London on a Budget: 12 Free Attractions Worth Visiting (Part Two)

This article is a continuation of last week’s list of free attractions worth visiting while in London. The attractions described below include a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities suited for single travelers or families with children.

Westminster Abbey

Many people are unaware that you can actually go inside the abbey for free. Westminster Abbey closes its doors for visitors on Sundays because of church services and welcomes everyone who wishes to attend. You can also visit during the Evensong—a type of service conducted mostly through songs. The caveat on these however, is that it only allows access to the main church itself and not the museums within. Regardless, it remains an appealing and worthy site, and to some even preferable, experiencing the Abbey as intended…for worship.

  • Location: 20 Deans Yard
  • Hours: Sundays for worship, 17:00 weekdays and 15:00 Saturday for Evensong
  • Nearest tube stop: Westminster, St. James’s Park
London on a Budget: Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

The House of Lords/Commons Public Galleries

Just as it is in the United States and some parts of Europe, tourists can witness the workings of their government by observing sessions of Parliament through the public galleries in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Most of the time, you can simply queue up on days when the Parliament is in session, or you can arrange a time slot in advance if you have a specific date in mind.

  • Location: Cromwell Green and St. Stephen’s Entrances
  • Schedule: Onwards from 14:30 (M-T), 15:00 (W), 11:00 (R), 10:00 (F)
  • Recesses: Easter, Spring Bank, Christmas and New Year holidays, as well as the months of August, September and October
  • Nearest tube stop: Westminster, St. James’s Park

Natural History Museum

Located in what is commonly referred to as “Museum Quarter” in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum is a wonderland for anyone curious about the natural world. The Great Hall is a marvelous spot to begin, with a life-sized skeleton model of a Diplodocus on display. The Mammals gallery also showcases full-sized models of some of the largest mammals on earth, including a blue whale. Lastly, the Darwin Center presents current researches in natural sciences through interactive displays. The museum is a popular place for school trips, so prepare to queue, especially during the morning hours.

  • Location: Cromwell Rd
  • Hours: Daily 10:00-17:50, last Fridays of the month up to 22:30
  • Closed on: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
  • Nearest tube stop: South Kensington

National Maritime Museum

Located in Greenwich, this museum exhibits the long and celebrated past and present histories of British maritime history. There is an exhibit about slave trade, Admiral Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as stories about the Arctic convoys during the 1940s. The museum is also a fantastic place to bring children because of the number of hands-on displays and museum activities designed specifically for kids.

  • Location: Romney Rd, Greenwich
  • Hours: Daily 10:00-17:30, Fridays up to 20:30
  • Closed on: 1 January, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
  • Getting there: By rail via the Docklands Railway from Bank Tube Station to Cutty Sark, or by boat through the Thames Clipper, stop Greenwich
National Maritime interactive exhibit
National Maritime interactive exhibit

St. James’ Park

This park provides a nice solace in the middle of a busy City of Westminster. Its location in between Whitehall and Belgravia makes it a suitable relaxation spot for locals and tourists alike. It has a beautiful lake that is home to a variety of native birds and provides picture perfect sights of London’s iconic sites: Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Westminster, and The London Eye.

  • Hours: Daily 5:00-24:00
  • Nearest tube stop: St. James’s Park, Westminster, Charing Cross
London on a Budget: View of White Hall and The London Eye on St James's Park
View of White Hall and The London Eye on St James’s Park

London markets

Sundays generally are my favorite days but when in London, it becomes Saturdays because of the open-air markets. Two of the largest ones are Portobello and Borough markets. Portobello cuts through the neighborhood of Notting Hill and has the street covered with street vendors, selling any and every conceivable item known to man. From fresh produce to antiques, it will be very difficult to leave the market empty handed. Borough, almost just as large, is exclusively a food market. Anyone who has a passion for cooking, eating and drinking needs to add Borough Market on their list of places to visit and experience.

London on a Budget: Portobello Market
Portobello Market

Portobello Markets

  • Location: Portobello Rd
  • Hours: M-W: 9:00-18:00, R: 9:00-13:00, F-S: 9:00-19:00 (antiques only on Saturday)
  • Closed on: Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
  • Nearest tube stop: Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill Gate

Borough Market

  • Location: 8 Southwark St
  • Full Market Hours: W-R: 10:00-17:00, F: 10:00-18:00, S: 8:00-17:00
  • Closed on: New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (check website for changes)
  • Nearest tube stop: London Bridge Station

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About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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