Free things to do in the City of London
The best things in life are free and the City of London has plenty to enjoy that doesn’t involve spending a penny!
Free museums and galleries
The Guildhall Art Gallery collection spans 400 years and is particularly rich in Victorian art. The Gallery’s London paintings take visitors on a colourful journey into the City’s past, covering dramatic events like the Great Fire of London and crowds enjoying the Lord Mayor’s Show, to street scenes providing insights into everyday life.
In the basement of the gallery immerse yourself in ancient history as you step into the long forgotten ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre. Lost for centuries, the original walls were rediscovered by archaeologists working on the site of the new Guildhall Art Gallery building in 1988.
Explore the history of the Bank of England and what it does today. The museum’s collection contains 40,000 items and spans over 1,500 years of history. Learn about why people started using paper money, and discover the secrets of why banknotes are so difficult to copy. Test your strength by picking up a real gold bar, and discover why our building is on top of one the world’s largest stores of gold.
See and experience the reconstructed remains of the Temple of Mithras, an ancient Roman temple in the heart of the Square Mile, The temple has been restored to capture the mystery and intrigue of the Roman cult of Mithras, who used to meet on this site. Haze, light and the sound of footsteps, chanting and secret whispers will transport you back to London AD 240.
From Roman remains to cutting-edge modern architecture there’s always something incredible to be discovered and many of the City’s attractions are all within easy walking distance of each other. Pick up a free self-guided tour map from the City Information Centre or download our City Visitor Trail and Exploremore apps, to discover the City at your own pace.
City Gardens and Courtyards
It’s not all sky scrapers and cobbled streets in the City. There are plenty of parks, gardens and churchyards to be discovered. Don’t miss St Dunstan in the East Church Garden, a magical and unique space within the ruins of a Wren church. Or discover Postman’s Park, A cool and tranquil garden home to the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts (1817-1904) commemorating every day heroes.
Being home to so many skyscrapers makes the City the perfect vantage point for viewing London. What’s more, many of these views can be experienced for free!
The Sky Garden offers 360 degree views across the city from London’s highest public garden. Located atop the famous ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, enjoy the landscaped gardens, observation decks, an open air terrace and multiple options for food and drink.
The City of London’s largest public rooftop space, The Garden at 120 offers exceptional 360-degree views of the City and greater London and is free for members of the public to visit, with no booking required. Dedicated public lifts lead directly to The Garden at 120, which is an oasis in the heart of the City. The Garden is home to 85 Italian wisteria trees, over 30 fruit trees and a 200ft-long flowing water feature.
Ascend in a glass lift, relax and take in views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the London skyline from the breath-taking roof terrace of One New Change. Open to all and absolutely free to enter, from 6am until midnight, daily.
Outdoor Art Installations
Illuminated River is a long-term art installation transforming the capital at night with an orchestrated series of light works that span along the Thames. Its subtly moving sequences of LED light symbolically unify central London’s bridges, drawing inspiration from the spirit and history of the river and from the architectural and engineering heritage of its bridges.
Sculpture in the City is an annual sculpture park that uses the urban realm as a rotating gallery space. See contemporary sculptures, nestled amongst the high-rise buildings to the east of the City by some of the world’s most high-profile artists.