Free and Cheap Things to Do in London

The exchange rate may vary, but there is one conversion that will never change: £0 = $0. Here are our picks for the top free (and cheap) things to do in London.

Concerts

St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. Stephen Walbrook, St. Olaves in The City, and St. James's Church Piccadilly all host free lunchtime concerts and recitals, as does St. George in Bloomsbury on Sunday afternoons. There are also regular organ recitals at Westminster Abbey.

Of the elite music colleges, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Guildhall, Trinity College, and the Royal Opera House offer free recitals. For contemporary ears, there’s free jazz and classical music on an exquisite 1897 Bechstein on the first Sunday of the month at the Dysart Petersham restaurant (135 Petersham Rd.07967/481–625) in Richmond and live jazz at the Blue Posts (28 Rupert St. 07921/336-010) in Soho, starting at 3 pm every Sunday. For free blues Sunday–Thursday or before 8:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, head to the Ain't Nothin But . . . honky-tonk blues bar in Soho (20 Kingly St.020/7287–0514).

Film, Theater, and Opera

If all seats have been sold, the National Theatre sells unobstructed-view £5 standing-room tickets on the day of performances at their Olivier, Lyttleton, and Dorfman theaters. Standing-room tickets are £3–£15 at the Royal Opera House, with 49 cheap tickets available each Friday at 1 pm for sold-out performances. If you're under 30 or a student, becoming an "Access all Arias" member of the English National Opera is free and allows you to buy £10–£30 tickets. There are 500 £5 standing-room tickets available for every performance at the Shakespeare’s Globe theater, as well as £10 standing-room tickets for magical candlelit plays and concerts at the adjacent indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. At Sloane Square, the Royal Court Theatre has a limited number of standing-room tickets for 10 pence each at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, available an hour before performances.

Sightseeing

Prop yourself on the top deck of a red double-decker bus for a fantastic sightseeing tour through the most scenic parts of the city. Route15 operates a Heritage route on the traditional 1950s Routemaster buses on select weekends. With all buses now cashless, you can instead use your Oyster card or buy tickets from machines at bus stops for the following routes:

Bus 11: King's Road, Sloane Square, Victoria Station, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, the Strand, Royal Courts of Justice, Fleet Street, and St. Paul's Cathedral.

Bus 19: Sloane Square, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, Shaftsbury Avenue, Bloomsbury, Angel, and Islington.

Bus 88: Oxford Circus, Conduit Street, Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, Westminster Station, Westminster Abbey, Horseferry Road, and Tate Britain.

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