London for free
Despite London being one of the most expensive cities in the world, you don't need to sell your granny to have a good day there. With a £5 travel card to journey around the capital, there is plenty of fun to be had.
Take in the sights...
The best thing to do if you are looking to spend time in London without spending money is to head to the River Thames. You can walk along both sides for almost the entire length of its journey through London and you'll get to see most of the major sites. These include Tower Bridge, Tower of London, The Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, London Eye, Westminster Abbey and the Millennium Bridge. There are always plenty of things going on at the South Bank.
London Eye (photo by Mandy)
Film London reckon that there are about 30 crews filming in the capital on any given day. Not all of them Hollywood movies, mind. The giveaways are big trucks and lots of people running around with headphones and clipboards; but to find them you need to look for the little temporary signs attached to lampposts, normally with mystery letters on them. There's a good chance of spotting a celeb or two.
London's popularity means it's been the backdrop of plenty of films and TV series - you can find details of some of them on the Movie Locations website.
View from afar
For a capital city, much of London is very low-level. This means that views across the city can be stunning.
Unless you are prepared to pay, or know someone who works in one of the tall skyscrapers, the best free view of the city is a little trek out. Get the tube or bus north to Parliament Hill on Hamstead Heath. Alternatively, go to Greenwich Park in the south.
When you've exhausted yourself traipsing round snapping the sights, relax in one of London's parks. Hyde Park is the city's largest open space, so try not to get lost. Royal parks include St James's Park, Regent's Park and Green Park, which are great for both people and nature watching.
Museums & exhibitions
Whatever your interests, there is bound to be a venue to capture your imagination. Not only are the main museums free, such as the British Museum and the Science Museum, but you can also take advantage of more obscure ones such as the Sir John Soane's Museum, or the Bank of England Museum. The British Library is also free to visit and often has some great exhibitions.
If art appeals to you, the Tate and Tate Modern are a must see; all permanent galleries are free and you only have to cough up for the visiting exhibitions.
The Gherkin (photo by Jaki Ridley)
London Open House
OK - this only counts if you are visiting London on one particular weekend in September, but it's such a great event we felt we had to include it. London Open House is where loads of buildings in the capital open their doors to let the public go in them. In 2007 over 600 buildings were open; including BBC studios, government buildings and the Royal Courts of Justice among others.
Entry to each building is free, but buying the guide for £4 helps support the event.
Now surely this one requires money? Well obviously it can, but the beauty of shopping in certain parts of London is that the shops themselves are a great source of entertainment.
For the child in you, Hamleys on Regent Street can provide hours of fun. Watch toy presentations, try on fancy dress clothes (OK, they may be a little small), and reminisce over all the classics you loved as a child. Just remember to let the real kids gets a look in.
For a more sophisticated shopping experience, head to Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. They are great places to people watch and dream about what you'd spend your money on if you win the lottery.
But perhaps the all-time favourite place for window shopping in London is Camden Market, packed with clothes and antiques to haggle over. Other markets worth exploring include Portobello Road, which has the world's largest antique market, Spitalfields for its East End charm and Covent Garden, which is a cool place to find free street entertainment, although you may feel obliged to donate a quid or two.
It is also easy to apply for free tickets to be part of a television or radio studio audience. However, it does mean forward planning because you may be added to a waiting list. Opportunities include game shows, news programmes, comedy shows and chat shows. Visit Tvrecordings.com or BBC Shows to see what's on offer.
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