Two things we know.
1. We Singaporeans love to travel.
2. The best things in life are free.
At DirectAsia.com we are always looking for new ways to combine great things. So if you are heading to Europe any time soon, here is our insider’s peek at things to do in London, either for cheap or completely free. And if you weren’t heading to London… you may be after reading this.
“No city in the world has more free stuff to do.” lonelyplanet.com
Discover, Explore, Be Inspired
Incredible. All of London’s top museums are absolutely free. Pretty much anything you like, from any time in History. Ever. Here’s our top picks with some handy links so you can plan your itinerary.
- The Natural History Museum, set in a elegant and thoughtfully enormous Victorian building, it is a celebration of all things naturally beautiful, weird and wonderful. World famous for its dinosaur skeletons.
- The British Museum opened in 1753, it has remained free to visit ever since. The museum houses more than 7 million objects. Its collection of Egyptian and Greek antiquities is amongst the largest and best known in the world.
- The Science Museum was founded in 1857 with objects shown at Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace. The permanent displays are all free and they have exceptional temporary exhibitions for all the family.
- The Victoria & Albert Museum, or V&A, is all about art and design, and boasts over 3000 years worth of artifacts from many of the world’s richest cultures, including the most comprehensive collection of British design and art from 1500 to 1900. There’s furniture, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and normally something funky like Madonna’s stage outfits or the history of Punk Rock.
Want more inspiration– take a look at these?
Somerset House, Museum of London, National Gallery, V&A Museum of Childhood, Imperial War Museum, Horniman Museum
Cool Places, Open Spaces
London has an abundance of very cool open spaces. Each park has its own unique flavour, as well as a myriad of sports, music, theatre and family events. We’re sure you’ll find your perfect place.
- St James’s Park is very well connected and neighbours Buckingham Palace.
- Hyde Park, is probably London’s most famous park and hosts the notorious Speaker’s Corner where the principle of free speech reigns supreme.
- Kensington Gardens, Princess Diana lived here for most of her married life, it is great for children.
Want more inspiration– take a look at these?
Regent’s Park, home of London Zoo, Richmond Park largest of the Royal Parks, also home to hundreds of Royal deer, Battersea Park, just across the river from stunning Chelsea, can’t be bad, Greenwich Park, panoramic views and The Royal Observatory.
Art For Art’s Sake
- Guildhall Art Gallery, scenes from the City’s history. A statue of Margaret Thatcher stands guard. The basement houses the remains of a Roman amphitheatre.
- Wallace Collection, Rembrandt, Titian, Van Dyck, plus the famous Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals. The restaurant in the central atrium must rank among London’s most exquisite gallery dining spaces.
Although many of London’s museums and galleries are free, it’s a little harder to find theatre, cinema or other great things to do that don’t come with a ticket price. So we’ve done the legwork for you with this handy roundup.
- One hotspot for completely free performances is The Scoop. This amphitheatre seats 800 and is right beside City Hall, near Tower Bridge. Almost every summer evening you’ll find live music, plays, film screenings and even keep-fit classes.
- Former home of the architect of the Bank of England, Sir John Soane’s Museum includes period furniture, paintings by the likes of Hogarth and, most memorably, the sarcophagus of Seti I. Often cited as a secret small museum, queues can form for the popular candlelit evenings, held on the first Tuesday of each month, from 6pm-9pm. You’ll never see a museum quite like this anywhere else.
- Get lost in the Barbican estate, one of Britain’s best examples of the architectural style known as brutalism. A complex of baffling walkways, hidden gardens, slopes and steps. Here the pedestrian is king and eventually you’ll find the picturesque water in front of the Barbican Centre, a remarkable arts venue. The Curve Gallery is always free to visit, specialising in oddball but approachable exhibitions. The rooftop conservatory is another highlight.
- Nicknamed “The Journalists’ Church”, St Bride’s is justly world famous. The story of St Bride’s is inextricably woven into the history of the City of London. The current church was built in 1672 by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London. St Bride’s famous steeple is said to have inspired the first tiered wedding cake, in happy resonance with the church’s name. The crypt conceals a fascinating exhibition of extraordinary excavations which uncovered the foundations of all six previous churches on the site, dating back 2000 years.
- For the mathematicians among you, if you saw 5 items each day at The British Library, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection! Anyone can visit this titanic Library for free and there are plenty of diversions. First among them is the Treasures exhibition, which displays literature as cool as Magna Carta and original Beatles lyrics. The world’s earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra is also sometimes on display. A quirky bookshop and excellent cafe with free Wi-Fi add to the attractions.
We’d love to hear your insider tips for great things to do in London or Europe.
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