formal garden and small zoo at Golders Hill Park.

15. See magical modern art at Tate Modern

A former power station on the South Bank makes a dramatic setting for Britain’s top repository of modern and contemporary art – its permanent collection features big names such as Matisse, Rothko, Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois. Even the entrance is astonishing – visitors arrive through the original, jaw-droppingly cavernous turbine hall, home to colossal, temporary installations. A new, pyramid tower-shaped extension houses yet more galleries.

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