It can be hard to know where to start when you visit London. With so many sights to see, you’re spoilt for choice.
To make sure you don’t blow your student loan straight away, we’ve compiled the top 10 tourist hotspots in London, and guess what? They are all free.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 tourist hotspots and see what makes them worth a visit.*
- Natural History Museum
This free attraction is a national treasure, and with good reason. The National History Museum houses an impressive collection of over 80 million life and earth science specimens.
The museum is world-renowned for its ornate architecture and weird and wonderful collections, including some specimens captured by Charles Darwin. But perhaps the most famous exhibit of all is the large diplodocus cast which greets you as you enter the main hallway.
For a rare glimpse into the past, a visit to the Natural History Museum is a must. What’s more, if you need to quench your thirst for knowledge further, the Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum are in the same area.
- Richmond Park
Seventeenth-Century Richmond Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks. The national nature reserve started life as a deer park and you can still see the animals roaming free and exploring the land. You might recognise the park’s name from the viral “Fenton” video, which showed a man furiously chasing after his dog shouting “Fenton” as it ran after the deer.
The park houses the Royal Ballet School and nine other buildings, including Pembroke Lodge. Richmond Park is open for everyone to use and includes a golf course and other sports facilities. So what are you waiting for? Escape the everyday and get a unique view of Richmond.
- King’s Cross: Platform 9¾
Who says you have to grow up? Not us. A visit to King’s Cross will delight any avid Harry Potter fan. At the famous Platform 9¾ you can push a trolley through a wall into the magical world of Harry Potter. Just make sure that the Muggles don’t see you, or the Ministry of Magic will be on your case.
So whether you fancy yourself as a Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or villainous Slytherin, a trip to King’s Cross promises to be a fun day out.
There’s no entry fee to go along to Platform 9¾, but be prepared to queue. You can choose to have a professional photograph taken at the platform but this is at a cost.
- Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park is the ideal destination for those wanting to get away from the rush of the city. It’s located in the south-east London suburb of Crystal Palace, which was named after the Victorian Crystal Palace. It’s a pleasure ground for those that love the outdoors and is regularly used for cultural and sporting events.
If you want to pack as much action into your day out as possible, you’ll be pleased to hear that the park features a number of full-sized dinosaur models, a maze, lakes and a concert bowl.
Crystal Palace Park is the perfect place for picnics on sunny afternoons or just a welcome break from the capital.
- Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre was created in 1951 for the Festival of Britain and has gone on to expand into a festival site with art and activities both inside and outside. It is now one of the most popular cultural destinations in the UK. The art and activities that it hosts attract more than 1,000 musicians and artists and over 22 million visitors every year.
Entertainment includes music, dance, art, performance and the spoken word. There’s also the chance to take part in free events. But no visit to the Southbank Centre would be complete without checking out the famous skating area, where a constant stream of talented skaters showcase their expertise.
- Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a constant hive of activity. If you can tear yourself away from the shops, you are in for a treat.
Covent Garden is perfectly situated in Central London and is just a short walk away from Soho, Chinatown, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. Think of it as the culture capital of London. Covent Garden Market is a great source of inspiration for creative types and the Christmas decorations each year are worth the visit alone.
What makes Covent Garden so great, though, is that there’s never a dull moment there. There is a constant host of street performers, each trying to outdo the others, whether by staying impossibly still as a human statue or by breathing fire whilst lying on a bed of nails. There’s also a wide range of theatre, bars and restaurants to explore in the area.
- Abbey Road
Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles by walking on the zebra crossing at Abbey Road and recreating the iconic album cover.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Iain Macmillan took the infamous photo of the Fab Four crossing the road for The Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Fans from all over the world still travel thousands of miles to the landmark zebra crossing to capture their own shot.
Abbey Road is rich in musical heritage. The crossing is based outside the famous Abbey Road Studios, where stars like Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Oasis have recorded entire albums.
- Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is an art gallery specialising in modern art. It has an unparalleled collection of modern and contemporary art and installations from 1900 to the present day. Even better, entry is free, with a small fee in place for special exhibitions.
It doesn’t matter if you know your Lichtenstein from your Rothko: the Tate Modern has something for all tastes.
The Tate Modern is based in the former Bankside Power Station, which is a short walk from Waterloo Station, giving you the chance to walk along the Thames and enjoy the view. The route also takes you past the ITV studios, so you never know who you might bump into.
- Science Museum
The Science Museum has a fantastic range of science and technology exhibitions. If you fancy geeking out for the day, this is the place for you.
There’s a wide variety of displays and activities to capture your imagination, including interactive galleries, simulators and IMAX screenings.
From the Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket to the Information Age display, you certainly won’t be bored. In fact, the Science Museum attracts over 3.3 million visitors each year.
Like its fellow publicly funded UK national museums, the Science Museum doesn’t charge an admission fee. However, temporary exhibitions may incur a fee.
- Somerset House
Somerset House offers a whole range of fun activities for those looking for a different day out in the capital. The picturesque neoclassical building has become part of the cultural scene in London, and with good reason too. The historic building helps bring original artwork and exhibitions to life. What’s more, it’s perfectly situated in the heart of London so you don’t have to stray too far to soak up a bit of culture there.
The famous venue offers you the chance to experience a broad range of artistic activities, from talking to artists and designers to free guided tours. Other attractions include the annual outdoor ice rink and open-air cinema screenings.
Discover more must-see sights of London in St George International’s interactive guide.
*Some events are subject to charge and certain activities may incur a charge.