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Free sights: London

From the British Museum to the London Zoo, a list of sights that are always free in London, England

London for free
Always Free
Sometimes Free
Parks & Gardens
London is odd in that it charges admission to its top churches, but lets you into its major museums—as well as dozens of lesser-known ones—for free.

This is fantastic news, since everything else from lodging to a pint in the pub costs much more in London than in most European destinations. At least the sightseeing is (largely) free.

Most of these place do have a "suggested donation" policy, so if you can spare a pound or two it's worthwhile to help keep these institutions free for everyone.

Top sights that are always free in London

British Museum - Quite possibly the single greatest museum devoted to the ancient cultures of the world. The Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles (a.k.a. Parthenon sculptures), Egyptian mummies, and Easter Island moai are but the beginning... Full Story

National Gallery - One of the world's premier painting galleries of Old Masters from Michelangelo and Da Vinci to Turner and Monet... Full Story

Tate Modern - Absolutely wonderful new(ish) museum devoted to modern (20th century) and contemporary art installed in a massive former power along the Thames. Not just a great collection thoughtfully arranged (and frequently rearranged), but also great rotating shows, blockbuster temporary exhibits, and a fab gift shop and bookstore... Full Story

Tate Britain - Some of the greatest hits of British painting and sculpture... Full Story

The V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) - To call this the world's greatest museum of decorative arts is seriously underselling the V&A, because I hate decorative arts museums but I love this place. Among my favorites parts: the Asian collections, the stained glass, the galleries of plaster cast reproductions of the world's most famous sculptures, the Samurai outfits, and the amazing musical instrument collection... Full Story

Museum of London - Loads of exhibits on the history of London Town from prehistoric times through the Roman, Saxon, Medieval, Tudor, and Stuart eras and up to the 21st century. The collections range from artifacts to scale models, archaeological finds to photographs, paintings to past fashions... Full Story

British Library - Literary wonders ranging from the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays and fire-charred original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Charlotte Brönte neatly penned manuscript for Jane Eyre and James Joyce’s wild pencil scrawling that became Finnegan’s Wake. There are symphonies by Mozart and Handel, and Paul McCartney’s hand-written lyrics to “Yesterday,” letters written by Elizabeth I, Sir Isaac Newton, and Jane Austen, an original Gutenburg Bible nestled amidst the dozens of illuminated manuscripts from various eras (and cultures), and two (count 'em: two) of the only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta... Full Story

National Maritime Museum - See the coat in which Nelson was shot, bullet hole and all, along with some fantastically beautiful old astrolabes and an indescribably cool interactive display on the Battle of Trafalgar... Full Story

Royal Observatory - Where they keep the atomic clock that sets Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian line—well, the marker for it—that divides the eastern and western hemispheres. Also loads of historic scientific devices, including the four clocks made famous by the book Longitude... Full Story

Sir John Soane's Museum - One of those fantastic formerly private collections conserving, well, a bit of everything: ancient sculpture, paintings by Turner, Reynolds, and Hogarth (including the original A Rake’s Progress series), architectural remnants, Cantonese furniture—even the Egyptian sarcophagus of Seti I (which Soane delighted in having snatched from right under the British Museum's collective nose after they, not realizing what it was, passed on buying it when it arrived in England and they were offered first dibs.)... Full Story

More sights that are always free in London

National Army Museum (

Geffrye Museum (

Museum of Garden History (

Horniman Museum (

National Portrait Gallery (

Natural History & Science Museum (

Photographer's Gallery (

Wallace Collection (

Imperial War Museum (

Bank of England Museum

London Zoo

Old Bailey (Central Criminal Courts)


Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.