The best free things to see and do in London

A group of people walk up a staircase at The Tate Modern gallery in London
Art attack: a new wing has opened recently at Tate Modern Credit: Iwan Baan

Whether you’re into food or fashion, art or architecture, sport or stand-up, London offers endless opportunities, and there are plenty of freebies to be had

Climb Big Ben

Yes, you can actually go inside – who knew? There are 334 steps up to the top of the Elizabeth Tower and the famous bell. Tours take place Monday to Friday at 9am, 11am and 2pm and are completely free. There’s one catch – you need to get your visit sponsored by an MP.

Tower tour: do something different and go behind the clock dials of Big Ben Credit: Getty

But it’s easy enough to organise, with all the details on the parliament.uk website. And what’s a bit of advance planning to be able to say you’ve been inside this iconic landmark - and snapped a picture of a side few get to see?

Catch some free theatre

Tickets for top West End shows can run into triple figures – but at The Scoop, there are free music, film, dance and theatre events all year round. Until 31 October this year the 1,000-capacity sunken amphitheatre on the south side of the River Thames plays host to the London Bridge City Summer Festival, with events including outdoor cinema screenings, live acoustic and DJ sets and even free fitness classes.

Free fun: whether it's music, fitness or theatre, enjoy summer at The Scoop Credit: Alamy

Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to enjoy – and the Sony Xperia X’s low- light settings will help you capture the moment, even when the sun goes down.

Marvel at the new Tate Modern

We take it for granted but it’s sometimes worth a reminder that London is home to some of the best museums and galleries in the world. What’s more, unlike other big cities such as New York and Paris, many of them are completely free. The Tate Modern houses some of the most important works of art in the world and its building, converted from the shell of the old Bankside Power Station, is almost as impressive.

Get cultural: enjoy a great variety of new artwork at the Tate Modern Credit: Iwan Baan

There’s more reason to marvel too, as in June they opened their new wing – a 10-storey building with a panoramic roof terrace providing perfect camera fodder for the Sony Xperia X’s 5x Clear Image Zoom.

Visit a farm

So London Zoo might have giraffes and elephants – but it also has a hefty entrance fee. If you want to see some adorable animals for free, head to one of the city farms, such as Hackney City Farm or Spitalfields City Farm where between them you can see donkeys, ponies, goats (Spitalfields holds a yearly “goat race”), pigs, cows rabbits and more.

Country comes to city: pet a pig at Spitalfields City Farm Credit: Alamy

Don’t worry if they won’t stay still for a photo, either – the Sony Xperia X’s Predictive Hybrid Autofocus feature can track a moving object (or animal) and make sure it stays in focus for a clear photo.

See a free gig

Independent record shop Rough Trade is not only a great place to lose hours rifling through vinyl and CDs to discover new music, but it also plays host to some special free performances from both upcoming artists and established acts (Blur and Vampire Weekend have played there). Keep an eye on the Rough Trade website and social media feeds for upcoming events – for popular acts you might need to get a wristband in advance.

Rock out: for a night of free music why not get to a gig at Rough Trade Credit: Press Association

Have a laugh

You might not be able to see Bill Bailey or Jimmy Carr without digging deep into your pockets, but London offers plenty of other free laughs. Angel Comedy, at Islington’s Camden Head pub, puts on free comedy seven nights a week – a mix of new acts and experienced stand-ups trying out new material (Eddie Izzard and Russell Brand have appeared).

Comedy central: have a laugh at Angel Comedy any day of the week Credit: Simon Goss

In Shoreditch, the Comedy Cafe offers free entry to its new-act night every Wednesday, and south of the river, the Dogstar pub in Brixton runs a twice-monthly free comedy night.

The new Xperia X from Sony can be purchased from the following retailers: O2VodafoneCarphone WarehouseEE and Three

Return to the Capture perfect moments main page for more features and videos

Please review our commenting policy