Here are a few things to do in London that cost literally nothing.
1. Climb Big Ben
While this one miiiight require a bit of forward planning, it is actually possible to climb the iconic bell tower (named the Elizabeth Tower, for all you pedants) and explore the massive clock workings while soaking up some sweet views of the city. If you feel up to climbing the 334 stone steps, contact your MP and book a spot.
2. Check out a gig at Rough Trade East
With two iconic shops in London (plus another in NYC) that the digital revolution still cannot kill, indie record label Rough Trade knows its music. Head to its Brick Lane spot for free gigs from the next generation of hopeful chart toppers — and being that The Strokes, The Libertines, and even The Smiths all found early success while signed to RT, odds are you’ll hear something great.
3. Get a guided tour of the Tate Modern
Sure the whole museum is free, but do you actually know anything about those swirls of colour and metal? Is that piece you love actually just a sign to the gift shop? Lucky for you, they do totally free guided tours four times daily so you can learn your Turner from your Pollock from your fire extinguisher.
4. Head to Ain’t Nothin But… The Blues Bar
With the January blues potentially in full effect, the most appropriate course of action is to naturally head to a blues bar. Or rather, the “best blues bar this side of the Atlantic,” (according to them). Sunday-Thursday, you can walk in for free and soak in those rich, live sounds, but of course, we recommend gathering your pennies for a beer at least.
5. See the Tuesday gigs at Birthdays Dalston
Known for its amnesia-inducing parties and inventive food pop-ups (Rita’s, Psychic Burger), Birthdays also has a face-melting sound system that draws in some top-notch gigs. With the likes of VICE and Shorebitch throwing parties on the weekends, you can still catch some solid up-and-comers on a Tuesday when there’s no cover.
6. Check out the Film Club at The Alibi
This dictionary-definition dive holds a Monday night free film club showing classics like Night of the Living Dead, Reality Bites, and yes, Die Hard. It also has free karaoke after the films, although you’ll likely pay for that in other ways.
7. Hear lunchtime recitals at the Royal Opera House
Think opera is reserved for the thick-of-wallet? Think again. On Mondays in the Crush room, you can catch rising stars from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, members of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, and The Royal Opera Chorus and Southbank Sinfonia. They release tickets a week in advance for free.
8. Go to a lunchtime concert at the Royal Festival Hall
On Fridays at 1pm, take a long lunch break, and head to the Central Bar at the Royal Festival Hall for its lunchtime concert program. Showcasing a range of different music styles, you’ll get something different, but still fantastic, every week.
9. Eat at Borough Market
While technically a place to buy things (and thus spend cursed money), this a wonderland of free samples. Wander through the sights and smells of delicious goodness, and if you show half an eye of interest you’ll have small bites happily thrust into your face.
10. Go to a mind-expanding lecture at LSE
Catch some world-class brains at work with guest speakers from around the globe discussing everything from battlefield ethics to neurophilosophy. Some lectures you have to register for, but most are free.
11. Take in the Columbia Road Flower Market
Can’t afford to go to Holland? Then have Holland come to you in Columbia Road. Head East on a Sunday and take in the 60+ independent shops lining this vibrant market.
This feature originally appeared in Thrillist.